In this age of interaction, consumers are leaning toward highly personalized loyalty programs.
On Tuesday, Starbucks’ brand managers released a revamped rewards program and app to meet that emerging demand. The coffee chain’s rewards program boasts 17 million members worldwide.
Customer loyalty programs boil down to interactive branding tactics, says Geoff Smith, the chief marketing officer of the digital marketing platform CrowdTwist. The push away from “traditional loyalty programs” is necessary for brand managers who want to retain their customers.
Here’s more on how Smith sees loyalty programs evolving:
Almost every consumer has a membership with a loyalty program. In fact, on average every household is enrolled in nearly 30 loyalty programs, but is only active on a third of those programs. Most of these loyalty programs are single channel “spend and get” programs. These programs just focus on the transactional channel, rewarding consumers for [spending]. Today, building loyalty requires brands to deliver personalized messages across channels that fully engage consumers and build emotional connections between their products and customers’ needs. Multichannel loyalty and engagement programs have been built with native capabilities to meet evolving needs, and recognize and incentivize consumer engagement across multiple touchpoints.
Implementing a “multichannel loyalty” program can increase customer interaction—a big selling point for brand managers.
“It creates a value proposition for consumers, because the engagement is convenient and it’s rewarding—they earn rewards toward prizes they value and crave,” he says.
Increase loyalty through multiple channels
Smith’s advice for marketers who want to increase their interaction with customers is simple—use a variety of channels:
Marketers are looking at several rich benefits of implementing multichannel loyalty programs. First, they create emotional connections between key audiences and their brands. Instead of constantly grappling for new customers, marketers can retain and grow their core group of steadfast, loyal consumers, which comprise the majority of their sales. [Additionally], multichannel loyalty gives brands access to all invaluable data on customers’ lifestyles, behavior, purchases and interests. [All of which is] provided in a transparent transaction between the brand and customer.
The success of Starbucks Rewards stems from the popularity of its smartphone app. The app’s redesign reinforces the company’s efforts to interact.
“Participants [should] earn points for doing everyday things, such as connecting with brands on social media, reading material on websites, watching brand YouTube videos, opening emails, clicking through websites, writing product reviews, referring friends and more,” he says.
Give consumers what they want
Meeting customers’ demands is crucial, Smith says, adding:
Customers … expect more for their dollars, and they won’t pledge their loyalty easily. Multichannel programs provide you with an ideal vehicle to demonstrate continuous value—through discounts, content and social media engagement—across the channels that are most meaningful and relevant to your audience.
Additional tweaks include strategic partnerships with digital organizations including Spotify and Lyft, which let customers earn stars beyond Starbucks. TechCrunch reports that JPMorgan Chase, which powers the Starbucks Rewards prepaid card, is also involved.
Here’s more from TechCrunch on the elevated program:
This is a significant overhaul to Starbucks’ loyalty program, which is seen as one of the industry’s best in terms of traction, growth, and its embrace of technology innovations. Starbucks popularized using barcode scanners in its stores to track its customers’ visits and purchases first with plastic cards, and then with smartphones.
To promote growth, brand managers should, above all else, encourage participation from customers.
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“By seamlessly connecting all of the channels that consumers use and learning how to keep customers active and engaged after the initial purchase, you can begin strengthening relationships and go down a path toward winning long-term loyalty,” Smith says.
PR Daily readers, what customer loyalty tactics have you employed to attract and retain consumers?