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9 Essential Ingredients for the Perfect Discount Program

By Ashley Autry | Updated on Nov 19, 2019, 8:58:29 AM

Just like a juicy Thanksgiving turkey, the best discount programs are made with carefully chosen ingredients that come together to create a recipe for success.

When imagining eating a delicious holiday bird, most of us taste ingredients like parsley, celery, onion, lemon pepper, salt, sage and thyme.  Almost no one is dreaming of eating a turkey where the main ingredient is, let’s say… Flamin’ Hot Cheetos powder (unfortunately this is a real thing). Ew! Much in the same way, nobody wants to be a part of a discount program that has poor customer service, novelty discounts that people won’t use, low-value deals, online-only offers, discounts that are nonredeemable, and no mobile coupon options.

So for all you membership organizations out there, make sure the white label discount program you’re offering members is one you would actually want to use yourself – and not just every once in a while, but frequently.

And for those companies and organizations looking to make a switch or offer a discount/loyalty program for the first time, it’s important to be aware of the essential “ingredients” to look for that make a discount program effective.  

After all, your members/customers/employees don’t just want a discount program for the sake of having one. It’s only valuable to them if they can utilize and incorporate it into their everyday lives, saving money often on the things they buy all the time.

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So without further ado, we’re sharing our secret “Access family” recipe of ingredients for a successful discount program:

1. Local, In-Store Merchantsrecipe

A staggering 92% of consumer spending occurs in-store, in local communities. And while online spending is growing, brick-and-mortar offers still excite consumers the most, as 73% of men and 69% of women say they shop in-store when they have a need for something.

So if your current discount program consists mostly of online offers, you might want to ask yourself how much everyday value it's really bringing your members?

2. Relevant Offers on Everyday Purchases

Your members want discounts they’ll use. In fact, 39% of U.S. consumers participate in a loyalty program because they give great discounts.

Food, clothing, electronics, movie tickets, auto care, etc. – these are the most common purchases consumers make. The best discount networks are successful at saving users money on all of these and more.

3. High Value Offers (Deep Discounts)

People are attracted to great offers, such as “Buy One, Get One Free,” and “50% off.” On the other hand, “Free Shipping” or “2% Cash Back” aren’t going to have the same appeal. Great deals drive more redemptions and generate more enthusiasm.

Check out our article, Discounting Deeply: Why Access Merchants Offer More, to learn more about how Access strives to give members offers they're excited to use.

4. Big Ticket Savings (Big Purchases)

Besides deep discounts, a quality discount network will also enable consumers to save thousands on single, big ticket transactions. Look for a network that features savings on cruises, hotels, and even auto repair.

For example, Access members can save big using our travel platform. Access Travel provides deeper discounts on hotels, resorts and car rentals that surpass the savings offered on popular sites like Expedia and Travelocity.

Learn more about how important big ticket savings (like travel) really are to your members in our articles:

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5. Mobile Coupons

The fastest growing segment of coupons are those that can be presented on a mobile device and redeemed in-store. Which comes as no surprise since 57% of members want to engage with loyalty programs on a mobile device, over 50% of adults used digital coupons in 2018, and 40% of consumers use their mobile phones in store to access or download digital coupons.

It’s important that mobile coupons can be redeemed on the spot, as 85% of loyalty program members who have redeemed with their mobile phone say their experience was improved by that technology. For more on the importance of going mobile, check out our articles:

6. Scarcity (Hard-to-Find Deals)hard to find

Has anyone ever told you “you’re special,” only to discover they say the same thing to everyone they meet? That’s what it’s like offering discount “benefits” that are available to the general public. Most merchants keep their deepest, most valuable offers private, allowing access to select partners who adhere to strict guidelines.

7. Marketing Support Services

Just having a discount program in place isn't enough - it won't make a difference unless your customers/members know about it and receive consistent communication highlighting the program and special or seasonal deals. In fact, 95% of customers are interested in some degree of proactive communication from companies they buy products and services from

You, as the provider of the program shouldn’t have to be an expert on driving awareness and educating your audience on the value of your discounts. Quality discount programs promote the deals through email, push notifications, printed materials, and more.

One of the best places to start making members aware of your discount program is during the onboarding process. For more details, read our articles:

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8. Member Support Services

It’s crucial that discount programs have a seamless method for handling member questions and issues, especially since 50% of U.S. consumers switched companies this year because of poor customer experience. The alternative is that members can easily disengage from the program after one bad experience. Or even worse, all those issues come to YOU.

If you're interested in finding out more about the importance of customer service and how to make sure yours is successful, refer to our articles:

9. Merchant Compliance

Getting a coupon rejected while at the front of a busy line, or in the company of friends, is embarrassing enough to keep someone from ever using that discount program again. Ensuring merchant compliance requires a good relationship between the discount program and the merchant.

At Access, we've worked hard to reach a merchant compliance rate of over 99.5%. Want to know how we did it? Check out our article, The Partnership Effect: How Access Built America's Largest Discount Network.

Saving Money Hits Home (And Not Just for the Holidays)wiz

Year-round consumers are concerned with the amount of money in their wallets. And who can blame them? Money allows people to pay their bills, support their families, have peace-of-mind, experience new things, contribute to causes they believe in, and the list goes on. 

In short, money effects our quality of life:

  • 79% of Americans said they have debt.
  • 59% of employees say financial matters are their top source of stress.
  • 41% of Americans say financial stress negatively impacts their relationships with their significant others.
  • 28% of Americans say that anxiety from money problems makes them feel depressed at least monthly.
  • 19% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

One thing is clear, businesses and organizations who become part of the solution to relieve some of their customers' or members' financial woes can benefit greatly. When a discount program allows people to save wherever and whenever on their everyday needs, it's life-changing.

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Discount Programs, Member Benefits, member engagement

Written by: Ashley Autry

Ashley Autry is a Marketing Professional at Access Development. She's an expert proofer, gatherer of loyalty stats, research guru, writing queen, and overseer of various marketing projects.

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