5 Surprising Ways a Loyalty Program Can Improve the Online Shopping Experience

If shoppers aren’t having a good time in your web store, what’s going to make them come back? Unless you’re sure you’ve either got the best deals or the most exclusive products available… nothing!

That’s why it’s important to employ a consistent and delightful customer experience in order to keep your business at the forefront of customers’ minds. A well-planned loyalty program that spreads out to meet customers at many different touchpoints throughout your site and social media channels is one of the best tools that you can use.

Here are 5 ways a loyalty program can improve the customer experience:

1. Customers choose their own actions to earn points

Everybody likes to have a little bit of freedom, right? That’s why ecommerce is so successful. Shopping online provides a way for consumers to shop freely, at their own time and pace.

A loyalty program should offer a bit of freedom, too. Unfortunately many loyalty programs still focus on the original idea that only purchases should be rewarded. The reason that it doesn’t quite work for everyone is that purchases and loyalty are NOT synonymous. Consider rewarding customers for more.

If you reward things like using your unique Instagram hashtags, referring your brand to customers’ friends, watching your latest awesome video, or filling out a customer profile, you can actually let customers choose what they want to do in order to earn points towards their next reward.

ShopInYourUnderwear

Here’s a video from the campaign that introduced GotStyle.ca’s online store back in 2013.

2.Customers are rewarded for their business, and choose their rewards

Another area you can provide a little freedom to move in is in your selection of rewards.
Here I have to give it to a special beauty brand, Sephora. They’re actually allowing members to choose which products they want to sample as a reward.

Money back to spend is also another reward that provides the ultimate freedom, but there’s also quite a bit of fun in receiving little freebies or discounts to use, as long as there are several options to choose from. The ability to choose, and a good variety ensures that more customers will find something they like.

Oh, and another great thing about small sample products, is that you might just turn your customers on to another product in your arsenal!

Sephora_Reward_Samples

Cool samples in exchange for your points? Yes, please. Here’s how Sephora offers a range of product samples appealing to a range of interests. In the case of beauty, offer products from haircare, to skin care, to perfume.

3. You build an emotional connection

Customer loyalty can be built upon a number of things, but there’s a lot to be said about exceptional customer service. In fact customer service is a driving factor for returning customers! And it’s great for sales, too. According to an American Express survey, 74% of consumers say they’ve spent more with a company because of their positive experiences with customer service.

When it comes to building that connection in ecommerce, there are a few things every company can do. First of all, make sure the shopping and buying experience isn’t leaving a bad mark. Easy search and even-easier checkout are key.

In addition to improving your UX, make sure your shipping is reliable and efficient.
And finally, make sure you’re keeping in touch with relevant offers after the purchase is made. A loyalty program with action-based automated emails is one great way to keep up with communication.

Once a customer completes a certain action in your store – or doesn’t complete any actions for a certain period of time – you can send out an automated email that says “Thanks for your purchase, now you have 30 points in your balance.” or “We miss you! Did you know you can earn points by watching our latest video?”

05_staying_in_the_loop

Communication is key in any relationship – same goes for the buyer-seller relationship. Be there to answer their questions, but also reach out regularly with automated emails about your loyalty program.

4. Customers contribute their experiences (user-generated content)

Crocs is doing user-generated content really well. The funky footwear brand is using user-generated content from one social media channel, to promote their comfy shoes on Facebook. To see how Crocs is generating and using UGC in another fun way, check out their #FindYourFun campaign

So what does this have to do with a loyalty program? Once again, it’s all about the incentives. Let customers know that you appreciate their shares, and give them a few points for sharing Instagram photos using your hashtag.

Recognition makes customers feel good, and that contributes to loyalty in a way that shows customers are worth way more than a price tag. So a loyalty program that makes for easier sharing and thanking is going to go a lot further than the traditional points-for-purchases thing.

Crocs_UGC (1)

Crocs, the famous footwear brand, hunts down fan photos online (with the help of the #crocs hashtag) and posts them to Facebook. It’s the perfect form of advertising!

5. Brand advocacy made easy

There’s no greater advertisement than that of a true advocate – someone who really loves your products and loves to tell other people why!

In fact, according to a Nielsen study, between 60 and 71% of respondents trust consumer opinions online (study divided by continents).

Antavo is a loyalty program software that actually helps you easily identify brand advocates among your members, based on the criteria you choose and an algorithm. The Brand Advocacy function allows your team to see their activity in your store so you can reach out to them in a more targeted way with rewards, offers and gratitude!

In that way, a loyalty program can really help you make sure you’re contacting the right people in the right way, and making a very good impression with your brand, communication and service.

So what can I do as a retailer?

If you’re looking for ways to improve the shopping experience in your store, as well as increase customer retention a loyalty program will give you a way to give great new opportunities for customers to build a better connection with your store and a lot of tools that let you automate your marketing strategy. Most importantly, it will help you get to know your customers better, so you can better make visits to your store a more personal experience every time.