Category Archives: Customer Engagement

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10 Tips for Loyalty Program Success

Creating your first loyalty program can be overwhelming. What rewards should you offer? What customers should you target? What should your program look like? With so many moving pieces, you’ll need to pare down the possibilities.

Here are ten high-level tips to help you kick off your program on the right track.

1. Know your customers.

The most successful brands drive home the points that matter most to their customers, and rewards programs are no different. Before you put a program in place, it’s vital that you know your customers well enough to give them tasks and rewards that will be mutually beneficial. Offering people things they already want is the quickest, most efficient way to see results that last. Lean on the people closest to your community for input in the early stages of your program as they can offer the best sense of who your customers are, what motivates them to engage, and what their personalities are like. Whether your social media manager, customer service team, sales team, or someone else in your org interacts with your customers the most, give them a stake in the success of your loyalty program and leverage their knowledge of your existing customers to help create a layout that will incentivize the majority.

2. Offer a variety of rewards.

Once you’ve nailed down what kind(s) of rewards will incentivize your customers, it’s time to offer them in a variety of ways. There are three main types of rewards brands can offer: sweepstakes (e.g. a lottery, instant-win giveaway, trip, etc.); digital (e.g. social media shout outs, points, badges, etc.); and tangible (e.g. coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc.). Here at BigDoor, we believe digital (typically non dollar-backed) rewards are the future of rewards programs as customers move farther into the age of all things online.

However, digital rewards are not the best solution for every situation. If your brand has the ability to offer a healthy dose of sweepstakes and tangible rewards alongside a digital-heavy program, you’ll have the competitive advantage of a stacked deck. Explore all the unique ways your brand can offer rewards to customers in order to come up with the most effective layout for your program.

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3. Make your tasks achievable.

The sky is the limit when it comes to sending your customers on tasks to redeem rewards, but remember to keep your feet on the ground when setting your goals. If you make tasks too difficult or time consuming for users to complete, you’ll probably see a negative response from your audience.

There is no set rule for the amount of tasks a user should complete in order to redeem a reward, so gauge every situation accordingly. Bigger rewards (like a $100 gift card) will likely require users to complete a higher number of tasks than small rewards (like a Twitter shout out), so be sure to walk through a customer redemption cycle in the planning stage of every reward you offer. The whole point of loyalty programs is to increase user engagement and loyalty, so make sure your customers can actually accomplish the tasks you’re setting them up for.

4. Go where your audience is.

This one isn’t rocket science, but is definitely worth a reminder. Your brand’s customers are congregating in groups around the web, and it’s up to your brand to reach them where they already are. Whether your customers engage through social media channels, hang out in web forums, or read certain types of blogs, you should place a priority on drawing them into your product or service from their pre-determined niches. Once your brand has their attention, use your loyalty program to make them stay.

5. Invest in UX.

User experience is part of every touch point customers hit when interacting with your brand, and offering a seamlessly integrated program is where brands who win invest their time and money.

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Your users will be more inclined to sign up, complete tasks, and interact with your site if your loyalty program’s look and feel matches the design and layout they are already familiar with. To ensure a smooth transition into your program, keep its onsite experience on-brand, easy-to-understand, light-weight, and versatile. There’s no question that this task will take a bit of time spent in the planning and development stages, but the payout is worth the effort.

6. Incentivize customer referrals.

People like to go where their friends are, and when it comes to brand loyalty, nothing is more powerful than a customer advocating on a brand’s behalf to their inner circles. Are you capitalizing on the powerful word-of-mouth reviews happy customers are giving your brand?

Incentivizing customer referrals is a great way to build loyalty. When a brand rewards for “soft actions” like referring a friend, they say thank you to their loyal advocates, while simultaneously gaining new users. Whether you reward referrals with gift cards, special deals, coupons, or other incentives, enabling this feature in your loyalty program will give your brand a competitive advantage.

7. Keep your loyalty program on-brand.

Although we mentioned on-brand design when talking about user experience, this step is so important that it deserves a category of its own. Loyalty programs are created to add value and increase loyalty within an existing customer cycle. Adding an online program means you’ll be adding a new feature onto your existing website; additional layers to existing sites can be confusing, and the more you can streamline the experience for your users, the more comfortable they’ll feel when signing up and engaging.

Keep your rewards program relevant to your brand in order to smooth the transition between customer to loyalty program member. If your brand chooses a third-party vendor to create your program, make sure white-labeling is an option that is offered (or just choose BigDoor as we white-label all of our program options!).

8. Communicate with members regularly.

Most people are creatures of habit, and your loyalty program should speak to these feelings. Create a pattern of communication between your brand and program members so they know what to expect and when to expect it. Whether you’re communicating through email campaigns, in-app messaging, social media channels, or other, it’s important to create a plan and stick to it.

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The earlier you set communication expectations with your loyalty program members, the better off their experience will be. The principals of reciprocal loyalty carry over to communication seamlessly – think of this step as “reciprocal communication.” 🙂

9. Offer multi-platform options.

It’s been said before, but we’ll say it one more time: offering multi-platform options for your program members to engage with your brand is key to success. Your customers are engaging with you everywhere: on their phones, at work, on their home desktop machines, and on their tablets. The wider you can expand your software’s reach the higher the chance of people engaging with your brand will be.

Like most good things, multi-platform software takes time to test an implement. Putting in the effort to offer multi-platform options at the beginning of your program will be worth the effort for years to come.

10. Grow with your audience.

Your audience is continuously evolving, and you should be, too! Be sure your loyalty program is equipped for change. As your audience expands, your loyalty program offerings will need to adapt in order to keep existing members and attract new ones. Creating a cadence is necessary to get your program off the ground, but have strong beliefs that are weakly held and be open to change along the way. Offering new types of rewards to incentivize your ever-evolving audience can put those inevitable growing pains to good use.

And there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you zero in on what your program will look like. Do you have any tips outside of this list? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

The Benefits of a Customer Advisory Board

Gathering feedback is crucial to moving a business forward at any stage. But with so many voices sharing their thoughts on your products and services, how do you know where to find the most valuable feedback? That’s where a customer advisory board comes in.

A customer advisory board (CAB) is a group of your most trusted customers who can provide feedback on products, features, and design before those new ideas get pushed into the wild for the rest of your customers to see. I like to refer to this group of people as the Robin to a company’s Batman, but for now, we’ll just call them the “secret weapon” behind brands who bridge the gap between their customers and their business well.

There are countless benefits of having a customer advisory board on your side, but we’ve highlighted the top four to show you just how effective leaning on a CAB can be. Enjoy!

1. Superior beta testing

Customer advisory board members make up a group of beta testers that can be advantageous in a number of ways. First, this group is hand-picked by your business, which gives you the ability to control your sample size. Beta testing typically falls on the shoulders of a group that is uncontrolled, where companies don’t have any input on who their testers actually are. Surveys are sent out with the hope of getting a percentage of response back, rather than focusing on who the responders are. With a CAB, you can create a beta testing group with the demographics, ages, and audience types you know will yield the best results.

Testing through a CAB allows you to make sure your sample is representative of your most-telling audience, but more importantly, it gives businesses the ability to iterate on their tests over time to focus in on finding they answers they need to improve. When a test group is controlled, changes can be made to the content and testers to proactively iterate on results over time. This allows for new theories and samples to be pushed through the pipeline at a faster pace, which allows for more progress on the product side of the house. Do more faster, FTW!

2. Impartial feedback

Gathering feedback on a new product or design is great, but the person providing the feedback makes all the difference. If feedback is given by people who might be operating with their own agendas, the point of unbiased testing is lost.

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CAB members are instrumental in providing feedback that (usually) isn’t driven by their personal motivations. For example, a CAB member will not have the same motivations as your someone who is monetarily invested in your company. CAB members will be invested in your industry but will not be driven solely by growing your revenue when they provide feedback, so what they share has a tendency to be quite unbiased. Investor feedback is crucial to driving a business forward, but there are plenty of times where feedback from a source that is separated from your revenue stream is what makes all the difference.

3. Qualitative feedback

Although working with CAB members will not be as plentiful as selecting a random group of beta testers, their feedback is much deeper than a random sample can provide. If you value quality over quantity when it comes to product feedback (which you should!), lean on your CAB to provide in-depth, unique insights to propel your growth forward.

A great way to collect quality feedback from your CAB (that you can’t get elsewhere!) is to bring them into your office to test your upcoming releases. Watching how they interact with new features and how they generally experience your website provides an invaluable window into how customers really use your product. Note the pain points that they run into, and have them walk you through what both delights and confuses them. There is so much value to be gained from this type of customer testing; use it to your company’s advantage when you brainstorm and build your next feature.

4. Loyal influencers

Here at BigDoor, we believe that growing loyal advocates is one of the best ways to build a community and increase revenue. When you invest in brand advocates, you invest in a group of loyal followers who will not only weigh in with feedback for you and your products, but who will advocate on your behalf.

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Creating a customer advisory board is the perfect way to grow your loyal influencers. Your CAB members are already customers and community members who know and love your product, and building up their trust through implementing their feedback will help grow your loyalest bucket of customers. When the wall between customers and brands is flattened, you’ll begin to see a flood of feedback from your community at large. Let your CAB help start the process for you.

So, where’s your CAB?

A customer advisory board is a great way to collect unique feedback, gather impartial opinions, build loyal advocates, and beta test new products before they’re released. I hope you’re inspired to begin the process of putting your first CAB together. Your products, customers, and revenue will thank you!

Before you go: are you into loyalty? BigDoor is working on putting together a CAB of our own. If you’re interested in joining up with this stellar team, drop us a line at to hear more!


5 Tips to Improve Customer Communications

Customer.customer.customer. It’s front of mind and at the heart of what marketers focus on day in and day out. Building a brand and a company would mean very little if you weren’t benefiting someone (hopefully many people) along the way. The last few years have brought customer-centric marketing strategy to the forefront, and the BigDoor team couldn’t be happier.

Every day, we think, “How can we help companies connect and appreciate their customers?” We believe so strongly in reciprocal loyalty that we spend our days building a technology centered around brands giving back to their customers (it’s isn’t all work, btw…the other day we had fun with dots!).

Something that sticks out time and time again is the challenge brands face when trying to communicate with their customers. Customer conversations aren’t easy ones, and they require specific strategies to be successful. People have different needs, they are in different cities, and are facing different challenges – but all of them are turning to you, hoping you can communicate effectively and help them.

Talk about a challenge. #hardstuff

So what can companies be doing? What can we focus on to make sure we are communicating effectively with our customers? Well…lots of things, actually. Let’s run through a few!

1. Make it relevant. We communicate when we have something we need to say. Seems straight-forward enough. The problem is that what we say doesn’t always translate into relevance for our customers. What do they need to know? What problems are they facing? What value can you be adding them? To keep the conversation two-way, marketers can’t just be communicating only what we want to say, but instead flip that upside down to focus on what our customers need to hear.  Customer relevancy is critical in seeding brand loyalty. As people interact with your brand, they need to feel like you are speaking directly at them to build affinity toward you.

2. Listen actively. This is a tough one. Confession: I’ve not always been a great listener. THERE I SAID IT! [facepalm] In fact, it took years of beating my head against a wall before I realized I wasn’t listening well enough to be effective. Talking at people is easy; talking with people is hard.

Practicing the art of active listening is key to hitting the latter. What does that look like? Surveying customers is a great start. Jumping offline and talking with your customers in person so you can really hear (and see!) what they are saying is even better. You need to be using all of the customer analytics available to you to really understand the challenges facing your customers. Only then can you both (a) solve for them, but perhaps even more importantly, (b) communicate that you’ve solved for them.

Dropbox sends a beautiful and valuable mailer asking for my feedback so they can proactively improve my experience.

3. Get comfortable with your emotions. Ewwwwww emotions. Cooties central. I hear ya. But jump on board, friends. As marketers, we need to acknowledge that the issues our customers face when interacting with our products and company cause them to feel a certain way. We assume their reactions are what we should be communicating toward, but how they react and how they feel are often two very different things.

Redbull uses Twitter to communicate with customers on an emotional level rather than a product-driven one.
Redbull uses Twitter to communicate with customers on an emotional level rather than a product-driven one.

The best customer communications get at the heart of a feeling. Maybe a customer isn’t logging into your product, but what are they feeling? Are they overwhelmed by the complexities? Are they afraid of setting something up wrong? Are they too busy to jump in and get started? Spend time figuring out how can you communicate and help your customers based on how they are feeling…not just on how they are acting.

4. Anticipate the next issue.  It’s easy to get caught up in the now. Marketing communications can feel incredibly reactive a great deal of the time. The trick to improving your relationship with customers is to anticipate the next issue they might have, and to speak to them in advance. For example, if your site was down don’t send an email to say you’re sorry for the outage, anticipate that this may have caused them purchasing issues, or product problems, and provide them opportunities to report those for updates.

BigDoor has adopted a similar philosophy when it comes to communicating with our partners. Anytime we perform maintenance or upgrade our product, we proactively communicate with our partners to let them know in case they see any changes on their side. Our Director of Product Management, Jason McCue, is diligent about putting the customer first with his communication strategy. It helps us anticipate issues and better serve our clients.

By communicating to customers that you are thinking about how things might affect them, it shows that you are keeping their concerns front and center.

5. Quick and simple. Let’s keep it quick and simple, friends. I’m a talker. Like for real. Chit chatting all the time…except for when I work on customer communications. There is a time and place for the very transparent, thorough letter to customers, but that is not the norm. Customer communications, for the most part, should be focused on a singular message; they should be quick to read and simple to consume.

The craft of writing effective, quick, and simple communications is a topic worthy of it’s own post, but in the meantime, try to keep it in mind. Saving your customers time is just another way of saying, “I am keeping your needs in mind.” So when you put together your next email, post, or communication campaign, for the goodness of it…keep it quick and simple.

Julep mailer keeps their mailers quick and simple. Easy to digest & act upon.

So there you have it; some practical ways to start improving your communications today! Down the road, we will cover the tools of the trade (wait, I can do more than just send emails?! Yes, it’s true!) Until then, we hope you have some success with these tips.

If you have other tricks you’ve picked up over the years on how to really get through and help customers, we’d love to hear them below in the comments!