Tony O'Connor, Loyalty Expert
Tony O'Connor Loyalty Expert
5 minute Read • 31 Mar 2021

Why participation is the key to customer loyalty programs

Ensuring your customers keep returning either requires a unique product or a clever loyalty program.


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Companies have been actively trying different methods to ensure customer loyalty for well over a century. 

Some do it through excellent customer service, or offering unrivalled quality. Others offer massive discounting and prices that can't be beat. Most companies offer a mixture of these, complemented by formal loyalty program. 

And while there are literally thousands of different customer loyalty programs out there - every single one of them has either succeeded or failed due to one factor - participation.

In this blog we’re going to examine:

  • Why participation is so important
  • Why it’s difficult to maintain
  • How you can ensure greater participation in your brand loyalty programs.

When it comes to customer loyalty programs participation is vital

Loyalty programs cost money to develop. They cost money to launch. They cost money to run. Therefore, your loyalty program needs to generate either revenue or retention to be worthwhile.

This rings true whether you are printing up some stamp cards for a local coffee shop, or developing a digital air-miles program aimed at hundreds of millions of passengers.

Obviously there are a host of other barriers to overcome. Creating an original program, dealing with design, printing collateral, building the IT infrastructure, developing an app, ongoing customer service - and if it's a national program, creating a robust network. It's not easy, but it's possible. However an even bigger problem is about to arise...

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Other loyalty programs are now the competition

Ok. Let's presume that all of those obstacles have been overcome and that everything has gone perfectly to plan. Your program is up and running, your promotions are working, customers seem to be using it. Everything is working as it should.

The problem with this scenario is that lots of other loyalty programs might be working perfectly too. That could include the local gas station, the local pet shop, the local hardware store - as well as big corporates like airlines and national supermarket chains.

And while these companies are all different, and run different loyalty programs, they also rely on swipe cards, and key chains, and apps, and stamp cards, and strip cards, and a hundred other ways for people to access their particular program.

So do you realistically think your customers are going to be carrying around 3 swipe cards? And 2 key cards? And have 4 different apps on their phone? 

Some people might manage it, but most won't. And that means they are going to be giving up on at least some of the loyalty programs they signed up for - and yours might be one of them.

 

Perhaps a loyalty platform might work better than a loyalty program?

The good news here is that you don't need to start your own stand-alone loyalty program to build loyalty. You can also join a loyalty platform.

It works the same way as restaurants joining takeaway.com - or bands joining Spotify. A digital loyalty platform brings together thousands of businesses and millions of customers, all in the same place.

With a loyalty platform, members only need a single card, or a single app, that lets them collect points and earn rewards at thousands of different merchants.

And for the merchants, loyalty platforms are even more useful. For starters, there's an existing customer base, which could contain millions of potential new customers. 

Loyalty platforms also take care of all the customer service issues. If customers have questions, or issues, they can contact the platform directly, rather than you and your team.

 

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Then there’s the data.

Loyalty platforms also automatically collect data. In fact, when linked to the company POS system, it allows merchants to see who their most valuable customers are, how often they visit and how much they spend - while at the same time rewarding them appropriately for their loyalty.

You can also use this data to create targeted marketing campaigns - as well as automatic emails that help you increase sales and reduce churn without lifting a finger.

 

Customer loyalty programs are all about participation

Most importantly of all, loyalty platforms ensure participation, which we have already established as the make-or-break aspect of any loyalty program. 

They do this by operating at a larger scale than any individual program, making it easier for the customer - and easier for businesses.

In fact, open-loop loyalty platforms are becoming increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes and shapes.

If you’re looking for a loyalty solution that ticks all of the boxes, for a surprisingly low monthly fee, reach out to one one of the Piggy loyalty experts by clicking here.











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