This is the ninth post in our Horizon Deep Dive series. To follow along with the series (and receive exclusive content) click here.
Three characteristics of an engaging loyalty portal
First things first – what do we mean by loyalty portal? In the video above, I use the term mostly to refer to our web-based portal, to distinguish it from our mobile loyalty app. But whether it’s through the web, a dedicated mobile app or some other means, a loyalty portal is simply how members interact with your scheme on digital devices.
For many businesses, this simply looks like a “My Account” page, detailing transaction history (points earned and used), and perhaps a catalogue of rewards to choose from. But this kind of portal misses out on some key opportunities to engage with potentially valuable members.
A well-executed loyalty portal can make the customer more experience more convenient, relevant and engaging. But there’s a big difference between a successful portal and an unsuccessful one. Below, we’ll look at three key characteristics of a portal (whether on the web, or in an app) that truly engages members and meets their needs.
The traditional loyalty program has one key point of engagement – the transaction. A member makes a purchase, earns some points (whether based on their spend or simply the fact that they’ve bought something) and eventually earns enough points to redeem a voucher or reward – which is often used on a future transaction.
This isn’t a bad approach on the whole. It incentivises purchase, rewards continued custom and adds at least a little value to the member-brand relationship. But it’s also a bit… boring. There’s little personality in a scheme like this. As such, it’s far too easy for members to become loyal to the reward rather than the brand.
So while we wouldn’t advise scrapping this approach altogether, we would recommend supplementing it with additional ways to earn points. This might include reading and sharing brand content, taking quizzes, attending events, sharing more information or referring friends.
A loyalty portal is a great place for members to complete these activities (or upload proof of completion). It turns the standard loyalty account page into an interactive experience – something to do, rather than just something to look at.
Consumers are keen to be rewarded for behaviours other than purchase; it’s simply a matter of determining what activities will benefit your brand while adding value for the customer.
Dynamic rewards and offers
If everything looks the same since the last time they logged in – save a couple of new purchases in their transaction history – what’s the draw for members to log into your portal at all?
To keep members coming back, there must be something in the portal that’s worth their time. Engaging activities will be part of this. But so will the rewards customers receive in exchange for the time and money they invest.
It’s important that the rewards presented in the portal are relevant to your customers (as I mentioned in the video, it wouldn’t make much sense to offer a free family photoshoot to a customer who’s single). If possible, try to add or update rewards fairly regularly, to ensure there’s something new and interesting for the member to redeem when they next log in.
If your rewards catalogue is fixed, consider what else you can change up within the portal – a regular cycle of activities or promotional offers, for example. One of our clients uses their loyalty portal to promote a “product of the week” – an item which members can earn double points for purchasing.
Not only does this help members get into the habit of checking the portal to see what’s new, it also gives the business something to communicate about on a regular basis, to entice customers to log back in.
A large part of online activity for many customers centers around socialising – interacting with friends and peers around topics of shared interest. People are naturally drawn to those who share similar values or passions, and that’s true in business as well. Common values help customers identify with and connect to your brand.
So what does that have to do with an engaging loyalty portal? Consider your loyal customers – they’re likely part of your base because they’ve seen their own interests or values reflected in your products, services and messaging.
And those similarities can help them engage with one another, as well. Your portal is the perfect place for a community of loyal customers to develop and grow (social media is also good for this, but it’s often a bit more public and open to “outsiders”).
Whether you’re helping members see who among their existing friends also loves your brand, or facilitating new connections through an online forum, building social community into your portal is a great way to increase engagement.
Building a community around your brand helps embed it in the conversations, identity and lifestyle of your customers. It’s a win-win – customers benefit from connecting with like-minded individuals, gleaning advice from peers and even sharing points to earn bigger rewards. Meanwhile, they develop stronger emotional ties to your brand – their core shared interest – which results in greater advocacy, retention and spend.
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