Clarus Commerce and Total Retail recently partnered to launch the 2021 Loyalty Program Benchmark Report that assessed the 50 leading retail loyalty programs.
The goal was to learn:
- How can brands do a better job of communicating their loyalty programs – for acquisition, retention, and engagement purposes?
- How should retailers think about their benefits? Getting away from purely transactional (points for dollars spent) and getting more creative with earning points for different types of engagement (social posts, reviews, surveys) or instant benefits for premium tier members.
- How should marketers look at the bigger picture around customer engagement, in which loyalty plays a key role?
The answers to these questions and more were recapped and discussed in a recent Total Retail Tech Insights podcast featuring Brian Carl; VP, Marketing, at Clarus Commerce; and Joe Keenan, Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail.
If you haven’t already tuned in, here’s the full episode:
But in case you don’t get a chance to listen, here are the three biggest takeaways from the episode.
Loyalty Is Harder Than Ever
Sixty-eight percent of consumers say their loyalty is more difficult for retailers to maintain than ever before.
The 2021 Loyalty Program Benchmark Report evaluated 50 top retail loyalty programs based on six criteria: Discoverability, benefits, signup process, promotions & marketing, customer service, and innovation.
In addition, the report was conducted across multiple categories: Apparel, department stores, general merchandise, health & beauty, home furnishings, specialty, and sporting goods.
Some of the sample questions included:
- Does the retailer’s website have clear mention of its loyalty program and benefits?
- How easy is the signup process on mobile?
- Is the loyalty program mentioned on the retailer’s social media pages?
- Is there special customer service for program members?
Most retailers devote considerable resources toward loyalty programs and want to develop better relationships with their customers. This report found some valuable lessons that retailers should consider as they plan to launch, revamp, or optimize their respective loyalty programs.
It’s Not Enough to Simply Have a Loyalty Program
The first valuable lesson from this report is it’s not enough to just have a loyalty program.
It must be easily discoverable, easy to sign up for and use, and must offer benefits that are truly valuable to a brand’s specific customers.
While many of the loyalty programs evaluated have appealing, intuitive landing pages, it was often difficult to find a link to reach those landing pages.
Many sites reviewed in the report had nothing about the loyalty programs on their home pages or, if they did, that information was buried.
Another area retailers should focus on is marketing their loyalty programs, particularly via social media, which limits their growth potential. Social media is a prime platform to promote loyalty programs to their followers.
There is some opportunity in the mobile space, however. Customers that download brand apps are often retailers’ most engaged and valuable customers. So, it makes sense for retailers to highlight their loyalty programs here and optimize the signup process.
But overall, most loyalty programs reviewed in the report had easy signup processes and great onboarding experiences, including welcome emails and offers.
And most retailers did very well in providing loyalty program members the ability to earn and redeem rewards across channels, which is critical given the omnichannel nature of shopping today.
Retailers also offered multiple rewards options to their members such as free and expedited shipping, discounts, and in-store experiences.
But the biggest surprise was how many retailers don’t take advantage of prime digital real estate to get the word out and build awareness around their great loyalty programs.
Give Your Customers Options with an End-to-End Loyalty Solution
Many retailers still rely solely on points-based programs and they’re not that differentiated.
Going forward, retailers should consider a holistic view of customer engagement and they’re going to need an end-to-end solution to help with those challenges.
Traditional, points-based programs that are free to sign up for are great at getting customers in the door. This way, brands can start collecting that valuable first- and zero-party data about them to help with future communications and to optimize the program.
Solutions like sweepstakes, contests, offers, rebates, and social kickbacks keep those customers engaged over time.
Premium loyalty programs ramp up retention over time by giving customers convenience and a ton of value.
Best Buy is a great example of an end-to-end loyalty solution that appeals to Best Buy’s entire customer base – the My Best Buy traditional program for casual shoppers and the Totaltech premium loyalty program for avid tech enthusiasts.
My Best Buy is a traditional tiered program that offers points, discounts, expedited or free shipping based on spend. More recently, Best Buy launched Totaltech, a premium loyalty program that carries an annual membership fee of $199.
Totaltech members receive valuable benefits such as:
- 24/7 Geek Squad support.
- 24 months of product protection.
- Free delivery and installation.
- VIP customer service.
- Member pricing.
Consumers want options. To spark member growth, engagement, and revenue, offer them an end-to-end loyalty solution that covers all your customers – traditional points programs, premium tiers for top customers, and all forms of engagement programs in between.
Listen to Your Customers and Deliver on Their Expectations
Loyalty is only getting harder, and retailers should make every effort to keep their customers engaged and loyal.
It’s not enough to simply have a loyalty program. That alone won’t cultivate new members. You need to market it effectively everywhere you can, including social media. Make your associates excited about spreading the word about your loyalty program.
Give your customers options with an end-to-end loyalty program that combines traditional and premium offerings.
If you’re interested in getting the 2021 Loyalty Program Benchmark Report, you can download it here.
If you’re ready to talk about launching an end-to-end loyalty and engagement solution for your brand, reach out to us anytime.
One of our loyalty experts would be happy to have a conversation with you to learn more about your business, challenges, and goals.