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The Value of a Great Loyalty Program
By Saurabh Swarup
No matter what your industry or business model is, one of the top goals for any retailer is securing customer loyalty. My company, Liquid Barcodes, specializes in managing loyalty, subscription and digital marketing programs. We work with some of the largest players in the world, like Shell, Valora, 7-11 and Circle K. I’d like to briefly share some of the concepts we’ve found essential in creating, maintaining and expanding a loyal customer base.
The key is creating connections with your customers. Through experience, we’ve identified six basic steps in what we’ve named the Customer Connection Cycle.
Customer connection cycle:
How to execute your program
With the almost universal use of apps and ongoing technological advances, it is becoming ever easier to design and customize a loyalty program that fits your situation perfectly – location by location. Our experience shows that when the basic loyalty model is implemented, there are a wide variety of options available that can all contribute to a very successful program.
The rise of subscriptions
One component of loyalty programs that is exploding in popularity is the subscription model. You buy a plan, pay a monthly fee and have unlimited access to content. Most of us have taken advantage of one or more of these programs—Amazon Prime, Netflix or Spotify, for example—and their popularity has only grown through the pandemic. And, if subscriptions are familiar to you, they are also familiar to your customers.
Carwash subscriptions are being employed by several large retailers with excellent results. There are advantages for both the customer and the retailer. For example:
Key aspects of most successful subscription programs are a link to a payment method (also the most effective way to identify your customers) and gamification to increase engagement. An example of the latter is a slot machine game on the Circle K app that gives the subscriber the chance to play and win a free carwash.
Our subscription programs are highly customizable, and once set up the retailer has complete control of the customizable elements, which include site appearance, package pricing, introductory offers, special deals and game rewards.
Games are just one example of the “softer” loyalty advantages of subscriptions. Another is the sharing aspect. For example, subscription users can buy a prepaid voucher and pass it on to a friend of family member so they can enjoy a free carwash. Other retailers enable subscribers to donate their points to charity. These softer features engage the consumer and help them build an emotional connection with the brand.
A final significant benefit is the data generated by your subscription program. Retailers using our program receive real-time insights – for example, which plan is working, how many are using the mobile app, which stores are most effective – delivered via email on a daily basis. All this data and more can also be accessed at any time by the retailer.
Could your loyalty program use a boost? Evaluate each aspect of your current program, and, if you haven’t already done so, consider the possibility of adding a subscription option to the mix. It’s always the right time to strengthen your customer connections.
Saurabh Swarup is the General manager - North America and global sales head for Liquid Barcodes. Founded in 2000, Liquid Barcodes manages loyalty, subscription and digital marketing programs for some of the largest convenience retailers in the world, such as 7-11 and Circle K. worldwide.