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How many times have you visited a store and during checkout were prompted to sign up for a loyalty program? Chances are, you signed up via email then left the store and never thought about that loyalty program again. After all, most consumers sign up for 19 to 29 different loyalty programs but only remain active in five to 12.

While frustrating, the reality is that registering new members is only half the battle. To succeed, loyalty marketers have to increase participation rates to justify investment and more importantly, actually create loyalty that leads to higher spend and share of wallet. Here are four ways to do just that:

1. Don’t Welcome Them, Onboard them!

Onboarding is the best way to give new members the right first impression of your program. As soon as a new member signs up, thank them for joining. Over the coming weeks, you should touch base with new members several times to introduce your program, highlighting how the program works and the range of benefits members receive. This is also the opportunity to gather informative data about your new members and their interests so you can personalize future engagements with them. All that critical information you desperately wanted to obtain during registration? Weave those questions in your onboarding communications, rewarding answers incrementally or set a profile completion goal that encourages members to keep sharing details.

2. Surprise and Delight Them

One of the best ways to increase new member engagement is with an unexpected reward. Many people refer to this as an effort to “surprise and delight.” It makes customers feel special and appreciated! MasterCard set out to surprise their cardholders during their “Priceless Surprises” campaign. They sent gifts ranging from cupcakes to concert tickets to more than 97,000 cardholders, even rewarding some with celebrity meetings with Usher and Justin Timberlake. The payoff for MasterCard, increases in brand enthusiasm, brand differentiation, and more people using MasterCard.

3. Personalize the Experience

If every single one of your members is receiving the same email, you have a problem. The entire point of a loyalty program is to make your customers feel valued. But generic interactions do the exact opposite. Customers expect a personalized experience when they interact with brands. 79 percent of consumers said they must feel like a brand cares about them before they will consider buying from that company. This means you need to tailor your program to what your members want, creating personalized experiences by gathering data on their recent purchases and website activity, along with their interests, lifestyle, and demographics. One doesn’t have to be Netflix or Amazon to develop actionable insights on your customers. Reasonable steps to understand your customers on an individual level quickly lead to personalized, high value interactions.

4. Reward Engagement

Standard loyalty programs offer points only when a customer makes a purchase. But according to a study by Colloquy, 50 percent of customers said they would be more active in programs that offer a variety of ways to earn points. Some easy ways to do this are by offering rewards for birthdays, referrals, and social sharing.


Low new member participation is a common problem for many companies. They may have high enrollment numbers, but too many customers sign up for the program and are never heard from again. The goal of your loyalty program is not to sign up new members.

The goal is to turn new members into lifelong loyal customers. Hopefully, this blog post has shown you that with a few simple tweaks, you can begin to increase new member participation. 


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