How to Drive Brand Engagement Through Your Loyalty Programme

Keeping things relevant, personal and targeted

As a marketer, if you’ve taken the step to introduce a loyalty programme that both retains and rewards existing customers, and helps attract new ones, that’s a positive move. It shows you’ve acknowledged the need to express your gratitude, nurture client relationships, and maintain a competitive edge.

But simply having a loyalty programme in place doesn’t automatically guarantee its success. Consumers are busy people and, it seems, they’re being increasingly exposed to more and more time pressures. Also, with so much noise in the marketing space, they’re regularly being bombarded with comms.

It doesn’t matter how valuable a reward scheme is – if people forget to engage with it, or worse still, see it as a hassle or intrusion, it’s not going to reap the returns a marketer might hope for. In fact, when reporting on a new study by Capgemini, Marketing Week journalist Kaltrina Bylykbashi went so far as to say that “brand loyalty programmemes are not evolving with the digital age, leading to a missed opportunity for engagement with consumers”.

So how do you ensure your valued customers actually use your loyalty programme? And are there ways to achieve wider engagement for your brand at the same time?

Relevance boosts loyalty programme  engagement

In 2014, digital strategist Hessie Jones warned that “becoming obsolete is a reality in today’s fast-moving environment”. So how do brands remain relevant when it comes to loyalty programmes?

American marketing consultant and author Jay Baer perhaps offers a helpful starting point with his four key principles:

  • Reactive relevance: The provision of genuinely useful rewards. It’s important to understand the types of vouchers, discounts and experiences that will motivate your particular audience. There’s no better way to gather this insight than to ask them, then monitor the redemption of the different incentives you offer. A wide variety in the rewards themselves also helps to ensure you have all bases covered. That’s why, at Entice, we offer the most comprehensive selection of deals, not to mention the biggest discounts!
  • Circumstantial relevance: What’s important to an individual at a point in time. Why not capitalise on industry trends and seasonalities, and tailor the specific awards you promote at certain intervals in the year? There is a distinct desire to redeem family days out in the summer, for instance, while demand for holiday vouchers is likely to peak in the early months of the year when travel bookings are at their highest.

Circumstantial insight can be used to drive synergistic engagement between the loyalty programme and wider brand too. For instance, if you know a gym membership is approaching its renewal date, increase the frequency with which you send reminders about the inclusive rewards scheme, and perhaps send a summary of the total or average savings that the individual has or might have recouped in the last year. This reinforces the wider value that the customer receives for their monthly membership fee, and reduces the likelihood they’ll shop around for a better deal. Alternatively, why not use a VIP level reward to mark a customer’s anniversary with you?

  • Behavioural relevance: What can be learned from cues and triggers. This emphasises how important it is to look at the data underpinning engagement with a customer loyalty programme. Ensure you select a scheme that includes access to an easy-to-use dashboard with digestible analytics, and use the insight you uncover – such as the most popular rewards – to drive the next step of your comms.

In her aforementioned article, Hessie Jones points out that “data is the new norm”, and “gone are the days of relying on historical data.” Marketers therefore need to keep a constant and responsive eye on the data that their loyalty programme produces if they’re to remain agile and effective.

There’s no harm in sharing that data either. In fact, Jeff Ryan, who blogs about online advocacy, encourages brands to share their latest triumphs to keep active members engaged and prompt prospects to get involved.

This strategy has certainly worked for our energy client SSE. They’ve highlighted the average saving (£288 per year) that customers make as a result of their reward platform, which has gone on to prove a key selling point in attracting and retaining customers.

  • Location relevance: Based on where an individual is physically located. In the world of rapidly evolving tech, the temptation is to overthink location-based insight. Of course, proximity technology can give marketers an unparalleled level of knowledge as to a customer’s whereabouts at a point in time, but that can feel more than a little bit invasive.

Keep things subtle by notifying customers of rewards available close to their home, which you will be able to identify simply via their registered address. For really localised engagement drives, you could even consider placing stickers or posters in the windows of participating stores to encourage reward redemption. This strategy proved especially successful for our client First Port when communicating with an elderly demographic that were less likely to use tech.

Keep things personal to your brand

This may seem like blanket advice, and by no means are we suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach to customer loyalty. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Brands and their marketers need to think about what will effectively engage their specific customers and drive a bottom line impact for their own business.

However, the recommendations made here can be applied to a variety of very diverse customer-brand environments, as our own client base has shown.

Insurance firm 1st Central, for example, rolls out different comms for different groups of customers, recognising that young people might be the first to leave if their premiums are higher. But that’s all the more reason to emphasise the many financial and experiential benefits that the young clientele can gain as a result of the loyalty programme offered. Very much like O2’s Priority scheme, it may go so far as to encourage customers to pay more for the core product in return for the added rewards they can receive.

A very different business – publisher CN Media – has a detailed insight into the readers of its magazines. They know the likes and dislikes of their demographic, as this steers the editorial content of their publications, and they utilise this knowledge to best effect: tailoring the loyalty programme’s communications and highlighting specific rewards that they know will most appeal to their target market. They achieved a 31% increase in new subscriptions and a 15% uplift in customer retention as a result.

In conclusion...

This seems like a complex topic, but really there’s a recurring theme here – relevance, personalisation and targeting. Without this, why would a customer engage? They don’t want to feel like a number. The loyalty programme is there to make them feel valued, appreciated and special. So, even if you’re communicating with a mass audience at once, you need to create the sense that they’re the only person you’re thinking about!