3 Loyalty Program Trends to Watch in 2016

As we ring in the New Year, it’s time to look ahead. What will 2016 bring? When it comes to loyalty programs, some intriguing trends are emerging.

This year, both the customers and small business owners are changing the loyalty game. Here are three trends you can expect to see in loyalty programs in 2016:

1. Rewards go beyond giveaways

Reward programs are becoming more and more popular, with each household in America holding 29 loyalty memberships. With that kind of competition, your loyalty program has to standout.

In 2016, loyalty members are going to expect more value from their program. You’re probably thinking there is no way you can giveaway more stuff without hurting your bottom line, but adding value doesn’t mean you have to giveaway more products.

Think of ways to provide customers with something they want, that’s not going to break the bank. For example, Amazon’s loyalty program, Amazon Prime, teamed up with a few partners to offer free eBooks, music and TV shows.

You don’t have to be an e-commerce giant to try something creative like this. Consider teaming up with another local business, or find another unique way to add value. For example, provide extra points when customers interact on your social pages, provide member-first access to special sales or give your members a behind-the-scenes tour of your business.

The point is to offer your loyal customers a few “extras” that will keep them coming back again and again.

Download our free customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.

2. Small businesses get smart with data

With a loyalty program up and running, business owners are privy to a wealth of customer data. The trouble is some small business owners don’t take the time to use that information to their advantage.

In 2016, small business owners have to get data-savvy. Using the data provided can increase your revenue this year, so make it a goal to use the information that you already have to strengthen your marketing techniques.

Wondering where to start? No problem. We’ve got you covered. Start by examining the customers in your loyalty program and break them into several different segments. By breaking your customers into groups with similar behaviors, you can send specific promotions that apply to that segment.

For example, a coffee shop might break their customer base into these three groups:

  • Morning Commuters: customers that come in 3-5 times a week in the morning for a coffee.
  • Afternoon Un-winders: customers that come in 1-2 times a week after work.
  • Occasional Sipper: customers that come in 2-3 times a month and purchase a drink and maybe a snack.

By splitting customers into these three groups, you can send special promotions that are appealing to each group. For example, to get the Morning Commuters to buy more than just a coffee, offer them 20 percent off a baked good. For the Occasional Sipper, offer a series of promotions that are ‘afternoon-only deals’ to entice them to come in after work. These promotions are designed to move an Occasional Sipper into the Afternoon Un-winder category, where they come in more frequently.

Of course, there are a ton of things you can glean from your loyalty program’s data, but segmenting your audience is a great start.

3. Mobile-friendly programs are required

There was a time when loyalty programs were toying with mobile-friendly options. Well, this year, it’s no longer an idea to think about. This year, it’s (pretty much) required.

Your customers live on their smart devices. Sixty-four percent of Americans own a smartphone. There’s even research that defines and examines “mobile addicts.” This group, which is defined as a user who launches apps more than 60 times a day, grew by 123 percent in 2014.

Needless to say, mobile-friendly loyalty programs are a must in 2016. Loyalty programs should have an easy-to-use app for customers to check their points balance, identify rewards and contact your company.

If your loyalty program doesn’t offer this option, it’s time to think about a change.

And it’s not just mobile-friendliness that attracts and maintains customers; it’s an overall tech-smart program. You want a program that integrates technology into its plan, like offering countertop tablets that allow customers to sign up for your program at the checkout and software the integrates into your point-of-sale system. Simply put, you want a loyalty program that’s modern.

What trends are you predicting this year? How will you alter your loyalty program to meet these changes? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at FiveStars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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