Why Your Loyalty Program Needs a Video-Game-Like Tutorial
Video games know you’ll play longer if you win early (and often)
Video game developers have become masters at creating and motivating loyal players through game mechanics that you need to add to your loyalty program, stat. My favorite game mechanic occurs during the onboarding process—the time spent immediately after you download and start a game.
In one way or another, the game teaches you how to play—through the use of a tutorial, through a guide, or through a bit of trial and error. The designers know that you’ll invest more time and effort (and cash) into the game if they guide you in your early journey, and they ensure early successes. Loyalty programs are no different.
A loyalty program can be viewed as a game your members play to obtain rewards. Brierley+Partners has conducted hundreds of benchmarks, audits, and reviews of programs and you may be surprised to learn that often 30% to 60% of members don’t know how to ‘play,’ let alone ‘win,’ in a loyalty program. They don’t know how a program works, where to check their progress toward earning a reward, how to redeem points, or how to check when points expire.
Improving stickiness, engagement, and retention means teaching your new members how to play and win in your loyalty program.
Create a tutorial for your program
Most games have a well-thought-out, intentioned method of guiding new players through the basic of ‘how to play’ the game. This directed learning, structured tutorial, or set of missions is intended to show players how to progress, how to earn, and how to win the game. Compare that to most loyalty program’s welcome-email-and-you’re-on-your-own-pal approach and you can quickly see that video games know the importance of the ‘early game.’
If you guide, teach, and positively reinforce your member’s progress during the ‘honeymoon phase’ of the loyalty relationship, from onboarding all the way to earning and redeeming their first reward (The Golden Moment), then you will have created a gleeful customer with a sense of accomplishment. This emotional loyalty has deeper roots than habitual transactional behavior.
Map out the journey from enrollment to first redemption. Rework your communications based on the member’s preferences to positively reinforce the steps or behaviors that get your members closer to earning that first reward. Keep it simple, don’t over engineer it, and help your new members focus on the journey to first redemption.
After you’ve reworked your onboarding to guide your new members to The Golden Moment, measure the activities you’ve deemed critical to creating highly engaged members. Consider tracking activities like: email and sms open rates by members, web visits to the member profile page, store visits with or without a purchase, and the time it takes to earn a reward. Continue to optimize your onboarding and seek feedback from members (winners and attriters) on how to ensure future members reach The Golden Moment.
Leverage gamification with your onboarding
If your organization is great at the basic ‘blocking and tackling’ required to re-engineer the onboarding journey, consider ramping up the fun and engagement with some gamification of the onboarding process.
Consider creating a game around learning how to play and win your loyalty program. Create a series of missions members need to complete—a ‘home base’ on the member account page or in the app where members can see their progress—and celebrate their completion and progress to earning and redeeming that first reward. Have fun with it; ensure it ties in thematically with your seasonal promotions and/or promotes the brand look and feel.
Too Long Didn’t Read
• New members need to be taught how to ‘play’ and ‘win’ your loyalty program
• Brierley+Partners has found nearly 30% to 60% of members often don’t know how a program works, where to go for progress, how to redeem, or when points expire
• Take a lesson from video games that teach you how to play and reward you early and often
• Build an intentional onboarding journey into your loyalty program; teach your new members how to reach The Golden Moment (earning and redeeming that first reward)
• For the adventurous, turn the onboarding process into a game with missions, rewards, progress, and reminders
• Measure, solicit feedback, and optimize
When in doubt, consult with your local loyalty strategist, or give Brierley+Partners a call.