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How supercharging your loyalty program can get customers to stick around for the long haul

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Loyalty schemes have become a standard component of the marketing machine for many of the world’s largest businesses but it’s worth asking how hard yours is working.

Do customers place a high value on the points, credits and gifts you dish out to thank them for continuing to spend their hard earned? Or does your offering sit squarely at the ‘ho-hum’ end of the rewards spectrum?

If you answered yes to the latter, then you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to strengthen your relationship with regular customers and improve sentiment towards your brand.

Catch them with quality; reward them for returning.

It’s widely accepted that relatively few consumers make their initial purchasing decisions on the basis of a vendor or supplier’s rewards program. Value for money, availability, reliability and service are likely to trump the prospect of receiving a discount, or a free product or service, down the track, should they decide to return for more.

It can be a very different story once one-off buyers decide to become regulars.

That’s the point at which a compelling loyalty program can have a very real impact on the stickiness of your brand and business. The opportunity to collect points or credits towards items customers perceive to have genuine value very often motivates them to keep striving to earn those points – and deters them from shopping with competitors who can’t ‘show them the money’.

Conversely, put up a selection of unappealing items and customers are likely to adopt a take it or leave it attitude to your loyalty scheme. Worst case scenario, your lack of largesse may even cast your organisation in a negative light, as penny pinching or downright down market.  

Flying high

Forward thinking companies understand this and pull out all the stops to ensure their loyalty ranges surprise, delight and over-deliver. 

Take Qantas, for example. Australia’s premier airline has a longstanding Frequent Flyer program that allows passengers to earn points in a myriad of ways – shopping, dining out, using a credit card and travelling, as well as the obvious hopping on a plane. 

And when it comes time to burn those points, they’re spoilt for choice. The Qantas Rewards store allows account holders to redeem them for flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car hire, gourmet food and wine and a dazzling array of products from more than 500 premium brands, from Apple to RM Williams. 

There’s something for everyone, as the old saying has it. When you’re a company whose customers number in the millions and span every demographic and income bracket – banks, insurers, airlines, department stores, here’s looking at you! – that’s the way it needs to be, unless you want to risk ignoring or alienating some segments of the market.

Making it simple with marketplace technology 

Cumbersome and prohibitively expensive to operate such an expansive scheme? By no means. Online marketplace technology makes it extraordinarily simple and cost effective to create a multi-category redemption shop that allows loyal customers to choose from hundreds and thousands of brands and products.

Stack the virtual shelves with merchandise of your choice from online retailers around Australia – whose ecommerce systems are linked directly to your platform via application programming interfaces – and they’ll do the leg work for you: shipping rewards directly to your customers when they cash in their points.

It’s scalable, efficient and costs far less to administer than an in-house model which sees you buying and storing a range of products and dispatching them to customers yourself, or maintaining ‘manual’ relationships with a few affiliate partners.

Leveraging loyalty for competitive advantage

Keeping the customer satisfied is the overarching commercial imperative for Australian businesses of all stripes and sizes. Offering a stand-out loyalty program is one way to do so and online marketplace technology makes it possible for the country’s largest players to do so at scale. Using it to power your program in 2022 is likely to see your organisation richly rewarded.

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