Experiential Rewards: The Missing Piece of the Personalization Puzzle

Kirsten Burkard, Smile.io

Kirsten Burkard, Smile.io

Author Bio

Kirsten Burkard is a Rewards Marketing Expert and lead editor of the Smile.io blog. She’s passionate about excellent customer service, art and design, bows and anything Disney.

As the ecommerce landscape grows increasingly more competitive, customizing shopper experiences can go a long way toward establishing long-standing brand loyalty. In fact, Accenture reported that 56% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer that recognizes them by name and 65% are more likely to shop with retailers who know their purchase history.

This data clearly shows that the modern consumer places heavy importance on personalization, but achieving it is easier said than done. The truth is, in order to effectively personalize experiences for your customers, you must first get to know them. It’s as simple as that. Effective personalization is about knowing your customers and what they value, and delivering on those values. A rewards program is a great way to do all three!

Personalization or Just Another Promotion?

When you run a rewards program, you have a number of opportunities to deliver the type of customization that members crave based on the data your program provides. By using a customer’s name in points balance emails, embedding it into your rewards launcher and marketing new products to them based on what they’ve bought in the past, your rewards program enhances the customer experience and heightens your brand’s relationship with each individual customer. The real personalization weapon, however, is the actual rewards your program offers.

Before we go any further, let me make one thing clear. When it comes to rewards, the conversation tends to center around the idea of offering more choice. Although it’s true that diversifying the rewards you offer can help you improve and customize your loyalty experience, giving shoppers a choice is ultimately not the same as personalization.

This is largely because rewards like free shipping and discounts have been designed to meet the needs of a larger customer demographic – not the needs of an individual. Sure, some of your customers might highly value saving 15% off their next purchase, but more often than not, the decision to offer this kind of reward is made based simply on the fact that, according to ICLP, over 50% of all customers cite discounts on future purchases as the key driver that would encourage them to spend more and shop more frequently.

That’s not to say that transactional rewards are bad. Actually, it’s quite the opposite! Most customers are thrilled to receive a discount from a place they love to shop, but they don’t necessarily want to receive that type of gift every time. Sometimes it’s nice to receive something a bit more personal from your favorite brands.

The Power of a Positive Experience

So what can you do? How can you truly personalize your rewards experience for each member’s unique needs?

The good news is that personalization doesn’t have to mean a lot of work. You can easily personalize the customer experience in a number of ways, like using your customer’s name in email communications, offering one-on-one live chat support or making personalized product recommendations. However, there’s another option many brands tend to miss: experiential rewards.

From special events to early access to sales and everything in between, experiential rewards go beyond transactions to improve the emotional connection customers have with your brand. By giving members the opportunity to experience things they couldn’t anywhere else, you help them build memories that relate your brand to the positive emotions your experiential rewards elicit.

This type of brand association is extremely powerful. Think about your own experiences with your favorite brands. While you probably can’t recall the specific details of any given transaction, you can remember the overall customer experience and how it made you feel. Those memories then become their own reward that reflects the value of a specific brand – value that is 100% personal.

Experiential rewards can help you optimize your rewards program and meet each member’s unique needs. Your customers will relish the opportunity to choose from rewards that deliver the experience and emotions they’re looking for and then reap the benefits for years to come. It’s the perfect piece to complete your brand’s customer experience puzzle.

To learn more about the power of Smile.io, visit our website or contact me at kirsten@smile.io.