Loyalty programs can be powerful motivators for customer behaviour, however, creating deep brand devotion with today’s customers must extend beyond a rewards platform. Customer loyalty is a business strategy and should not be confused with one of the many tactics used to engage with consumers and drive short term sales
Consider how airlines engage with their customers. Miles can be earned as a ‘base’ reward in exchange for the purchase of flights, but this is regularly combined with short term additional earning opportunities & bonus promotions. However, the loyalty strategy of the airline goes beyond these earning opportunities to included ‘added value’ elements such as priority check-in, lounge access, early boarding & complimentary upgrades. It is these value-added benefits that improve the customer’s experience and the positive perception of the airline. Perhaps the key to any successful program is to provide customers with reasons to emotionally engage with the brand, and not just soliciting their response to a desired tactic of say earning miles.
Any loyalty strategy therefore encompasses the entire journey customers travel with you: awareness, consideration, purchase & review. It is now a platform or a reward. It is a holistic approach that aim to motivate consumer behaviour to achieve the specific goals of customer acquisition, development & retention. The actual mechanics of your program, like the platform or rewards are simply the tactics you employ to support that strategy.
Loyalty strategies must be reviewed regularly & updated; not only to continually align with brand changing brand priorities; but in order to accommodate new tactics effecting the overall strategy
The mission, however, needs to remain constant; to understand & engage with customers in ways that are meaningful and relevant to their lives. Not only to win their individual business, but to win their devotion & advocacy for your brand.