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customer loyalty vs customer retention

Points vs Experiential: Pack Your Loyalty Program with Positivity

Rhys Williams
By Rhys Williams — April 30, 2024 -

Read time: 4 minutes

Do you ever feel like your loyalty programme is simply bribing customers to keep spending? Bribes and compulsion are not exactly a great look for your brand. And it’s not a brilliant route to building genuine appreciation and loyalty amongst your customers.

But if you didn’t have a customer rewards program at all, how could you hope to generate any serious repeat spending when all your competitors offer rewards and incentives to switch to them?

An experiential loyalty scheme could be the answer. 

Building true customer loyalty means establishing relationships of trust and emotional connection. 

Because real loyalty is about how your customers feel about you. 

And, as intangible as your customers’ feelings may be, the chances are they’re feeling them because you have a track record of providing great value, high-quality products and a convenient and engaging customer experience. 

These things are all tangible benefits to your customers. So you’re working to create a positive emotional response by delivering tangible value. 

It’s in this context that you need to think about your loyalty scheme. 

You need ways to structure your loyalty-building efforts so you can quantify the value it drives, for you and your customers. 

  • For your customers: The value is from the discounts and rewards that they get from continuing to spend money with you. 
  • For your business: The value of a loyalty scheme can be measured in the repeat business and higher spending it creates. 

And the most reliable way to create that repeat business is by inspiring positive emotions. 

An experiential loyalty scheme helps you do just that. 

In contrast to points-based loyalty programmes, experiential loyalty programscreate lasting memories that resonate with customers on an emotional level.” 

 

The problem with points-based loyalty programmes

Points-based schemes are easy to understand and implement: your customers accumulate points by making purchases. These points can then be redeemed against future purchases, giving customers a reason to keep on spending with you.  

And, up to a point, these schemes work. Customers can see a clear benefit to remaining loyal, and the more customers join, the more long-term value you’re driving to your brand. 

But, if all you have to offer your best customers is more and more points, these schemes offer diminishing returns. Although points-based systems can be effective for initial sign-ups and maintaining a basic level of loyalty, these highly transactional programmes often fail to create the deep, emotional bonds that lead to lasting customer loyalty.

 

How experiential rewards can inspire customer loyalty

So if you want to build deeper bonds with your customers, what should you offer in your experiential rewards schemes?

You’ve got a wealth of options to choose from, here are just a few examples:

  • VIP Access to New Products
  • Exclusive webinars or live-streamed events
  • Bespoke or customised products
  • Personal Shopping Assistants
  • Surprise Gifts and Samples
  • Loyalty Clubs or Member Communities
  • Donations to charity and social impact initiatives

One way to really impress your customers with experiential rewards is to offer them something unexpected, so get creative with it! Think about your brand values and the places, personalities and interests that align with them. These should provide you with the basis for some unforgettable experiences for your customers. 

 

How to maximise value with an experiential loyalty programme

Experiential loyalty schemes aren’t the answer in all circumstances. Rewards can be expensive and time-consuming to conceive and implement. You also need a reasonable amount of customer data to put a worthwhile programme in place. 

You need to understand your customers well enough to know what kinds of experiential rewards examples are going to be emotionally valuable for them. 

Your data needs to be of a high enough quality to give you a picture of customer sentiment, letting you know what type of reward will work best with different groups of customers. 

And for an experiential scheme to be a driver of value, you need to know how much revenue your customers are generating for your business. That means you need advocacy data, which measures the totality of your customers’ actions - not just what they spend. 

If you can see how many people they’ve referred and how much these referrals are worth to your business in additional sales, you know how much overall value a loyal customer is bringing to your brand. 

With this knowledge, you can make sure your rewards are not so generous they’ll hurt your margins. 

 

How experiential loyalty schemes build advocacy

With experiential rewards, your loyalty programme becomes a powerful tool in your advocacy-building efforts. You can use your scheme to:

  • Build loyalty tiers: You can use experiential rewards as part of a tiered reward scheme: reserve your best and most exclusive rewards for your best customers.
  • Nurture advocates: With experiential loyalty programs, you can reward loyalty in a way that nurtures your customers into advocates, or inspires current advocates to take more actions. 
  • Enhance personalisation: Offer rewards that adapt to customer preferences, ensuring that each reward feels personal and carefully curated.
  • Build customer love: An unexpected gift, an action-packed trip or a thoughtful special offer creates a moment of customer delight, showing you’re ready to go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver value for your customers.

Using experiential rewards to build advocacy amplifies the value of your loyalty rewards program. With a few thoughtful touches, you can transform everyday transactions into meaningful relationships and ensure your customers feel valued and understood. 

Deploying an experiential loyalty scheme as part of an advocacy marketing strategy unlocks greater value from your customer base, turning more customers into advocates and creating more passionate fans of your brand.

Unlock the full potential of retention and customer loyalty solutions with Mention Me.  Ready to transform casual buyers into lifelong advocates that spend more, come back often and bring their friends? Discover how with Mention Me. Request a demo.

 

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