The loyalty marketplace is becoming more and more crowded every day. To stand out, differentiating your program is essential. Marketing guru Seth Godin once said, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

If you’re offering a commodity “copycat” loyalty program that mainly relies on points, rewards, and offers and looks similar to your competitors (e.g. birthday or anniversary rewards), you’re likely blending right in with the crowd.

Don’t worry, your loyalty program is not doomed to invisibility. There are some easy ways to differentiate your program. Creating a tiering system to segment your loyal customers (and make them aspire to the next level), or offering surprise gifts and rewards when your customers least expect it is a great start. However, the best way to differentiate your program is through experience and creating emotional connections with your customers.

Why Experiences and Emotional Connections?

Today’s consumers expect an experiential component that makes them feel special and allows them to connect to the brand on a deeper level.

To no surprise, “emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers,” and brands are paying attention. According to Gartnermore than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations by 2019.

So how do you elevate your experience and emotional IQ? Look to some role models for tactics that are tried and true:

Harlequin’s My Rewards

Readers of Harlequin, one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, seek emotional attachment almost by definition. The company’s brilliant My Rewards program offers dedicated readers free print books and eBooks, but it takes loyalty to the next level with opportunities to get autographed books and advance copies of upcoming releases, plus sweepstakes entries to win lunch with your favorite Harlequin author.

Old Chicago Pizza World Beer Tour

Craft beer authority Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom offers a terrific example of an experiential loyalty program with its unique and wildly popular World Beer Tour. Customers can sample up to 110 different beers over time, receive rewards, and get their name on a World Beer Tour plaque in their hometown restaurant.

Vans Family Loyalty Program

Vans, the action sports lifestyle brand, has the Vans Family Loyalty Program in which members can obtain entry to exclusive contests, experiences, and sneak previews of upcoming product releases. They also have access to exclusive patterns to customize their footwear and accessories through the Vans Customs platform. Most importantly, the program is consistent with Vans’ mission of promoting active lifestyles, youth culture, and creative self-expression.

Go Beyond Purchases

Looking for another way to make your program stand out? Reward your customers for more than just purchases. Thirty-five percent of brands reward loyalty members for non-transactional engagement such as referrals, reviews, and linking social media accounts. Need more proof?  Research found that department store brands that reward non-transactional engagement see a 48 percent spike in daily site visits, 13 percent longer site visits, and a five percent lower bounce rate.

Standing Out or Standing Still?

When it comes to loyalty, if you’re not standing out, you’re just standing still. To get moving, check out the Modern Loyalty Report Card designed to help you evaluate your loyalty solution.

Download Your Report Card

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