Reward Program Strategy

How Rewards Improve Existing Brand Communities

Improve-Existing-Community-Feature

It’s a common misconception that rewards are a great tool for building new brand communities but can’t do much to help strengthen an existing one. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Rewards don't just help you start a brand community — they also help you sustain one.

With points, referrals, and VIP tiers, you can make your community even stronger by easily encouraging more customers to join, engage with, and share your community with others. Here are the four best ways to enhance your existing brand community with rewards.

 

Make every action valuable with points

If you already have an established brand community, you might be worried that a rewards program will impact how customers perceive it. This is a common myth in the luxury industry, and probably one of the biggest reasons you’ve avoided starting a rewards program in the past.

Points are the best way to make an existing brand community even more valuable.

The reality is that this myth couldn’t be further from the truth! Rather than devalue your existing community, points are actually the perfect way to make your brand experience even more valuable.

They’re also an incredible way to help you reach your specific brand goals. As we saw with value-add marketing, points allow you to incentive a wide number of customer behaviors that ultimately strengthen both your community and your business. Whether your goal is to increase your number of social followers, improve your repeat purchase rate, or get more product reviews, points make every action infinitely more valuable for your members.

This value quickly ties your rewards experience back to how your customers view your brand, establishing a greater sense of luxury that will prompt even more engagement in the future.

Neat Nutrition makes every stage of their journey worthwhile

As a subscription-based brand, Neat Nutrition had the interesting challenge of converting every one-time purchaser into a long-term subscriber. This is by no means an easy task, but was made significantly easier by introducing reward points.

Neat Nutrition's program earning rules

With their Neat Rewards program, Neat Nutrition was able to imbue every step of their customer journey with additional value. Now both micro and macro actions like making a purchase, creating an account, or referring their friends suddenly feel more valuable, increasing the likelihood that their customers would repeat these actions in the future.

Even a small reward can make every action feel incredibly valuable.

They even went one step further by introducing birthday rewards. By giving each of their members an extra 150 points on their birthday, they added an element of surprise and delight to their program that wouldn’t be there otherwise. This unexpected gift positively colors how their members view their role in the Neat Nutrition community, helping them feel more valued and appreciated.

With so many incentives along the way, Neat Nutrition’s customers are more likely to share their experiences with others and stay engaged, helping the community grow beyond single purchases.

 

Create a sense of luxury with exclusive perks

Social status is one of the greatest customer motivators. That’s because everyone wants to look and feel special, particularly in the eyes of their peers. In fact, numerous studies have shown that we actually care more about how much respect we get from our friends than how much money we make.

A brand community isn't exclusive just because you say it is.

As a result, it’s very difficult to create a real sense of luxury with just your brand name. If everyone can look and feel the same just by joining, the luxury of being part of your community will eventually wear off and your members will stop telling their friends about their experience.

That’s where VIP tiers come in. When you introduce a VIP program to your community, you offer your members a number of different elements to help separate your most committed customers from the rest. These elements start with each of your tier names. Words are powerful, and simply choosing words that community the type of people your best customers are will do wonders for helping them feel like valued, visible members of your community.

You can push this even further by offering additional perks to your most loyal customers. By offering exclusive rewards to only your top tiers, you can motivate casual customers to engage more often, strengthening the bridge between the Join and Engage phases of your community cycle.

SheFit treats their most engaged community members like VIPs

When it comes to effective VIP strategies, SheFit are near the top of the list. From their tier names to the rewards they offer, they’ve crafted and community experience that not only looks luxurious but truly delivers.

Whether customers are in Silver, Rose Gold, Gold, or VIP She, SheFit’s members are made to feel like they’re part of something special. Earning Crowns for a wide variety of brand actions, they’re treated like royalty at every stage in their customer journey and reminded that they’re part of an international Sisterhood that values hard work and self love.

SheFit's exclusive VIP offers

However, this all pales in comparison to the way their perks and rewards make members feel. As a VIP She member, customers are treated to free products, annual gifts, early access to sales, and special discounts. In addition, they’re given the opportunity to be featured in SheFit’s social campaigns and product shoots — two highly visible ways to show off one’s VIP social status.

Each of these rewards encourage ongoing engagement by delivering value beyond a simple discount. With these perks at their disposal members are prompted to brag about their experience to others, giving them a boost of social satisfaction while motivating others to join the community. In these ways, rewards have strengthened every part of SheFit’s community by making it more valuable to join, engage, and share.

 

Encourage customers to become effective brand advocates

The term “brand advocates” has been thrown around a lot lately. No matter where you hear it, it can boil down to the idea of customers being willing to promote or share your brand with others.

They can do this in a number of ways. Product reviews, peer-to-peer referrals, and social content are all incredibly effective ways to strengthen the Share arm of your community strategy, but how often are your customers actually doing it?

Only 1.5% of customers will actually leave reviews without being prompted.

There are alarming stats out there that claim that as few as 1.5% of customers actually leave reviews. This is a significant problem when you consider that reviews have been shown to impact as much as 67.7% of purchase decisions!

The reality is that your customers are willing to become a brand advocate, but only if you ask. Without a clear request or incentive, user-generated content like referrals and reviews becomes just another chore for your customers to complete, reducing the likelihood of them making one to virtually zero.

91% of customers are willing to give a referral if you ask.

When you reward customers for creating content, you reward them for generating valuable social proof for your community. Through social posts and reviews, your members create trust in your brand by speaking about their own experiences.

Workout Empire invites their community to join the conversation

This is a strategy Workout Empire has perfected with their Sassy Army rewards program.

Workout Army's Sassy Army earning rules

While their members can earn points in a variety of ways, reviewing products and referring friends are two of the most valuable actions. This significant jump in value frames each of these actions as significantly more valuable, making them more exciting to complete.

#WorkoutEmpire social proof

These actions are accompanied by a more visible approach to brand advocacy as well. Workout Empire makes their brand advocates their stars of their social media accounts by encouraging their community to share social posts with the hashtag #workoutempire. These user-generated posts are then featured both on their website and on their Instagram page, giving new and returning members the opportunity to shop the featured products and see what other members of the community are up to.

By making social proof a priority with their rewards program, Workout Empire is able to effective curate an ongoing conversation between their existing community and potential new members. This not only strengthens internal relationships between members but also encourages new ones, drawing more customers into their community at every stage of their brand experience.

Sustain excitement with an integrated rewards program

There are a number of things that get your customers excited about your brand community:

  • Product launches

  • Rebranding

  • Holiday campaigns

  • Etc.

This excitement then has the opportunity to turn into ongoing engagement...or so you think. How often have you been convinced that a certain campaign or promotion would launch your social following into the stratosphere only to be disappointed by the results? Similarly, have you ever made a big announcement and been shocked by how few customers engage with it?

Just like value-add content and social proof, the reason your customers aren’t staying excited is because you aren’t giving them a reason to. Without a clear reason for why they should care, your community’s big changes and initiatives will be nothing more than a blip on your members’ radar.

Rewards make every brand initiative interesting for your community members.

Of course this change with — you guessed it — rewards. When you incorporate rewards into your existing initiatives, you have the power to sustain your community’s interest in what you’re doing. Bonus points campaigns, early access perks, and members-only events are all great ways to create a more holistic community experience that prioritizes value for your members.

SweetLegs makes their program a priority

One of the easiest ways to integrate your program into your community with effective email marketing. Including your program in regular marketing campaigns creates clear connections between your program and every other part of your community — a fact SweetLegs understands perfectly.

Sweet Rewards program communications

From the moment they announced their rewards program, SweetLegs has made sure it was properly represented in their email marketing. Not only did they run a very successful launch campaign, but they also included it in their 12 Days of Sweetness holiday campaign with bonus events and program-specific messaging.

These emails are further supported by high visibility on their website. With clear links to their program explainer page on their homepage and in the site-wide navigation bar, SweetLegs makes their program an exciting piece of their overall community experience.

As their customers discover their program, they can’t help but share in the brand’s excitement about it. This ensures they look forward to each new program campaign and see it as an integral part of their relationship with the brand.

 

A strong brand community is an investment

While rewards are a positive addition to existing communities, it’s important to remember that an effective brand community isn’t built in a day. Instead, you need to remember that with a community you’re building something amazing over time. By intentionally creating opportunities for customers to engage with you and share in your brand story, you lay the foundation for emotional relationships that turn into sustainable growth over time.

Rewards are the most effective way to strengthen your brand community over time.

This process is made significantly more appealing for customers with rewards. Whether it’s through incentivizing micro actions with points or making every customer feel like a VIP, rewards transform ordinary brand experiences into extraordinary ones.

In this way, you can use your points, VIP, and referrals programs to condition your members to perform the actions that will help you move ever closer to your community goals and, ultimately, make your existing community even better. 

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