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7 Steps to Implementing a Premium Loyalty Program Without Exhausting Your Budget and Resources

If you want to implement a winning premium loyalty program, you’ve come to the right place.

I will share with you seven steps to trigger a successful premium loyalty program ­ without exhausting your budget or resources.

This is a proven approach that eliminates financial risk and delivers an impressive value proposition to program members.

Here is a step-by-step path to premium loyalty success.


1. Find a Consultative Partner to Help Guide You

There are multiple loyalty marketing consultants and agencies who would “love” to help you out. You’ll need to decide which one meshes with your style and has the experience in the type of program you are looking to implement.

Most loyalty marketing experts focus on traditional points-based programs that are free to members.

A smaller percentage customizes programs that drive improved experiences and brand engagement. Few companies can effectively execute against all the above, and help retailers become profitable without any financial risk.


2. Create a Small Team of Three to Five People

Assign a lead and two-to-three others to be your core loyalty team. They should represent a cross-section of your organization, with an expectation of devoting two-to-five hours per week to this special project.

A good cross-functioning team will ensure that all areas of the organization contributes to the development of and understands the impact of the loyalty program – especially on their specific departments.

Areas represented might include Marketing, IT, Operations, Customer Care and Finance. Other departments can and should be included as the situation requires.


3. Assess Your Business Assets and Evaluate Potential Rewards and Benefits

Understand your internal assets that will be combined with points, cash back, and discounts as potential rewards or benefits to form an appealing and compelling value proposition for your customers.

Some examples of company assets might include:

  • Overstock items
  • Product samples
  • Behind the scenes access (HQ/Warehouse tour, Meet executives/brand team, Appointment to Customer Panel, etc.)
  • Celebrity endorsers (an appearance, signed merchandise, etc.)
  • Partner offers (let them fund valuable benefits in exchange for access to an important, known group of your customers)


4. Design a Winning Customer Loyalty and Engagement Strategy

It needs to be BOLD and differentiating.

Give your customers a reason to choose you over your competitors and a type of experience that creates loyalty moments.

An obvious example of giving customers more and continually upgrading the experience to retain loyal customers is Amazon.

I can’t even keep up with the gazillion benefits I get courtesy of my Prime membership. A decade ago, Amazon had me at free shipping.

Since then, I now get movies & TV shows, music, books, two/one-day deliveries, grocery deliveries, discounts at Whole Foods, and access to live events/sports.

All for one membership fee – which admittedly I don’t even know what I pay these days.

It’s like Netflix, Apple iTunes, Walmart, and your local grocer all rolled into one glorious bundle.

I know what you’re thinking. We can’t all be Amazon. I get it. However, remember that Amazon wasn’t “AMAZON!” 15 years ago.

Amazon just never stopped evolving and adding more value.

Even smaller organizations can offer new benefits.

Some of these benefits can include expedited deliveries, hassle-free returns for premium customers, personalized shopping assistance, quarterly sweepstakes promotions to generate excitement, a surprise “just because” gift, VIP customer service, and maybe just a simple, but warm, acknowledgement of the customer’s patronage and loyalty to your brand.


5. Select a True Loyalty Partner, Not a Vendor

A true partner has skin in the game. Vendors collect a fee for service.

You need a partner whose revenue is based solely on the success of your program. This winning partnership should result in the following:

A positive ROI from the start, not in 12-18 months.

Offloading 90% of the heavy lifting for all program efforts, leaving your resources free to focus on delivering your products/services to your customers.

A true loyalty partner with a technology platform is essential.

Very few companies can do a program on their own platform so having a partner with the right platform is crucial.

Your partner should do all the heavy lifting when it comes to building, managing, and optimizing the loyalty program.

No retailer wants to shift internal resources that can be generating revenue in other areas of the business.

But it’s more than just building the program.

When a program launches, that is just the beginning. A good partner will continually work with the brand to evolve the program to stay ahead of the competition.

A true partner is there every step of your journey with your customers.


6. Focus on Execution

When it’s all said and done, a focus on execution while delivering value will keep your program on a winning track.

It’s usually a good tactic to first roll the program out internally to gather user feedback and gain buy-in from those who deliver on the brand promise.

Also, it’s prudent to provide incentives that recognize and reward associates for doing the right things. It’s old school, but it’s tried and true!

And finally, remember to provide training and messaging to ensure consistent communications across all channels. Periodic reminders and updates are also a best practice to maintain program awareness and purpose.

Getting customers enrolled in your premium loyalty program is only the first step.

Keeping them engaged requires consistent, personalized, and meaningful communications.


7. Make Your Loyalty Program Simple and Attractive

A loyalty program is an extension of your brand and, in the case of a premium loyalty program that members are signing up and paying for, it’s imperative that members have a simple, seamless experience across every touch point of the program.

As stated previously, effective engagement is the linchpin of a successful premium loyalty program. And that engagement leads to customer retention.


Premium Loyalty Can Be a Simple Process

It’s easier than you think.

Finding the right partner to help guide your premium loyalty efforts is a huge first step and will help you avoid common mistakes.

It’s certainly possible for you to implement a strategy that delivers profits from Day 1, while giving you the apparatus to continually optimize your customers’ experiences.

This not only boosts performance, but also shows appreciation to members via a strategy that is relevant, fresh, and focused on providing value for them.

Don’t you want a premium loyalty program that members are excited to engage with that yields excellent results?

Carlos Dunlap-Beard

Carlos has spent the past 25 years cultivating a rich background in B2C/B2B engagement strategies, direct marketing, business development, customer acquisition, customer loyalty, data analysis and strategic marketing through several key posts within Loyalty Marketing agencies. A proven marketing strategist and consumer engagement thought leader, Carlos has authored dozens of articles, blogs, and webinars on various topics focused around program design, customer experience, member engagement and loyalty marketing best practices. He has also been featured in numerous publications and spoken at many conferences and events. In his free time, Carlos likes to play golf whenever the weather allows, travel with his lovely bride Alicia (occasionally with some or all of their 4 girls), read, write, hang out at the gym, cook/grill for his family and drink bourbon.

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ebbo™ is an all-in-one loyalty company. With our data driven strategy, full-service approach, and the unwavering support of the people behind the platform, our dedicated team will work with you to understand your loyalty goals, innovate solutions and help you build customer engagement on repeat.

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