The secret to creating a functional loyalty program is all over the online world.
Actually, Lars Meyer-Waarden and Christophe Benavent from the Wall Street Journal already did a great job explaining the it back in 2008:
“The biggest problem with loyalty programs, we would argue, is that most retailers adopt a one-size-fits-all approach: They use monetary rewards to encourage repeat purchases. But product discounts won’t change buying behavior in the long run in shoppers who value things like personalized service, convenience or shopping pleasure more.”
This is where most companies and bloggers are getting it wrong when trying to incentive their users. Choosing the wrong incentive means your readers won’t care enough to take the action you aspire them to do.
Creating an effective loyalty program that will really motivate your users and affect their actions in a deeper way requires more than just waving your rewards around.
Marc Singer, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company and Marie-Claude Nideau names 6 elements you should pay attention to when planning your loyalty program:
- Integrate loyalty into the full experience
- Use the data
- Build partnerships
- Solve customer and industry pain points
- Maximize difference between perceived value and real cost
- Allocate loyalty reinvestment to the most profitable customers
To work, your loyalty program can’t be a one-time thing, or a campaign detached from the essence of your brand. It has to be part of its DNA.
Loyalty programs are great for…
Gift programs are perfect for increasing sign ups, retentions, improving engagement and so much more. Utilizing loyalty programs and knowing how to incentivize your readers can mean the difference between being a small blog with a few readers and becoming a thought leader or top influencer.
Captain Up will do 98% of the work for you right off the bat.
It blends in entirely on your blog, giving your readers the full experience, letting users progress through the levels, badges, and different rewards. It will even brings on the social with its leaderboards.
Are you wondering what the remaining 2% percent is?
The extra 2% is the finishing touch only you can add.
While levels, badges, and social incentives will take your readers a long way (just ask Dan Ariely), you have the power to add your own secret sauce. Incentives unique to your audience.
In order to help you with these additional 2%, we’ve come up with the most popular types of incentives bloggers use to motivate their users.
Feel free to use them, get inspired, and optimize your engagement.
How to use data to incentivize your users at the right time
In order to make your incentives useful, you need to make sure your users get them in time.
The right time can be as simple as “after sign up” or “give incentive for sharing an article”. But in order to really use incentives to build loyalty you need to use your reader’s ongoing behavior when rewarding them.
So instead of “get an ebook for sharing this post”, why not go even deeper into their actions – “Share 5 articles from this blog to get an ebook”.
Or maybe, reward them for reading a number of articles, or commenting on your latest article to increase engagement (and also impact social proof and SEO).
That way, they are rewarded based on what actions they did, but also the context of the action. This makes for a personal experience, with smart automation.
6 ideas to incentivize your readers and get them engaged
1. Discounts on expensive products
Point systems have been the go-to for reward programs for a long time. Stores, both on- and off-line, still offer programs such as “Like us on Facebook and we will offer you 10% off on your next upgrade.”
This might seem like the oldest trick in the book – but it works. As long your reader wants your product, that is.
Another version of this method can be witnessed in Dropbox’s rewards system.
Instead of discounts, Dropbox offers you free storage space in exchange for social shares, recommending the product to your friends and even following them on Twitter. Remember that Dropbox are selling storage space, so it’s a money equivalent.
2. Use your unique brand assets
Part of having a good name is that your brand can use that name to motivate your community.
For many blog fans, being invited into a blog’s behind-the-scenes is actually more exciting than cash rewards. Use the celebrity effect to your advantage by inviting lucky community members to your big events and conferences.
TechCrunch Disrupt is the most awe-inspiring example of a brand turning their name into a fantastic weekend-long occasion. TechCruch used their mission, innovation, to collect a legion of some of the top creators and minds in the tech field who wouldn’t miss a TCD for the world.
Use your events, big or small, to keep your community members waiting to see what you’re doing next and hoping to be a part of your growth.
3. Offer Guest Posts
Guest posts are a great reward program for people who really know your blog. The die-hard blog readers are often writers themselves and might have blogs of their own.
If they are regulars to your blog, they will likely know exactly what they want to say to your community, and if they are not regulars, guest posts are a great way to get them hooked (they have to read to know what to write).
Offering your community fun topics to play with and create, is a really wholesome way of promoting yourself, creativity, and community. There is nothing more inspiring to other bloggers or writers than someone who gives their community members a voice on their own platform.
Moz Blog is a great example of a blog that has turned their “Guest Blogging” process into a point system.
In order to be featured on Moz, the user must first submit their profile, information and actually gain points within a separate platform called YouMoz.
The engagement they get from other users in the YouMoz community will be converted into points and can eventually lead to the user being featured on the Moz Blog, a big win for the author.
This system incentivizes users to create valuable content and to continuously engage with their community to build their profile.
For bloggers, being a guest author on Moz can make a huge difference in their professional status.
4. A Free Ebook On Sign-up or Shares
If your brand’s goal is to grow your email list, encouraging signups by offering an ebook filled with information is brilliant.
Ebooks are great for gaining valuable customers. If you can drive signups with your content alone, you can be sure that as long as you keep the engaging content coming, these are customers who will be back for more.
Ebooks, such as Hubspot’s, are tried-and-true motivators for customers looking to gain valuable information from the companies they’re subscribed to and they act as verifiable proof that what your company has to offer, content-wise, will be consciously curated and a welcomed addition to the user’s life.
Swag is the oldest method for using free stuff to lure people in and creating cohorts of walking advertisements.
The key to branded wearable merch is creating the kind of goods that people will actually wear. The process of giving free stuff is finding the right people who will wear the swag to attract more of the right people. While the initial investment into swag can be hefty, it is a great tactic for growing your company’s email list (“Free Sweatshirt!? Put your email here!”) and more importantly, for branding yourself offline.
InVision is just one company who offers their audience to ‘win’ T-shirts and other swag, which actually translates into gains for both parties.
6. Customized badges
While some marketers feel like that only free stuff will incentive their readers, badges can often do the work even better.
Badges are signs of progress, signs of expertise and skill. It’s a way of acknowledging your readers efforts and commitment.
Look at platforms such as Foursquare, Swarm, and Uber.
By giving them badges based on accomplishments and expertise, you motivate your users based on their real life experience, and help them build a collection.
While rewarding your readers is always a great idea to motivate them to take action, the incentive and experience surrounding it is what really pushes them forward.
In order to push your readers to engage more, you need to use data, get to know what they care about, and know the key unique incentive that only you can give them.
What incentives are you using to motivate your readers?