9 Traits of the Best Loyalty Programs

3 minute read

How can your brand drive better performance from your loyalty program while delivering a more rewarding member experience? Read through these nine traits of the best loyalty programs to see which might be opportunities for improvement.

Trait #1: The program helps your brand achieve its goals

Know what you want to achieve and have a way to measure success.  

Business goals
(Revenue, Market share, CLTV, AOV)

Marketing goals
(Awareness, Engagement, Conversions)

Loyalty goals
(Acquisition, Spend, Retention, Advocacy, Data collection)

“Make sure your loyalty program isn’t just a marketing project but a complete business vision.” 

Hans Laroche, Senior Consultant, Relationship Marketing & Loyalty, R3 Marketing

Trait #2: The program fully leverages customer data 

Turn your data challenge into an opportunity to build and nurture customer relationships.

“Data is extremely helpful to gain insights on where the biggest opportunities for growth are and where you should invest for the greatest impact.”

Richard Schenker, Founder & Chief Customer Engagement Officer, Loyal Strategy Consulting

Trait #3: The program makes it easy to join & participate

The most disliked aspect of loyalty programs according to U.S. consumers is it takes too long to earn rewards (Statista).

Make sure members are clear on:

  • What they can earn
  • How to earn it
  • How to redeem rewards

“Minimize the information you ask for at registration, then incentivize new members to complete their profile. Use progressive profiling to collect preferences, lifestyle details and more.”

Erin Raese, SVP of Growth & Strategy, Annex Cloud 

Trait #4: The program delivers value day one

Reward new members as soon as they sign up (hint: it doesn’t have to be with points).

“The smartest thing brands can do is accelerate the earn when members first start purchasing, so they get to a reward as soon as possible. It makes them feel appreciated and delivers value.”

David Slavick, Co-founder & Partner, Ascendant Loyalty

Trait #5: The program value is clear

A detailed onboarding strategy is essential for reminding members of benefits, and incentivizing them to complete profiles, plus engage early and often.

“Signups lead to engagement, engagement leads to loyalty. It’s a journey, so going beyond signups and having a clear, consistent way to communicate is critical.”  

David Mansfield, SVP of Data Sciences, Tandem Theory

“Most brands focus on revenue boost but it’s just as important to look at delivering ongoing relevant communications—including onboarding, rewards, targeted emails and emails to resuscitate members who have dropped off in engagement or are disengaged.”

Philip Shelper, CEO & Founder, Loyalty & Reward Co.

Trait #6: The program goes well beyond transactions & discounts

Address both behavioral (shop consistently) and attitudinal (emotional) loyalty to avoid being vulnerable to quick customer shifts.

“Every brand should have ‘brand-right’ ways to show value in the relationship. This can come in the form of access, recognition, ease, digital activations, social responsibility and more. Amplifying what customers already love about you strengthens the bond and drives true loyalty.”

Ellen Green, VP Loyalty Strategy, Bounteous

Trait #7: The best loyalty programs make loyalty fun  

Sports are a great place to look for inspiration on how to create a little fun competition using gamification.

“While transactions are the ticket to play, the experience is what’s remembered. Add Joyalty Moments of Magic to enhance the experience.”

Adam Posner, CEO & Founder, The Point of Loyalty

Trait #8: The program stays fresh and is always evolving

Successful loyalty programs aren’t set-it-and-forget-it. They adapt to changing customer expectations and market trends.

“Keeping your loyalty program fresh can be as simple as rotating your benefits, features and offers. And don’t forget about the element of surprise.”

Jodi Rausch, Managing Director, Loyalty Solutions, Concentrix Catalyst

Trait #9: The best loyalty programs leverage SaaS technology

Today’s SaaS-based loyalty solutions are designed to satisfy most enterprise requirements.

  1. Collect, analyze and act on customer data
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Enterprise-ready data management
  • Intelligent rules engine
  1. Provide more than a points engine
  • Engage
  • Personalize
  • Retain
  • Drive advocacy
  1. Maximize your flexibility, adaptability & configurability
  • Test & learn
  • Create segments based on any combination of attributes
  • Quickly re-configure & update
  1. Scale without limits
  • Unlimited members
  • Unlimited attributes
  • Expand across brands & regions
  1. Deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences
  • Share data across entire tech stack
  • Personalize every touchpoint
  • Omnichannel promo engine

“The effectiveness of a loyalty program is tied to its ability to create brand engagement and modify members’ behavior in order to increase spending and share-of-wallet.”

Hans Laroche, Senior Consultant, Relationship Marketing & Loyalty, R3 Marketing  


Read the full guide to gain expert insights on how to elevate your loyalty program.

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