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6 Ways to Improve Loyalty Programs and Memberships

Posted by Sherry Howell on Jul 1, 2022 11:10:20 AM

Avoid the most common mistakes businesses make when implementing loyalty programs and memberships and start seeing an increase in engagement and adoption right away. 

As we move into Independence Day weekend, now might be the time to reclaim your own freedom - freedom from the worry that your programs or offerings aren't as successful as they should be! Underwhelming loyalty programs and memberships can be a substantial cause of that worry.Canva Design DAFFLh9Dspo-1

Because loyalty programs and memberships can be key drivers of growth, we updated this blog with lots of additional resources to help you take the first steps towards getting the most out of your memberships and loyalty programs.

So when the last sparkler fades and you're ready to look forward, ask yourself these questions to help determine where you need to apply some focus.

No. 1: How engaging is our program?

Do your guests know about your program? Are they enrolled automatically when they visit the first time, or must they opt-in? Once registered, are they habitually greeted at Admissions by name and status? Do staff attempt to upsell them to reach their next reward tier? 

Consider how visible and engaging your program is now, and work towards filling in the gaps. For example, frontline staff could exponentially enhance your guests' experience if they greet them by name and thank them for being a beloved member of your loyalty program while opening up the opportunity to tailor upsell conversations.

Almost a year ago, I had an experience at a Holiday Inn that still stands out as a prime example of the power of staff interactions. When checking in, the front desk associate greeted me warmly, thanking me for my return and for being a beloved Club Level member. The greeting was so special that once I got to my room, I actually looked up my account to see if I had somehow achieved status without realizing it. Turns out I was nobody – just a bottom-tier member who didn't even have any points. But the team member made me feel important, and it's an experience that drives me to talk about them even today.

No. 2: How easy is it to understand or use benefits?

Our attention spans are short, and few of us have the patience to try and understand overly complicated programs that are either impossible to decipher or place a ton of restrictions on what you get with your points.

While spending-based programs can be great because they offer you critical insights into guest behaviors, do make sure that participants clearly understand how they can earn points and redeem them.

No. 3: Does our program offer enough benefits or value?

In addition to the level of hassle if your program is too complicated, a participant's level of engagement is also based on: 1) how high of a priority what you sell is to them and 2) how highly they perceive the worth of the program.

Does it take forever to get anywhere? Does it seem like they have to spend a TON of money to get anything? Much like when considering your redemption payouts and prizes, putting loyalty reward benefits out of reach can work against you and cause participants to perceive your business as stingy and your programs not worth it.

When building a program, engaging people early is a good idea. For example, offer smaller rewards at sign-up and for those early-relationship key behaviors, so guests feel appreciated and begin to value your program.

No. 4: Am I just rewarding people for behavior they'd have anyway?

My local burrito place implemented a new loyalty program a couple of years ago. I simply set up my account, and every time I buy something, I get points towards a free entree. Yep, that's it.

Even though they have my contact information, how many times do you suppose they've sent me an enticing offer? Zero. How many times do you think they've invited me to come in by tomorrow to get a free queso upgrade? Zero. How many times have they looked at my spending behaviors and, after noticing I haven't been in for over a week, sent me a "We Miss You" message to drive me back in? That's right, still zero.

They simply reward me for behavior that I'd have regardless. While it is a nice perk and makes me feel warmly towards them, they actually are losing money by rewarding me for behaviors I'd have anyway and not making the most of our shared relationship by driving me to take new actions.

This brings us to the last, probably most important way that programs fail:

No. 5: Are we making the program work for us?

Driving new consumer behaviors through personalized offers is a critical piece of leveraging the power of your program. Time-sensitive special offer emails, promotions, event invitations, and upsell opportunities all help you both reward your best customers and drive revenue for your business.

Additionally, your loyalty programs offer you critical data that tells you what your customers like, don't like, how much they spend when they visit, their visit frequency, and so much more. Not to mention that they offer you a captive audience to both market to and solicit feedback from.

To maximize your loyalty program's potential, you should regularly dig into the data to create more enticing offerings and promotions and drive real results through smarter marketing.

No. 6: What does the future look like?

Look behind to course correct but remember to plan for the future you want. Is it time to link a loyalty rewards program to a membership to give it more value? Should you explore buy-in loyalty programs that provide members access to special perks? How do you want to see programs grow in the next year? What actions and steps will you need to take to get there?

By taking a closer look at the programs you currently offer and spending the time to dream about the future, you'll be well on your way to the freedom that comes with a well-planned strategy.

Interested in learning more about how CenterEdge can help you build a membership or loyalty rewards program for your business? Contact us at info@centeredgesoftware.com.

Topics: Customer Loyalty, Memberships