What's the future of Loyalty Programs? Download Loyalty Trends 2021/2022 report

Building an astonishing customer engagement and experience in a world overwhelmed by tons of communication is a huge challenge. More and more companies use mobile apps to create dedicated channels of communication with their customers and establish a bond which can be something more than just messages related to customers’ purchases. Here’s where loyalty programs with mobile applications come in.

Mobile loyalty program to create bonds

The idea behind loyalty mobile apps is almost always the same - it’s about improving the current customer experience with the brand (including shopping, customer care), surprising customers with extras and creating a bond with the customer through dedicated and moderate communication.

The mobile channel allows brands to connect with customers at almost any time and in any way. With personalization, and well-thought-out push notification messages, brands can reach their customers at just the right moment and with just the right communication. For brands, having this kind of direct relationship with the customer may be even more important if their products are offered by multiple resellers. For example: 

Pampers Rewards is a great example of how the brand can use a mobile application to talk and interact the end customers.

Thanks to loyalty programs in mobile applications, brands benefit with a great amount of behavioral data related to specific customers. And as we all know, nowadays data is a key to understanding the buying behaviour, attracting new customers, making them loyal, and as a result growing the business.

What value does the mobile loyalty application give?

Loyalty mobile apps help engage customers, increase customer retention, and maximize customer loyalty. There are transactional and non-transactional benefits provided by the loyalty applications to the end-customer.

Non-transactional value is directly related to performing a purchase of a product or service provided by a brand. The most popular are:

  • Coupons
  • Codes
  • paying with digital currency
  • Free products or services
  • Access to pre-sell or limited offers

On the other hand, loyalty mobile apps can provide surprises which are not directly related to the offer of the brand. Take a look at some examples of non-transactional value:

  • No receipt needed for returns
  • Dedicated customer care
  • Buying features eg. progress tracking or payment gate
  • Invitations for closed events
  • Gifts not related to the brand’s main offer
  • Free samples
  • Educational materials

There are plenty of values brands can distribute. In the end, it’s all about exclusive extra value for the customer which couldn’t be distributed by the typical sales or marketing channel. The mobile channel is a kind of value itself - thanks to this channel, a customer can easily access these values and don't have to carry any loyalty card in their wallet.

What are the most popular features in mobile loyalty program applications?

Mobile loyalty apps can have different shapes. Here are some examples of the most popular features used in a loyalty mobile applications:

  • Rewards & points
  • Achievements & rewards
  • Scan & get rewards
  • Punchcard
  • Miles
  • Referrals
  • Points & payment
  • Levels & engagement
  • Hidden offers
  • Special offers

Most patterns are simple, and focused around on one or two main assumptions.

As a part of customer loyalty programs, the loyalty apps are great channels to engage customers, and to gain customer retention

In which industries do the loyalty apps work the best?

Mobile loyalty apps are not the greatest business solution for every company or business model. It’s ideal for every company operating on repeat sales in which off-line plays an important role in a purchase process, eg.

  • Brand with resellers
  • Travel industry
  • Food industry
  • Retailers off-line stores

The best way to check if your brand can benefit from a loyalty mobile application is to research whether your audience is open to, and willing to engage with the mobile channel. Many existing applications were built as a proof of concept, and then extended to something much bigger.

If you are in a really competitive space and constantly fight with other brands to acquire and restore customers, it may be crucial for you to build a new medium of connection with customers to overcome growing communicational noise.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to reconstruct the mechanics of existing loyalty applications - you can design a completely fresh way to engage with, and delight customers.

How to start with loyalty program mobile apps?

The road to creating a great and engaging loyalty mobile application is similar to the case of creating every mobile application:

  1. Identify potential for adoption of the loyalty mobile app among your audience.
  2. Analyze benchmarks, see what was already well received on the market (the convention for mechanics), go beyond your sector or industry in the research.
  3. Create a minimum viable product, focus on 1-2 of the most important mechanics in your application. 

If you currently have eCommerce or a web portal dedicated for loyalty, remember to merge all loyalty features so the customer won’t be confused.

Examples of the best mobile loyalty applications

Tchibo introduced loyalty program app augmented with mobile commerce

Tchibo (Tchibo – Mode, Wohnen, Lifestyle & Kaffee) mobile app is a combination of loyalty program and mCommerce app. It gives access to loyalty card and personal vouchers, enables mobile shopping and informs about offers.


Loyalty points are presented in Tchibo mobile loyalty app

Functionalities:

  • Online shop: Tchibo collections
  • Online shop: coffee and accessories
  • Discounts and promotions
  • QR code scanner
  • Tchibo card management
  • Personal coupons
  • Map of stores

Design advantages:

  • Customized shortcuts
  • Access to important functions with no internet connection

Presentation in store:

Simple, characteristic icon and header picture in Google Play make it easy to identify the Tchibo brand. Mobile app description is both satisfying to the user and correct in terms of ASO.

Top functionalities:

  • Search
  • Registries
  • Customer service 
  • Good deals
  • Free shipping 
  • Loyalty program
  • Sales alert

Dunkin’ Donuts created loyalty program focused on an engagement inside a mobile device

Dunkin’ Donuts – Offers (Dunkin’ Donuts perks & rewards) app provides DD Perks program members with rewards and loyalty offers, gift cards, On-the-Go Ordering with mobile pay, menus and nutritional facts and store locators.

Dunkin’ Donuts customer loyalty rewards program boosts customer retention.

Functionalities:

  • Coupons overview
  • Menu & nutrition tables
  • Map of stores with „near me” function and rich filters (hour service, payment methods, special ingredients)
  • Loyalty card management
  • Order On-The-Go (order and pay from your phone)
  • Emoji keyboard

Design advantages:

  • Registration not required to enter the app
  • Informative tutorial by application first launch
  • Look & feel of the app consistent with brand character
  • Using custom graphics and loaders strengthen brand recognition

Presentation in store:

Dunkin’ Donuts app store presentation is rather good, with a clean photo, logo and brand name. Characteristic icon and well written description divided into sections. Custom graphics in Google Play strengthen brand recognition.

Starbucks developed a mobile loyalty program app that rewards frequent visits of the customers

The Starbucks app is a convenient way to pay in store or skip the line  and order ahead. Rewards are built right in, and the customer collects Stars for which he or she can earn free drinks and food with every purchase.

Building customer loyalty program based on the loyalty app connected with payments can make the bond with  customers stronger.

Functionality:

  • Multiple payment forms
  • Map of stores
  • Gifts (artworks) to share
  • Making an order & menu with good quality photos and orders subsections: Featured, Previous, and Favourites 
  • Music: integration with Spotify
  • Inbox
  • History
  • Profile settings: Personal info, Payment methods, Linked Accounts, Passcode, and Touch ID, Notifications
  • Apple Watch app available
  • iMessage available

Design advantages:

  • 0 taps to see the account status
  • Nice visualisation of current loyalty status and points still needed  to reach next status
  • Good onboarding
  • Usable navigation with „Add to basket” function
  • Attractive visually – clean with good quality product photos

Presentation in store:

Good app store presentation with a clean coffee photo accompanied by a brand name. Characteristic icon and well written description.

Top functionalities:

  • Barcode scanner
  • Gift cards
  • Loyalty program
  • Customer service 
  • Search
  • In-store navigation
  • Good deals
  • Sales alerts