Crafting a loyalty program is one of the first steps in scaling. As a company gains more consistent customers, it can keep the ‘superfans’ coming back by crafting unique rewards. Ideally, every brand would prefer to go the way of Apple, curating a fanatical fanbase with unique interior design and superior products.
But that’s simply not the case for most companies looking to go global—especially for those functioning in the virtual space. Online retailers, whether paired with brick-and-mortar shops or not, must be able to offer customers something they can’t find elsewhere. This often proves difficult—especially in the era of Google ads and tailored algorithms.
In other words, it’s hard for new brands to gain exposure. Once they do, they have to pounce to keep their customers coming back. Today, some of the top examples of tiered loyalty programs, points-based programs, and value rewards have been fine-tuned by the world’s most recognizable names in beauty, coffee, books, and more. Need a little inspiration in building a stellar loyalty program? Keep reading for a few top examples.
One key example comes from the online casino industry. When players are looking to sign up with a new online casino platform, they’ll first prioritize sites that offer their preferred game—whether blackjack, roulette, or slots. But there’s another feature that players are on the lookout for: a loyalty program.
For casinos, the name of the game is cutting through the noise. There are thousands of online casinos available worldwide, and each offers a similar reel of games. Offering daily and weekly bonuses, along with seasonal offers, is essential for keeping players interested.
Sephora Insider is one of the top loyalty programs in the world. Sephora is a beauty supply chain that has over 25 million rewards members, which contributes the bulk of the company’s revenue. So, what’s their key to success? Similar to casinos, Sephora must compete with thousands of other brands.
To stay ahead of the pack, Sephora Insider lets members tailor their loyalty program. They can choose when and how to redeem points through free shipping offers, gift cards, and even events held at stores. Their success isn’t about slashing prices, but personalizing the experience for customers.
No matter where someone travels, they’re likely to find a Starbucks nearby—which is exactly the focus of the brand’s loyalty program. Starbucks crafted one of the first mobile-ready loyalty rewards formats, which means that customers must pay with a mobile in order to accrue points.
This lets customers order drinks to go, access first dibs on seasonal favorites, and even offers them a customer lifetime value. But, on the flip side, this loyalty program also works for Starbucks. The mobile app collects data on customers, which helps the brand learn more about customer habits and interests.
The idea behind a loyalty program is to reward recurring customers… not charge them more. However, Barnes & Noble curates their rewards program by offering a VIP membership to those willing to pay $25 a year. This gives them exclusive access to a series of benefits, which includes free shipping, hardcover discounts, and access to special events.
The idea here is to harness a truly dedicated fanbase. Readers are some of the most loyal and voracious consumers in the entertainment industry, so it makes sense for Barnes & Noble to capitalize on this. If you think you have a product or service with enough hardcore fans, then consider charging an annual fee for joining—just make sure the benefits offer a higher value.
Lastly, let’s cover one of the latest forms of loyalty program: a community-first program. This means that companies are looking to brand their rewards program based on certain ideals. For example, The Body Shop incorporates charity donations into its rewards program.
Another new concept is Torrid’s gaming-first loyalty program, which lets consumers play for points even if they aren’t planning on making an actual purchase from the store. This increases engagement with the brand.