Here at Smile.io we have seen thousands of loyalty programs. We get to see these programs grow from infancy to mature profitable programs. Along the way we have seen the good, the bad, and the overly complicated.
When starting a loyalty program, simplicity is key. In our experience basic programs have much more success at launch than those that have a bunch of features. This might seem odd considering all the functionality that is available in most loyalty programs. While the functionality and ability to make a program that does anything and everything is part of what makes loyalty programs great, we recommend starting simple. Here is why.
Complexity Creates Confusion
When you first start your loyalty program the whole process is new to your customer. It is important to not overwhelm them right off the bat. All the great ideas you have for your loyalty program will be too much for your customers to process at once.
From our experience, you are better off starting a loyalty program that is simple, to ease your customers into your loyalty program. You can add additional functionality over time as your customers grow accustomed to the program. There are a couple ways to get your loyalty program off the ground quickly that are still very effective.
Simple Earning Rules
This is one of the most effective ways to encourage loyalty and is also the easiest to set up. Simply set the amount of points you want to reward for every dollar spent, and let your customers start earning.
Simple Spending Rules
Once you have set the amount of points you will be rewarding, you need to also set how points will be redeemed. Start your program by allowing a set number of points be used to get one dollar off. This will let your customers know exactly how much their points are worth. Customers also like when there is a simple conversion between points and dollars off, such as 1000 points = $1 off.
Starting Simple Provides Great Marketing Potential
When starting a loyalty program you should launch in stages to boost the marketability of the program. If you launch your program with everything, there is no way to surprise and wow your customers in the future. A staged launch also provides a great way to market your loyalty program.
Every time you introduce a new way to earn points to your program you can market it to your customers and encourage that action. Say you launched with a simple earning and spending rule, and now you are ready to add referrals to your program. You can email your customers and let them know of the new way to earn points. This lets your customers know about your program in manageable chunks, and puts your site top of mind.
Launching with every feature available hurts your programs ability to re-market. Start simple and introduce features in stages to maximize your ROI.
Simple Launches Allow for Customer Feedback
If you launch with a basic program you can get your customers to help you decide where to improve. It should come as no surprise that the best ecommerce loyalty programs are the ones that are driven by customer data and insight.
By launching a simple program it is easy to interpret the data and results you are seeing. The program is being driven by the few rules you have set to start. You can use the information you gather from the early stage results to determine what is effective and what is not.
You may have to adjust how many points to award or what a point is worth. These fundamental learnings can get lost in a program that has tons of features and rules. It is important to have a firm grasp of your programs fundamentals before proceeding with all the features available. Once again, when starting a loyalty program keeping it simple is key.
It is also important to involve your customers in the evolution of your program. Before introducing the next feature, ask your customers what they thought of the last feature. Did they use it? Was it easy to use? Did they know it existed? This will ensure that the features you are adding in the future will be used by your customers.
A Simple Program Lets You Launch Quickly
A simple program allows you to launch now, rather than weeks or months down the road. As we like to say “A simple loyalty program is always better than no loyalty program”. Every moment spent in development has an opportunity cost, you miss out on time that your customers could be developing loyalty. Everyday that passes without implementing is costing you potential revenue.
Launching now also allows you to start collecting valuable data right away. Every site is different and every customer segment is different, the sooner you start learning from your specific customers the better. Make profitable tweaks and additions to your program sooner by launching simple and learning.
When Starting a Loyalty Program You Need To Keep it Simple
We have launched thousands of loyalty programs and the successful ones use a basic program to start. A simple program at launch gets you started right away, gives you powerful remarketing potential, and allows you to involve your customer in the program’s direction.