There are 3.3 billion loyalty memberships in the United States*. You are probably a member of more than one yourself. It seems like everyone has rewards component nowadays. Many of these programs are started and left on autopilot. Getting back to the basics about loyalty will help revive them.

Loyalty can be thought of as three basic pillars:  communication, competition and content. The combination of effective communication, exciting competition and engaging content makes an effective loyalty program.


You have a great story, now you have to tell it. Everywhere and anywhere and as often as you can, without being annoying. Effective communication combines multi-channel access for your customers with timely and relevant messaging at each touch point (in-app, on-site, email, push notification, etc).

Consumers tend to use desktops for leisurely browsing and shopping. Smartphones and tablets are an important tool for delivering on-the-go local deals and eGift cards.  Offering your customers access via multiple device types is table stakes to compete in today’s environment.

The message should match the specific touch point and the corresponding phase of the member in your customer lifecycle. Customers who have logged in through a device have indicated they are ready to engage with your program. Take advantage of this state of mind with messaging that compels them with a strong call to action. On the other hand, push emails have a more difficult job. They need to generate enough interest to drive customers to your site and are useful for driving activation and repeat visits.

Finally, do not forget the customer contact center. Though only a fraction of the overall customer contact will occur there, most calls and emails are issue-related, making each interaction high-risk and high-opportunity. (Related post: Build Stronger Relationships with Consistent Content)


Everybody wants to win. In order to spark members' competitive nature, leverage gamification techniques and offer members the chance to use their points to compete for prizes and special deals (see gamification and rewards). Effective gamified elements like auctions, sweepstakes and daily deals are incredibly effective at driving repeat visits and point spend because they provide ever-changing, time-sensitive options for engaging with your program. Gamification can also appeal to a different audience than the one that values redeeming for products and services, resulting in a broader engagement for your program.

Keeping the right balance of great content and engaging competition ensures that your program stays fresh and varied. (Related post: Increase Engagement with Gamification and Rewards)


The saying “content is king” definitely holds true for loyalty programs. Robust and varied content is the foundation of any great program. Programs that are highly successful blend aspirational products and services - those which have mass appeal and catch the consumer’s eye with everyday items that ensure frequent and ongoing engagement with the program.

Some examples of aspirational products include hotel stays, cruises, and high-end merchandise brands. Members may only occasionally redeem these types of items, but they are crucial to creating a high-value impression of your program.

On the other hand, the most commonly and more easily redeemed - the content that drives frequent visits and engagement - are the lower value everyday items. Local offers, discounts, donations and gift cards are the best examples. Gift cards are very popular because of the savings and flexibility they provide members. And a comprehensive discount offering includes desirable redemption options like apparel, restaurants (from fast food to fine dining), entertainment (including amusement parks, golfing and events) and nearby stores (such as car care centers, retailers and craft shops).

This variation in the content type is the key to attracting customers and keeping them coming back. (Related slideshare: How to curate a kick-ass rewards catalog)

It can be difficult to determine where to begin when starting a new rewards program or reviving an existing one. Take these pillars into consideration and begin to build a framework that helps you understand what engages your members to keep them coming back.
* Colluquy - 2015 Colloquy Loyalty Census

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