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Posted by Ashley Autry on Oct 28, 2019 9:02:50 AM

It's a dark, cold night. We're gathered outside around the campfire. There's a noticeable uneasy feeling lurking in the air.

So with flashlight in hand, our scary story begins...

...Once upon a time there was a consumer that met a brand and became its devoted customer.

The brand also expressed it's love for the customer with a loyalty program and promise of valuable rewards.

But the brand failed to live up to its loyal customer's expectations.                                          

And so, what was once a devout customer turned into a beastly creature that threatened the brand, eager to gain revenge.

So what became of the brand and customer that were once in love?

It’s one of the oldest stories in the book, and a good reminder for brands out there on what can happen when you don’t deliver on customer expectations. Your most loyal customers can go from brand advocates to brand detractors – something we refer to as the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde predicament. But don't fret too much, you still have the power to choose how your story ends.

The Chilling Tale of One Coffee Rewards Program

This story stood the test of time yet again when Starbucks recently made some major changes to its rewards program, catching some of its loyal customers off guard.

Its old program let customers earn 2 points (stars) for every dollar spent. Once their first point was earned, customers became green level members. Green level members received things like free in-store refills and birthday deals. After a customer accumulated 300 stars during a calendar year, they bumped up to gold status. Gold members received a free drink or pastry for 125 stars, were given opportunities to earn double stars monthly, and a personalized membership card.

With the new Starbucks loyalty program there’s no tier status, instead it’s set up to allow customers to start utilizing points sooner in smaller amounts. For example, earning just 25 stars gets you add-ons like flavored syrup, while 50 stars lands you a free coffee, hot tea or bakery item. But in order to receive the most popular items for free, like a handcrafted drink or hot breakfast sandwich, customers must earn 150 stars – 25 points higher than the previous program. And boy was Starbucks in hot water with its most die-hard members after they realized the value of their stars had decreased.

Some customers even went to bed with enough points for a free breakfast sandwich or two and woke up to those being taken away.

Really the majority of people taking the biggest hit with the new Starbucks rewards program are its most avid customers, as they are the ones that rack up enough points to become gold members, earning the fancy free drinks. It all comes together to create the perfect formula, turning Starbucks’ most loyal customers (Dr. Jekyll) into its harshest critics (Mr. Hyde).

This new Starbucks rewards iteration has been active for less than 6 months, so the jury’s still out. We’ll see what the future holds and the impact it makes on what were once Starbucks’ most loyal customers.

Posted by Ashley Autry on Oct 9, 2019 8:05:46 AM

Three things about me...

...I’m a Millennial, median income-earning female.

Why did I tell you this? Because simply knowing my age, salary and gender make it fairly easy to create an instant consumer loyalty profile on me.

Based on the three demographics I fit into, chances are good:

  • I prefer buying my favorite brands as much as possible.
  • As long as I’m treated well, you can count on me as a brand advocate.
  • I have some financial flexibility to purchase my preferred brands regardless of price.
  • It’s important to me the stores, brands and products I shop share a similar ethical code.
  • I value price.
  • The right loyalty programs can greatly influence my purchase decisions and loyalty.
  • In order to keep my loyalty, I need to have a positive shopping and customer service experience.

Ready to find out what your gender, income and age say about your loyalty and the loyalty of your customers/members? Let’s take a more in depth look at these three demographics as they relate to loyalty.

Posted by Ashley Autry on Sep 30, 2019 9:07:26 AM

Your discount membership programs can have a powerful effect on your members' quality of life.

That’s a serious statement.

Having the power to affect someone’s life for the better is a pretty big deal.

As an example of just how powerful member perks can be, we talked with one of our own that experienced just that.

Brooke, part of our partnership marketing team, recently took a trip with her sister to France and England. As two weeks in Europe isn’t cheap, she was ecstatic to learn she was able to save lots of money using our travel discounts. In her words, “Because of our savings on the travel site, we were able to apply that money towards other purchases for our trip.”

During their vacation, Brooke and her sister went to Disneyland Paris and were able to save $37 on a hotel for two nights that was just ten minutes from the park. “It was dreamy,” she said.

They spent the next week in London where they saved $100 on their hotel and another week in the heart of Paris, saving $338 at the Hotel Leveque in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It was just a ten-minute walk from their hotel to the Eiffel Tower and other popular attractions, as well as minutes away from a Metro station.

And with such significant savings, Brooke and her sister were able to apply the money saved towards day tours to see Mont Saint-Michel and Giverny (Monet’s home and gardens that inspired much of his work). She raved that "Having used the Access Travel savings multiple times, I can attest that it does truly allow people to experience more for less."

And there you have it. What an experience.

Do you see what we’re talking about now? Because of her $475 worth of savings, Brooke and her sister were able to experience more of their interests while on vacation and, therefore, enrich their lives.

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Posted by Ashley Autry on Aug 13, 2019 9:09:28 AM

In simplest terms, successfully managing (and growing) any membership organization boils down to two key objectives. 

Member acquisition. And member retention.

While many membership professionals focus their growth strategies on luring new members into the fold, the bigger and more urgent challenge that most organizations face today is churn – i.e., the unhappy outflow of members who for whatever reason decide their needs have not been adequately met.

For example, more than 20% of members say they have canceled their membership or let it lapse in the last year. And when asked their reason for ending membership, 32% said it was too costly, 19% said it had too little value, 16% forgot to renew, 13% can get same benefits elsewhere, and 12% said there was a decline in benefits.

So what can you do about member churn? Focus heavily on member engagement.

Simply put, member engagement is the ongoing interaction between a member and organization in exchange for meaningful value.

In previous blog posts, we’ve also defined it as “…building relationships with your members, adding value to their lives and capturing their attention just often enough to remind them of the role you play in it so there’s never a doubt.”

For example, 58% of alumni organizations report a lack of engagement as the primary reason members don’t renew.

Member engagement is something many organizations continually contemplate, but rarely take the time to define. A key component mentioned in the definition above is that in order to achieve meaningful engagement, interaction must be frequent. Sending emails one or two times a year won’t cut it.

The other essential piece of information the definition points out, is that there must be value involved in the transaction that is of personal relevance to members. Offering them something like a logoed bottle opener or a campus bookstore discount is unlikely to be enough to cross that perceived value "tipping point."

Member engagement is affirmed, reaffirmed and/or damaged with every interaction, including reading a tweet or Facebook post, a “Like” on Instagram, looking at an email, utilizing member benefits, etc.

Each of these interactions should be connecting the organization with the member’s needs and preferences. Create those relevant messages with frequency, and that’s how member engagement is built.

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Posted by Ashley Autry on Aug 1, 2019 10:49:21 AM

With summer winding down, back-to-school season is in full swing. Many parents have started the annual, costly ritual of shopping for another school year.

Posted by Ashley Autry on Jul 11, 2019 11:38:50 AM

It seems these days everyone has a loyalty program – coffee shops, restaurants, airlines, education associations, hotels, retailers, etc.

And if you’re not currently rewarding your loyal customers and members for their stellar engagement and dedication to your brand or organization, then it's probably time to get moving.

Why? Because 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program, 77% say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands, and 63% say they modify their spending habits to maximize loyalty benefits.

Not only are a lot of businesses, brands and organizations offering loyalty programs, member benefits and discount programs, but a lot of consumers and members are actively participating in them, too.

We're talking 43% of 18-24 year olds, 57% of 25-34 year olds, 66% of 35-44 year olds, 71% of 55-64 year olds and 65% of 65+ years who currently participate in at least one loyalty program.

So, we thought it’d be a good idea to once again delve into our 2018 and 2019 loyalty stats pages to gain some insight on what people really want out of their loyalty program(s).

After all, if a loyalty program is going to effectively do its job – creating higher engagement and long-term loyalty among users – then it has to offer relevant value. So let’s find out what members think is and isn’t valuable when it comes to loyalty programs – at least according to the data.

We’ve ranked these loyalty attributes on a scale of “Heck Yes” → “Nice to Have” → “No Thanks."