There is no better time of year to tighten up on those mobile loyalty programs than right before the holiday season. As people prepare for the inevitable Christmas shopping spree, they start looking for best deals and biggest discounts, giving businesses ample opportunities to reward app users for their loyalty.

Most businesses are aware of the potential of loyalty programs, as rewarding customers for coming back is a practice that’s been around since the earliest days of trade. But what’s important to remember here is that we’re not in the ‘early days of trade’ – we’re way ahead. Digital transformation (the use of new digital channels, including social media, chatbots, Big Data analytics, cloud services) and the penetration of mobile in every aspect of a consumers’ life has changed their habits and their expectations, leaving businesses unsure how to maximize loyalty.

You already know the essentials of a solid loyalty program, like making sure it’s on mobile (or any other platform that’s mainstream at a certain point in time), or having a program that’s easy to learn.

Read on to see what you should do, and what you should definitely not do, as you push for perfection in loyalty programs on the mobile platform.

The Don’ts

Forgetting onboarding for the loyalty program

onboarding mobile users

Your customers need to stay hooked to the loyalty program, otherwise it’s not going to work. It needs to be simple and effective. Consumers need to understand the benefits they’re getting from the program, and you need to make sure those benefits are worth their precious time and “effort”. All those things need to be communicated clearly. And finally, you need to gather data on your newly acquired loyalty program members, and analyze your onboarding strategy. Without these (most basic) elements, you can expect your engagement curve to start plummeting very fast. Onboarding is a science in its own right, and it is very easy to get it wrong. Things like rushing into app permissions, or being prone to hyperbole, are common mistakes product developers make, destroying their onboarding process without even knowing it.


Ignoring Centennials

generation z using phones

Loyalty is not something you get over night, it’s a long-term investment that needs a lot of time and effort to build. Despite this reality, brands often ignore Centennials (Generation Z), and cater mostly to Millennials, because they see the latter as the ideal demographic – they’re young, they use new technology to its maximum potential, and they have solid purchasing power. Centennials might not have that purchasing power (yet), but it’s just a matter of time before they get there. And if loyalty is something you build over time, now is the best time to start thinking of the new generations.

Centennials are an important group – they are the first generation to not know life without internet. Some of them don’t remember what it’s like to have a corded phone. This is the generation that will look to its smartphone for essentially everything, and if you want a solid loyalty program on mobile, not just today but in the future, don’t ignore them. You can use these seven strategies to successfully engage with Generation Z.


Disregarding analytics

mobile app analytics
Example of Appsee analytics’ touch heatmaps.

Here’s a little mantra for you: Whatever can be measured, should be measured. Also, almost everything can be measured. Therefore, everything should be measured, especially loyalty programs. Analytics will help you determine not only if a certain program works or not, but can also give you great ideas for the future. It can also help you determine if your onboarding process is poor, and can help you pinpoint exactly where you lost customers during the process. For example, Appsee’s qualitative analytics tools can help you tweak the loyalty program by tracking if, where, and why people abandon the program. The tools can also give you insights into where people tap, and if your user interface needs improvement.

Remember – the better the measurement, and the more you distill and react on the data, the better the loyalty program.



The Do’s

Create rewards for more than just spending

unique mobile loyalty programs

Don’t limit your loyalty programs to purchases. Why? If you force people to buy something in order to participate in the loyalty program, it might come off as if you don’t really care about the user’s needs, but instead are just trying to motivate them to spend more. Loyalty programs revolve around showing your customers you care, which is why it is extremely important to have other means of participation, besides purchases. That can be anything from writing reviews online, to participating in different surveys, to pretty much anything else you can come up with. People love being part of successful projects. They love their voices heard and their opinions valued. By offering consumers a chance to participate in your brand, without them actually needing to spend a dime, you’re basically telling them you value them as a person, and then as a customer, as well. What better way to build loyalty, right?

For example, you can use in-app engagement SDKs like Apptentive to directly communicate with your customers. By rewarding those customers that choose to talk to you directly and tell you what they would like to see improved, you’re setting yourself up for a win-win situation.


Personalization, Personalization, Personalization


Imagine rewarding a diabetes patient with a coupon for Dunkin’ Donuts. Or giving a New York Knicks fan tickets to a Boston Celtics game. Or, in our case – giving a mobile-first user a discount for buying on desktop. Not only will they quickly decline the offer, but this might completely ruin the relationship you have with your customers. Never let your customers ask themselves ‘why am I getting this?’ – which is why you absolutely must make sure all your offers are strategically personalized. Carpet offers are a thing of the past. Thankfully, digital platforms can help you gather lots of valuable information about your customers, allowing you to personalize and tailor different offers to specific groups of people. Use the tools at your disposal to craft personalized offers and analyze their efficiency to maximize their potential. In-app personalization is an art in its own right, something we’ve written about in the past.


Implement a relatively short journey to benefits

user journey
Source:Ivelin Radkov

There was this café we encountered during a recent conference, which had a loyalty program within its mobile app – by ordering a cup of coffee, any coffee, through the app, you get a point. By collecting 100 points, you get a small gift – a cup with a special message. The thing is – customers were limited to one point a day. Completely disregarding the fact that you’d get a present worth less than one percent of the amount you’d spend – it would take you at least three and a half months to get it. That journey is way too long, and completely disproportionate to how much time, effort and money is needed from the customer. By having too long of a journey, especially if the reward is not that worth it, people will be quick to abandon your loyalty program. Whether or not it will hurt the brand is open for discussion, but it certainly won’t help with your goal – to keep your customers coming back for more, satisfied.

You need to pay attention to this journey and measure how quickly customers can earn equity, to gain benefits from loyalty programs. Obviously it shouldn’t be too fast, but if it takes too long, it’s not going to work.

Be unique

Nowadays, everyone knows two things – 1) the majority of a company’s sales come from a minority of their customers; and 2) those customers need to be retained, which can be done (among other things) through loyalty programs. But what many brands neglect is the fact that technology is changing both commerce, and consumer habits. These two things have a profound effect on loyalty programs, and if brands are to succeed they need to be unique in their approach, offer personalized, relevant and exclusive content, and make sure it’s easy to consume and participate.

At the same time, they must be careful that their onboarding strategies for loyalty programs are rock solid, that they’re catering to all the right demographic groups. And finally, they must not forget to use the data obtained to analyze and tweak their loyalty programs. Just because it worked yesterday, it doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow!