It’s a heinous crime in the world of incentive marketing...
Picture yourself sitting on a witness stand, under oath, and accused of not extending your rewards program promotion to all of your customers
Would you be found guilty?
Your peers and competitors in the race to earn customer loyalty are promoting their programs heavily as evidenced by the 26% increase in rewards program membership growth:
But despite enrollment growth, merchants with rewards programs are far from satisfied with their promotional efforts…
In fact, if you’re guilty of not promoting your loyalty program you’re not alone as 80% of loyalty marketers say improving their program, part of which includes better promoting it, is a top priority.
There’s also a dual benefit when you successfully promote your rewards to programs to all customers; besides enrolling new members you’re also gently nudging inactive members to participate:
Subsequently, if you do have a slice of enrollees who no matter what you do refuse to participate actively you’ll quickly find yourself with a membership quality issue that can only be alleviated by acquiring new members who do actively engage.
This requires promoting your loyalty program omnipresently.
Before we illustrate several channel-specific techniques you can use to promote your loyalty program to all of your customers, it’s important not to make matters too complex. In fact, it can often be downright simple to pick the low hanging fruit first.
Here’s a loyalty program promotion technique designed to get you a quick win....
Slice, Dice & Entice
Start treating people differently…
It may sound counterintuitive or even wrong to treat people differently, especially in an ultra-politically correct world in which we do business. But treating your customers differently is a secret high performing merchants leverage to outpace their competitors.
Your customers aren’t equal…
Therefore it’s your responsibility, so long as growing your business efficiently and intelligently is the goal, to treat customers based in part on how valuable they are to you. Rather than seeing loyalty as an either-or proposition (loyal or disloyal), try to begin viewing loyalty as a matter of degree.
Here’s a step-by-step process you can use to promote your program to existing customers that yields rewards for them and you:
- Segment your customers based on whether they’re rewards program members or not
- Slice the segment that isn’t already enrolled into additional segments based on their LTV or lifetime customer value
NOTE: Once you identify the sliver that appears to be worth the least or those who aren’t likely to make incremental purchases when offered deep discounts or rewards, you might consider not marketing your program to this segment at all. Part of a smart loyalty program promotion plan includes making sure the program is profitable and rewarding for you. Consider not offering deep discounts or rewards if they aren’t likely to stimulate incremental sales or are perceived as nothing more than a margin-crimping unnecessary discounting mechanism.
- Target your various LTV segments with discounts or rewards that are commensurate with their lifetime value (this is where you are treating people differently)
- Overlay a customer segment’s intent with user behavior on your site (did they visit a specific product page or abandon an item in cart) to create segment specific personalized email that uses data to offer a relevant offer to enroll in your program
- Target these segments across channels by promoting your rewards program with PPC advertising
According to research, nearly two thirds of loyalty marketers surveyed will offer exclusive loyalty promotions to specific customer groups. Tailor the offer to join your program based on the value of particular customer segments to ensure that not only are your customers rewarded but that you are as well.
Next, here are five marketing channels to promote your loyalty program so you’re reaching all of your customers:
Channel #1: Facebook Live
Besides an irresistible offer…
What’s the secret to lacing your loyalty program promotion with urgency that helps convince customers to enroll instantly?
The answer is a live event.
Live events are one way Cairn, an ecommerce provider of subscription boxes for outdoor enthusiasts, tries to rapidly and successfully convert customers into rewards program enrollees. Specifically, the company routinely uses Facebook Live for two important reasons:
- Live events add urgency and allow customers an opportunity to interact with you in ways they otherwise cannot
- Unlike Instagram Live, the videos created via Facebook Live are not ephemeral meaning they live on the company’s timeline and are available for viewing after the live event has ended
Each month Cairn offers customers an Adventure Upgrade, in which Cairn teams up with an outdoor brand and awards several subscribers some new gear by that brand. There’s no contest to enter and no forms to fill out. Cairn subscribers are entered automatically and winners are chosen at random.
As of this writing, the Facebook Live highlighting Cairn’s April 2017 Adventure Upgrade has been viewed more than 26,000 times:
Additionally, the Facebook Live announcements also comes with a link offering viewers who may not yet be customers or loyalty program enrollees a chance to become both. The results include a myriad real time comments and valuable customer engagement:
Channel #2: Instagram
Your loyalty program is attractive…
So it ought to hang out where the pretty images and photography hang out which is undoubtedly Instagram. However, when promoting your rewards program on Instagram you must understand how customers use the channel and why they give it their time and attention.
Instagram users are attracted to the platform because of its beautiful images.
It means standard or run-of-the mill product page photography with white backgrounds aren’t likely to excite or inspire customers to enroll in your rewards program:
Compare the standard product page image above with one that blends in and appears as if it’s native to Instagram:
Especially when you consider customers can toss the item they’re browsing directly into their carts now and check out, offering customers a visually appealing and native experience on Instagram is one way to promote your rewards program.
You might also combine this approach with a discount or reward to entice customers just like online wig and weave retailer Perfect Locks does:
You might also consider injecting a bit of urgency, as Perfect Locks also does, by including a discount or reward as part of a mini or one day flash-like sale:
Other merchants are also using a promotion code to run “last chance” campaigns on the last day an item is available to convert customers on Instagram into loyal customers.
Channel #3: YouTube, Vimeo, Or…
Any other platform that allows you to promote your loyalty program with video.
If you’re not yet using video to convert customers into rewards program enrollees consider the power of a video versus other mediums:
In addition to message retention, consider also the evidence indicating that customers engage more with video:
Video is one way Kids Shoes, an online seller of kids dress shoes and boots, is in part attempting to enroll customers in it rewards program. Kids Shoes sells merchandise notorious for size-related returns. It’s why Kids Shoes created a unique iPad application parents can use by placing their child's foot on the tablet to ensure they order shoes that fit perfectly:
Kids Shoes rewards parents who use the iPad sizing application by offering points toward future purchases. To promote the rewards program, help parents understand exactly how to use the application to earn points, and reduce size-related returns- the company uses Vimeo to visually illustrate the application:
Channel #4: Referral & Affiliate (Become Channel Agnostic)
Social channels can quickly fall in and out of favor…
But don’t let your personal views of various social media platforms limit your current customers from promoting your loyalty program for you on the channels they use. One way to become channel agnostic when promoting your rewards program is to offer a referral program that allows customers to choose where they share referral links.
For example, coconut oil based beauty products retailer Kopari leverages its already loyal customers to promote the company’s rewards program to those they influence on Facebook, Twitter, or via email for those with sizeable lists:
In other cases, merchants might offer a full blown affiliate program to both attract new loyalty program enrollees and convert existing customers who might overlap or be shared between the merchant and affiliate:
If segments of your customer base engage with one another online or frequent other brands or platforms in groups, referral and affiliate programs can help you become channel agnostic and leverage your existing rewards members to influence customers who have not yet joined.
Channel #5: Email
It’s not as sexy as some of the newer channels…
Especially when seemingly every year some marketing guru pronounces email marketing dead. However, when executed well, email marketing can actually expose you to each of the channels described thus far and generate outsized ROI when compared to other types of marketing.
First, identify those segments with the highest LTV that have not yet enrolled and give them a reason to enroll. You don’t have to necessarily offer a margin busting discount to enroll if a lack of awareness is what has thus far been keeping customers from enrolling.
In fact, enrolling high value customers may take nothing more than a pat on the back and a quick reference to the valuable rewards awaiting those who sign up. This is the the simple yet effective approach Rhone, a high performance men’s activewear merchant, takes:
You can also use email marketing to leverage user behavior- for instance combining a discount offer to join a rewards program with a particular product that user had recently browsed to lift enrollee conversions:
Additionally, offering rewards for following you on Twitter or Instagram or liking your Facebook page or even a referral link users can drop in any channel they please reinforces a smart brand’s channel agnostic approach and positions email recipients to market your loyalty program wherever they believe they have the greatest influence.
Your Most Valuable Channel...
Has not yet been mentioned in this piece…
But your most valuable piece of real estate- your site itself- ought to be a champion for your loyalty program and illuminate why customers who have not yet enrolled are missing out on extremely valuable rewards. We’ve outlined in prior posts and elsewhere with great detail how to weave loyalty throughout your site by:
- Having a dedicated rewards page and including it in your navigation menu
- Integrating rewards on product pages and at the checkout
- Using custom referral links and dynamic modals
Loyalty programs don’t often succeed on a “if you build it they will come” mentality…
Promote your promotion with an omnichannel approach that not only conveys the value of your program but also clearly articulates how customers not enrolled in the program are missing out on the rewards you’re dying to offer them in return for their loyalty.