Skip to content

Podcast Recap: How to Build a Premium Loyalty Program

Building a successful premium loyalty program is rewarding for your members and your brand because it forms strong, sustainable relationships. 

  • What benefits will provide the most value and resonate with your customers? 
  • How do you find a compatible loyalty partner
  • How do you design a mind-blowing experience for your members? 

The answers to these questions and more can be found in a recent Total Retail Tech Insights podcast featuring Carlos Dunlap-Beard, VP, of Business Development at ebbo: and Joe Keenan, editor-in-chief of Total Retail.  

 Listen to the final episode in this four-part series here: How to Build a Premium Loyalty Program

If you don’t get a chance to listen, here are the five biggest takeaways from the episode. 


Understand What Benefits Provide Extra Value for Your Customer Base 

When you’re designing a premium loyalty program, listening to customer needs and expectations is crucial because you want to provide the most valuable benefits possible.  

The other part is understanding what that extra value is. What does it consist of?  

Is it a different kind of shopping experience?  Is it some VIP treatment?  Is it concierge shopping? Is it  free shipping for all members, regardless of the size of the purchase?  Is it some extra value-added gift with purchase consistently, or cashback?  

If you’re offering a premium loyalty program, there must be something of significant value in it for customers. Whatever your program price point is, your customers will do the math quickly and decide whether it’s worth it to join.  

That’s why the value of your benefits must be instant and apparent.  

Don’t over-price your program and offer less than desirable benefits. Make sure you understand what your customers want and give it to them. Match the benefits to their needs.  

And if you’re confident in the benefits you offer, and members show their appreciation in return, the ongoing goal is to keep that value apparent and optimize over time based on the insights you collect.  


Execute Consistently to Deliver Value in Your Program  

After designing a program with enticing, value-filled benefits, you must make sure you can consistently deliver on them.  

Execution is pivotal to your program because this is the area where many great strategies die. That’s why many brands choose to work with a loyalty partner. To have someone who is experienced at delivering  premium loyalty benefits.   

It’s not just about making sure there’s enough value in your benefits, but ensuring your members are engaged and active within the program.  

Understand how your customers think about and react to your program. This ensures you’re not only giving them value for being a member but showing them you care about what they want. 

Executing to deliver value starts before the customer has experienced it. 

This happens at the point of sale.  

Regularly tweak your message and highlight information and value that is relevant to your audience. 

Even the slightest of tweaks to your message can impact results. 

Things to Consider in a Prospective Premium Loyalty Partner 

Find a loyalty partner that understands your customers and can help build your premium loyalty program. 

Look for a partner that has experience in free programs as well. Combining a free program with a premium tier offers your customers options and impacts your acquisition efforts. 

If customers are in your free program, they are in your loyalty ecosystem and relationships can be nurtured over time. 

Understand a prospective partner’s management and execution expertise, as well as a technology platform proven to manage a premium loyalty program. 

Your loyalty partner should understand how to best optimize revenue within those programs. 

Some other key traits in a loyalty partner include holistic, customer-focused, data-driven and forward-thinking. 

A great loyalty partner is an extension of your company and a loyalty program is a part of your brand. 

After all, your loyalty partner has as much at stake in the program as your company does. 

Strategize and Align with Your Loyalty Partner 

After you found a loyalty partner, the first step revolves around strategy and alignment with the stakeholders.  

Getting an organization aligned on customer loyalty goals and engagement initiatives is imperative. This isn’t always an easy process due to differing priorities.  

After you’re aligned on goals, strategy and a plan with pertinent stakeholders, assess the marketplace.  

What’s happening in loyalty marketing and customer engagement within your industry and outside it. Review best practices being used.  

Then, focus on understanding your customers. Some brands know their customers well. Some don’t. There might be a need for research to obtain better customer insights.  

That’s when you have the foundation to start designing a premium loyalty program through validation.  

Validate your program design financially and through a focus group of some kind.  

Any loyalty strategy should deliver positive financial benefits for the brand. Sometimes, traditional programs break even in a year or 18 months, while a premium loyalty program starts generating positive cash flow from the start. 

Don’t forget a marketing and communications plan. This is extraordinarily important to make someone who is paying to join a premium program feel like you know them. 

Design a Mind-Blowing Experience for Your Members 

Design for the best, most awesome, mind-blowing experience and launch with at least 80% of that plan.  

That is simply due to time constraints. Not everything is in place instantly. Plus, there’s a desire to periodically roll out new dynamic elements within the program.  

It depends on what the brand wants. Some brands who pilot a premium program test it for multiple years. Others test it for a certain number of months.  

Consumers evolve along with the marketplace. That’s why you tweak the program on a regular basis.  

The technology aspect of the entire program is critical. Assess it, build it, develop it, design it, test it, and then implement it.  

Typically, a brand tests a premium program in a select number of markets or a few stores to make sure you’ve got it right.  

And not only that, but to ensure flawless execution. 

Listen To Your Customers and Build a Successful Premium Loyalty Program 

It all starts with listening to and understanding your customers to build a value-filled program. When you’re designing a premium loyalty program, this point is crucial because you want to provide the most valuable benefits possible. Understand what extra value will benefit your members most. 

Flawless execution during the test phase is crucial to showcase the program to customers. A loyalty partner can be a great help here. Strategize and align with all pertinent stakeholders on a plan, goals, design and rollout. 

No matter what specific benefits mix you land on, you can’t stop this process once you launch. 

It’s a continuous cycle and your program needs to be continually monitored and assessed. 

Use the data that you collect from your members. Be able to understand what they need and want at any given time and make proper adjustments. Create a personalized experience that always engages and offers value and ease of use to them. 

Check out the previous podcast recap in the series: Lessons You Can Learn from the Best Premium Loyalty Programs in Retail


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.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Thank you for subscribing!

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.

Related Posts

Industry Trends

Top 5 Takeaways from Shoptalk 2024 

Read now


The Ultimate Guide to Subscription Loyalty

Read now

Premium Loyalty

Things to Consider Before You Price Your Subscription Loyalty Program

Read now

Premium Loyalty

How to Mitigate Your Loyalty Program Costs By Adding a Subscription

Read now

Be the brand people love