Loyalty Games: Can you get more people to play?

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Your loyalty program is ready to go. The reward scheme is worked out. The systems are in place. The program is branded and communications are designed to drive enrollment. You’re promoting the program and have members, but not enough. Now what?

Why won’t more people sign up?
For a customer who is interested in your brand or company, but is less than fully committed, joining a formal loyalty program is often a commitment that he or she isn’t ready to make. These people may be very interested in your brand, but aren’t yet ready to sign up for something. The “join the program” mentality can significantly limit the number of customers who will engage with your brand. It can drive an over focus on generating enrollments at the expense of building real loyalty with more people.

Are you asking people to enroll in your program too early in the relationship?
If you’re asking people to enroll in your program before they’re ready to, you may be placing a hurdle in the path to a deeper relationship with those customers. If this is the case, you probably need to get customers further along the commitment path first – then it will be easier to get them to register for your program.

Or perhaps you’re waiting too long for customers to find your program, and the opportunity has passed?
I call spikes of brand interest “relationship moments.” These are the momentary windows of interest for your brand that customers experience. If you’re not taking advantage of these while you have the opportunity to, then the moments quickly dissipate or may be stolen by competitors.

Some people will never play
As hard as you try, some people will not enroll in or actively participate in your loyalty program. Realistically, how many brand-sponsored programs do we expect people to have the time and energy to stay actively engaged in? But just because they won’t play our loyalty game the way we’ve designed it doesn’t mean they can’t be loyal to our brand.

How can you bridge the gap?
The key is to field loyalty-building initiatives with broader reach. This can bridge the gap with consumers who aren’t committed enough to join your program yet, and even with those who never will. Focus on creating “relationship moments” that create or renew someone’s interest in your brand, then imparting deeper compelling brand information to help increase brand commitment. Research shows that being exposed to more brand information helps increase consumer confidence in the brand.

Ask yourself if investing in more broad-reaching loyalty efforts designed to help more consumers reach higher levels of brand commitment is a better investment than spending more to “market your marketing” or enhancing a current program which is serving already-committed members. Many forward-looking brands are rethinking the mix of formal loyalty programs and supplemental loyalty building initiatives within their overall approach to building brand commitment and loyalty. Should you?

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