Zsuzsa Kecsmar is the CMO and co-founder of Antavothe Enterprise Loyalty Cloud that offers the best loyalty technology.
Another year has flown by. The big holiday season is upon us, making it the perfect time to explore how organizations can raise the bar with their loyalty programs and capture valuable customer attention during one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.
The digital space is a great place to do this. Online shoppers spent $14 billion during the valuable period between Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2021, according to Adobe Analytics (registration required). In addition, holiday shoppers prioritize value and convenience when deciding where to shop, McKinsey & Company reported. And while there’s nothing better than entering a brick and mortar store every now and then, retailers can provide convenience with their digital channels and create high perceived value offers through their loyalty programs.
I’ve seen many holiday campaigns with loyalty programs over the years, and here are several strategies that are relatively easy to implement and get a lot of customer attention.
1. Introduce gentle benefits that give customers a warm, fuzzy feeling.
A smart technique that brands can use is to temporarily increase the number of benefits. However, with this approach, brands must ensure that communication is (too) clear from the start by explaining that the benefits don’t last forever.
Offers like early access to holiday discounts or first access to new products are budget-friendly ways to get loyalty program members excited about holiday sales you’ve already planned. These kinds of benefits make customers feel valued and excited to be a part of your rewards program.
Make sure to save the very best offers for your most loyal or highest-ranking members. It always makes sense to keep the bulk of your spending focused on the customers with the most value potential, and the holidays are no exception. Make sure you have something special in mind for them.
2. Create a holiday-themed rewards range.
Put your loyalty marketing team to work creating a holiday-themed rewards campaign. The rewards themselves don’t have to be holiday themed, but the campaign around them should be. Whether it’s “Seven Days of Spooky Treats” for Halloween, a “12 Days of Christmas” Advent Calendar, or “Rewards for Readers” on National Book Day, try to create something memorable that will excite your loyal clientele. Then call in your design team to make sure the campaign is exciting and on-brand.
Need a place to start? Consider focusing the campaign, rewards, and creative resources on your most popular product category. Or go beyond traditional holidays and choose a more obscure holiday tied to customer interests to maintain customer engagement year-round.
3. Offer free gifts or benefits.
This advice is simple, but more important than ever. This year, people are worried about what’s happening to their wallets and bank accounts, so make sure to include some attractive freebies in your loyalty offer. Focus on practical offers such as free shipping or a free but relevant gift with a purchase.
These kinds of benefits, while they’ve been offered before and aren’t necessarily unique, can mean the difference between filling a shopping cart and checking out. And budget-conscious customers will appreciate them.
4. Use the holidays as an excuse to come up with something new with a partner.
Introduce partner vacation rewards only. Partnering up with a partner is a great way to generate extra excitement and potentially reach new customers, so think about how your current partners can support your holiday campaign and vice versa. You don’t necessarily have to offer something for free. Alternatively, you may be able to package a partner product with a product or service that you want to promote from your own range. Or maybe you can explore charities to partner with over the holidays.
If you have some great ideas and decide to approach a partner you haven’t worked with before, make sure the benefits to both parties are clearly communicated, be it in exposure, acquisition, sale or goodwill.
In one loyalty program partnership, the Miami Marlins, a Major League Baseball team, teamed up with Fanatics for a 2020 holiday season campaign, according to team members. official blog. The Marlins loyalty program enticed new members by offering a chance to win team merchandise. The holidays are always a great time to sign up new members to your loyalty program so you can keep in touch with those customers in the future.
5. Throw a game into the mix.
Minigames in loyalty programs are all the rage. And games are synonymous with engagement. After all, who doesn’t love a quick play-to-win? One of my company’s clients ran a fun Magic 8 Ball themed holiday campaign where clients had the chance to “flip” the magic ball to win bonus points – or maybe nothing at all. This made it more realistic; you never know what you will get with a Magic 8 Ball.
Another example is Starbucks. It uses seasonal mini-games that customers can play to win additional gold stars. It takes planning and development, but when done right, it’s an unforgettable experience and encourages customers to stay engaged and make money.
Launching one minigame is a great way to start small and measure the success of games among your audience. Keep in mind that games are an investment that requires creative and development resources, so take the time to perfect your concept and test the results with extra care.
Get ready for your next big vacation.
If you don’t have a loyalty program yet, but want to create one, consider timing. If you start before the big holiday, you will have the chance to try out the program. And for those of you who already have a rewards program, think big but start small. Check out all the loyalty programs that inspire you and write down your favorite ideas. Test drive some holiday campaigns around low traffic holidays, then kick off with a big party (rewards) when peak season hits.