Learn how to build customer loyalty through digital tactics, tools and technologies.
- Billions of consumers around the globe actively use digital channels — your loyalty efforts need to keep up
- Digital loyalty basics include using email or SMS loyalty triggers and integrating loyalty with your website
- Next-level digital loyalty tactics include rewarding digital behavior, using gamification and leveraging QR codes
- Advanced digital loyalty strategies include using multiple digital shopping channels, integrating loyalty-based voice search and incorporating interactive content
With 4.5 billion active internet users1 and 2.95 billion active social media users2 around the globe, it’s no secret that consumers are more connected than ever. The question is: Are you taking full advantage of these digital opportunities to boost customer loyalty?
If not — and especially if you hit “set it and forget it” on your loyalty efforts a decade or even five years ago — it’s time to get started. Read the Digital Loyalty Basics section below to learn about essential tactics you should begin incorporating.
If you’ve mastered the basics, then skip forward to the Next Level and Advanced sections for ideas on upping your digital loyalty game to keep customers engaged — and buying.
Digital Loyalty Basics
There are certain strategies that are simply table stakes in today’s digital world. They may not differentiate you from the pack, but they can help ensure you’re at least part of the group and that you’re staying on customers’ radar. These tactics, like all digital loyalty marketing strategies, can also let you take advantage of the relatively lower price point of digital compared to traditional marketing.
Essential digital customer loyalty solutions include:
- Email or opt-in SMS triggers for loyalty communications — customer is near a reward, has earned a reward, has a reward/points about to expire, etc.
- Website integration — for example, make sure that customer points show up in the shopping cart, a message appears asking if the customer wants to use their loyalty reward, etc.
- Loyalty microsite — through this online portal, customers can view and manage their profile and preferences, and check their rewards status at any time, 24/7.
Example: Sephora to Go
This iPhone app lets customers view past purchases (both in-store and online), create shopping lists and even make purchases from within the app. The app integrates with Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program and allows members to view their own personalized, exclusive offers. In-store shopping is enhanced with the ability to scan products to read reviews. Free headphones are offered to new users to incentivize them to make purchases through the app.
Digital Loyalty — the Next Level
Once you have a digital loyalty foundation, you’re ready to move up a step. While these intermediate strategies can be more complex to implement, they also offer more opportunities for customers to engage and interact with your brand, so you can become a more integrated part of their daily lives.
Reward digital behavior.
This involves giving points or rewards for actions customers take related to your brand in the digital realm. For instance, uploading user-generated content, submitting referrals, hitting like or share, or completing online product reviews. Choose behaviors that fit your business objectives.
This New York-based cosmetics e-tailer has a loyalty program called Team TarteTM. It’s famous for incentivizing a wide range of non-transactional interactions, which, in turn, fuel the brand’s online loyalty marketing efforts:
- Members receive points for opting in and completing their profile
- Customers are also rewarded for recurring activities, like friend referrals, opening newsletters, answering product questions or completing quizzes
- Tarte has a Reward Shop where members can spend their points on cosmetic samples, coupons and merchandise
Try digital gamification.
Gamification involves turning every day and ordinary tasks into something game-like and fun. In fact, it can increase program engagement simply because it is fun. For instance, incorporating gaming elements into your program might mean offering customers the chance to earn badges, take online challenges, play scratch and win games, complete quizzes, enter sweepstakes, spin prize wheels, vote and so on.
It could even be something as basic as adding a progression bar showing a member’s rewards status, say the experts at Gamify: “This is an example of both feedback and progress, two game elements that act as stimuli in greatly encouraging customers to complete the task at hand.”
Gamification may be included on your website, your mobile app or your social media networks. For instance, you could set up a hashtag contest on Twitter or a photo contest on Instagram. The contests could give points for submitting funny content or photos of customers enjoying your product, using a reward or taking part in an experience available through your loyalty program.
Example: Stride Rite
The shoe retailer ran a contest where kids tried on shoes in-store, then followed dance moves on a digital screen. Participants earned a score for their moves, which they were then encouraged to share online. The game increased customers’ in-store time and drove sales.
Example: Under Armour
The apparel company partnered with NBA player Steph Curry to offer a trivia game during the NBA playoffs one year. When Curry sank a three-pointer, consumers could use an app to participate in a Steph IQ trivia game and win prizes. It gave fans a chance to show off their knowledge — and boosted Under Armour sales.
Ramp up online customer service.
If your website offers live chat for customer service, make sure the agents are equipped to answer frequently asked questions around your loyalty program. But 85% of customer service chats today are powered by chatbots.3 And the same guideline holds true here — your chatbot must be prepared to address customer questions about your loyalty program. Go the extra mile by incorporating your CRM and loyalty data to fuel your chatbot strategy with each customer’s CRM/loyalty data, so you can make interactions more personal.
Example: L.L. Bean
When customers visit L.L. Bean’s website, a chatbot asks if they would like to log in with their loyalty account. This “loyalty aware” chatbot then links a customer’s loyalty and CRM data to personalize choices. Interactions with the chatbot are also recorded back to the CRM system.
Leverage QR codes.
QR codes have made a comeback as businesses, particularly restaurants, use them to create contactless experiences — for example, replacing printed menus. As a result, customers are now much more comfortable with QR codes. Consider using them on in-store signage — for instance, to facilitate loyalty program enrollment and provide the ability to download program materials like the program overview or FAQs.
Example: Rack Room Shoes
CCG helped Rack Room Shoes and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse create mobile-based customer loyalty programs. We added QR codes on POS displays promoting the loyalty program. Customers could scan the code with their smartphones to go directly to the enrollment page — a perfect solution for the mobile-focused program.
Advanced Digital Loyalty
When the basics are woven into your company culture and you’re trying at least some of the “next level” tactics, it’s time to start considering the graduate level of digital loyalty. Here are some strategies to consider.
Cover your digital shopping bases.
Once upon a time, digital shopping meant going to a company’s website and going through online checkout. But today, customers have a more diffused shopping experience. They can purchase online not only through a computer, but also through their smartphone or tablet.
They can also choose to buy via shopping apps, shoppable content, shoppable posts on social platforms and advanced social shopping. (For example, Instagram just unveiled Instagram Checkout, which lets users make purchases without leaving the platform). Your loyalty program needs to track and reward members regardless of where they shop with you.
Integrate voice search.
Forty-three percent of people who own a voice-enabled device use it to shop — and voice shopping is forecast to reach $40 billion by 2022. What’s more, 52% of people who own smart speakers and purchase through them monthly say they would like to get deals, sales and other promotions through the device.4
Loyalty marketers need to keep these vital stats in mind and ensure that you’re meeting customer expectations. Many apps can now create shortcut verbal commands to access or update information associated with the app. Does your loyalty app allow customers to create verbal shortcuts — for example, to answer questions like, What is my points balance? When does my reward expire? How close am I to my next reward?
Many brands, like the ones below, are already including voice search in their digital marketing strategies to deliver value-based content effectively to their customers:
- Patrón Tequila helps consumers verbally access personalized cocktail recipes.
- Domino’s allows pizza lovers to order by voice from the comfort of their couch without having to pick up the phone or even place an online order.
- Nestlé created a smart speaker skill that provides voice instructions as you cook.
- Campbell’s has a skill that helps hungry consumers choose and cook recipes.
Implement interactive content marketing.
Content marketing isn’t new and should already be a staple of your marketing efforts.
However, incorporating a digital spin to your content marketing is a new and growing avenue to reach and engage customers. For instance, if you send an e-newsletter to loyalty program members, you can incorporate digital, interactive elements, such as quizzes, polls, calculators and video.
In fact, video content — an inherently digital tool — should be a high priority in your digital loyalty communication strategy.
Video can naturally be utilized in your loyalty communications strategy: Consider creating a short video introduction to your loyalty program or creating a personalized video for your top customers, congratulating them when they have achieved VIP status.
Seek out user-generated content.
People naturally trust their peers more than companies. In fact, 90% of shoppers reported that UGC influenced their decision to purchase more than any other form of advertising, especially among Millennials and Gen Z.8
Tapping your loyalty members for blog comments, testimonials, reviews, images and videos can be a great source of content — and since these are your loyal customers, it will be positive content more often than not. Pay attention to when you time your request: An ideal point is immediately after a member has earned a reward.
Put up some geofencing.
Geofencing lets you set location-based boundaries and send push notifications to opted-in customers who enter the zone. For instance, you could set a five-mile radius around a store location and, when a customer comes inside that perimeter, you would send a marketing message.
Research shows that 53% of shoppers visited a specific retailer after receiving a location-based alert.9 And half of consumers who stopped at a store due to a text message from a retailer said that visit was unplanned.9
Loyalty programs offer great opportunities for integrating geofencing. For instance, you can push reminders to members who enter your geofence zone and have an unused reward. Or send them a surprise-and-delight incentive that’s good for only a brief period to encourage immediate action.
Geofencing also allows you to collect additional customer data, which then lets you increase personalization — another key to building loyalty.
A Customer Loyalty Booster
Incorporating even basic digital loyalty strategies can give your customer loyalty marketing — and metrics — a boost. Continuing to evolve your digital customer loyalty expertise and implementation can help differentiate your program and your brand even more. End result? More engaged customers, leading to longer, more profitable customer relationships.
If you’re ready to implement or evolve digital customer loyalty solutions, we can help. Our entire mission is built around helping our clients build those stronger, longer, more profitable customer relationships. And our retail marketing experts have continued to keep up with ever-changing trends, tactics and technologies for the past four decades. Schedule a free consultation or call us at 303.986.3000 today to see how we can help you.
1 “Worldwide Digital Population as of January 2021,” Joseph Johnson, Statista, published April 7, 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/, accessed April 23, 2021
2 “Number of Global Social Network Users 2017 – 2025,” H. Tankovsksa, Statista, posted Jan. 28, 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/, accessed April 23, 2021
3 “30+ Artificial Intelligence Statistics for 2019,” Michael Gigante, Learning Hub, posted April 1, 2019, https://learn.g2.com/artificial-intelligence-statistics, accessed April 26, 2021
4 “34 Voice Search Stats Marketers Need to Know in 2021,” Derek Andersen, Dialogtech, posted April 7, 2021, https://www.dialogtech.com/blog/voice-search-statistics/, accessed April 26, 20201
5 “2019 B2B and B2C Content Marketing Statistics,” Point Visible, https://www.pointvisible.com/blog/content-marketing-statistics-2019/, accessed April 26, 2021
6 “Video Marketing Statistics 2021,” Wyzowl, https://www.wyzowl.com/video-marketing-statistics, accessed April 26, 2021
7 “Where is video marketing going in 2019 and beyond?” Joe Rinaldi, Impact+, posted Jan. 20, 2019, https://www.impactplus.com/blog/video-marketing-in-2019-infographic, accessed April 26, 2021
8 “New Study Shows User-Generated Content Tops Marketing Tactics by Influencing 90 Percent of Shoppers’ Purchasing Decisions,” PR Newswire, posted June 19, 2017, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-shows-user-generated-content-tops-marketing-tactics-by-influencing-90-percent-of-shoppers-purchasing-decisions-300475348.html, accessed April 26, 2021
9 “The Power of Geofencing and How to Add It to Your Marketing,” Salesforce, https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/geofencing-marketing/, accessed April 26, 2021