Loyalty App: 9 Strategies to Ensure User Retention

Cansu Saraç
June 6, 2022

Loyalty programs are great for businesses of all types in giving people an incentive to continue using their products and services. Through a loyalty program, customers can recover reward points, product and service discounts, and membership cards, among other advantages. These benefits will drive more people to engage with not only brands but also apps dedicated to these loyalty programs. Here we’ll break down what a loyalty app is, the benefits of using them for small businesses, and how you can maximize engagement and retention for these apps.

What Are Loyalty Apps?

Loyalty mobile applications are apps that function as loyalty cards for customers. Using these apps, customers can earn and keep track of points and other rewards earned through a company’s loyalty program. When users gain enough points or other credits, they will be able to redeem them for different types of rewards. These rewards may include discounts, free items, or opportunities to experience supplemental offerings. The loyalty system records and stores loyalty activity data, which the company can freely access and analyze to gain a deeper understanding of their loyal customer base.

Why Loyalty Apps Are Important

Customer loyalty programs are a great asset for businesses, but to make the most of them, it’s best to create a corresponding mobile app that helps customers manage their points and rewards. Giving customers with mobile devices the ability to keep track of their earnings and determine how to spend them.

The following are some specific benefits of developing a loyalty mobile app to supplement a small business loyalty program.

Stay Connected With Customers

People spend a lot of time on their smartphones today. In fact, almost half of mobile users spend an average of five to six hours on their phones on a daily basis. If you want to reach these consumers, you need to make sure they regularly engage with you in a mobile format. Using a loyalty app, you can establish a stronger connection with mobile customers and keep them interacting with your brand more consistently.

Offer Personalized Rewards

Loyalty apps also enable you to send personalized rewards to your customers based on their unique interests. With ordinary rewards programs, people may not be sure what to redeem their points for, which could even lead them to forget about the program due to a lack of perceived worth. You’ll be able to drive more sales with an app that allows for more direct recommendations that truly speak to audiences.

Maximize Convenience

Another advantage of a loyalty app is the ability to eliminate the need for people to keep track of a physical loyalty card. Keep people from sifting through their wallets and purses with the convenience of a mobile app they can simply access from their phone anytime, anywhere. All customers need to do is install your app and sign in, preventing users from potentially losing a card or forgetting about the program.

Improve Customer Service

Loyalty mobile apps allow for 24/7 customer support through contact options and chatbots. This can help ensure that customers have the ability to reach out to your business if they have any questions or concerns about your loyalty program. Loyalty apps could even include a help section that answers frequently asked questions and provides guidance for customers.

Stand Apart From the Competition

Many businesses still rely on offline loyalty programs and cards. By offering your customers a digital experience through a loyalty app, people will be more likely to take advantage of that convenience compared to competitors relying on traditional programs. Over time, people will come to use your app more regularly, making them loyal to your brand to keep you ahead of competitors in your industry.

Examples of Successful Loyalty Mobile Apps

A wide range of companies have developed loyalty program apps to engage and retain customers on mobile devices. Here are some key examples of some of the most successful loyalty apps and brands out there.

Shopkick

As the most popular shopping application, Shopkick has a user base of over 7.5 million. To help it grow, Shopkick has partnered with retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Target, along with certain payment suppliers such as MasterCard and Visa.

Through Shopkick’s loyalty program, customers can earn points called “kicks,” which customers receive whenever they enter a store and check and obtain various items both in-store and online. Users can also redeem digital gift cards through the Shopkick app.

Smile.io

The Smile.io app uses three core features to connect with its users, including VIP, Points, and Referrals. Point-based systems encourage customers to make repeat purchases, the app’s VIP status keeps more users consistently engaged, and the referral program rewards users for telling others about brands.

Brands of all kinds can use Smile.io to create custom rewards programs based on their customers’ unique wants and needs. The Smile Admin and others also make it easy to manage reward campaigns and customers. Businesses can also use the app’s email template to send emails to customers, reaching them beyond the app.

Spendgo

Spendgo gives customers the ability to earn points by making purchases from brands. These points lead to rewards after customers reach a particular spending threshold. Customers can also keep track of their rewards through the app, on the Spendgo website, and in-store.

When away from a point of sale, mobile users also have the ability to scan a QR code to earn points. Spendgo is highly accessible to offer users a great overall experience, and rewards are personalized based on customers’ interests.

Belly

Another popular loyalty app, Belly integrates with social media and email to enable brands to expand their online presence beyond mobile devices. Merchants benefit from developing appealing loyalty programs. When using Belly on a tablet, customers place their physical loyalty or QR card over the camera, which interacts with the digital database and determines whether individuals qualify for rewards.

Belly enables merchants to collect customer data with their first visit, provide customer rewards, and keep track of customer activity. It also features integration with Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter.

Say2B

Say2B allows merchants to reward customers with coins, gifts, and discounts. Users can also generate and send personalized notifications, which helps connect with new and existing customers. The app makes it incredibly easy to set up campaigns, with multi-location support and earnable coins, gifts, discounts, and even holiday greetings.

FiveStars

The unique thing about FiveStars is its automation, which streamlines the process of tracking customers and sending them rewards upon reaching spending thresholds. The app also includes a dashboard that enables businesses to track all customer rewards data. Customers earn points and gifts with various purchases, and businesses can learn customers’ names and individual preferences using FiveStar’s dedicated software.

Loopy Loyalty

Customers can use a digital loyalty card on the Loopy Loyalty app that integrates with Google Pay or Apple Wallet. This platform also enables brands to send targeted messages. Other features include customizable digital stamp cards, the ability to send both stamps and rewards in a single scan, and a searchable transaction history.

LoyalBlocks

This app automatically sends rewards and offers to people when they walk into a store. Businesses can register online and use either an Android smartphone or tablet to function as a “base station.” They can then download the Business App and create custom rewards for customers. After customers download the app, the system instantly recognizes them and enables them to automatically receive rewards whenever they step into the business’s store.

All of these loyalty apps show the kinds of ways small businesses can engage with their mobile customers in effective and intuitive ways. Many of these apps also connect to the in-store experience, encouraging companies to use a hybrid of physical and digital platforms to make full use of their loyalty programs.

9 Strategies for Improving User Engagement and Retention for Loyalty Apps

If you want to maximize user engagement and retention for your loyalty app, it’s important to develop a winning strategy. There are plenty of ways to make sure your app is a success by taking the right approach to interaction and marketing. The following are several of the best strategies you can use to get the most from your app and maximize its effectiveness.

1. Intuitive and Clear Design

Like any other app, your loyalty app should offer a user experience that’s convenient and easy to get into. You can do so by developing the ideal design for people to access and track rewards and earnings. For example, people should know how to view the number of points they currently have in their digital “wallet.” Additionally, they should have the ability to see how many points various rewards require, which can help them set goals. You can even allow users to set these goals and notify them upon reaching them.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect app design. Even the most successful apps out there find room for improvement. As you identify certain pain points when it comes to the user experience, you can continue to optimize the design.

2. Personalization

People want plenty of personalization when engaging with apps and other online touchpoints with businesses. This also applies to loyalty apps. The most basic rewards programs simply leave finding the right reward up to customers to find for themselves, but you’ll drive much more engagement and loyalty by making personalized recommendations.

For example, you might have a customer that has redeemed points for a particular product in the past. Through your loyalty app, you can let them know when they reach a threshold for another product in the same category. You can also indicate how long they have to go before earning enough rewards for a similar product, which encourages them to continue spending and engaging with the app.

3. App Stories

In offering a personalized user experience in your loyalty app, you can integrate in-app stories that establish a strong connection and build relationships with some of your most loyal customers. These stories consist of engaging visuals and messaging that together encourage more people to use your app on a regular basis.

For example, you can develop personalized stories that recommend specific products based on customers’ order history. These stories could feature a compelling image or video of your product to entice customers, with a CTA such as “redeem now” or another message detailing how many points the customer has before they qualify for it. This would help guide users toward specific rewards while helping them set goals for themselves.

Interactive stories could also present users with a summary of their journey and rewards in the app. For instance, customers could see how many total points they’ve accumulated over time and the rewards they’ve already redeemed, which can give them an idea of the value of the rewards program. Interactive stories may also ask for feedback regarding how users liked certain rewards and what types of rewards they would like to see in the future.

Using Storyly, you can easily create and publish high-quality, engaging stories that keep people coming back to your app and engaging with your loyalty program. In addition to developing stories that drive engagement and retention, Storyly offers social media integration capabilities to enable users to share their rewards through stories. This could help convince customers’ friends and family to become customers and reap the rewards of your loyalty program.

4. Helpful Push Notifications

Outside of the app, you can also launch relevant push notifications that keep people engaged. You can use push notifications to send reminders of how many points people have and the rewards they qualify to receive. In addition, push notifications could let people know of new rewards that users can receive, along with how many points they’ve recently earned with an offline or online purchase. This would make sure that people don’t neglect your loyalty program and further illustrate the value of being loyal to your brand.

However, you should use push notifications with caution. Although they can be highly effective when used the right way, they can just as easily become a nuisance. To avoid annoying users and deter them from opting to receive push notifications or from using your app at all, carefully choose which push notifications to send to users. Make sure they’re relevant, sent at a frequency that’s within reason, and valuable.

5. Occasional Free Rewards for Loyal Users

It’s important for businesses to show that they value their most loyal customers. While a loyalty program can do this alone to some degree, you can show even more appreciation to your customer base by providing them with the occasional surprise reward. From time to time, you could enable loyal app users to access mobile-exclusive freebies, discounts, or a certain number of points.

When notifying people of these rewards, you can do so in a number of ways. First, you can notify existing users via in-app stories or push notifications that invite them to take advantage of the opportunity. Additionally, you could inform other audiences of these rewards, notifying new and existing customers via email or social media that they’ll qualify for even more rewards when using your app. Doing the latter will help bring more people back to your app who may have used it in the past while increasing user acquisition.

You could also further drive new user acquisition by rewarding people with free points for simply installing your app and enrolling in your loyalty program this way.

6. Continuous Optimization

Even if people mainly access your app to keep track of points earned and redeem them for rewards, you need to think of ways to keep the app experience fresh. Think of features that will benefit your customers using the loyalty mobile app. One example could be a means of seeing a list of potential prizes based on a particular category that interests them. This would make sure users have a good idea of what they’ll need to earn to get the items they really want and help them work toward them.

To get a better sense of what could help you optimize your app, look at customer data, including features that fuel engagement along with points in your app flow that cause people to drop off. In addition, you could use in-app stories such as polls and surveys to get a better opinion from customers about what’s working and what’s missing. Additionally, you could ask people on social media what they would like to see from either your app or your loyalty program.

To help with optimization, you can run A/B split tests with messaging and creative elements. This method of testing involves using two versions of a single push notification, story, or another outreach method to see what gets the best results. For example, one item might feature a different CTA than the other, but both feature the same visual and message. Based on what’s working and what isn’t, you can figure out how to optimize your campaigns.

7. Automated Processes

Another great way to increase engagement and retention is to automate as much as you can. As mentioned, the loyalty app FiveStars automates user tracking and the sending of rewards, which could be worth implementing. However, you may want to automate reward sending based on each user’s preferences. You might send one type of reward to one user while another will want to see a different one.

You can also automate reminders through push notifications and other channels to keep customers engaged. Again, you could run A/B tests to figure out which frequency attracts the most attention and engagement.

8. Use Omnichannel Marketing to Promote Your Loyalty App

When launching a new loyalty app, you need to make sure people know about it, including new and existing customers. Otherwise, this app will attract minimal engagement and loyalty. Be sure to integrate an omnichannel marketing strategy to spread the word about your app and encourage more people to give it a try.

For instance, through social media posts and your website, you could let people know about your app and invite people to give it a try. In doing so, you can detail the features it includes and get people excited about entering your loyalty program. You could also detail the perks of being a user, making it clear that you’ll release mobile-exclusive rewards.

You could also send emails to people on your contact list that further detail your app’s features and encourage downloads.

9. Connect the App to the In-Store Experience

While many customers might primarily shop from brands online today, people still visit physical stores, especially when rewarded for doing so. Additionally, people who spend more time at physical retail locations will be more inclined to use a loyalty app in lieu of or in addition to a physical card if the app is fully integrated into the in-store experience.

You can connect your app to your physical locations, if you have them, by sending rewards to users through your app for entering your store. Additionally, you can use QR scanners and other technology to make it easy for people to use their mobile devices to spend points on rewards in your store.

This will help create a balance between physical locations and your online platforms, which will drive more app engagement and retention in the long term.

Use the Right Strategies to Keep Users Loyal to Your Loyalty App

By incorporating these and other strategies, you can make sure your app gains the traction it needs to succeed alongside your loyalty program. With the help of great design, app stories, push notifications, automation, optimization, in-store integration, and other solutions, you can stand apart from competitors and satisfy more of your loyal customers.

If people see the benefits of using your app, they’ll be more likely to download and continually engage with it, along with your brand. You’ll also gain their trust and continued business for many years if you continue to offer a great experience through your loyalty app and beyond.

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