Loyalty marketing has significantly increased in popularity among retail brands over the last decade. Early on, companies used loyalty programs to differentiate themselves and give consumers a tangible reason to choose their brand. However, as more brands have adopted the strategy, loyalty messages have become pervasive and customers have become accustomed to seeing them – and ignoring them. According to Deloitte, a majority of customers now view being rewarded for their loyalty as a norm, not a differentiator. But it's not enough to launch a points-for-purchase program and expect retention numbers to skyrocket. Here are five strategies to help you break through the loyalty marketing noise, boost customer engagement and ultimately encourage retention.

Mix Up Your Actions and Rewards Seasonally

When a customer has been an active member of your program for a while, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking they’ll stay that way. Unfortunately, with so many loyalty programs now available, it’s easy for them to be distracted by new and better offers. Periodically adding new actions and rewards to your program is a great way to recapture their attention. For some retailers, this could mean offering seasonal offers and special rewards around holidays. An outdoors brand might offer double points for hiking-related purchases during the spring and summer months. To recapture a parent’s attention, office supply and book retailers could offer an exclusive school supply product, such as a backpack, as a back-to-school promotion. For other brands, mixing up loyalty marketing could mean establishing a calendar of new and exclusive rewards. Releasing rewards on a weekly or monthly basis trains your customers to look for your promotions to stay on top of your offers and find a great deal. And creating a limited-time offer creates urgency and exclusivity, which boosts engagement.

Remember That Loyalty Is a Two-Way Street

Loyalty programs can truly make customers feel valued, but if all you're offering are tired rewards in exchange for purchases, they’ll quickly lose interest. Successful loyalty programs approach loyalty marketing as a relationship builder. And just like relationships, one-sided loyalty marketing won’t work. Relationship-oriented loyalty programs factor in the entire customer experience, from acquisition through post-purchase engagement. More importantly, they deliver rewards along the way. Create a great first impression by rewarding customers when they create an account or sign up for your loyalty program. And offer them rewards for writing reviews and posting pictures of their recently purchased items. While customers value non-transactional loyalty rewards, Gartner L2 found that only 35% of brands are implementing them. Don’t be one of those brands.

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Personalization and segmentation are just as important to loyalty marketing as they are to your day-to-day marketing strategies. Unfortunately, only 32% of customers agree that the loyalty messaging they receive is relevant to them. Loyalty programs deliver a wealth of customer data to help you build personalized campaigns. You can use everything from demographic data to purchase history (RFM) to loyalty point standing to communicate effectively with your customers. Learn more about specific strategies for personalizing your loyalty campaigns here.

Make Your Loyalty Program Visible

It seems obvious that proper promotion would be of the utmost importance for loyalty success, but Gartner’s L2 Loyalty 2017 Report found that 59% of brands fail to promote their loyalty programs on their homepage. Other marketing channels, including email and social media, have similarly low loyalty promotion rates. You don’t expect customers to know about your brand and buy your products without appropriate communication, so don’t expect them to register for or participate in your loyalty program without promotion either. Incorporating A/B tested loyalty calls to action across key customer touch points (online, in-store and on mobile) is vital to cutting through noise and boosting engagement. Feature loyalty registration CTAs on your homepage. Incorporate loyalty reward reminders on product pages to spur customers to make purchases. And integrate loyalty marketing messages in your app and on in-store signage to deliver seamless experiences.

Listen to Your Customers

Finally, listen to your customers. Data and customer feedback can take you a long way toward improving loyalty program engagement. Are some CTAs generating higher engagement than others? Are your point accruals high, but redemption rates abysmal? All of these things can help inform what your customers like and dislike about your program. And, at the end of the day, cutting through loyalty marketing noise means designing and delivering a program your customers want.

To learn more about Annex Cloud, visit our website or contact me at eduff@annexcloud.com.