The Do's And Don'ts Of Loyalty Programs

Even though social media and emerging marketing channels are all the hype with teenagers today, it's important not to forget "old-fashioned" tactics, such as loyalty and rewards programs. Seems obvious, right? Well, based on recent survey results and market research, it seems that brands are overlooking the value that loyalty marketing programs can bring. Real engagement centers on content that is relevant to the audience and drives interaction, and loyalty marketing programs certainly have the opportunity to drive engagement to brand loyalty and advocacy.

Here are a few imperative Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind when creating teen loyalty programs:

Do ...

Play up the coolness factor. The number one concern for teenagers is their image. This can be used to boost their involvement in a loyalty program if participation in that program makes them look cool. Find ways to run contests that display winners in an exclusive manner. Give teens a reason to want to win rewards. Viral messaging will take off if teenagers are bragging about winning a competition from your loyalty program. And the bottom line is that nothing is stronger for teens than peer endorsement, so the more chatter, the better!



Make memberships free. The average teenager is tight on cash. Teens are much more inclined to participate in programs and memberships if they are free and easy to join.

Hand out the right prizes. Not only should winning the contest be cool, but the prizes themselves have to be something a teen would want -- an obvious, but important factor that brands are missing. Teens don't want a free trial of Ovaltine (no offense to Ralphie) or a free oil change. Instead, give them something trendy and new -- something all of their friends will want and something they wouldn't otherwise have access to, such as early access to concert tickets or a special limited-edition shirt/bag/item, etc.

Don't ...

Forget about your company and the valuable data these programs can provide. Offering just discounts or free items isn't enough. Not only will teens get bored, but you will gain nothing from the program. Instead, have members fill out short application forms then enter the information into a tracking database where you can analyze the data -- just remember to keep the forms short.

Over-communicate. Teenagers don't have time to waste and will become turned off by programs that clog up their inboxes. Reach out only when you have something relevant, valuable and timely to tell teens. Always make sure your communications respect their preferences and habits. When communication is done right, customers learn that each message they receive from you will benefit them in some way.

Complicate things. Teens are short-sighted. If they can't clearly see the return in their investment, they will not invest in the first place. Make the process clear, simple, and straight-forward. Make it easy for them to hear about the program and easy to get involved as quickly as possible. Teens won't waste their time investigating -- steps need to be handed to them on a silver plate. Stick to offers through email. As popular as Facebook is, research shows that teens are less likely to trust and engage in offers posted on the site.

Overall, in a chaotic marketplace, loyalty programs have the opportunity to stand out to young people, both from an awareness and action-based perspective. The notion of receiving an exclusive discount or receiving a gift with purchase based on something like earned points is perfect for teens, who are motivated highly by rewards and recognitions. Keep the above tips in mind and your loyalty program will help to receive the results you are looking for.

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