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Customer activation: how to enhance brand stickiness among loyalty program members?

Unleash real devotion! Dive into innovative customer activation methods for loyalty programs. Elevate stickiness, engage effectively, and cultivate lasting brand love

Customer activation: how to enhance brand stickiness among loyalty program members?

Monika Motus
Monika Motus
Loyalty Expert (formerly Starbucks, iSpot, and Douglas)
Weronika Masternak
Weronika Masternak
Content Writer
Customer activation big cover

Crafting robust customer activation strategies is a big deal in navigating the intricate maze of the customer journey, particularly for existing customers deeply intertwined within the customer lifecycle.

This article delves into the art and science of enhancing brand stickiness among loyalty program members, ensuring they derive maximum value from your product or service. By meticulously analyzing the needs and expectations of your target audience across various customer segments, businesses can tailor experiences that resonate deeply with their clientele.

What's more, the significance of monitoring offline and online behavior emerges as a critical component, offering insights that fuel personalized engagement strategies. Through a blend of theory and practical applications, we explore the mechanisms behind successful customer activation, aiming to transform occasional users into devoted brand advocates.

Join us as we unravel the practices to securing a lasting place in the hearts and minds of your clients, fortifying the connection between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Key takeaways 

  • Customer activation employs diverse strategies like welcome offers, personalized content, milestone rewards, and exclusive events.
  • Recognizing the importance of customer activation is crucial for building lasting relationships, turning satisfied customers into advocates, adding emotional depth, and viewing it as a strategic, long-term investment.
  • Following top brands for fresh insights and a dose of innovative knowledge is important in a loyalty manager's job. Learn about different activation strategies of leading brands, get inspired by delivering passionate content, use enjoyable gamification, support sustainability, create habits through promotions, and create emotionally charged campaigns.
  • Effective customer activation involves maintaining consistency, fostering emotional connections to enhance loyalty, and providing value beyond the products and services offered.

What is customer activation?

Customer activation in loyalty programs refers to the strategies and tactics used to encourage members of a loyalty program to take an initial or subsequent action that engages them more deeply with the brand or product. This process is crucial for the success of a loyalty program, as active members and existing customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, generate higher revenue, and promote the brand through word-of-mouth.

Let's discuss them shortly!

Welcome offers

Offering a discount or bonus points on the first purchase is a strategic way to reward new sign-ups immediately, setting a positive tone for their relationship with your brand. This immediate reward can be coupled with exclusive experiences tailored for new members, such as personal consultations or free trials of premium services, effectively showcasing the benefits of your loyalty program.

The initial interaction is pivotal as a well-designed welcome can significantly impact the customer's perception and long-term engagement with your brand. Ensuring that the customer's first experience isn't just good but surprisingly so can be instrumental in building a robust, ongoing relationship. This approach underscores the importance of making a perfect first impression, as it lays the foundation for a loyal and satisfied customer base.

Educational content

Provide clear, engaging content that helps members understand how to earn and redeem rewards, enhancing their perception of the program's value. Share examples of how other members have benefited from the loyalty program to inspire new members to participate actively.

Personalization

Use customer data to segment members based on their preferences, purchase history, and behavior, then tailor communications and offers to each segment. Use predictive analytics to deliver timely, personalized rewards or recommendations.

Milestone rewards

Implement a system that allows members to easily track their progress toward milestones, increasing motivation through visual progress indicators. Employ a tiered approach to escalate the value of loyalty rewards as members advance, fostering sustained engagement.

Exclusive events or access

Host special sales events where loyalty members get early or exclusive access to discounts and products. Complement this with unique experiences, like exclusive tours or expert meet-and-greets, enriching the rewards.

Engagement campaigns

Design fun, interactive challenges or contests that encourage members to engage with the brand, possibly rewarding participation with points or exclusive prizes. Cultivate a community feeling through social platforms forums, social media groups, or events, encouraging peer-to-peer engagement and brand advocacy.

Feedback loops

Run regular surveys to gather feedback on the loyalty program, rewards, and overall brand experience, showing members their opinions are valued. Actively respond to input by adjusting the loyalty program, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and member satisfaction.

Customer activation encourages members to regularly engage with the loyalty program and increase their purchase frequency. When you get this right, it enhances the value customers get throughout their relationship with your brand, strengthens their loyalty, and contributes to the program's overall success.

Essentially, it's about making the program engaging enough that members want to keep coming back, which benefits both them and your business. 

Why is customer activation important?

1. Builds long-term customer relationships

Customer activation is not just about making a sale – it's about initiating a relationship that has the potential to last for years. This deeper engagement is achieved by consistently meeting and exceeding people's expectations, providing exceptional service, and recognizing and rewarding customer loyalty. By doing so, you can transform new customers into lifelong advocates who are likely to remain loyal even in the face of competition.

The increase in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that results from this loyalty is a testament to the power of effective customer activation strategies. Engaged shoppers aren't just repeat customers, as they're less sensitive to price changes and more forgiving of minor issues, which directly benefits the bottom line.

2. Creates a group of ambassadors

By creating a community of brand ambassadors through customer activation, you can leverage one of the most effective forms of marketing: word-of-mouth. These brand advocates do more than just bring in new buyers – they create a ripple effect that amplifies the brand’s message across various platforms and social circles.

The brand community can provide valuable feedback, generate user-generated content, and contribute to a positive brand image. The authenticity of their endorsements, rooted in genuine satisfaction and emotional connection with the brand, can significantly influence potential clients.

Such a form of organic promotion is cost-effective and often yields a higher conversion rate than traditional advertising methods, as well as helps bring more people through the door, expanding your circle of shoppers through real, trusted recommendations.

3. Adds an emotional level 

Discounts and deals? Sure, they work, but they're not everything. What really makes a client stick around is feeling like you get them on a personal level. Personalization is a key differentiator in a world where consumers are bombarded with countless marketing messages daily.

Customer activation strategies that incorporate personalized experiences cater to the individual’s preferences, needs, and values, making each interaction feel unique and valued. This could involve personalized product recommendations, tailored communication, or rewards that reflect the customer's behavior and milestones.

Such personalized engagement not only elevates the customer experience but also builds a strong emotional bond between the customer and the brand. This emotional investment makes clients more likely to stay loyal and advocate for the brand within their networks.

4. Represents a long-term investment

Viewing customer activation as a long-term investment rather than a cost is crucial for sustainable business growth. This perspective encourages businesses to allocate resources towards nurturing customer relationships and continuously improving the customer experience.

Loyalty programs, when strategically designed with activation in mind, can serve as powerful platforms for sustaining engagement and loyalty. These programs should evolve based on customer feedback and changing needs to remain relevant and compelling.

Investing in customer activation within these programs signifies a commitment to not just the immediate sale but to the lifetime value of the client. Such an investment not only secures a loyal customer base but also positions the brand as one that truly values and invests in their target audience.

Examples of customer activation strategies

To effectively engage and activate clients, you can implement a variety of strategic approaches that resonate with their interests and values. Expanding on the examples of customer activation provided, we delve deeper into the strategies you can engage and retain your customer base through innovative and interactive methods.

Deliver content that resonates with your audience's passions

Delivering content that resonates with your audience's passions involves creating and sharing information, experiences, or products that align closely with what they are genuinely interested in or passionate about. This approach can significantly enhance engagement, foster brand loyalty, and even drive sales.

Sephora

For instance, Sephora, a leading beauty retailer, deeply understands their audience's interest in beauty and makeup. To engage this audience, Sephora offers a wide range of makeup tutorials that cater to various skill levels – from beginners to advanced makeup enthusiasts. These tutorials cover basic makeup application, seasonal beauty trends, how to achieve specific looks (e.g., smoky eye, contouring), and advice on using products effectively.

By doing so, Sephora does more than just sell beauty products. The brand positions itself as a valuable resource for beauty education and a trusted advisor in beauty, which can increase brand loyalty and encourage repeat purchases.

Winiary

Winiary is known for their wide range of food products, which taps into their audience's passion for cooking and culinary exploration by sharing many cooking recipes. These recipes range from traditional dishes that evoke nostalgia to contemporary cuisines that inspire culinary creativity.

By providing these recipes, Winiary does more than just promote their products – it inspires customers, embodying the brand as a source of inspiration. This approach enriches the cooking experience for audiences and allows Winiary to connect with their end-users more personally, turning cooking into an exploration of flavors and cultures.

Moreover, by encouraging the use of their products in these recipes, Winiary can subtly drive product awareness and sales, all while fostering a community of cooking enthusiasts.

Customer activation example: Winiary. Source: https://www.winiary.pl/CookBook_Twoja_ksiazka_kulinarna/ 

In these examples, success hinges on a brand's ability to produce content that resonates deeply with their audience's passions and interests. This approach transcends simple promotion, nurturing communities, enhancing engagement, and forging enduring bonds.

By delivering educational tutorials, captivating recipes, or exciting adventure content, brands that cater to their customers' genuine passions can effectively engage their audience and cultivate brand loyalty.

Incorporate gamification to make brand interactions fun

Incorporating customer gamification elements into customer interactions can significantly enhance engagement by creating enjoyable experiences that encourage frequent interaction with the brand. This approach involves integrating game-like elements into non-game contexts, such as loyalty programs, apps, or social media activities, to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.

Biedronka

For example, Biedronka's "Shakeomat" is an innovative feature within their app designed to enhance customer engagement and offer personalized deals. By simply shaking their smartphone, users activate the "Shakeomat" to reveal a unique offer tailored just for them, available to use that very day.

This daily surprise element encourages users to regularly interact with the app, fostering a sense of excitement and anticipation as they discover what special offer awaits them each day.

The simplicity of the gesture – shaking the phone – makes accessing these exclusive deals easy and a fun, interactive experience. As a result, many people find themselves drawn to the app daily, eager to shake their device and unveil their personalized discount or promotion, thereby increasing app usage and loyalty.

Customer activation example: Biedronka. 

Lidl

Another idea is the Scratch Card game on the Lidl Plus app. When a user purchases at Lidl and scans their digital Lidl Plus card at checkout, they are granted a digital Scratch & Win in their app.

To participate, users are required to open the scratch card displayed on their home screen and simulate a scratching action with their fingers across the screen. If successful, the prize is automatically added to the "Coupons" section within the Lidl Plus app, offering potential rewards such as a coupon for up to £20 off the user's next shopping trip.

Customer activation example: Lidl. Source: https://www.larevuedudigital.com/le-discounter-lidl-diffuse-un-programme-de-fidelite-sur-mobile-lidl-plus/ 

Why these brands invest in delivering content that resonates with your audience's passions

By involving shoppers in these gamified experiences, brands can evoke positive emotions, making the brand more memorable. These activities, designed with clear start and end points, ensure that participants remain focused on the content without feeling overwhelmed or losing interest.

Marking the beginning and end of the action is crucial to avoid overshooting the content, thereby maintaining the user's engagement and ensuring a satisfying experience that encourages repeated interactions.

Through such gamified interactions, you can transform routine transactions into moments of joy and discovery, further deepening the emotional connection between the brand and its buyers. This strategy not only fosters a sense of community among participants but also amplifies the overall impact of the marketing efforts, leading to more satisfied customers.

Promote sustainability, environmental, and charity Initiatives

Campaigns focused on sustainability, environmental conservation, and charitable actions resonate deeply with people who value social responsibility.

Patagonia

Companies like Patagonia are at the forefront of this movement, demonstrating a strong commitment to the planet and setting a precedent for others to follow. Patagonia's adoption of the "1% for the Planet" initiative is a significant step in this direction. This program involves donating 1% of their total sales – not just profits – to environmental groups. Such a commitment ensures a steady stream of funding to support various environmental causes, regardless of the company's profitability in any given year.

Customer activation example: Patagonia. Source: https://eu.patagonia.com/be/en/one-percent-for-the-planet.html 

TOMS Shoes

Similarly, TOMS Shoes have a well-known "One for One" campaign, a testament to how companies can integrate charity into their core business model. Every pair of shoes purchased is donated to a child in need.

This initiative addresses the immediate need for footwear among underprivileged children but also connects consumers directly with the impact of their purchase. By doing so, TOMS has created a powerful narrative that goes beyond just selling shoes – it's about participating in a movement that supports health, education, and well-being for those less fortunate. 

Customer activation example: TOMS Shoes. Source: https://causemarketing.com/commercial-gallery/toms-one-one-campaign-one-another/ 

IKEA

Another innovative example is IKEA's initiative to use only renewable and recycled materials in their products by 2030, significantly reducing the environmental footprint. Through these efforts, brands strengthen their relationship with their audience and enhance their corporate image by demonstrating a genuine commitment to making a positive impact.

Customer activation example: IKEA. Source: https://www.ikea.com/global/en/our-business/people-planet/our-circular-agenda/#:~:text=Materials%20are%20the%20biggest%20contributor,sources%20and%20develop%20new%20materials

Starbucks

Companies like Starbucks, working together with SCS Global Services, have advanced in making sure their coffee comes from sources that are good for both people and the planet. Their "C.A.F.E. Practices" program lets customers help important causes when they buy coffee or join in campaigns.

This program checks if Starbucks' coffee was produced in a way that's right and sustainable. It follows a set of rules made by Starbucks that look at over 200 different things related to social, economic, and environmental well-being. These are checked by other companies, using unique scorecards, to make sure everything is done correctly.

The aim is to make life better for those growing coffee and to take care of the earth, promoting the right way to grow and handle coffee while supporting the farmers and the environment. This way, when people buy their coffee, they also support these excellent practices.

Customer activation example: Starbucks. Source: https://www.scsglobalservices.com/services/starbucks-cafe-practices 

Starbucks has always aimed to be a unique company, driven by the purpose of creating a positive impact and setting high Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) goals. They continually assess their progress through an annual Global Environmental and Social Impact (GESI) Report, demonstrating their commitment to transparency and accountability. This process highlights all the achievements and areas for improvement, underscoring their dedication to responsible growth and the mission to effect positive change, as evidenced in their FY22 performance, the latest one available as of writing.

2022 Starbucks Global Environmental and Social Impact Report. Source: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2023/2022-starbucks-global-environmental-and-social-impact-report/ 

These examples showcase how integrating sustainability, environmental stewardship, and charitable work into business models and campaigns can forge stronger consumer connections and contribute to a healthier planet.

Repeated promotional actions to foster habit formation

Repeated promotional actions to foster habit formation involve strategically planned marketing efforts designed to encourage recipients to engage with a brand or product regularly. These promotions aren't one-off events but are part of a consistent pattern that aims to instill a routine in consumers' purchasing behaviors.

Regular promotional events, such as discounts, special offers, and exclusive deals, are powerful tools in this regard. By offering these promotions at regular intervals, you can attract repeat business and gradually integrate their products or services into the daily lives of their buyers.

LOT

Let's take, for example, LOT's "Crazy Wednesday," where the airline offers significant discounts on selected flights every Wednesday. This incentivizes travelers to check LOT's website regularly and encourages them to plan their travel around these deals. Over time, consumers start associating Wednesdays with checking flight deals, embedding the brand deeper into their weekly routines.

Customer activation example: LOT. Source: https://www.lot.com/pl/en/explore/deals-and-offers/crazy-wednesday 

KFC

Another example is KFC's "Tuesday Bucket," where end-users can purchase a bucket of chicken at a reduced price every Tuesday. This promotion boosts sales on what might otherwise be a slow day and encourages foodies to make KFC a part of their weekly meal planning. The anticipation of the deal each week can lead to a habitual Tuesday visit to KFC, reinforcing brand loyalty and regular consumption.

Customer activation example: KFC. Source: https://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/2021/deal-kfc-8-bucket-tuesdays/ 

These promotional strategies are designed to create and reinforce habits by offering regular incentives that encourage repeat visits or purchases. The key to success in this strategy lies in consistency and patience – it may take several editions of these promotions to see a significant impact.

Over time, these regular deals can raise awareness and gradually build a routine among clients, making the brand a part of their weekly schedule. The ultimate goal is to convert occasional buyers into the most loyal customers who incorporate the brand into habitual purchasing patterns. 

Emotionally-charged campaigns

Emotionally-charged campaigns are a powerful tool in marketing, as they can foster a deep connection between a brand and its consumers by tapping into human emotions. These campaigns often encourage engaging in emotionally significant activities, such as capturing and sharing moments that matter to users or participating in competitions that resonate on a personal level.

Coca-Cola

For example, Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign is a classic instance of an emotionally charged marketing strategy. The campaign personalized Coke bottles with common names, inviting customers to find bottles with names that held personal significance to them or as gifts for friends and family. This simple yet effective approach sparked emotional connections as people shared photos and stories of their personalized Coke bottles on social media. 

Customer activation example: Coca Cola. Source: https://www.digitaltripathi.com/ad-library/share-a-coke-campaign-by-coca-cola/ 

Dove

Another poignant example is the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign. By featuring women of various ages, sizes, and ethnicities, Dove challenged the conventional standards of beauty promoted by the media.

This campaign resonated deeply with women worldwide, sparking conversations about self-esteem, body image, and the definition of beauty. Dove's commitment to celebrating real beauty helped solidify their position as a brand that cares about their customers' well-being beyond just selling beauty products.

Customer activation example: Dove. Source: https://thebrandhopper.com/2024/01/06/case-study-dove-real-beauty-brand-campaign/ 

Answear

Similarly, Answear's "Catch The Moment" campaign effectively leverages emotional engagement. This campaign invites customers to capture and share their personal moments using Answear's products, creating a platform for authentic expression and connection. By encouraging users to share these personal stories, Answear increases their brand visibility and strengthens the emotional bond with the audience. 

Customer activation example: Answear. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx6dmMg0eJk 

These examples demonstrate how emotionally charged campaigns can significantly enhance engagement and loyalty. By making interactions with the brand more meaningful and personal, companies can create lasting impressions that transcend the typical buyer-seller relationship, building a community of existing customers.

Worth remembering when working on your customer activation strategy

Now is the time to elevate your customer activation process, transforming potential customers into passionate advocates with three expert-driven breakthrough tips: perfecting a cohesive strategy, creating memorable emotional connections, and delivering unparalleled value beyond just products and services.

Develop a consistent customer activation strategy

A successful customer activation strategy intertwines with the concept of brand stickiness, extending beyond just loyalty programs to forge long-term customer relationships.

This comprehensive approach is about implementing promotional tactics and crafting a continuous narrative that flows, with each interaction building on the previous one to create a cohesive and engaging customer journey. Every touchpoint should reflect a positive and consistent brand experience from the initial awareness stage through the purchase process to post-purchase engagement. 

Integrating these experiences seamlessly across all channels is vital, ensuring that the brand resonates with clients, meeting their expectations at every juncture. This is where loyalty programs can play a significant role, not as standalone solutions but as integral parts of a broader, thoughtful strategy that contributes to the enduring allure of the brand.

Pursuing initiatives within these programs can be especially fruitful, as they are pivotal in cementing long-term relationships and enhancing the overall brand experience, which is essential for achieving lasting brand activation and stickiness.

Cultivate emotional connections

Building a strong emotional connection with recipients is a critical component of a successful activation strategy, but it's at the core to recognize that this process takes time. Cultivating such ties develops over time, requiring patience, understanding, and true commitment.

Emotional engagement is achieved through meaningful interactions that resonate on a personal level, making people feel valued and understood. Listen to their needs, preferences, and feedback, and respond in a way that demonstrates empathy and consideration. This approach is enhanced by monitoring online behavior, allowing for more personalized and informed interactions, ensuring that the service is responsive and exceptionally attuned to the customer's needs.

Exceptional customer service is at the heart of building these relationships. It involves understanding and reacting to customer feedback, anticipating their needs, and exceeding their expectations. By consistently engaging recipients in a manner that appeals to their emotions, brands can foster a more profound sense of loyalty and attachment, encouraging ongoing engagement and advocacy. 

Remember, the goal is to build relationships, not just meaningless transactions. Through dedicated customer interaction, businesses can create a feedback loop that continuously improves the customer experience and strengthens the emotional bond with the brand.

Provide value beyond your products and services

A truly effective customer activation strategy looks beyond the immediate goal of driving sales. It focuses on delivering value that transcends the core offerings of products and services.

Think about what else you can provide that influences your customers' lives or businesses. This could be through insightful content, personalized experiences, or exceptional support that anticipates their needs. Aim to be a resource and ally to your audience, showing that your commitment to their satisfaction extends far beyond the point of sale.

Summary

A successful customer activation strategy is multi-faceted, focusing on creating a consistent and positive brand experience, building emotional connections, and providing value beyond the traditional product or service offering.

After reading this guide and exploring the use cases in depth, you'll be able to unlock the true potential of your impactful customer activation strategy and witness your business transform.

By incorporating an effective customer activation strategy into your efforts, you ensure a more engaging and enriching experience for your audience. Think of it as combining professional expertise with an approachable, friendly approach that respects your audience's intelligence, and you'll be successful in no time.

Finally, always be on the lookout for innovative insights that promise to significantly improve customer activation efforts, setting you apart from the competition.

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Customer activation: how to enhance brand stickiness among loyalty program members?

Contributors
Monika Motus
Loyalty Expert (formerly Starbucks, iSpot, and Douglas)
Weronika Masternak
Content Writer
Customer activation big cover
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Crafting robust customer activation strategies is a big deal in navigating the intricate maze of the customer journey, particularly for existing customers deeply intertwined within the customer lifecycle.

This article delves into the art and science of enhancing brand stickiness among loyalty program members, ensuring they derive maximum value from your product or service. By meticulously analyzing the needs and expectations of your target audience across various customer segments, businesses can tailor experiences that resonate deeply with their clientele.

What's more, the significance of monitoring offline and online behavior emerges as a critical component, offering insights that fuel personalized engagement strategies. Through a blend of theory and practical applications, we explore the mechanisms behind successful customer activation, aiming to transform occasional users into devoted brand advocates.

Join us as we unravel the practices to securing a lasting place in the hearts and minds of your clients, fortifying the connection between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Key takeaways 

  • Customer activation employs diverse strategies like welcome offers, personalized content, milestone rewards, and exclusive events.
  • Recognizing the importance of customer activation is crucial for building lasting relationships, turning satisfied customers into advocates, adding emotional depth, and viewing it as a strategic, long-term investment.
  • Following top brands for fresh insights and a dose of innovative knowledge is important in a loyalty manager's job. Learn about different activation strategies of leading brands, get inspired by delivering passionate content, use enjoyable gamification, support sustainability, create habits through promotions, and create emotionally charged campaigns.
  • Effective customer activation involves maintaining consistency, fostering emotional connections to enhance loyalty, and providing value beyond the products and services offered.

What is customer activation?

Customer activation in loyalty programs refers to the strategies and tactics used to encourage members of a loyalty program to take an initial or subsequent action that engages them more deeply with the brand or product. This process is crucial for the success of a loyalty program, as active members and existing customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, generate higher revenue, and promote the brand through word-of-mouth.

Let's discuss them shortly!

Welcome offers

Offering a discount or bonus points on the first purchase is a strategic way to reward new sign-ups immediately, setting a positive tone for their relationship with your brand. This immediate reward can be coupled with exclusive experiences tailored for new members, such as personal consultations or free trials of premium services, effectively showcasing the benefits of your loyalty program.

The initial interaction is pivotal as a well-designed welcome can significantly impact the customer's perception and long-term engagement with your brand. Ensuring that the customer's first experience isn't just good but surprisingly so can be instrumental in building a robust, ongoing relationship. This approach underscores the importance of making a perfect first impression, as it lays the foundation for a loyal and satisfied customer base.

Educational content

Provide clear, engaging content that helps members understand how to earn and redeem rewards, enhancing their perception of the program's value. Share examples of how other members have benefited from the loyalty program to inspire new members to participate actively.

Personalization

Use customer data to segment members based on their preferences, purchase history, and behavior, then tailor communications and offers to each segment. Use predictive analytics to deliver timely, personalized rewards or recommendations.

Milestone rewards

Implement a system that allows members to easily track their progress toward milestones, increasing motivation through visual progress indicators. Employ a tiered approach to escalate the value of loyalty rewards as members advance, fostering sustained engagement.

Exclusive events or access

Host special sales events where loyalty members get early or exclusive access to discounts and products. Complement this with unique experiences, like exclusive tours or expert meet-and-greets, enriching the rewards.

Engagement campaigns

Design fun, interactive challenges or contests that encourage members to engage with the brand, possibly rewarding participation with points or exclusive prizes. Cultivate a community feeling through social platforms forums, social media groups, or events, encouraging peer-to-peer engagement and brand advocacy.

Feedback loops

Run regular surveys to gather feedback on the loyalty program, rewards, and overall brand experience, showing members their opinions are valued. Actively respond to input by adjusting the loyalty program, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and member satisfaction.

Customer activation encourages members to regularly engage with the loyalty program and increase their purchase frequency. When you get this right, it enhances the value customers get throughout their relationship with your brand, strengthens their loyalty, and contributes to the program's overall success.

Essentially, it's about making the program engaging enough that members want to keep coming back, which benefits both them and your business. 

Why is customer activation important?

1. Builds long-term customer relationships

Customer activation is not just about making a sale – it's about initiating a relationship that has the potential to last for years. This deeper engagement is achieved by consistently meeting and exceeding people's expectations, providing exceptional service, and recognizing and rewarding customer loyalty. By doing so, you can transform new customers into lifelong advocates who are likely to remain loyal even in the face of competition.

The increase in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that results from this loyalty is a testament to the power of effective customer activation strategies. Engaged shoppers aren't just repeat customers, as they're less sensitive to price changes and more forgiving of minor issues, which directly benefits the bottom line.

2. Creates a group of ambassadors

By creating a community of brand ambassadors through customer activation, you can leverage one of the most effective forms of marketing: word-of-mouth. These brand advocates do more than just bring in new buyers – they create a ripple effect that amplifies the brand’s message across various platforms and social circles.

The brand community can provide valuable feedback, generate user-generated content, and contribute to a positive brand image. The authenticity of their endorsements, rooted in genuine satisfaction and emotional connection with the brand, can significantly influence potential clients.

Such a form of organic promotion is cost-effective and often yields a higher conversion rate than traditional advertising methods, as well as helps bring more people through the door, expanding your circle of shoppers through real, trusted recommendations.

3. Adds an emotional level 

Discounts and deals? Sure, they work, but they're not everything. What really makes a client stick around is feeling like you get them on a personal level. Personalization is a key differentiator in a world where consumers are bombarded with countless marketing messages daily.

Customer activation strategies that incorporate personalized experiences cater to the individual’s preferences, needs, and values, making each interaction feel unique and valued. This could involve personalized product recommendations, tailored communication, or rewards that reflect the customer's behavior and milestones.

Such personalized engagement not only elevates the customer experience but also builds a strong emotional bond between the customer and the brand. This emotional investment makes clients more likely to stay loyal and advocate for the brand within their networks.

4. Represents a long-term investment

Viewing customer activation as a long-term investment rather than a cost is crucial for sustainable business growth. This perspective encourages businesses to allocate resources towards nurturing customer relationships and continuously improving the customer experience.

Loyalty programs, when strategically designed with activation in mind, can serve as powerful platforms for sustaining engagement and loyalty. These programs should evolve based on customer feedback and changing needs to remain relevant and compelling.

Investing in customer activation within these programs signifies a commitment to not just the immediate sale but to the lifetime value of the client. Such an investment not only secures a loyal customer base but also positions the brand as one that truly values and invests in their target audience.

Customer activation: how to enhance brand stickiness among loyalty program members?

Monika Motus
Monika Motus
Loyalty Expert (formerly Starbucks, iSpot, and Douglas)
Weronika Masternak
Weronika Masternak
Content Writer
Customer activation big cover

Crafting robust customer activation strategies is a big deal in navigating the intricate maze of the customer journey, particularly for existing customers deeply intertwined within the customer lifecycle.

This article delves into the art and science of enhancing brand stickiness among loyalty program members, ensuring they derive maximum value from your product or service. By meticulously analyzing the needs and expectations of your target audience across various customer segments, businesses can tailor experiences that resonate deeply with their clientele.

What's more, the significance of monitoring offline and online behavior emerges as a critical component, offering insights that fuel personalized engagement strategies. Through a blend of theory and practical applications, we explore the mechanisms behind successful customer activation, aiming to transform occasional users into devoted brand advocates.

Join us as we unravel the practices to securing a lasting place in the hearts and minds of your clients, fortifying the connection between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Key takeaways 

  • Customer activation employs diverse strategies like welcome offers, personalized content, milestone rewards, and exclusive events.
  • Recognizing the importance of customer activation is crucial for building lasting relationships, turning satisfied customers into advocates, adding emotional depth, and viewing it as a strategic, long-term investment.
  • Following top brands for fresh insights and a dose of innovative knowledge is important in a loyalty manager's job. Learn about different activation strategies of leading brands, get inspired by delivering passionate content, use enjoyable gamification, support sustainability, create habits through promotions, and create emotionally charged campaigns.
  • Effective customer activation involves maintaining consistency, fostering emotional connections to enhance loyalty, and providing value beyond the products and services offered.

What is customer activation?

Customer activation in loyalty programs refers to the strategies and tactics used to encourage members of a loyalty program to take an initial or subsequent action that engages them more deeply with the brand or product. This process is crucial for the success of a loyalty program, as active members and existing customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, generate higher revenue, and promote the brand through word-of-mouth.

Let's discuss them shortly!

Welcome offers

Offering a discount or bonus points on the first purchase is a strategic way to reward new sign-ups immediately, setting a positive tone for their relationship with your brand. This immediate reward can be coupled with exclusive experiences tailored for new members, such as personal consultations or free trials of premium services, effectively showcasing the benefits of your loyalty program.

The initial interaction is pivotal as a well-designed welcome can significantly impact the customer's perception and long-term engagement with your brand. Ensuring that the customer's first experience isn't just good but surprisingly so can be instrumental in building a robust, ongoing relationship. This approach underscores the importance of making a perfect first impression, as it lays the foundation for a loyal and satisfied customer base.

Educational content

Provide clear, engaging content that helps members understand how to earn and redeem rewards, enhancing their perception of the program's value. Share examples of how other members have benefited from the loyalty program to inspire new members to participate actively.

Personalization

Use customer data to segment members based on their preferences, purchase history, and behavior, then tailor communications and offers to each segment. Use predictive analytics to deliver timely, personalized rewards or recommendations.

Milestone rewards

Implement a system that allows members to easily track their progress toward milestones, increasing motivation through visual progress indicators. Employ a tiered approach to escalate the value of loyalty rewards as members advance, fostering sustained engagement.

Exclusive events or access

Host special sales events where loyalty members get early or exclusive access to discounts and products. Complement this with unique experiences, like exclusive tours or expert meet-and-greets, enriching the rewards.

Engagement campaigns

Design fun, interactive challenges or contests that encourage members to engage with the brand, possibly rewarding participation with points or exclusive prizes. Cultivate a community feeling through social platforms forums, social media groups, or events, encouraging peer-to-peer engagement and brand advocacy.

Feedback loops

Run regular surveys to gather feedback on the loyalty program, rewards, and overall brand experience, showing members their opinions are valued. Actively respond to input by adjusting the loyalty program, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement and member satisfaction.

Customer activation encourages members to regularly engage with the loyalty program and increase their purchase frequency. When you get this right, it enhances the value customers get throughout their relationship with your brand, strengthens their loyalty, and contributes to the program's overall success.

Essentially, it's about making the program engaging enough that members want to keep coming back, which benefits both them and your business. 

Why is customer activation important?

1. Builds long-term customer relationships

Customer activation is not just about making a sale – it's about initiating a relationship that has the potential to last for years. This deeper engagement is achieved by consistently meeting and exceeding people's expectations, providing exceptional service, and recognizing and rewarding customer loyalty. By doing so, you can transform new customers into lifelong advocates who are likely to remain loyal even in the face of competition.

The increase in Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) that results from this loyalty is a testament to the power of effective customer activation strategies. Engaged shoppers aren't just repeat customers, as they're less sensitive to price changes and more forgiving of minor issues, which directly benefits the bottom line.

2. Creates a group of ambassadors

By creating a community of brand ambassadors through customer activation, you can leverage one of the most effective forms of marketing: word-of-mouth. These brand advocates do more than just bring in new buyers – they create a ripple effect that amplifies the brand’s message across various platforms and social circles.

The brand community can provide valuable feedback, generate user-generated content, and contribute to a positive brand image. The authenticity of their endorsements, rooted in genuine satisfaction and emotional connection with the brand, can significantly influence potential clients.

Such a form of organic promotion is cost-effective and often yields a higher conversion rate than traditional advertising methods, as well as helps bring more people through the door, expanding your circle of shoppers through real, trusted recommendations.

3. Adds an emotional level 

Discounts and deals? Sure, they work, but they're not everything. What really makes a client stick around is feeling like you get them on a personal level. Personalization is a key differentiator in a world where consumers are bombarded with countless marketing messages daily.

Customer activation strategies that incorporate personalized experiences cater to the individual’s preferences, needs, and values, making each interaction feel unique and valued. This could involve personalized product recommendations, tailored communication, or rewards that reflect the customer's behavior and milestones.

Such personalized engagement not only elevates the customer experience but also builds a strong emotional bond between the customer and the brand. This emotional investment makes clients more likely to stay loyal and advocate for the brand within their networks.

4. Represents a long-term investment

Viewing customer activation as a long-term investment rather than a cost is crucial for sustainable business growth. This perspective encourages businesses to allocate resources towards nurturing customer relationships and continuously improving the customer experience.

Loyalty programs, when strategically designed with activation in mind, can serve as powerful platforms for sustaining engagement and loyalty. These programs should evolve based on customer feedback and changing needs to remain relevant and compelling.

Investing in customer activation within these programs signifies a commitment to not just the immediate sale but to the lifetime value of the client. Such an investment not only secures a loyal customer base but also positions the brand as one that truly values and invests in their target audience.

Examples of customer activation strategies

To effectively engage and activate clients, you can implement a variety of strategic approaches that resonate with their interests and values. Expanding on the examples of customer activation provided, we delve deeper into the strategies you can engage and retain your customer base through innovative and interactive methods.

Deliver content that resonates with your audience's passions

Delivering content that resonates with your audience's passions involves creating and sharing information, experiences, or products that align closely with what they are genuinely interested in or passionate about. This approach can significantly enhance engagement, foster brand loyalty, and even drive sales.

Sephora

For instance, Sephora, a leading beauty retailer, deeply understands their audience's interest in beauty and makeup. To engage this audience, Sephora offers a wide range of makeup tutorials that cater to various skill levels – from beginners to advanced makeup enthusiasts. These tutorials cover basic makeup application, seasonal beauty trends, how to achieve specific looks (e.g., smoky eye, contouring), and advice on using products effectively.

By doing so, Sephora does more than just sell beauty products. The brand positions itself as a valuable resource for beauty education and a trusted advisor in beauty, which can increase brand loyalty and encourage repeat purchases.

Winiary

Winiary is known for their wide range of food products, which taps into their audience's passion for cooking and culinary exploration by sharing many cooking recipes. These recipes range from traditional dishes that evoke nostalgia to contemporary cuisines that inspire culinary creativity.

By providing these recipes, Winiary does more than just promote their products – it inspires customers, embodying the brand as a source of inspiration. This approach enriches the cooking experience for audiences and allows Winiary to connect with their end-users more personally, turning cooking into an exploration of flavors and cultures.

Moreover, by encouraging the use of their products in these recipes, Winiary can subtly drive product awareness and sales, all while fostering a community of cooking enthusiasts.

Customer activation example: Winiary. Source: https://www.winiary.pl/CookBook_Twoja_ksiazka_kulinarna/ 

In these examples, success hinges on a brand's ability to produce content that resonates deeply with their audience's passions and interests. This approach transcends simple promotion, nurturing communities, enhancing engagement, and forging enduring bonds.

By delivering educational tutorials, captivating recipes, or exciting adventure content, brands that cater to their customers' genuine passions can effectively engage their audience and cultivate brand loyalty.

Incorporate gamification to make brand interactions fun

Incorporating customer gamification elements into customer interactions can significantly enhance engagement by creating enjoyable experiences that encourage frequent interaction with the brand. This approach involves integrating game-like elements into non-game contexts, such as loyalty programs, apps, or social media activities, to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.

Biedronka

For example, Biedronka's "Shakeomat" is an innovative feature within their app designed to enhance customer engagement and offer personalized deals. By simply shaking their smartphone, users activate the "Shakeomat" to reveal a unique offer tailored just for them, available to use that very day.

This daily surprise element encourages users to regularly interact with the app, fostering a sense of excitement and anticipation as they discover what special offer awaits them each day.

The simplicity of the gesture – shaking the phone – makes accessing these exclusive deals easy and a fun, interactive experience. As a result, many people find themselves drawn to the app daily, eager to shake their device and unveil their personalized discount or promotion, thereby increasing app usage and loyalty.

Customer activation example: Biedronka. 

Lidl

Another idea is the Scratch Card game on the Lidl Plus app. When a user purchases at Lidl and scans their digital Lidl Plus card at checkout, they are granted a digital Scratch & Win in their app.

To participate, users are required to open the scratch card displayed on their home screen and simulate a scratching action with their fingers across the screen. If successful, the prize is automatically added to the "Coupons" section within the Lidl Plus app, offering potential rewards such as a coupon for up to £20 off the user's next shopping trip.

Customer activation example: Lidl. Source: https://www.larevuedudigital.com/le-discounter-lidl-diffuse-un-programme-de-fidelite-sur-mobile-lidl-plus/ 

Why these brands invest in delivering content that resonates with your audience's passions

By involving shoppers in these gamified experiences, brands can evoke positive emotions, making the brand more memorable. These activities, designed with clear start and end points, ensure that participants remain focused on the content without feeling overwhelmed or losing interest.

Marking the beginning and end of the action is crucial to avoid overshooting the content, thereby maintaining the user's engagement and ensuring a satisfying experience that encourages repeated interactions.

Through such gamified interactions, you can transform routine transactions into moments of joy and discovery, further deepening the emotional connection between the brand and its buyers. This strategy not only fosters a sense of community among participants but also amplifies the overall impact of the marketing efforts, leading to more satisfied customers.

Promote sustainability, environmental, and charity Initiatives

Campaigns focused on sustainability, environmental conservation, and charitable actions resonate deeply with people who value social responsibility.

Patagonia

Companies like Patagonia are at the forefront of this movement, demonstrating a strong commitment to the planet and setting a precedent for others to follow. Patagonia's adoption of the "1% for the Planet" initiative is a significant step in this direction. This program involves donating 1% of their total sales – not just profits – to environmental groups. Such a commitment ensures a steady stream of funding to support various environmental causes, regardless of the company's profitability in any given year.

Customer activation example: Patagonia. Source: https://eu.patagonia.com/be/en/one-percent-for-the-planet.html 

TOMS Shoes

Similarly, TOMS Shoes have a well-known "One for One" campaign, a testament to how companies can integrate charity into their core business model. Every pair of shoes purchased is donated to a child in need.

This initiative addresses the immediate need for footwear among underprivileged children but also connects consumers directly with the impact of their purchase. By doing so, TOMS has created a powerful narrative that goes beyond just selling shoes – it's about participating in a movement that supports health, education, and well-being for those less fortunate. 

Customer activation example: TOMS Shoes. Source: https://causemarketing.com/commercial-gallery/toms-one-one-campaign-one-another/ 

IKEA

Another innovative example is IKEA's initiative to use only renewable and recycled materials in their products by 2030, significantly reducing the environmental footprint. Through these efforts, brands strengthen their relationship with their audience and enhance their corporate image by demonstrating a genuine commitment to making a positive impact.

Customer activation example: IKEA. Source: https://www.ikea.com/global/en/our-business/people-planet/our-circular-agenda/#:~:text=Materials%20are%20the%20biggest%20contributor,sources%20and%20develop%20new%20materials

Starbucks

Companies like Starbucks, working together with SCS Global Services, have advanced in making sure their coffee comes from sources that are good for both people and the planet. Their "C.A.F.E. Practices" program lets customers help important causes when they buy coffee or join in campaigns.

This program checks if Starbucks' coffee was produced in a way that's right and sustainable. It follows a set of rules made by Starbucks that look at over 200 different things related to social, economic, and environmental well-being. These are checked by other companies, using unique scorecards, to make sure everything is done correctly.

The aim is to make life better for those growing coffee and to take care of the earth, promoting the right way to grow and handle coffee while supporting the farmers and the environment. This way, when people buy their coffee, they also support these excellent practices.

Customer activation example: Starbucks. Source: https://www.scsglobalservices.com/services/starbucks-cafe-practices 

Starbucks has always aimed to be a unique company, driven by the purpose of creating a positive impact and setting high Environmental, Sustainability, and Governance (ESG) goals. They continually assess their progress through an annual Global Environmental and Social Impact (GESI) Report, demonstrating their commitment to transparency and accountability. This process highlights all the achievements and areas for improvement, underscoring their dedication to responsible growth and the mission to effect positive change, as evidenced in their FY22 performance, the latest one available as of writing.

2022 Starbucks Global Environmental and Social Impact Report. Source: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2023/2022-starbucks-global-environmental-and-social-impact-report/ 

These examples showcase how integrating sustainability, environmental stewardship, and charitable work into business models and campaigns can forge stronger consumer connections and contribute to a healthier planet.

Repeated promotional actions to foster habit formation

Repeated promotional actions to foster habit formation involve strategically planned marketing efforts designed to encourage recipients to engage with a brand or product regularly. These promotions aren't one-off events but are part of a consistent pattern that aims to instill a routine in consumers' purchasing behaviors.

Regular promotional events, such as discounts, special offers, and exclusive deals, are powerful tools in this regard. By offering these promotions at regular intervals, you can attract repeat business and gradually integrate their products or services into the daily lives of their buyers.

LOT

Let's take, for example, LOT's "Crazy Wednesday," where the airline offers significant discounts on selected flights every Wednesday. This incentivizes travelers to check LOT's website regularly and encourages them to plan their travel around these deals. Over time, consumers start associating Wednesdays with checking flight deals, embedding the brand deeper into their weekly routines.

Customer activation example: LOT. Source: https://www.lot.com/pl/en/explore/deals-and-offers/crazy-wednesday 

KFC

Another example is KFC's "Tuesday Bucket," where end-users can purchase a bucket of chicken at a reduced price every Tuesday. This promotion boosts sales on what might otherwise be a slow day and encourages foodies to make KFC a part of their weekly meal planning. The anticipation of the deal each week can lead to a habitual Tuesday visit to KFC, reinforcing brand loyalty and regular consumption.

Customer activation example: KFC. Source: https://www.frugalfeeds.com.au/2021/deal-kfc-8-bucket-tuesdays/ 

These promotional strategies are designed to create and reinforce habits by offering regular incentives that encourage repeat visits or purchases. The key to success in this strategy lies in consistency and patience – it may take several editions of these promotions to see a significant impact.

Over time, these regular deals can raise awareness and gradually build a routine among clients, making the brand a part of their weekly schedule. The ultimate goal is to convert occasional buyers into the most loyal customers who incorporate the brand into habitual purchasing patterns. 

Emotionally-charged campaigns

Emotionally-charged campaigns are a powerful tool in marketing, as they can foster a deep connection between a brand and its consumers by tapping into human emotions. These campaigns often encourage engaging in emotionally significant activities, such as capturing and sharing moments that matter to users or participating in competitions that resonate on a personal level.

Coca-Cola

For example, Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign is a classic instance of an emotionally charged marketing strategy. The campaign personalized Coke bottles with common names, inviting customers to find bottles with names that held personal significance to them or as gifts for friends and family. This simple yet effective approach sparked emotional connections as people shared photos and stories of their personalized Coke bottles on social media. 

Customer activation example: Coca Cola. Source: https://www.digitaltripathi.com/ad-library/share-a-coke-campaign-by-coca-cola/ 

Dove

Another poignant example is the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign. By featuring women of various ages, sizes, and ethnicities, Dove challenged the conventional standards of beauty promoted by the media.

This campaign resonated deeply with women worldwide, sparking conversations about self-esteem, body image, and the definition of beauty. Dove's commitment to celebrating real beauty helped solidify their position as a brand that cares about their customers' well-being beyond just selling beauty products.

Customer activation example: Dove. Source: https://thebrandhopper.com/2024/01/06/case-study-dove-real-beauty-brand-campaign/ 

Answear

Similarly, Answear's "Catch The Moment" campaign effectively leverages emotional engagement. This campaign invites customers to capture and share their personal moments using Answear's products, creating a platform for authentic expression and connection. By encouraging users to share these personal stories, Answear increases their brand visibility and strengthens the emotional bond with the audience. 

Customer activation example: Answear. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx6dmMg0eJk 

These examples demonstrate how emotionally charged campaigns can significantly enhance engagement and loyalty. By making interactions with the brand more meaningful and personal, companies can create lasting impressions that transcend the typical buyer-seller relationship, building a community of existing customers.

Worth remembering when working on your customer activation strategy

Now is the time to elevate your customer activation process, transforming potential customers into passionate advocates with three expert-driven breakthrough tips: perfecting a cohesive strategy, creating memorable emotional connections, and delivering unparalleled value beyond just products and services.

Develop a consistent customer activation strategy

A successful customer activation strategy intertwines with the concept of brand stickiness, extending beyond just loyalty programs to forge long-term customer relationships.

This comprehensive approach is about implementing promotional tactics and crafting a continuous narrative that flows, with each interaction building on the previous one to create a cohesive and engaging customer journey. Every touchpoint should reflect a positive and consistent brand experience from the initial awareness stage through the purchase process to post-purchase engagement. 

Integrating these experiences seamlessly across all channels is vital, ensuring that the brand resonates with clients, meeting their expectations at every juncture. This is where loyalty programs can play a significant role, not as standalone solutions but as integral parts of a broader, thoughtful strategy that contributes to the enduring allure of the brand.

Pursuing initiatives within these programs can be especially fruitful, as they are pivotal in cementing long-term relationships and enhancing the overall brand experience, which is essential for achieving lasting brand activation and stickiness.

Cultivate emotional connections

Building a strong emotional connection with recipients is a critical component of a successful activation strategy, but it's at the core to recognize that this process takes time. Cultivating such ties develops over time, requiring patience, understanding, and true commitment.

Emotional engagement is achieved through meaningful interactions that resonate on a personal level, making people feel valued and understood. Listen to their needs, preferences, and feedback, and respond in a way that demonstrates empathy and consideration. This approach is enhanced by monitoring online behavior, allowing for more personalized and informed interactions, ensuring that the service is responsive and exceptionally attuned to the customer's needs.

Exceptional customer service is at the heart of building these relationships. It involves understanding and reacting to customer feedback, anticipating their needs, and exceeding their expectations. By consistently engaging recipients in a manner that appeals to their emotions, brands can foster a more profound sense of loyalty and attachment, encouraging ongoing engagement and advocacy. 

Remember, the goal is to build relationships, not just meaningless transactions. Through dedicated customer interaction, businesses can create a feedback loop that continuously improves the customer experience and strengthens the emotional bond with the brand.

Provide value beyond your products and services

A truly effective customer activation strategy looks beyond the immediate goal of driving sales. It focuses on delivering value that transcends the core offerings of products and services.

Think about what else you can provide that influences your customers' lives or businesses. This could be through insightful content, personalized experiences, or exceptional support that anticipates their needs. Aim to be a resource and ally to your audience, showing that your commitment to their satisfaction extends far beyond the point of sale.

Summary

A successful customer activation strategy is multi-faceted, focusing on creating a consistent and positive brand experience, building emotional connections, and providing value beyond the traditional product or service offering.

After reading this guide and exploring the use cases in depth, you'll be able to unlock the true potential of your impactful customer activation strategy and witness your business transform.

By incorporating an effective customer activation strategy into your efforts, you ensure a more engaging and enriching experience for your audience. Think of it as combining professional expertise with an approachable, friendly approach that respects your audience's intelligence, and you'll be successful in no time.

Finally, always be on the lookout for innovative insights that promise to significantly improve customer activation efforts, setting you apart from the competition.

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