From the Beyhive and Swifties to Trekkies and Thronies, the world is full of fandoms, a.k.a. super fans singing the praises of their favorite things to anyone who will listen. This kind of utter devotion paired with the cheers (tweets and ‘grams) of adoring fans constantly clamoring for more is the stuff of any marketer’s dreams. But if you’re not Beyonce, can you really dare to set your sights that high?
You may never sell out stadiums or massive conventions, but with the right loyalty program strategies in place, you can build a fanbase that’s just as enthusiastic. A personalized, engaging, and truly rewarding program gives your audience what they really want. In return, you will create a community of super fans for life.
Put in the miles
Step one: It’s time to move away from the points-for-purchases model so many loyalty programs rely on. If you want to inspire loyalty that goes above and beyond purchases, you need to go the extra mile and create experiences that do more than just keep customers around.
That’s exactly what running retailer Fleet Feet did with the introduction of its new app and revamped loyalty program, which takes loyalty to the streets (and sidewalks, trails, and running paths) by incentivizing running. An integration with Garmin and Strava allows members to earn points (appropriately dubbed Miles) for the very literal miles they log, and it doesn’t stop there.
Miles are also earned by interacting with Fleet Feet on social media, through community engagement (e.g. caption contests, surveys, trivia), and more. Miles can be redeemed for running trips, race entries, apparel, and gear, amongst other things. By creating a loyalty program that fully embraces why Fleet Feet fans love the brand in the first place — running — the company has built a solid foundation for long-term loyalty that goes well beyond transactions.
Show some love
At the end of the day, the goal of any loyalty program is to motivate customers to spend more. So, although no loyalty program should live on points-for-purchases alone, there’s still a place for it within your loyalty solution — but it must have some pizzazz. Spicing things up with surprises and gifts for your loyalty members keeps them engaged and enticed to share their love with others.
When it introduced its Pizza Love Rewards program late last year, Donatos Pizza already had a captive audience of pizza lovers in its Ohio and Indiana markets. So imagine their absolute elation when the pizza chain announced it would be making it easier to earn free pizza. The program not only gives members points for spending (five for every dollar spent), every 10th large pizza is free, and birthdays are celebrated with a free 12-inch pizza.
Points can also be earned by completing surveys and through referrals (i.e. your biggest fans sharing their love with others). When you give your loyalty members the opportunity to help you while also helping themselves, you achieve the ultimate win-win.
Keep it real
When it comes to building lasting relationships with your customers, the power of authenticity can not be overstated. But what’s the key to achieving that level of “realness?” Open dialogue that goes both ways. If you’re just throwing communications at your loyalty members without giving them the opportunity to return the favor, you’re doing it wrong. (And no, a “contact us” option is not the answer.)
Open communication is an essential piece of the Vans Family loyalty program. Vans regularly posts conversation starters on its app to get Family members to share stories about the things they care about — like their first concert or favorite surf slang or the story of their first pair of Vans shoes — and receive points in return.
Of course, members also get points for purchases, but these additional engagement opportunities that go well beyond a simple transaction keep the conversation going (both ways) for a more personal connection. Vans customers love Vans and love talking about it (as well as all the other things they love) with other people who love Vans (and all the other things), too. By giving those fans a place to connect, Vans has built more than a point system, it’s built a community.
Complete and utter devotion may seem like a big ask for a loyalty program, but these brands have proven it’s possible with the right strategies and tactics. Wondering how you can get your fan base just as fired up? Contact us today to get started.
Jon Siegal is the Vice President of Global Loyalty Sales at Cheetah Digital. He is focused on helping businesses use digital and social experiences to acquire new customers and grow consumer relationships.