When it comes to online retail, brands are faced with countless challenges, but many boil down to two categories: Engaging customers on a personal level without any face-to-face contact, and differentiating from a space that has only skyrocketed in growth and, consequently, in competition.
 
Online hobby shop HobbyTron hopes to solve both these problems with one solution: Its HobbyTron Rewards Program. The genesis of the program came in August 2015, and the brand views it not only as a way to show appreciation to loyal customers, but to enhance its own marketing efforts as well.
 
Loyalty programs have become a strong engagement tool for online storefronts, with Amazon Prime leading the way by launching the retailer into its status as one of the largest retailers in the world, online or otherwise.
 
“[An online loyalty program is] one of the most cost effective ways to get return customers, send follow up newsletters, and add extra price points to your e-commerce store,” Cody Sparks, online marketing director for HobbyTron, explained to Loyalty360. “It’s hard to keep customers loyal to only your website with the expanding competition these days.”
 
The ShopSocially-powered program has the results to back up its investment: The retailer has seen an 89% increase in average order value and an 84% increase in revenue from loyalty members compared to those not enrolled. 
 
“HobbyTron’s Reward Program has extra points that most reward programs don’t offer,” Sparks added. “Not only do you get one point for every dollar you spend, you have additional ways to add extra bonus points just for being a member on our site. Writing product reviews, answering Q/As, using our wish list, and signing up as a newsletter subscriber are just a few ways to get extra reward points.”
 
Considering the tendency for retailers to opt for simplified “earn and burn” programs, unique opportunities to earn points are an effective method for breaking the mold and creating engagement. As Sparks noted, members of the program receive points not only for engaging with the brand transnationally, but socially as well. This places the program in rare company: A 2015 Capgemini report found that only 25% of loyalty programs reward engagement. This creates a sense of community, an important factor given the tight-knit hobby vertical and the often-impersonal nature of online shopping.
 
Creating this sense of community is one thing, but maintaining it over a year’s span is quite another. The ability for HobbyTron to reward customers not only for spending with the brand, but for engaging with one another, sets it apart as a unique program that recreates the brick-and-mortar experience in the digital space.

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