As the end of the year approaches, people can’t help but reflect on the year that has just gone by and think about the upcoming new year filled with possibilities. That’s especially true for marketers. At the end of every year, they can see what progress they have made, on which metrics they have thrived, where they have failed, and what they can do better in the new year. While doing so, marketers should also take a look at others. Especially at things that embody quality and creativity, whether it’s a marketing campaign, digital outreach, a contest or a press release. Naturally, the best customer loyalty programs of 2016 wouldn’t be out of this list; especially considering the fact that they’re the most powerful, efficient and measurable tool to achieve customer retention. With that said, let’s take a look at the best loyalty programs that have outperformed others during 2016:
Even though it’s relatively unknown in the retail industry, GameStop’s loyalty program, has been hitting new benchmarks of success. Members just have to sign up for a free or paid membership and they can earn points based on purchases in GameStop stores and the US website. Then, they can simply redeem those points for discounts or merchandise. The most luminous part of the program is that members of the paid version have the chance to get their hands on the Game Informer magazine. Game Informer magazine is the fourth largest consumer publication in the US and it’s also the largest subscribed digital magazine in the world. Unsurprisingly, it became the USP of the program. GameStop is also thinking about converting it into an outlet to generate extra revenue from advertising. The program became even more solid after it became mobile friendly–the GameStop mobile app has been installed over 5 million times. It is safe to say that due to all the right things that this program put in place, it generated more than satisfactory results. In fact, according to Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, 75% of the GameStop store revenues are coming from those memberships. Moreover, 50% of transactions are reported to have a PowerUp Rewards card attached to them.
Costco, the largest membership-only warehouse club in the United States, came up with a tiered loyalty program with three segments–gold star, business and executive–in which members are rewarded with super discounted groceries and household goods in bulk. Of course, the rewards keep customers coming back because who doesn’t like to buy extra discounted products? But what gives the program an extra push is its ease of use. All customers have to do is swipe their membership card during checkout. Despite having three structures, the program is extremely simple and easy to understand. Any loyalty program needs an easy-to-see value proposition and it needs to have simplicity. Costco’s loyalty program has both in abundance, so it’s no coincidence that 90% of sales are generated from existing customers, even though the company is charging its customers to be members of the loyalty program. People have to pay $55 per year to be in the gold star and business level, and the joining fee rises to $110 to be in the executive bracket. It’s impressive that while Walmart and Target struggle amidst competition from Amazon, Costco has 81 million paying members and it’s still growing.
British Food Depot, the online provider of quality English and British foods, really redefined the definition of simplicity in the context of best loyalty programs. The program has only one tier with rewards of store credit for every purchase. Moreover, to make it as user friendly as possible, the program doesn’t even bother its customers for enrollment or point redemption. The points are redeemed automatically as soon as they spend a minimum of $50. Now, not requiring any efforts from customers is a very unique feature for a loyalty program. They don’t need to think about how much they should spend to earn a specific number of points, or how many points they have in their accounts. The automatic redemption mechanism converts points into rewards as soon as the minimum amount is collected. Obviously, the ease of earning rewards along with the ease of using those rewards became the hallmark of this super effective program.
While critics are whining about Amazon’s loyalty program’s lack of true value to customers, Amazon Prime keeps winning customers by pleasing its loyal members in all possible ways. Apart from its range of exclusive offers, like thousands of free movies and music and free 2-day shipping, they came up with an online supermarket for its UK loyal members. And as expected from Amazon, that’s spot on as far as value offering is concerned. For an extra £6.99 monthly fee, Prime members have access to AmazonFresh, which allows them to:
Amazon has always been a master of understanding its customers’ needs, and by bringing Amazon Fresh to UK, the company transformed the boringness of weekly shopping into easy and few clicks. And to further the ease of shopping, Amazon has joined hands with large supermarket chains like Morrisons.
Hyatt, the highly respected luxury hotel brand, really knows how to reward its loyal guests. The company is aware that the experiential and not the monetary benefits are going to touch people considering the hospitable nature of its business. With that in mind, it launched Hyatt Gold Passport guest loyalty program to ensure that its guests stay will be as pleasant as possible by offering “right” rewards. Members of this program can avail benefits, such as earning five points per dollar spent to redeem towards free nights with no blackout dates, room upgrades, and airline miles. Besides, the highest tier members get 4 suite upgrades yearly and upon qualifying for the first time. This privilege can be enjoyed by the members for 7 nights without the need of any sort of booking. Besides, members can earn and exchange rewards across Hyatt’s 12 hotel brands. If you look at all the best loyalty programs 2016 examples, it’s easy to believe that if you are offering good rewards, your program will sail through your customer’s preference. But there are many programs that have eaten dust despite lucrative rewards. Simplicity needs to accompany rewards to ensure easy collection and redemption of earned points. The lesson that marketers can learn from all the aforementioned examples is that a convenient program will always further enhance one that has excellent rewards, after all “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.