So, you decided to start a loyalty program. Now what? After launch most new programs get caught up in the details. What I mean by this is that they try to do everything at once. They add every feature under the sun, research the sh*t out of what their points should be worth, and just get way too caught in the weeds. Instead you should start simple, and just get started!
The best way to first get started with a loyalty program is to set up basic earning (like 1 point for every dollar spent) and spending rules ($10 off for 1,000 points). This will set a good foundation for your program, and cover the most basic feature… rewarding purchases. Rewarding purchases is the backbone of every program, but there is one other key feature you should include.
If you want your program to succeed right from the get go, you need welcome points! Welcome points are my number one recommendation for almost every store. It allows you to create excitement, create commitment, and accelerate positive feelings. Let me explain further.
Why Your Loyalty Program Needs Welcome Points
Welcome points are an effective way to boost enrollment and participation at the same time. It is the first low hanging fruit you should aim to pick. It is easy add, and super effective!
Here are a few reasons you should be giving your members “welcome points” or otherwise know as rewarding for account creation.
1. Provides an Incentive
The most obvious advantage of giving welcome points is to create an incentive to join your program. There is a reason credit card companies offer you all those bonus miles, it is effective! I know you have at least considered one of those offers.
You can create that strong desire to join your program as well, with welcome points. Just be sure that you are making it worth their while. If your first reward costs 1,000 points, a welcome bonus of 50 points will not cut it. I usually recommend giving enough points to claim your lowest reward right away (more on that later).
The tactic here is that you give customers value now, and recover that investment over the course of their life. This is known as customer lifetime value. By getting the customer enrolled and engaged in your loyalty program you will turn them into a repeat customer, which are up to 5x more profitable than first time shoppers!
2. Establishes Value
Welcome points not only incent a customer to join, they also increase the likelihood they will stick around. Have you ever noticed that when you start playing a new freemium game they always give you a starting balance of their currency, or that when you get a “buy 10 get one free” card it already has a stamp on it.
This is by design! People love to start things, but that doesn’t mean they will actually use it. That is why you are usually given a starting balance, it invests you into the game, tool, or program. When you already have currency in something you are more inclined to continue using it, I mean you are already on your way.
Welcome points use the same principle. A customer now has some of your currency in their account. If they choose not to come back they are forgoing that currency. As humans it is very difficult for us to walk away from money.
3. Makes Future Actions More Likely
When we are given something we are not only more likely to continue, but actively look to repay it. This is known as the reciprocity principle, which basically states that when something is done for us we feel obligated to repay the favour. It is almost fool proof!
This principle is more effective in loyalty if you just give welcome points to a customer without requiring them to sign up for it. You do not want the customer to feel as though they have traded their info for the points. You want them to feel like you have given them something that they should reciprocate. You can get them to reciprocate in profitable ways.
The obvious way they can repay you is with their loyalty, after all a repeat customer is worth way more to your business. There’s another way though. You can ask them to perform other actions to get points (once they have points and see value). You can get them to do things like share on social or refer their friends for points. This essentially turns your loyal customers into marketers as well!
Rewarding points for other profitable actions is easy to add to your program with ecommerce loyalty programs like Smile.io.
4. Accelerates First Reward
If you frequently read this blog you have heard the following quote a lot, and I am sorry about that. “A member sees value in your program when they spend points, not when they earn them.”
What I mean here is that your loyalty program members like the rewards they get with their points not the points themselves. No one likes saving for retirement, but you like the lifestyle when you get there. The same is true with loyalty programs. That is why you want your members to claim a rewards as early as possible, and welcome points can help.
When you give welcome points, you are putting a loyalty member that much closer to that first reward. I usually recommend giving enough points for a small reward as a welcome reward. This ensures that the customer sees value and gets the emotional high of a reward right away. This makes them more likely to return on their own, but they also registered an email that you can market to them later with.
Welcome points is the best way to establish positive emotions in your customers and establishes a foundation on which you can build a meaningful relationship.