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How to Build Your Loyalty Program Marketing Communications Plan in 3 Steps

So much work goes into creating a compelling loyalty program.

It starts out with having a loyalty program strategy and alignment session, loyalty program design and validation and figuring out your loyalty program financial model.

Once everything is planned out from a strategy, design, and financial perspective, it’s time to figure out your loyalty program marketing communications plan.

After all, you could have the greatest loyalty program ever designed, but if it’s not reaching and resonating with your customers, you might not see the results you should.

So, let’s examine the three steps we take with all of our retail partners to ensure a successful loyalty program marketing strategy.


1. Review Your Marketing Channels

Before launching your loyalty program, we recommend reviewing all touchpoints in the customer journey.

This is something that we do with all our retail partners.

Each of your marketing channels provides a great opportunity to market your loyalty program.

It’s important to take inventory of your real estate and create a map of all available marketing placements.

Here are a few channels we always explore:

  • Website
  • Email program
  • Direct mail and/or catalog program
  • Fulfillment packaging
  • Customer service phone lines
  • In-store opportunities (including your associates)

For example, your website home page might have one large banner space, two medium spaces, and four small banner tiles. It may also have the capability to offer a promotional alert message at the top of the page.

For each of these placements you likely already have a plan for revenue-driving messages, including featured category banners, promotions, and merchandise spotlights.

These are places that may be good opportunities to incorporate messaging to promote your loyalty program in the future.

While doing this, we brainstorm any possible new placements to be added in the future and list them.

Some placements that might not exist yet include an informational page on your website about your loyalty program, navigation menu items, or footer links.

These are examples of placements that would need to be added after your program is live.

For our brick and mortar retail partner, we look at stores.

Are there opportunities to promote your program with in-store signage and at the register?

Can we train your in-store associates on how to get your customers excited about the program?

We leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding marketing opportunities.


2. Brainstorm Optimal Marketing Channels & Campaigns

Once you’ve mapped out your placement opportunities across channels, it’s time to prioritize them and refine your campaign messaging.

We break down messaging campaigns into four categories:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Engagement

Awareness campaigns involve general messaging about the program.  Calls to action on these placements are typically “learn more” and lead to informational content. KPIs are typically impressions and clicks.

Placements, where awareness messages make sense, include areas that are not targeted and might be visible to existing members of the program or non-members.

These placements are important to support the program but can be delayed until after a successful pilot if they are not prioritized for launch.

Examples of these placements include links in the navigation, social media announcements, on-hold messages, and ads printed on the shipping boxes or packing tape.

Acquisition campaigns are critical and should be the top priority for launch.

After all, if we can’t get your customers to join your program in the first place, further marketing isn’t going to matter much.

So, the messaging here is a join call to action and, where possible, should be targeted to non-members. The key metric here is the conversion rate.

Post-purchase placements work best for these campaigns.

Examples include:

  • Banners or interstitials on the order confirmation page
  • Order confirmation emails
  • Shipping confirmation emails.

For multichannel retailers, we train your customer service agents to offer the program after assisting a customer with an order over the phone.

It’s critical that your customer service team is trained in your loyalty program.

And of course, get your in-store associates excited about the program so they can sign your customers up.

Your in-store associates can be your biggest loyalty program assets.

We assist our retail partners with all the training for those channels.

Activation campaigns are also often called onboarding campaigns.  These are messages targeted to members who have just joined the program.

Calls to action on these messages are typically geared toward welcoming new members and encouraging them to engage with the program for the first time.

Welcome emails or letters are recommended depending on the customer’s preferred channel. We have also seen website onboarding tours can be a powerful way to orient and engage new members.

These are critical elements to include in a program launch and should be tested frequently.

Engagement campaigns are targeted to existing members in the program.

Segmentation here can be a simple periodic reminder to members about their program benefits or it can be a complex system of messaging members based on their tenure, LTV, purchase history, and more.

These campaigns are designed to drive retention and engagement KPIs and are coordinated across multiple channels

Like awareness campaigns, engagement efforts will be important for the health of your program, but it’s okay to add these in slowly and evolve them over time through testing.


3. Identify Marketing Integration Points

As mentioned above, acquiring and activating members are the most critical parts of launching a loyalty program. When working with a loyalty partner like Clarus, there will be some integration needed to ensure a seamless member experience.

To enable an Order Confirmation page banner placement, which is the most basic, yet critical placement of the Activation campaign, Clarus will provide tags to be placed on your website.

Once these tags are in place, Clarus can provide full-service acquisition marketing, including designing, implementing, and testing banners and landing pages. There are a few different configuration options that are discussed during the implementation.

To enable member Activation, as well as service the program on an ongoing basis, certain pieces of data need to be exchanged between your system and ours.

These can be flat files or APIs, depending on your preference. This information falls into the categories of Member data, Join data, and Billing data.

Clarus does most of the heavy lifting, at no charge as part of the partnership, when it comes to loyalty program integration with our retail partners.

The mechanics of this is the subject of another article, but we thought it was important to touch on the basics here as they relate to powering the marketing plan.


Loyalty Program Marketing Communications Should Never End

The reality of the situation is that even after launch, you should never stop marketing your loyalty program.

And we are here to continue doing that for all our retail partners.

Focus not only on attracting new members but work on retaining your loyal members as well.

Placements, campaigns, and engagement efforts to promote your loyalty program should always evolve and expand over time through testing and optimizing.

Now you’re ready to figure out your loyalty program technology assessment.

If you’re looking for a true partner to help you build a successful premium loyalty program, reach out to us anytime.

Kelley Gargano

Kelley was our Senior Director of Product Management. Working with a team of incredibly smart people, she oversaw product research & development as well as member engagement & retention.

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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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