Things to consider when creating an omni-channel loyalty program

Customers are more empowered, demanding, knowledgeable, evolved and interactive than ever before. They have more expectations, power and choice and want to seamlessly engage through multiple channels before making a buying decision. Research states that about 47% of customers admit to using three to five communication channels ranging from social media, chatbots, mobile apps, videos, company website, etc. Customers these days prefer an integrated experience that enables them to easily transition from one channel to another. If brands want to maximize customer retention and loyalty and cut through the noise in a competitive landscape, they must focus on personalized experiences and relevant messaging. So, employing an omni-channel strategy is a great way to impact customer convenience and conversion. According to ClickZ, customers who used three or more channels to interact with brands had a purchasing frequency rate that was found to be 250% higher than single-channel users. According to another intriguing insight, an effective rewards program increases a brand’s market share by 20%. And about 89% of respondents to a recent retail study showed that customers are most likely to purchase products through a channel that is most convenient for them.

To meet dynamic expectations of customers, brands need to make the customer integral to every action they take and focus on omni-channel loyalty programs. So what’s an omni-channel strategy? Omni-channel loyalty programs focus on the best shopping experience across all channels.The primary goal of an omni-channel loyalty program is to encourage customers to earn and redeem rewards across multiple channels (text, email, voice, social media, app, web, in-store etc.) where your brand has a presence. Identify the most relevant touch points, integrate them into the overall customer journey and watch your bottom line improve. 

A brand that has nailed the omni-channel loyalty experience is Starbucks. First things first, Starbucks offers a free loyalty rewards program in which a customer can pay with cash, credit/debit or a mobile device at the store. They can earn rewards called “stars” as well in the process. Also, Starbucks has made it really easy for customers to reload their card through their phone or in person at a Starbucks store. If customers make any changes to the card or to their profile, it gets automatically updated in real-time across all relevant channels. Being a member of the Starbucks loyalty program also allows them to enjoy free drinks, free food, free size upgrades and free drink customizations. 

Ingredients of a successful omnichannel loyalty program:

  • It’s imperative to have a single data centralized system that can elicit clean, actionable data. Brands can simply refer to the unified customer data flowing in from various touchpoints and analyze it to assess customer behavior, channel preferences, price sensitivity, and purchase history to gain a complete full 360-view of the customer. 
  • Make the customer journey seamless, effortless, simple and consistent. It’s important to ensure that the customer experiences a uniform treatment at every step of the transaction process. 
  • Provide a clear and consistent customer experience when they engage with your brand across all channels. Optimize the channels to their fullest potential.

To design and create an effective omni-channel loyalty program, keep these considerations in mind: 

  •  Make sure your program is mobile optimized so that customers can transact via mobile and earn points, redeem promotions, and take action in real-time. Encourage customers to engage by swiping and scanning their apps for rewards. Chip-based smart cards, RFID, real-time point of sale, facial and voice recognition biometrics, wireless E-tags, PSAs (personal shopping assistants) are a great way to boost loyalty and incremental sales. 
  • Once customers enroll in your loyalty program at one of your stores, notify them via SMS or email and encourage them to explore your website to know further details about the loyalty program and how they can benefit from it. Digitize your loyalty programs so that you can merge online and offline purchases, allowing shoppers to choose their preferred channel. Also, customers can earn rewards not by just shopping but also by referring family and friends, writing reviews, and posting positive experiences with your brand.    
  • Promote your omni-channel loyalty programs across all channels such as email, in-store, mobile, text, online and on social media.  This gives a major boost to your engagement and conversions. Integrate the loyalty program in the emailer, informing the customer about their current point balance and dedicated offers, thus blending the physical and digital store experiences.
 
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