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How to Increase Loyalty Program Engagement with Promotion Overlays

Loyalty program engagement is the ultimate goal for any brand offering a program, but too often, consumers become inactive after joining.  

While every loyalty program offers incentives, promotion overlays have been proven to increase customer engagement in loyalty programs.  

A little more than two-thirds of consumers (69%) belong to 1-4 traditional loyalty programs and 70% use 50% or less of those memberships on a monthly basis. While consumers will join traditional loyalty programs, getting them to engage regularly is a challenge for brands.  

Enter promotion overlays.  

Here’s how promotion overlays can increase engagement in your loyalty program by strengthening emotional connections, increasing program value, and managing financial liability. 


The Challenges of Keeping Loyalty Program Members Engaged  

For some consumers, the early excitement from joining a loyalty program can wane. Repeating the same earning actions to try and earn the same rewards can get tiring. 

Typical loyalty program engagement strategies include: 

  • Bonus Point Opportunities​ (bonus points can be expensive) 
  • New Rewards(can be logistically challenging) 
  • Special Offers (can lead to consumer fatigue) 

These are all effective strategies, but there are some limitations. Finding that perfect reward that appeals to your program members, that is consistent with your brand’s messaging and attainable, is often difficult. 

From the point of view of your customers, they are always asking themselves if they have enough points to redeem for that reward – and if not, how long it will take to earn enough? 

You’re always asking yourself if the physical rewards make financial sense for your loyalty program’s budget. 

On top of all that you have inventory management considerations connected to physical rewards that can present their own set of challenges.   

How much do I need to order? What are order and replenishment lead times? And what are shipping and handling costs?  

Combine all those factors and it can be hard to find the right rewards – let alone continuously finding new rewards to deliver ongoing program news.  

Special “members only” offers are great – your members love to get them, but they get a lot of them – not just from loyalty programs, but from email marketing and general advertising.  

But the volume of “special offers” can sometimes diminish their “special” aspect and newsworthiness.  

Why Should You Use Promotion Overlays?

Promotion overlays tied to your loyalty program let you deliver a “big news” message such as the chance to win a big prize. They are exciting for loyalty program members and keep things fresh.  

Acquiring new loyalty program members is a challenge for any brand, but what happens after your customers join?  

It can be difficult to get your members engaged after they’ve signed up – exploring the program, taking more actions, using their points – the list goes on.  

Promotion overlays can be layered into your loyalty program to strengthen emotional connections, increase program value, and manage your financial liability.  

Promotion overlays are gamified experiences such as sweepstakes, instant wins, trivia, user-generated contests, and social kickbacks that surprise and delight program members. 

And more members participating doesn’t translate to more costs because the prize or contest pool is fixed, so greater participation typically leads to greater efficiency, not costs.   

Promotion overlays can easily be added to your existing loyalty program. There are many ways to integrate with an existing loyalty program, but in many cases, integration isn’t necessary.   

Unlike a new catalog reward item, there’s no need to project, procure, and manage thousands of items – only a handful of prizes and you know the exact number you’re giving away.  

It’s easy to participate. Chance-to-win promotions are established, easily understood calls to action to program members and this translates to broad engagement.   

Promotion overlays aren’t “engagement for engagement’s sake.” They’re “engagement with purpose” because they can be used to drive a variety of specific program objectives such as:  

  • Member acquisition 
  • Member education 
  • Mobile engagement 
  • Social advocacy 
  • Accessible rewards 

Promotion overlays offer simple ways to participate without a huge commitment. They serve as moments in time with consumers’ favorite brands. They also offer clearly understood value propositions and complement loyalty programs.  

Here’s how to use promotion overlays to achieve specific outcomes: Sweepstakes, Trivia, Instant Win, and User-Generated Content (UGC). 


Building Loyalty Program Awareness and Member Acquisition

Member acquisition is the lifeblood of any loyalty program to nurture its growth and sustainability.  

Member referrals can be a highly impactful strategy to acquire high-value new program participants. Almost every loyalty program includes a member referral value proposition.   

And 48% of consumers have told their friends about their favorite brands in the past 12 months.  

But the challenge is that most member referral offers don’t change over time.   

If your customers, or their friends and family, sign up for a loyalty program and see a member referral offer, you send it to a handful of friends and family. But if that offer doesn’t change, there’s no reason for you to continue referring friends and family.   

If your brand is looking to spark engagement with your member referral offers, think about repackaging them to draw more attention.  

For example, Victoria’s Secret “Secret Rewards” program repackaged the member referral as a “Secret Santa” gift and added excitement around it by saying the “Secret Reward” could be worth $10, $50, $100, or $500. And their member referral offer then became seasonally relevant with a much larger perceived payout.  

Onboarding and Educating New Members 

Most members don’t fully understand their loyalty programs.  

In fact, 81% of loyalty program members don’t know the benefits of their programs, or how and when they receive rewards.  

Most brands with loyalty programs focus on member acquisition. But educating your members about the program benefits is crucial because if they don’t understand or are aware of them, they won’t engage.  

To educate your members effectively, your in-store associates must be well trained to convey the amazing benefits connected to your loyalty program. The best way consumers can learn about your loyalty program is from enthusiastic and knowledgeable in-store associates.   

The more enthusiastic they are, the better chance you have of getting more consumers to sign up for your program.   

Brands can also use in-store signage to promote the program and set up kiosks where people can sign up for your loyalty program. Referral incentives are great ways to promote your loyalty program, along with social media.  

Redbox always wants to motivate its program members to participate in the services offered amid competing entertainment options such as streaming services. 

To spark member engagement, Redbox came up with a Summer and Winter Spin–a twice-year seasonal promotion designed to engage Redbox Perks members.  

Cell phone images of Redbox Perks Summer and Winter Spin promotions

When loyalty members access their Redbox Perks accounts, they are presented with a game board and a range of incentivized activities. Members may complete each of the activities once to earn Instant Win Game plays and sweepstakes entries.  

Redbox Perks motivates behaviors throughout the path to rental, driving sales between releases and increasing program engagement. The game board features various incentivized earning actions to encourage exploration, discovery, and adoption.  

It’s through simple actions that members of Redbox Perks are motivated to take certain actions that impact behavior and engagement.  

Incented actions included both non-purchase and purchase activities for movie and game rentals and purchases:  

  • Daily Trivia drove participation frequency but also awareness of different titles to rent 
  • Watching a trailer also drove title awareness 
  • Members were incented to both add titles to their “wish list” and also rent those titles from their wish list. 
  • Trying new app features 
  • Renting multiple videos or games 
  • Renting movies and games across a variety of Redbox platforms (Redbox physical box, streaming, downloads) 

Education and onboarding are key factors in properly introducing new members to your loyalty program. And when you can make it a fun experience, all the better! 

Incentivizing Mobile Engagement  

Once you’ve made people aware of your program and acquired them as members, and then educated them on your program, how do you get them to engage more often?  

More than 57% of members prefer to interact with their loyalty programs on mobile devices. 

Mobile is valuable to a brand’s loyalty program because it expands the program’s reach and ability for members to engage with the program.   

The good news for brands is that members like to engage with their loyalty program on their mobile devices.   

But we can’t just assume that members will discover how to engage with the program via mobile devices on their own – some will, but certainly not all.   

A great example of incentivizing mobile engagement is Buffalo Wild Wings.  

In July, the company ran a “BWW National Chicken Wing Day “Free Wings For A Year” Sweepstakes.”  

To participate, consumers had to be members of the BWW Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program and enter via the BWW mobile app while at a BWW restaurant.  

One grand prize winner received free wings for a year awarded as 52 digital offer certificates (one each week) via Blazin’ Rewards, each valid for one order of six wings.  

In the past, Buffalo Wild Wings ran a Black Friday Weekend Sweepstakes that incentivized mobile engagement:  

  • The sweeps was open only to Blazin’ Rewards members. 
  • It was a great way for Buffalo Wild Wings to be relevant during the holiday shopping season. While eating at a restaurant isn’t top of mind when people go shopping for holiday deals…inevitably, shoppers get hungry and need a place to eat.  
  • Buffalo Wild Wings offered members the chance to win a TV which is one of the most iconic Black Friday shopping list items. And TVs are a huge part of the Buffalo Wild Wings brand! 
  • The program drove mobile behavior for program members.
  • Make a purchase online or via the Buffalo Wild Wings App. 
  • Check-in at a Buffalo Wild Wings location via the Buffalo Wild Wings app. 
  • The best part of the program is it not only drove strategic mobile behaviors, but also purchases and foot traffic.  

Offering Accessible Rewards  

Members can get frustrated if they have to wait too long for rewards, or if the rewards don’t seem attainable.  

Fifty percent of millennials said they quit a loyalty program because rewards took too long to accrue.  

The challenge is that it’s incredibly hard to find attainable rewards that are exciting and financially viable for the program. It’s hard enough to find a few attainable rewards for your program, but attainable rewards are often not the most exciting and can quickly become stale once a member redeems for one.   

Promotion overlays are a great way to deliver a never-ending supply of attainable rewards that are exciting and incredibly cost-efficient.   

Accessible program rewards are so important because that’s where the majority of members will get value from the program.  

For example, 19 Crimes (an Australian wine brand) with its Infamous Insider Rewards loyalty program offers many great ways to engage. Members complete tasks mapped out in the dashboard to accrue points.  

Then they can use their points to receive prizes such as swag, VIP perks, and chances to win exclusive prizes. And the more they play, the more chances they have to win various new prizes.  

This is a great way to have your loyalty program members use their points to enter a sweepstakes to win a prize or experience. And 19 Crimes offers attainable rewards that reinforce brand equity.  


Turn Your Loyalty Program Members Into Brand Advocates  

If you’re trying to transform your loyalty program members into brand advocates, try and generate authentic consumer endorsements via your social media channels.  

Loyalty members are a brand’s greatest advocates and getting them to amplify their positive brand experiences as broadly and as often as possible is the biggest challenge.  

In fact, our recent data found that 76% of consumers said the opinions of friends and family impact their loyalty to a brand.  

The opportunity is big, and the good news is that social hashtag programs are simple and effective solutions – provide a specific call to action and act as stimuli to motivate program members.  

For example, IHG Rewards Club – Priceless Experiences Await generated authentic consumer endorsements of the brand via its social media channels.  

In partnership with Mastercard, IHG Rewards Club Members shared their respective stories through their eyes and posted photos of their favorite travel memories for a chance to win one of four curated Priceless Experience vacation packages.  

This promotion overlay served to organically promote IHG travel destinations on behalf of the brand. The result was that IHG members shared their own experiences and love for IHG and IHG Rewards. The campaign also showed the breadth of priceless experiences IHG offers travelers.  


Promotions Aren’t Just Short-term Engagements  

Sweepstakes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to customer engagement strategy, but they’re more than a simple tactic.  

Promotion overlays keep your members engaged and excited about your brand. This leads to great word-of-mouth brand advocacy and positive social engagement.  

They’re also cost-effective ways to drive desired behaviors that can be easily added to your existing loyalty program. 

And consider 81% of consumers say they’re more likely to engage with a brand if it offers an incentive. 

If you need help with any of your promotions or would like to chat about any of your customer engagement efforts, please feel free to contact us here.


ebbo helps brands achieve their customer loyalty goals with full-service, end-to-end solutions and also creates original educational content straight from the experts to help loyalty marketers stay on the cutting edge of customer engagement.

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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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