If you’re looking to provide your customers with more ways to earn points, drive participation in your rewards program, or simply increase your average order value, a bonus points event may be right for your business!  However, while bonus points events can be a fantastic tool to keep your rewards program top of mind, it’s important that they are launched strategically.

We want to help you make this happen, so we’ve designed this how-to guide to help you answer some of the key questions you may be asking, including:

  • What bonus points events are
  • Why bonus points events work
  • When you should run a bonus points event
  • How to run a bonus points event
  • What a fantastic bonus points event looks like

What Are Bonus Points Events?

You may be asking yourself, “what constitutes a ‘bonus points event?" To answer that question, it’s easiest to start by defining bonus points.  Bonus points are simply additional points you give to your customers - as simple as that!  Although you can issue these special points at any time, they’re most effective when they’re distributed in the context of a bonus points event.

Bonus Point Participation
Bonus points events motivate customers to participate by making your best rewards more achievable.

A bonus points event, then, is a predetermined period of time during which your customers have the chance to earn additional (bonus) points for completing specific actions.  You can also choose to simply increase the value of your points, making rewards redemption more attainable.

Why Do Bonus Points Events Work?

Now that you understand what an additional points event is, your second question is probably why these events are worth your time.

This is a very fair question - particularly when you consider that your customers already have the opportunity to earn points year-round. The answer comes down to the psychological principle of scarcity. When something (whether it’s a product, service, or an event) is limited in availability, it is immediately perceived as more valuable,  causing an increase in its’ attractiveness or desirability.

This mental shortcut is often referred to as the “scarcity heuristic”, and tells us something valuable about consumers: they don’t like missing opportunities.  In the case of a bonus points event, the knowledge that this promotion will only last for a short-period of time puts pressure on customers to act quickly and combat their fear of missing out.

Fear of Missing Out
"The Fear of Missing Out" makes customers more likely to participate in a bonus points campaign because they don’t want to miss a reward they feel others are receiving.

In addition to the sense of exclusivity bonus campaigns create, offering additional points also adds more value to your customers’ purchases. This will not only increase the amount they are willing to spend during the event, but will also make the redemption of points more attainable. With more customers earning points at a higher speed, your redemption rates will increase - a clear sign that your rewards program is succeeding!

When Should I Run A Bonus Points Event?

There are a number of situations in which a bonus points event is extremely helpful. For one thing, it can be a hugely impactful tool in improving program metrics like redemption rate and average order value. With this goal in mind, some of the approaches you can take include:

  • Re-engaging inactive customers or segments
  • Combating a decline in sales during off-peak seasons
  • Incentivizing program sign-up
  • Encouraging customers to redeem their points

However, not all bonus points campaigns are run with the sole objective of improving metrics. You may also use a bonus points event to build brand equity, or to simply remind your customers that you value them! In this case, bonus points events can also be designed for the following scenarios:

  • Celebrating a company milestone
  • Encouraging holiday spending
  • Promoting a product launch
  • Showing your customers your appreciation
  • Promoting a re-brand

As you can see, the answer to “when” a bonus points event should be implemented is not clear-cut. In fact, there are countless scenarios in which this approach can be valuable for your business. As long as you design your event intentionally, there is no limit to when it can succeed!

How Do I Run A Bonus Points Event?

At this point, we know that bonus points events work and when to run them, but how do you actually do that?

First, it’s important to remember that deciding to run an extra points event without objectives is like deciding to take a trip without a map or itinerary — you’ll have no direction. Before you start planning, consider the goals you’d like to achieve.

Time Is Money
Defining your goals before running a points event saves you two valuable resources: money and time.

To help determine these goals, some helpful questions to ask yourself include:

  1. What is the purpose of the bonus points event?
  2. Who is the event designed for?
  3. How will success be determined?
  4. How will the event be promoted?

1. The Purpose

This is the most critical question to ask yourself before planning your event. For example, if the purpose is to encourage a spike in average order value, you might consider making your bonus points event short so that customers are encouraged to spend quickly as a result of its perceived “rarity”.

On the other hand, if you want to encourage customers who aren’t redeeming to earn more points, it may be beneficial to leave the promotion on for 7-10 days so that members feel like they have time to earn even more points before your regular earning-scale returns. Regardless of your goals, the purpose of your event should shape the majority of your decisions in the planning process.

2. The Audience

In terms of your target audience, you’ll want to determine who this bonus points event is designed for. Are you hoping to target your entire customer base, or specific segments? If you’ve noticed that new customers often actively earn points but start abandoning their carts after the first three months, you may want to design a segmented bonus points event that’s only offered to these individuals. This way, you are re-engaging inactive customers without spending unnecessary resources on those who are already actively shopping in your store.

If participation patterns are uniform across your entire customer base, offering additional points to all of your program members can be an effective way to meet your objectives as well.

3. Measuring Success

One of the final things you must consider is what a successful bonus points event looks like for your business. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and knowing what results you’d like to achieve will be hugely helpful when analyzing your actual results.

While a lift in sales is a clear sign that your points campaign has been helpful, you may also want to consider two program-specific metrics: redemption rate and participation rate.

Redemption Rate Calculation

Redemption rate is one of those metrics that you should carefully watch before and after your event. While you may have multiple objectives, a clear sign of success is an increase in the redemption of your customers’ points. If customers are earning bonus points but not redeeming them, the value you are offering through your rewards program is not being received.

A successful bonus points campaign will not only provide customers with additional points for their purchases but also increase the number of customers who choose to redeem them.

Participation Rate Calculation

A second metric to consider is your program participation rate. If you know that the number of customers enrolled in your program is much higher than the number of those who are actively participating, running a bonus points event can encourage a behavioral change. In this case, you can leverage your rewards program to compel members to take action over a certain time period, such as a characteristically low-spending weekend for your business.  After your bonus points event has ended, you can determine how many people participated by calculating your participation percentage.

Now that you have a better idea of the results you’d like to achieve with your bonus points campaign, you’ll be able to carefully compare your projected results to your actual results. This will give you a clear indication of how well you have met your goals, and allow you to improve your strategy moving forward!

4. Promotion

When you’ve determined the goals you’d like to meet with your event, you can start designing a campaign that will help you achieve them. To effectively promote your bonus points campaign, you need to develop a strategy for your website, email, and social media platforms.

Indigo Website Bonus Points Event

Your website is one of the most important elements of your bonus points event. To communicate the value of your event to current and potential customers, it should be featured on your homepage or rewards program explainer page. This exposure is critical — without it, customers who have yet to sign up for your rewards program or don’t receive your marketing messages will likely miss out!

In addition to web design, it will also be crucial to make sure that your website is equipped to provide your customers with the bonus points you’re offering. This can be done manually, or with a rewards program provider (like Smile.io!).

Email and social media marketing are also fantastic ways to promote your bonus points event. If you are a business that is active on social media, you can leverage your platforms in two ways:

  1. You can announce the event on your own social handles.
  2. You can encourage customers to join by offering bonus points for each social mention during your campaign.

Both of these strategies will result in more customers earning valued points, and more potential customers hearing about your brand!

In terms of email marketing, you can communicate your bonus points event to program members directly with captivating, easy-to-act-upon messages. These emails should visually communicate your new points scale, show customers the value of the event by demonstrating how quickly they can redeem forrewards, and make it easy for customers to participate with appealing CTA’s.

Starbucks bonus points email

Starbucks is an excellent example of how email marketing can be leveraged to promote a bonus points event. Their simple visuals communicate how bonus points are awarded in the specified time period, while also making “joining the star dash” easy and compelling to customers through an eye-catching CTA.

As you can see, there are countless ways to communicate the value of your bonus points event on your website, social media platforms, and through email communications. The most important thing, though, it to make sure your communications are consistent and engaging to drive the most traffic to your website.

What Does A Good Bonus Points Event Look Like?

At this point, you’ve learned everything there is to know about when and how to run an amazing bonus points campaign. Now, the final question is “what does a good bonus points event actually look like?”

To answer this question, we’re going to take a look at some of the world’s best examples, designed by the some of the most notable brands: Sephora, Nordstrom, and Shopper’s Drug Mart.

Sephora's Beauty Insider Appreciation Event is Designed With Intent

Every August, Sephora runs a member appreciation event that aims to incentivize spending in an otherwise slow-period, while also showing customers that Sephora values their business!

Sephora Beauty Insider Appreciation Event

Offering Beauty Insiders 2x the points, VIB members 3x the points, and VIB Rouge a whopping 4x the points, Sephora successfully encourages shopping while also promoting the value of their top-tier membership.

What You Can Learn From Sephora:

The Sephora Beauty Insider Appreciation Event successfully promotes the status of  top-tier membership while simultanousely making all customers feel valued.

Nordstrom's Rewards Get Three Times Bigger with Triple Points Day

Nordstrom’s Personal Triple Points Days are another strong example of a bonus point event. While all Nordstrom cardmembers are free to participate, the company provides different timeframes to customers based on their cardmember level, with a range from 1-4 days per year.

Nordstrom Triple Points Days

To provide more value to level four members, these customers are awarded four days to participate in the event, while level one members are only given one. This differentiation between program members is key in motivating customers to move up. While everyone has access to the same bonus, there is a perceived exclusivity that comes with reaching level four.

What You Can Learn From Nordstrom:

Provide the most value to the customers that provide the most value to your business. It is much more expensive to acquire these high-spending customers than it is to retain them!

Shopper's Drug Mart Delivers Fast Rewards With Bonus Points

Our last example is Shopper’s Drug Mart, who certainly knows how to magnify their program’s value with bonus points.

At first glance, the Shoppers points scale might seem de-motivating: offering only 10 points for each $1 spent and requiring 8,000 points to redeem $10, customers may feel like saving money with the program isn’t achievable. However, the pharmacy and lifestyle brand provides frequent opportunities for Optimum Rewards members to earn bonus points, from daily offers to biweekly 20x the points events.

Shopper's Drug Mart 20x The Points Event

While the original structure would mean customers must spend $800 to redeem a $10 reward, a 20x the points event means they earn 200 points per $1. With this scheme, you only need to spend $40 to earn 8,000 points — a savings of $760 in comparison to the original offering!

What You Can Learn From Shopper's Drug Mart:

Shopper’s makes participation valuable to customers, allowing them to earn points and redeem rewards at a rapid pace.

Bonus Points Events: Double the Success!

If you’ve made it to the end of this guide, you’ve learned a lot about bonus points events, from the minutiae of planning to the strategies employed by the world’s best brands.  The best part?  Now that you have the tools you’ll need to strategically launch your bonus points event, you’re ready to offer your customers more value than ever before. Good luck!