Category Archives: Loyalty

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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!

Why Marketers Should Care About UX

The role of a marketer has grown dramatically over the last few years. As the KPIs we’re responsible for expand, there’s been a shift in the skills today’s marketers not only need to familiarize themselves with, but master. Marketing through user experience is one of these disciplines. 

Traditionally, user experience has been confined to website design. However, we at BigDoor see it as any touch point allowing a customer to interact with your brand – even before they’ve made their first purchase and are still in the consideration phase. User experience includes the on-page experience of your website, the functionality of the emails you send out, the ads you display around the web, the way you present yourself through social channels, and even those t-shirts you sent out to your power users last week.

“User experience” can be defined as: any interaction a customer or potential customer has with your brand. As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure these experiences work together.

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In this post, we’ll focus on why marketers should care about online user experience (i.e. how your customers and fans interact with your brand around the web). Maybe someday in the future we’ll write about tangible user experience, which tends to look more like this:

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This cat is having a bad tangible user experience. 

Ready? Here we go!

Great UX: Drives customer loyalty

As a marketer, driving loyalty through each section of your customer funnel is a hugely important task. Providing customers with a good user experience can help you reach this goal by driving loyalty organically wherever your brand appears on the web. A few points to focus on when evaluating current UX include:

Consistent messaging. What does your brand’s messaging look like? When users are targeted with multiple messages across web from your brand, it often leads to confusion, not loyalty. Be consistent with the singular message you want users to connect with your brand, rather than using multiple channels for a variety of messages.

Lean on your company’s goals to create a bite-size message that can be laced in with any online experience, including through social channels, paid advertising, content creation, and on your site. If you provide your users with a direct message to stand behind no matter where they are interacting with your brand on the web, users are more likely to feel “at home,” which helps drive loyalty through the roof.

MailChimp is a great example of consistent messaging. No matter where they are on the web, you’ll get a sense of who they are, what their product does, and the type of community they foster.

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Responsive design. By now, we’ve all heard how important offering a responsive design across multiple interfaces is. But I’m going to reiterate, just one last time: responsive design is key to offering a successful, consistent user experience. Users are engaging with your brand across their many devices, and the more familiarity your brand offers through mobile, desktop, and tablet engagements, the easier and more delightful your user experience will become. If you shut channel(s) out by focusing only on one or two platforms, a large segment of your users won’t feel the love your brand is putting into their experience.

Loyalty is driven through responsive design by allowing users to complete familiar actions on any device they choose. The easier you can make interacting with your brand from desktop to mobile to tablet, the more loyal you users’ interactions will be.

Great UX: Creates strong advocates

Advocates are the best type of customers to have; are you cultivating them through your online experience? UX can drive advocacy in many forms, but here are a few big ones:

Social engagement. When a user has a positive interaction with your brand, are they able to share it with the world? If not, your user experience is causing you to lose advocates. Provide a way for users to share the interactions they’ve had on your site, like sharing content, making purchases, and engaging with your brand.

Another piece of the social engagement puzzle is user experience on your social channels. Although you can’t alter the design and functionality of your Twitter or Facebook page, you can definitely control the feel of it through the content you publish, language you use, and your frequency of interaction. A few examples of poor user experience through social channels include:

  • Publishing content that doesn’t line up with your brand message. You know that blog post you read and loved about the latest workout trend? Unless your company focuses on fitness, forgo sharing it on your company’s social networks. Keep the content you share consistent with your brand messaging so followers and fans have a sense of what to expect from that channel’s user experience.
  • Using language that doesn’t fit your brand. Your brand is a story, and the way you deliver that story is through content. Be sure that the language you use stays consistent with the formality (or informality, if you’re into that sort of thing) with your brand. Keep your voice throughout any social interaction you have to ensure users experience UX consistency.
  • Sporadic or infrequent engagement. Every brand has the one (or two, maybe three) social channel that has turned into a deserted wasteland. Once in awhile, it might be tempting to publish a few pieces of content to that channel, and then it goes dark again for another few weeks. This offers a terrible user experience for any customers trying to interact with your brand on that channel as social media is merely a medium for connecting brands and users 1:1. If you decide to create a social channel for your brand, stick to your decision and be sure you have the resources to upkeep the page.

Referrals. When a customer refers a friend to a brand, there is a certain “seal of approval” that goes along with the endorsement; referrers have taken a significant stand on how they feel about your brand and the experience that goes along with it.

Offering a good user experience directly ties to whether or not people are going to share your brand with their inner circles. People want to refer others to beautiful, engaging brands. If you offer a user experience that looks like this:

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…you can expect your referral bucket to look something like this:

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It’s simple psychology. People typically don’t want to share things that might diminish their credibility, and supporting a confusing user experience does just that. Give your customers something to advocate by providing them with a streamlined, sharable user experience.

Great UX: Drives purchases

Many of our marketing goals tie back to the overarching reason our businesses exist in the first place: to make money. A strong user experience helps pave the way to increasing your number of purchases. Here’s how:

Less friction. Smoothing out steps in your checkout process is imperative to increasing online sales. With as many as 59.8% of potential customers abandoning their shopping carts, alleviating the friction points in a checkout process through better user experience is an action marketers just can’t afford to miss.

Take a look at your current checkout process and analyze data on where customers are abandoning their potential purchases. Once you locate the pain points, they can be redesigned and tested to see which actions increase completed transactions. Supporting a fluid UX during checkout is easy money that you might already be missing out on.

Amazon’s one-click ordering is a fantastic example of shortening up the checkout process through user experience. It allows customer’s to purchase items with only one click of a button to complete their order, without making them enter any extra information each time they purchase. What’s easier than that?

Accelerated customer engagement. People – online and offline – tend to flock to experiences that are intuitive and rewarding. The easier and more intuitive your customer experience is, the more customers you can expect to engage with your brand online, and to ultimately buy your products/services.

The king of simple, purchase-driving user experience is Apple. They’ve kept their design, product messaging, and even color flow consistent throughout every part of their brand, which spurred a revolution. Think through your friends and pinpoint the one (or multiple) that own every Apple product on the market. Do these people just tend to gravitate towards Apple products? Not likely. The Apple user experience is so fluid that it drives purchases beyond what a normal customer would spend on similar products. Apple may not be perfect, but when it comes to user experience, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

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Great UX: Increases discovery

The Internet is a tough place to be if your user experience isn’t keeping up with the competition. The push to be found through search is getting harder, directing users around your site once they find it is tricky, and lowering your bounce rate is more important than ever. Luckily, user experience is here to help you increase your chance of discovery in a few areas:

Across the web. It’s easy to get lost in the SERPs, especially if your user experience is operating at a sub-par level. Not only does a solid user experience benefit users, but it also benefits search engines that crawl your content. Clearly presenting your brand through on-site content, blog posts, site maps, and other pieces of crawlable data can help the search engines figure out who your company is and what you should be ranking for. We won’t go into any SEO tips, but this article offers an awesome high-level overview at just how intertwined UX and SEO are.

In your on-site content. A good user experience directs visitors around your page by easily navigating them through desired actions. The more intuitive a page is, the better the chance of the user has at following the expected actions on the page. Although you can’t always count on users following your planned actions 100% of the time, you can nudge them towards what you want them to discover on your site through an intuitive, simple user experience.

Strong on-page UX can also help increase inbound leads for your sales team. The easier you make your content forms to find and fill out, the more inbound buzz you’ll find coming your way. Win-win!

In conclusion

User experience is so much more than design, and it’s time for marketers to familiarize themselves with the expanded world of UX when applying it to their campaigns. The more user experience and marketing mesh together, the more beautiful and seamless your customers’ overall experience with your brand will be.

Do you have any other tips for leveraging the power of UX in your marketing strategies? Let me know in the comments!

Is Your Loyalty Program Working?

We’ve been talking a lot about building loyalty lately. But what really makes a loyalty program work? How can you tell if the tools you’ve set in place for customers to intimately connect with your brand are performing well?

Here at BigDoor, we’re working to solve this problem for businesses and marketers. Although every program is different, there are a few key components you can look at today to see if your program is working well. In today’s post, we highlight those points and offer quick fixes you can implement immediately. Let’s go!

1. Growth of loyalty program users vs. overall audience

You’re customer base is growing, sales numbers are high, and you’re feeling good about your upcoming quarter. But does that success really translate over to your loyalty program?

Loyalty program success should be calculated separately from your growth. To really understand success, you need to know the total number of customers you have, along with the number of those customers who are enrolled in your loyalty program. Once you know both, it’s time to look back at your growth over the past few months. If the percentage of your total customers is growing, but the percentage of growth in your loyalty program isn’t keeping stride, there’s a good chance something in the program isn’t working.

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A quick way to ignite growth is making sure that the value of your program is clearly communicated to your potential subscribers. Some ways to do this is to build a standalone landing page that describes the value of your program to users, enticing them to sign up. You can even run a few A/B tests to see what language, images, and layouts best sell the value of your loyalty program. Unbounce and Optimizely are great tools to run simple tests. Check them out to get you started.

2. Retention of current program members

When it comes to retention, showcasing the value of your loyalty program is front and center. For example, providing a place on your website within the program that offers help links, FAQs, and useful, consistently updated content is a value add that gives program members instantaneous benefits. The more you can invest in your program through updated content, new rewards, and ever-changing experiences, the more intrigued you will keep your existing users. Remember that your customers are people, and people tend to get bored with information that no longer feels relevant to them.

Next, make sure you’re monitoring your loyalty funnel to locate problem areas. The closer you can pinpoint exactly where you’re losing people based on your model, the easier it will be for your marketing team to rethink the on-page experience, and to help drive customers back into the program with new incentives that fit their needs. Communicating with your existing members is a great way to test what works best for them. Whether you’re A/B testing rewards through email campaigns, providing in-program communications, or setting up drip campaigns to help tailor user experience, putting in effort to get to know what your loyal customers really want pays off.

If you do find that people are leaving your program, make sure you have a feedback loop in place to help you figure out why. Cancellation surveys are a great way to better understand what those who’ve left would have liked to see in your program. If you’re seeing a response from customers who have cancelled, it’s time to brainstorm ways to help spread the love once again.

3. Loyalty member activity vs. non-loyalty program customer activity

It’s great when customers stay in your program, but what does their activity look like? Loyalty programs are meant to incentivize and encourage increased engagement, so it’s time look at whether or not your loyalty members are more active, as active, or less active than customers that exist outside of the program.

This might seem hard, but something as simple as tagging your valuable on-site actions in GA, and then tracking how many times your loyalty program members complete them versus those outside of the program is enough to tell you if your loyalty program is driving the right actions.

BigDoor’s loyalty program has the ability to keep a control cohort of users for you to even more clearly compare the two user groups. No matter how you do it, you should be comparing the two user groups regularly to identify if your loyalty program is driving more engagement as hoped.

To reach loyalty program members that are less active, you may want to reach out to those who have “gone dark” and ask them how you can improve your program, and  hopefully re-engage them. Ask them what they would have liked to see more of, and use that feedback to drive improvements across your program and relight the fire within your members.

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4. Percentage of rewards redeemed

Rewards are critical to the success of a loyalty program (we are planning on doing a much more in depth post on best practices soon!) Rewards are enticing, but if a low percentage of qualified members are redeeming your offering(s), something is probably wrong. Keep an eye on how many users are completing your desired actions to gauge their interest in your loyalty program, and compare that with the number of rewards you’ve given away. This will tell you if you have the right rewards in place, or if you need to rethink them.

Keep in mind that the types and costs of your rewards differ, and be sure to weight them accordingly. Are your users redeeming rewards that are perceived as having high value but are low-cost to your brand, or are they redeeming rewards that are high-cost items on both sides? Does the reward give customers something that they really wanted, or does it simply deepen engagement with your brand?

Answering these questions will help shed light on the motivations behind your users’ redemptions. For example, a discount coupon or a shout out on Twitter both help deepen engagement with your brand; a non-branded mug or hat does not. A combination of dollar backed and non-dollar backed rewards offers something for everyone in your program; does your loyalty program have the ability to provide both options?

If the number(s) of customers redeeming rewards is low, you may want to go back to the drawing board when structuring your rewards and redemption process. That neon orange bumper sticker you’re giving away might not be a big enough incentive for everyone to redeem it.

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5. Referrals into your program

One of the best ways to grow your loyalty program is to leverage your current loyalty program members and have them refer in from their social circles. The key is to reward your members for taking that action, and reward those that have been referred in for completing the task.

Before you dive into your referral numbers, take a look at the tools you have in place for current members to share your program. If current members don’t have an easy opportunity to spread the word to their networks, the likelihood of them taking the action is low. Tools like a refer-a-friend program (part of the BigDoor product) and recruitment widgets make sharing simple, fun, and seamless for your existing members.

Once new members are sent your way through a referral, you want to make sure you greet them right! Make the onboarding process for the new member easy, streamlined, and polished. Providing your advocates with a simple experience that is generously appreciated on both sides causes the best kind of snowball effect.

6. Shares from the program

A strong indicator of how loyal your customers and fans are is through monitoring social engagement. Are people using social media to brag about their interactions with your brand and the rewards they are redeeming, or are they only using it as a communication channel between themselves and your brand? Are they discovering and sharing your incentivized content? What is the tone when program members talk about your brand, and what does your reciprocal interaction look like?

Sharing content on social networks could require it’s own blog post, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: people (both loyalty members and prospective customers) are talking about you online, whether you are present or not. As a marketer, it is your job to keep tabs on the community pulse, and to help move the conversation forward whenever possible, encouraging loyalty and driving fans to engage with your brand further through your loyalty program.

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 Image credit to Lee Traupel. 

Each social network has its own set of relevant insights, so whether you’re Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinteresting, or LinkedIning (is that a thing?), you’ll need to get your hands on some hard data. SimplyMeasured’s free reports do this really well. Give them a try!

Hopefully these tips will encourage you to take a look at your existing loyalty program, and begin to think about whether it’s working as well as it could be.

This list is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to loyalty. What other pieces of the loyalty puzzle do you focus on when gauging success? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

The Top 10 Customer Loyalty Blogs

The path to successful customer loyalty is paved by positive user experience, great customer support, and reciprocal loyalty. When customers are delighted by their experience with a brand, they come back for seconds; they purchase in larger quantities, deepen their engagement, and act as loyal advocates. However, building customer loyalty takes time, effort, and a concerted effort by the business to figure out exactly what their community is asking for, and delivering on those requests.

It’s time to shape traditional loyalty (read: the type of loyalty started by brands your grandparents know and love) from behind a screen, and turn your consumers into lifetime customers. But where to begin?

To inspire your plan for increasing customer love, we’ve put together the top ten blogs sharing thoughts on customer loyalty that you should be following. In addition to killer blog posts, these companies also offer actionable supplemental content that you’ll find peppered throughout this line up. Enjoy!

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1. HelpScout

Help Scout is a customer support tool whose blog focuses on customer loyalty and success. From increasing customer happiness to creating loyalty programs that stick, this blog is packed with actionable advice that you can implement into your marketing and retention campaigns immediately. Their content speaks to the seasoned marketer, but beginners in customer loyalty will find value abound.

For continued learning from Help Scout, check out their new eBook, The Art of Customer Loyalty. Follow HelpScout on Twitter @helpscout.

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2. 500 Friends

This content is money; and by money, I mean the slang usage that’s a euphemism for suave. However, this content can also make you money once you digest and implement its tips for increasing customer lifetime value, community building, customer promotions, and much more.

If this blog leaves you wanting more, check out the 500 Friends marketing resources page for deep dives into a variety of loyalty topics. Follow them on Twitter @500friends.

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3. Loyalty Lab

A customer loyalty-based software, Loyalty Lab’s blog offers thought leadership on cross-platform loyalty, how big data and marketing interact, real-time client-consumer interaction, relationship building, and more. Aside from their epic blog, Loyalty Lab offers a large amount of content in front of the paywall, including webinars, presentations, and whitepapers.

If you’re just starting out on your customer loyalty journey, this blog will help fill your marketing arsenal with valuable tools and tactics. Follow Loyalty Lab on Twitter @LoyaltyLab.

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4. Get More Engagement 

Take loyalty, social marketing, multi-channel engagement, and gamification; add some spice; mix thoroughly; and serve straight-up for a savory combination you can’t find elsewhere. This is the recipe behind the Get More Engagement blog, and if your marketing strategy encompasses loyalty, this is one content concoction you won’t want to miss.

The Get More Engagement blog takes readers through consumer case studies, offers customer loyalty tips for success, and encourages “thinking from the user” creation in all channels of customer interaction. Follow them on Twitter @MoreEngagement.

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5. ZenDesk

ZenDesk is a customer service platform, but their blog is all about turning customers into happy, loyal brand advocates. From community building to learning what keeps customers satisfied, ZenDesk’s blog is home to a variety of topics that, once read, culminate in customer loyalty awesomeness. Whether you’re working in retail or software, this loyalty center is a must-read. Follow ZenDesk on Twitter @Zendesk.

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6. Loyalty360 

Loyalty360 is a newsroom for customer loyalty discussion, and a hub you should turn your eyeballs towards stat. Featuring stories from around the web, weekly columnists, and trending topics, this is a one-stop-shop for all of your loyalty news needs.

To begin pouring through the mountains of content they offer, check out their resource center for a drill-down view to easily find what you’re looking for. Follow Loyalty360 on Twitter @Loyalty360.

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7. Client Heartbeat

If you’re looking to focus your loyalty efforts on customer retention, this is one blog you can’t afford to miss. Client Heartbeat is leading the charge on customer satisfaction through gauging community pulse, and they share their learnings through case studies and tips on their blog. Whether you’re an experienced marketer or just starting out, this compilation articles will help breathe new life into your loyalty plan. They also offer some handy guides to customer success, free of charge! Follow them on Twitter @ClientHeartbeat.

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8. Totango 

Focusing on customer engagement is a great place to start when it comes to loyalty, and Totango’s content has you covered. From reporting tips to success metrics, Totango’s blog is a customer engagement marketer’s dream. In addition to the blog, Totango offers a resource page that’s home to company-sponsored research reports, infographics, and webinars to serve up their message on all content fronts. Follow Totango on Twitter @Totango.

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9. Kobie Marketing 

Amazing content, actionable tips, and human-focused delivery; this marketing agency’s blog has it all. At Kobie, loyalty and marketing campaigns go hand-in-hand, and their blog offers a window into how they pull it off. Loyalty isn’t a traditional cornerstone of old-school marketing, but blogs like this show rapid growth in the importance of loyalty in the changing marketing landscape.

Be sure to stop by their insights page for newsletters, whitepapers, and videos, all in front of the paywall. Follow them on Twitter @Kobie_Marketing.

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10. UserVoice 

Rounding out the customer service agencies who are focusing on customer loyalty is the UserVoice blog, where transparency and user-based thinking are the keys to customer loyalty and success. Aside from diving deep into their own software, this blog takes readers through consumer case studies, offers customer loyalty tips for success, and encourages “thinking from the user” creation in all channels of customer interaction. Follow UserVoice on Twitter @UserVoice.

While we love the blogs on this list, we’re also pretty excited about what we’re working on. Before wrapping up, here’s a bonus blog for you to check out:

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11. BigDoor

We’ve shifted our focus towards fostering loyalty, and even though we’ll still be writing about gamification every now and again, we’re zeroed in on leading the charge on customer and brand loyalty. Check out the BigDoor blog for great tips on how to deepen engagement with your community, how to build brand loyalty, and how to turn your consumers into loyal brand advocates. If you haven’t engaged with us on Twitter yet, give us a shout @BigDoor! We’d love to hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed this compilation of awesomeness, and encourage you to start following these blogs as soon as possible. The more you know, the better off your loyalty efforts – and, most importantly, your customers’ experience – will be!

Although I’ve only listed ten blogs here, there are many brilliant minds discussing the highs and lows of customer loyalty. Who are some of your favorites? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Building Better Customer Loyalty with Social Strategy

The days of limited brand-to-customer interaction are over. Customers are spending more time online researching their options, reading reviews and gathering more information than ever before. In addition to more informed buying decisions, customers are also spending more time delivering feedback to their online networks about products, services and brand interactions. This has resulted in an overall customer experience that begins with brand discovery, and ends (if it ever really does) with customer advocates (or in unfortunate cases, adversaries).  Ideally, brands that correctly navigate the customer life cycle, deliver positive experiences and interaction through all phases, or at the very least, are able to turn negative experiences positive. But while positive customer purchase experiences are often the focus of brands looking to create loyalty, the kind of cult following brands like Apple, Amazon and Samsung goes beyond a good customer transaction.

Customer loyalty is the result of three key elements:

–          Positive Customer Experiences

–          High perceived value

–          Better Customer Support

Accomplishing this trifecta of customer loyalty is not easy, and often leaves many marketers feeling lost with where to start. Resources and budget often limit implementing broader gamified rewards or comprehensive loyalty programs. However, fostering customer loyalty can start at a much smaller scale, through a well thought out social media strategy.

With 67% of online adults using social media, top tier sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have become the perfect place for brands to foster customer loyalty. These sites not only offer greater chances for brands to engage their customers, but can also be valuable tools for changing brand perceptions and providing creative customer support.

Positive Customer Experiences

At its most basic level, social media allows brands to interact directly with their customers. This ease of interaction plays an important role in pre-purchase actions, such as discovery and education, as well as post-purchase actions, like advocacy. Successful social media profiles demonstrate a brands personality and culture while encouraging customers to engage with products, content and each other. Customers who may not be familiar with a brand can be drawn towards brands by exciting or fun content, and stick around because of the community. Brands like ModCloth and other online retailers have developed fun interactive communities around their social media profiles which encourage women to share outfit ideas, discuss products, and participate in contests, all endearing the brand to the customers that are engaging as well as keeping customers to stay up to date on sales, new products and site features.

High Perceived Value

There is no better example than a brand that has harnessed the power of high perceived value than Apple. Early on, Apple aligned itself as a provider of products for technology innovators, as well as representative of a particular, desired lifestyle. For a large majority of Apple customers, the product specs that set Apple products apart are secondary to the status and power associated with owning an Apple product. While Apple may not directly spend much time on social media, it is no coincidence that Apple products are often endorsed, discussed and deeply embedded into trusted social media member’s online lives. Future customers are much more likely to trust a brand that is endorsed and used by other members of their network. By leveraging the power of a happy customer’s social network brands can indirectly influence the way their products and services are viewed.

Better Customer Support

Despite the speed at which most of us are now used to communicating, customer support remains outdated and clunky. Customers are often funneled through so many portals they feel as though they will never reach a real person. Social media presents an amazing opportunity for brands to directly reach out and humanize themselves with customers. One brand that reaches out directly to its customers on a regular basis is Taco Bell. Taco Bell comments on and directly interacts with customers on a daily basis. During the recent launch of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos taco, Taco Bell responded individually to complaints from customers whose local restaurants weren’t offering the taco on release day. Taco Bell not only used this information to ensure every restaurant had the tacos, but also offered negative commenters free sample packs at their nearest location. What could have been a huge backlash against the company, turned into an opportunity to crowd source information, as well as reward their most vocal customers.

Probably most compelling on all, social media also offers an incredible amount of data for brands about their customers, industries and products. This data gives marketers incredible ability to demonstrate the results of their marketing efforts, as well as track trends and address pain points.

Social media often feels like a daunting task with limited ROI for marketers, but the shifting landscape of brand-to-customer interactions reveals that social media is integral as a tool to build brand affinity and long term loyal customers.

BigDoor wins iPitch at iStrategy Miami

Last week, the BigDoor team closed out our April conference schedule by attending iStrategy Miami. The conference brought together online marketers to strategize and discuss the future of customer engagement. In addition to enjoying a bit of sun and Florida weather, the BigDoor team had a great time discussing how the BigDoor loyalty solution can solve common marketing problems including; user acquisition, directing user engagement and customer retention.

BigDoor also also competed in and won the iPitch competition. Our CEO Keith Smith gave a 6 minute demo of the BigDoor product to attendees, followed by a Q & A session from panelists: Ben Parr, Jonah Goodhart and Eric Litman. Attendees then voted on the technology they thought was the most relevant to solving their marketing problems. We wanted to share Keith’s winning slide deck, for anyone who wasn’t in attendance or who wanted a chance to look over it again. Feel free to shoot us questions in the comments.

[slideshare id=20417833&doc=ipitchkeithsmith4-23-13-130502120121-phpapp02]

Gamification Summit 2013 Recap

gsummit-bigdoor-tshirtLast week the gamification industry gathered in San Francisco for the 2013 Gamification Summit. The conference highlights the truly broad application of gamification across industries around the world. Every year we are impressed with how much the industry has grown and changed. As long running sponsors of the event, we were very excited to have 5 team members staffing the BigDoor booth, speaking at the event and interacting with the gamification community in person.

GSummit offers up speakers from all aspects of the industry: education, enterprise, social good and consumer facing applications. This year, we were very pleased to have another one of our customers talking about their success using BigDoor’s platform.  Jeff Hawley, Director of Customer Experience with Yamaha Corporation of America spoke about his experience implementing a customer loyalty program, in conjunction with Yamaha’s 125th Year anniversary that engaged and rewarded the diverse set of customers that visit Yamaha’s website.  The ongoing program’s success is unquestionable,  but they continue to expand the program in new directions. Be sure to check out their website and see the implementation live as well as check back for the video of his talk when it becomes available.

In past years, BigDoor CEO Keith Smith has spoken to the GSummit audience about various topics surrounding gamification, but we decided to mix things up and have our VP of Sales, Gavin Hewitt, discuss BigDoor’s philosophy on the importance of rewards in customer loyalty programs. In his talk: Rewards Matter: How big brands are unlocking the secret to customer loyalty Gavin highlighted the importance of offering customer focused rewards as key in increasing customer engagement and long-term loyalty.

Our booth last year was quite a hit (remember the marshmallow guns?) but we think we did even better this year. Some people might recognize this setup as a bit reminiscent of their college days, minus the beer. Depending on their skills, players could earn a number of rewards, from custom ping pong paddles to water bottles and T-shirts. Our grand prize winner, John Leech, walked away from GSummit with an Xbox 360.


Thank you again to the team, who put in a ton of work to make this event happen, as well as to the attendees and speakers who help continue to grow the gamification industry in interesting and innovative ways.

Announcing BigDoor’s Newest Platform Feature: Internationalization

In response to a growing number of current and future partner’s inquiries and suggestions, we are very excited to announce BigDoor’s newest platform feature: Internationalization.

Working with brands that achieve global reach, we acknowledge the need for rewards and loyalty programs that engage customers internationally and across languages. Unlike other vendors in the space, touting their “global” or “world leading” platforms with English-only language support, BigDoor has always prided ourselves in making our platform available in any language, but we weren’t satisfied with the complex translation progress that slowed down our typical implementation process. We decided to launch internationalization to enable brands around the world to easily implement a BigDoor Gamified Loyalty Program in any language (or combination of languages).

With internationalization the BigDoor user interface will reflect browser-specified  languages allowing visitors to seamlessly interact with a brand’s loyalty program, no matter what language version of the site they are on. Badges, quests, rewards and achievements will display in the browser-specified language throughout a customer’s session. The feature will also cover BigDoor powered redemption emails, ensuring that the entire BigDoor experience is available to customers, no matter what language they are using.

BigDoor publishers will be able to add language configurations to current loyalty programs, without affecting the existing experience. The internationalization feature will also allow publishers to break down existing analytics by language, giving even deeper access to valuable customer data and insights.

To learn more about BigDoor’s internationalization feature, or to talk with a BigDoor Loyalty Expert, please contact us at:

Travel Industry Looking to Evolve Loyalty Programs, Possible Move towards Gamification?

When people talk about loyalty programs, one of the first examples used is airline mileage programs. Not only have these mileage loyalty programs been around for ages, but customers often feel as though these programs come closest to hitting the mark on providing authentic and desirable rewards. While travel loyalty programs, including hotel chains and rental cars are often held up as a shining example of loyalty, rising costs of travel are beginning to make these transaction based loyalty programs more and more expensive for brands, while providing less value for consumers. Brands who have long had programs rewarding frequent travelers are forced to raise the cost of free flights, hotels or car rentals, or limit the quantity of qualifying free experiences. These changes, often feel like slights against valuable program members, who resent the devaluation of their miles, points or memberships.

While many travel brands are experiencing the weight of increasing costs to run a successful loyalty program, few of them have expanded the options for their programs and sought models that exist outside the traditional (and outdated) transaction based model.  By expanding these programs online, beyond the customer transaction, brands open up numerous doors to engage their most loyal members, and reward members with perks far beyond what traditional programs have imagined. Better yet, platform’s like BigDoor’s gamification and loyalty platform, seamlessly tie into social media another important channel for travel brands to monitor and build.

They haven’t moved towards these innovative programs yet, but it sounds like they know the change is imminent. In a recent article in USA Today, delving into the second annual hotel CEO roundtable, CEO’s from companies like Wyndham Hotels, Carlson Hotels and Kimpton mentioned the need for traditional loyalty programs to evolve towards better engagement, innovative rewards and features for customers that expand beyond transaction based models. Brands are increasingly looking towards social media integration, hoping to see more customers reaching out to them through various social channels as well as promoting brands to their own social graphs.

The CEOs participating discussed what they see as important changes in the hotel loyalty space, pointing out that social media, customizable rewards and keeping up with customer expectations are their biggest challenges moving forward. It’s definitely an interesting read, and worth looking through whether you are a brand facing the same challenges, or a customer who travels frequently.

For those travel brands facing the challenges highlighted, gamified loyalty programs seem like an easy solution to a wide range of problems presented.

“Yamaha is Game for ‘Gamification'” MMR Magazine Features Yamaha’s BigDoor Powered Gamification Program

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing successful BigDoor implementations. We set out to find a better way for brands to engage with their customers and seeing our platform in action, delivering results never gets old.  It’s even better when those brands are out talking about gamification and their gamified loyalty solutions.

BigDoor client Yamaha is featured in the February issue of MMR Magazine talking about their gamification/loyalty program. Launched last October, in conjunction with Yamaha’s 125th anniversary the “My Rewards” program focuses on thanking and rewarding Yamaha customers for their loyalty over the years. The program also encourages new visitors to learn about Yamaha products and offerings, as well as guide Yamaha fans to new sources of content and information about the brand.

Kevin M. Mitchell of MMR interviewed Jeff Hawley, director of Yamaha’s consumer experience group to talk about how the program came about as well as challenges and benefits of using gamification in the brands marketing strategy. The full article is available on MMR Magazine’s website, but we thought we would share some of our favorite quotes here.

On the difficulties of talking about “gamification”:

[Jeff Hawley] admits that the first challenge was internal: getting past the perception of – and frankly, the word, itself: “game”. He heard back from the higher ups that Yamaha customers ‘don’t want to play games’.

On what gamification really is at its core:

“It’s frequent flyer miles’ for the Social Web 2.0 generation, and just ties it into a neater package then sending a rebate card or waiting for something in the mail. In a nutshell, it’s a loyalty program”

On concerns that gamification can be used negatively to glean personal information about customers:

“For folks on the bleeding edge of this type of marketing, that’s the big question,” How many details are too many details, and how far can a company go without being “creepy?”

On why Yamaha ultimately decided to pursue a gamified loyalty solution:

“Hawley emphasizes again that the reason they took up the gamification mantle in the first place is to thank consumers for their support”.

Be sure to check out the entire article, on