Over the last decade, loyalty programs have been overloading the market of physical stores. Every store wanted to have its own loyalty card, with its own benefits and meanwhile, the wallet of every customer is full of cards and people often don’t recall if they are a member or not. Luckily, most of the programs have shifted over the last years to digital versions, which lead to the next challenge: all those apps and digital cards on your phone. Although great apps like Stocard solve this challenge, by integrating all loyalty apps into one single app, this doesn’t solve the challenge of all those different digital cards yet. Luckily, there is one business where this challenge is less applicable: e-commerce!
Most of the loyalty programs are less focused on e-commerce though, although the Covid-19 pandemic has enforced a large shift in commerce towards digital. Most behavior of consumers is now even more online and so should organizations shift their focus to digital loyalty programs for online stores. We see it coming more and more, but still a lot of organizations are lacking a real, personalized loyalty program within their online store. We believe a greater focus of e-commerce businesses should be on retention of the customer, instead of purely focusing on generating more traffic, more leads, more customers and purchases via all types of digital channels and marketplaces like Amazon and bol.com. Brand loyalty of individual stores is more essential than ever, so start developing your own, (hyper-)personalized loyalty program within your existing online store!
Where to start with your e-commerce loyalty approach?
All good e-commerce companies have a thorough CRM system. This should be your starting point, one single data source: the single source of truth! By starting with your CRM, you have your most important asset in place and connected: data. This will drive your personalized program from the start and will continue to improve due to the collection and combination of more data throughout the course of applying the program to your customers. Unfortunately, we experience too often that loyalty programs are still siloed and applied within organizations and businesses as separate, standalone tools. That creates a gap between data sources, which blocks future and sustainable development in personalization and, with that, the effectiveness and ROI of your program. Don’t silo, think as a platform!
“We experience to often that loyalty programs are still siloed and applied within organizations and business as separate, standalone tools. That creates a gap between data sources, which blocks future and sustainable development in personalization and, with that, the effectiveness and ROI of your program.”
For the integration of your desired program onto your CRM, you use a native application (like the VANEIGENS Engagement Hub) that manages the full program through API’s and offers you the flexibility to design and manage the program according to your needs. Don’t limit yourself in possibilities and use an application that already contains all required and nice to have features, like customer profiling, marketing automation, tiers, benefits, promotions, coupons, gamification, thirds party rewards and of course solid analysis and reports.
As soon as your starting point is done, you can start designing the full ecosystem and all integrations required to setup the loyalty ecosystem. For a successful integration and setup of your program, make sure to keep to following elements in mind:
- First, of course, make sure you integrate the loyalty application directly onto your CRM for a seamless and realtime experience, by using a native App, like the Engagement Hub;
- All consumer touch points should be integrated within the program:
- Service channels – incoming requests should be connected to the individual profile, history and also loyalty of the customer;
- Product catalogue – showcase the benefits of loyalty in your existing stores, linked to
- Delivery & fulfilment – one of the important parts of a personalized loyalty programs is the way you integrate your delivery and fulfilment, as this is an essential step in the customer experience. Involve information of this stage in the program, connect benefits to this process and apply compensation or rewards when this process is or is not satisfying your customer.
- Social Media – these channels should be an integrated part as well, as it can make a difference in multiple ways. Recognizing your customer when sending inquiries through your social media channels and reacting fast and personal, will supports further engagement with loyal customers.
- Marketing Automation – one of the main drivers behind the success of a program is the marketing automation. This ensures that your program communicates personalized messages, keeps the program top of mind and drives conversion of the efforts. With a solid marketing automation, a loyalty program is just a lucky shot at engaging customers.
- Be creative in how you position the program within your stores and what kind of relevant benefits you want to give for enforcing loyal behavior. By customizing your program, it is possible to design a unique program that distinguishes your business from other, similar e-commerce players. If you fail to be different, competition will do it and e-commerce business will become more difficult and acquiring new customers more costly every month.
- Keep innovating and improving your program. By adding new benefits, rewards or gamification, you make sure that the program is kept top-of-mind and most important: relevant.
Some think starters for a successful online loyalty program
As soon as the infrastructure is ready to use, you can start designing the full program, fitting your business needs and the consumers’ wishes. In the articles on designing the best fitting programs, you can read all about the steps and stages to go through in this process. For e-commerce businesses, we have already summed up a few think starters for the creative use of your program:
- Work with tiers – people like to be recognized and to have a feeling of competition. When working with different tiers, people feel recognized for their efforts as they get more and better rewards than other members, that are less active. Make sure that you’re not general in your rewarding and differentiate your stars from your starters. Use tiers for this differentiate and be creative in the setup (think beyond bronze, silver and gold).
- Reward beyond transactions – don’t stick to just rewarding the transactions made in your store, but also consider other KPI’s that support your business, like promoting your store on social media (page or product sharing), liking and sharing your social media postings, clicking on products and page views, contributing to co-creation platforms, registering for your newsletter and opening your newsletter, completing the profile, connecting social media accounts, and many more. Designing this rewarding mechanism should be based on the designed ecosystem that has been developed in earlier stage of the process.
- Add more value to the e-commerce loyalty program than just including discounts. Discounts can be given by every store, so move away from the price comparison and competition. Try to include, besides discounts, a combination of other relevant rewards:
- Free delivery
- Pre-sales access
- Event access
- Credits for gift cards
- Free product sampling
- Rewards from relevant third parties
- Many more… be creative!
- Multichannel – as said, include other channels as well and make sure that customers can benefit from their behavior in different situation, and not only when they are already visiting your online store. If applicable, link the program also with your offline stores to generate a seamless experience.
- Also, include the customer feedback into your loyalty program.
- Another interesting tool to use loyalty is including a member-get-member rewarding mechanism. Your loyal customer is benefiting from sharing your membership with others potential (loyal) customers and meanwhile your business is supported in traffic and lead generation, brand building and your complete engagement process.
When having designed and implemented your unique, personalized program, make sure to actively communicate your program at every stage of the customer journey. Try to make it as tangible as possible, so the customer understand what value is in it for them. Don’t hide your program, but make it one of your core USP’s. Customer loyalty is going to make the difference for e-commerce businesses in 2021, so invest in it and make it more important for your entire organization, as multi-disciplinary approach!
So. Online loyalty can be very extensive, but doesn’t have to be complicated to design and setup. By using the right application, integrating the necessary systems via API and to design a creative, interactive and beneficial rewarding mechanism, e-commerce loyalty is developed in a sustainable way.
Interesting in loyalty programs for e-commerce and direct integration onto CRM systems? Download our leaflet of the Engagement Hub or contact us for a great cup of coffee!