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7 mobile loyalty app features used by top brands to build great customer experiences

Take a closer look at different mobile loyalty features and mechanics used in the world's most popular loyalty programs.

7 mobile loyalty app features used by top brands to build great customer experiences

Irek Klimczak
Irek Klimczak
Content & Partnerships Manager
7 mobile loyalty app features used by tops brands to build great customer experiences

The whole mobile app scene has really shaken things up, making life easier and giving a solid boost to those traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Most importantly, mobile applications enabled businesses to build meaningful client relationships, drive repeat sales, and ultimately cement loyalty.

Now, studies are shouting it out loud – people are super into loyalty programs, especially if they can access them through a mobile app. As such, a dedicated mobile loyalty program is a powerful tool capable of far more than incentivizing purchases. Most crucially, it serves as a communication channel, allowing businesses to improve the customer experience while continually learning about loyalty members’ needs and preferences to optimize and maximize the value of its offerings.

In this article, we'll dive into how some of the best loyalty programs out there work. The big secret? These programs have apps that match the business's style and offer great loyalty features, for example, points, coupons and vouchers, and rewards catalogs.

Also, you’ll find here seven examples of popular mobile loyalty apps as inspiration for designing your scheme. As you'll see, most of the mobile apps listed use similar mechanics configurations to provide unique customer experiences.

When designing your mobile customer loyalty program, you can use some of the most popular features described below and throw in something truly unique to the mix to give you an edge over your increasingly crafty competition.

Key takeaways

  • Mobile loyalty programs continue to gain popularity due to the widespread use of smartphones and the growing integration of mobile technology across industries.
  • Consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if it's available through a mobile app.
  • The most popular mobile customer loyalty programs are built using standard loyalty mechanics configured to achieve set goals. In this way, it's possible to create a mobile loyalty program using typical mechanisms and still provide a more personalized customer experience that resonates with a loyal customer base.
  • Only a few schemes are using original approaches to mobile customer loyalty experiences. There's much room for innovation, especially in harnessing the true potential of mobile apps for loyalty program success.

What is mobile loyalty?

Mobile loyalty refers to a customer loyalty program or strategy that leverages mobile technology to engage and retain customers.

These programs reward clients for their continued business and can be accessed through mobile apps, SMS/text messages, or mobile websites. It's a smart way for businesses to encourage people to keep visiting to earn some benefits for their loyalty, all through smartphones.

Let's browse the key features of mobile loyalty programs from the following areas:

  • Rewards and incentives
  • Personalization
  • Convenience
  • Customer engagement
  • Data collection and analysis

Rewards and incentives

Who doesn't love earning points, snagging discounts, or unlocking special treats just for shopping or dropping by their favorite spot? Mobile loyalty programs are all about giving back to your customers. People can redeem rewards, check out the latest deals, refer a friend, or just keep an eye on those points stacking up – all through an app or online.

Personalization

Mobile loyalty programs often use customer data to tailor offers and communications to individual preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This personal touch not only makes the shopping experience better but also keeps engagement levels high.

Convenience

Gone are the days of carrying around several of loyalty cards or forgetting them at home. By using mobile devices, these programs offer customers the convenience of accessing their loyalty information, rewards, and offers anytime and anywhere. They can check out their rewards balance during a coffee break or redeem an offer while lounging at home.

Customer engagement

Mobile loyalty programs are like a direct line between your brand and your audience, ensuring they're always in the loop with the latest news, offers, and product drops. They provide a direct communication channel with customers, allowing for timely and relevant interactions. This includes push notifications, reminders about offers, and updates about new products or services.

Data collection and analysis

These programs enable businesses to collect valuable data on people's behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns. For businesses, it's a goldmine of info about what makes customers tick, helping them to fine-tune their offers and services. This data-driven approach means better deals for you and smarter strategies for them — a win-win!

Mobile loyalty programs are widely used in various industries, including retail, hospitality, airlines, and food services, to enhance customer loyalty, increase repeat business, and collect valuable insights. They truly represent a shift from traditional loyalty cards or paper-based systems to a more integrated and interactive customer experience.

How has mobile technology affected customer loyalty?

Mobile technology has really changed the game when it comes to how businesses and customers interact, especially concerning customer loyalty. Let's dive into how this transformation has unfolded.

First off, smartphones and apps have become central to our daily lives, haven't they? This shift has allowed businesses to stay connected with their target audience like never before. Companies can now send personalized offers and updates directly to customers' phones. This kind of direct engagement wasn't as easy or effective before mobile technology took off.

Moreover, mobile technology has made gathering and analyzing customer data more straightforward. Businesses can track app usage, purchase history, and even location data to tailor their services and offers. This personalized approach helps people feel more valued and understood, fostering affinity. 

Another big change is in how rewards programs are run. Remember the days of carrying around physical loyalty cards? Now, it's all digital. With apps, businesses can offer rewards and loyalty points seamlessly. People love the convenience of having everything on their phones, making them more likely to stick with a brand that makes life easier.

Let's not forget about social media usage. It's a huge part of mobile technology and plays a significant role in customer loyalty. Brands can engage with buyers directly, address their concerns, and build a community around their products or services. This direct line of communication and the sense of belonging it creates can really boost loyalty.

Finally, the ease of accessing information and making comparisons on mobile devices means businesses have to work harder to keep their shoppers. This competition can be seen as a positive push for companies to continuously improve their offerings and customer service.

So, in a nutshell, mobile technology has made customer loyalty more dynamic. It's no longer just about the product or service but also about the experience and relationship a brand builds with its buyers through these digital tools.

What about you? How would you describe the role of mobile apps in your overall brand loyalty strategy?

7 mobile app features in some of the most popular loyalty programs

In this section, we'll examine seven essential features found in highly effective mobile loyalty programs. By dissecting the intricate layers of innovation, we aim to uncover the elements that drive these initiatives to unparalleled success in supporting customer longevity.

Now, let's explore the domain of mobile app features that serve as the foundation for customer-centric strategies, cultivating enduring relationships between brands and their discerning audience. Below is a list of loyalty mobile app features that drive customer engagement and deliver advantages for businesses and users.

1. Digital loyalty card identifier

Mobile loyalty apps provide a convenient way to engage in a loyalty program directly from a smartphone. The shift from physical loyalty cards and stamps to loyalty apps undeniably makes life easier for customers. They can genuinely engage with the program by quickly accessing rewards, tracking their points, redeeming offers, and receiving personalized promotions anytime, anywhere.

From a business perspective, loyalty applications generate valuable data on customer behavior, like preferences, purchase patterns, activation and churn rates, and more. Such data can be analyzed to provide insights into customer trends that companies can use to refine their marketing strategies, personalize offers, and improve customer satisfaction.

Digital loyalty card identifier in the Starbucks® Rewards program 

The digital loyalty card identifier in the Starbucks® app, as part of the Starbucks® Rewards program, is essentially a unique code or number assigned to a customer's account within the app. This identifier distinguishes the customer's account from others and is linked to the customer's personal Starbucks® Rewards membership. 

The digital loyalty card identifier acts as a unique digital signature for the customer's Starbucks® Rewards account. It tracks the customer's purchases, manages their rewards, and personalizes their experience with Starbucks®.

Every time a customer purchases at Starbucks® using the app, the digital loyalty card identifier helps accurately record the transaction to their rewards account. This tracking enables Starbucks® to allocate rewards points (Stars) based on the amount spent.

Starbucks® rewards points (Stars). Source: https://nypost.com/2022/12/30/starbucks-to-change-number-of-rewards-stars-needed-for-free-drinks/  

With the digital identifier, customers don't need to carry a physical loyalty card. Instead, they present their mobile device with the Starbucks® app when they make a purchase. The app can be scanned at the register, ensuring that their reward points are automatically updated.

The app, coupled with the digital loyalty card identifier, facilitates mobile orders and payments. This feature allows customers to order ahead, skip the line, and pay directly from their mobile device, enhancing the convenience of their Starbucks® experience.

The Starbucks® loyalty mobile apps for iPhone and Android
The Starbucks® app is available for iPhone and Android. 

The digital loyalty card identifier allows Starbucks® to customize the experience by tracking the customer's preferences and previous orders. This data helps offer personalized discounts, birthday rewards, and suggestions tailored to the customer's tastes.

The identifier also plays a role in securing the customer's account. It ensures that rewards points and personal offers are only accessible through their account, safeguarding against unauthorized use.

Learn more on the Starbucks® app website.

2. Scan & earn: collecting QR codes on Pampers packs

The "scan and earn" mechanic in mobile loyalty apps involves customers scanning specific items, QR codes, or barcodes to earn rewards and in-app currency such as points. The mechanism uses the smartphone's camera function to scan and capture information, which is then transferred to the loyalty program and rewards system.

For companies, such a mechanic helps increase engagement and improve interactions, as customers actively participate in scanning activities. It also allows companies to gather valuable data on people's behavior, product preferences, and buying patterns.

For loyalty program members, the mechanics of scanning and earning provide gamification, making the loyalty program more interactive and enjoyable. It allows them to earn rewards or points tangibly and immediately, encouraging continued participation and loyalty. 

Scan & earn in the Pampers Club mobile loyalty program

The first loyalty program comes from Pampers, an American brand of infant and toddler products sold by Procter & Gamble. Pampers is the No. 2 diaper brand in the world, with revenues of about $19.74 billion in 2022.

The Pampers Club loyalty program is designed to support a specific type of member, such as prospective and current parents of babies up to 36 months old. The loyalty program is available on both the website and the Pampers Club app. This involves providing some basic information such as name, email address, and possibly details about your child (e.g., birthdate) to receive personalized offers. 

Then, customers get access to more than 14 interactive tools, club rewards, as well as educational content in the form of expert advice and practical tips for parents.

Club Rewards uses scan & earn, and it’s a 3-step process where members:

  1. Buy Pampers products and scan QR codes. Whenever users buy Pampers products, such as diapers or wipes, they scan QR codes using the app, which is essential for the next step. 
  2. Earn points. After the receipt is scanned and verified, points are credited to the user's account in the app. The number of points earned can depend on the amount spent or the specific products bought. These points are essentially a form of loyalty currency.
  3. Redeem points. Accumulated points can be redeemed for various rewards. The rewards catalog might include items like free Pampers products, coupons, discounts on baby essentials, or even toys and books for children. Some programs might offer options to donate points to charity.

So, whenever users buy Pampers products, such as diapers or wipes, they keep the receipt, which is essential for the next step.

Pampers Club members save money directly in the app with coupons, offers, and more.

Learn more at the official Pampers Club website.

3. Loyalty rewards catalog

The loyalty rewards catalog allows customers to browse and redeem rewards and benefits the loyalty program offers. It's like a digital store where loyal members can see all the available rewards and find out how to use the loyalty points or reward currency they've earned.

The mechanics of the loyalty rewards catalog are designed to provide buyers with a wide range of enticing rewards and benefits, increasing customer engagement and brand loyalty. The catalog also serves as a platform for companies to show off their offerings and give customers extra value beyond their main products or services.

Loyalty rewards catalog in the 7REWARDS loyalty program

7-ELEVEn is an international chain of convenience retail stores based in Irving, Texas. The chain was founded in 1927 as an ice cream shop in Dallas. It operates franchises and licenses 84,500 stores in 19 countries and territories as of January 2024.

Loyalty rewards in the 7REWARDS program browsed by category.

The 7REWARDS program and the 7-Eleven app offer customers the chance to save money on special deals. With each eligible purchase, customers can earn points that can be redeemed for rewards such as free snacks and drinks. Additionally, the app helps users locate the nearest 7-Eleven store.

Learn more on the 7REWARDS loyalty program website.

4. Loyalty coupons

The loyalty coupons mechanics involves the distribution and redemption of digital coupons as part of a loyalty program. These coupons are specifically designed to incentivize and reward customers for their loyalty and encourage them to make purchases, boost repeat business, and provide an added sense of value and exclusivity.

In addition, the coupons can be used to track customer behavior and preferences, allowing companies to gather data and insights to improve loyalty program strategies further.

Loyalty coupons in the Lidl Plus loyalty program

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG is a globally recognized discount supermarket chain from Germany, boasting over 12,000 stores across Europe and the United States. Its presence spans all European Union countries, including Serbia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

The brand offers a loyalty mobile app known as Lidl Plus, which provides users with various benefits. These include weekly coupons, digital scratch cards for chances to win prizes, a digital loyalty card for collecting personalized rewards, electronic receipts for easy tracking of purchases, a store locator tool, and digital newsletters highlighting the best deals.

Lidl Treats is a feature within the Lidl Plus app that allows users to enjoy weekly in-store savings. Users can browse and activate their preferred coupons on the loyalty platform. At checkout, they simply scan their Lidl Plus digital card to apply these coupons to their purchase, securing immediate discounts. Additionally, the app sends notifications about new deals, ensuring users are always informed about opportunities to save.

Lidl Treats provides loyal customers with new coupons every week
Lidl Treats and weekly in-app loyalty coupons.

Learn more on the Lidl Plus loyalty program website.

5. Dynamically generated tiers

The tiers mechanic in the loyalty mobile app refers to a system where customers are placed into different tiers or "levels" as part of loyalty program membership based on their engagement, spending, or other predefined criteria. These tiers provide varying levels of benefits, rewards, and privileges to customers, encouraging them to continue to engage with the brand, and ultimately solidifying their allegiance and commitment to the brand.

Dynamically generated tiers in the adiClub loyalty program

Adidas AG, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, is a leading global company specializing in athletic apparel and footwear. It ranks as the top sportswear producer in Europe and the second largest globally, trailing only Nike. In 2023, Adidas reported revenues of $23.47 billion.

The company offers the adiClub reward program, which was developed to engage and reward its customers. Through this program, members can accumulate points by engaging in various activities, including completing their profile, making purchases, writing reviews, and using the service actively. These points can then be used to access exclusive giveaways, discover products available only to members, or convert points into discounts on future purchases.

The program is made up of a 4-tier membership structure, with each tier (level) offering a set of benefits and rewards that are progressively more valuable as loyalty members move up the structure.

adiClub Rewards provides 4 levels of membership.

Learn more on the adiClub Rewards program website. 

6. Trackable achievements

The concept of trackable achievements in mobile loyalty apps revolves around establishing specific objectives or benchmarks for members to attain as part of their participation in a loyalty scheme. These objectives are usually linked to particular activities, habits, or spending levels, and offer customers extra rewards or advantages upon successful completion.

The purpose of this feature within loyalty apps is to offer users extra incentives and a feeling of achievement. By implementing goals and compensating loyal customers for their accomplishments, these mechanisms aim to boost customer retention and engagement, foster loyalty, and encourage continuous involvement in the loyalty program.

Trackable achievements in the Chubbies Rewards program

Chubbies Shorts, an online clothing brand based in San Francisco, specializes in men's short shorts and swim trunks. Founded in 2011, the brand experienced significant growth, increasing its net sales from $2.4 million in 2012 to $44.1 million in 2020. This growth reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.8 percent.

The company also offers a loyalty program called Chubbies Rewards. This program allows members to earn points for various activities, including shopping and achieving specific goals. Members can then use these points to get exclusive discounts. The activities that earn points range from creating an account and making a first purchase from a particular collection, to engaging with the brand on social media by liking their Facebook profile or leaving a review.

Chubbies Rewards members earn points for completing goals. Learn more on the Chubbies Rewards program.

7. OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) mechanics in mobile loyalty apps involve the use of technology to extract and process text information from images or documents captured by smartphone cameras. This functionality enables the app to automatically recognize and extract relevant data, such as barcodes, QR codes, receipts, or other textual information, to enhance the user experience and streamline processes within the loyalty program.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in e.l.f. Beauty Squad

e.l.f. Cosmetics, an American brand established in 2004 and headquartered in Oakland, California, offers a wide range of beauty products. Their product lineup includes bath and skin-care items, mineral-based makeup, professional tools, and cosmetics such as eyeliners, lipsticks, glosses, and blushes.

The brand also features the e.l.f. Beauty Squad, a loyalty program designed to reward e.l.f. enthusiasts. Members of the Beauty Squad can accumulate points through purchases of e.l.f. Cosmetics products and engaging in various activities.

Additionally, the e.l.f. Cosmetics & Skincare app enhances the shopping experience for loyal customers, allowing them to earn points for purchases made at any retailer. Clients can simply upload a photo of their receipt or their online order confirmation to receive points.

e.l.f. Beauty Squad members earn points after uploading photos of receipts. 

Learn more on the e.l.f. Beauty Squad website.

Design only successful mobile loyalty programs

So, there you have it – the perfect time to dive into the field of mobile loyalty programs and give your customers a reason to stick around. As showcased by the examples mentioned earlier, a well-crafted mobile loyalty app can do wonders for your scheme and customer retention.

With a compelling loyalty offering, a thoughtful selection of loyalty mechanisms, a refined loyalty app interface, and, most importantly, a nuanced 360-degree view of the customer base, mobile applications help take any business to new heights. 

And if you're just starting out, don't feel pressured to go all-in from the get-go! Taking smaller, thoughtful steps with one or two loyalty mechanics can be just as effective. After all, the idea isn’t to jam-pack loyalty mobile apps with features for the sake of features. Instead, any such developments must always revolve around the loyal customers and the value they can derive from your app, so the experiences you create genuinely resonate.

Use the grasped insights to build customer journeys that not only captivate even the most discerning customers, keeping competitors at bay, but also enhance the overall value your business brings to its loyal patrons.

If you want to get inspired by brands like Pampers, Starbucks, Tchibo, or H&M, download our Top 10 loyalty mobile apps benchmarking study: Top 10 mobile loyalty applications.

Also, check the complete guide dedicated to planning, setting up, and launching a successful loyalty program prepared by loyalty experts: Loyalty program implementation: checklist and good practices.

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7 mobile loyalty app features used by top brands to build great customer experiences

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Irek Klimczak
Content & Partnerships Manager
7 mobile loyalty app features used by tops brands to build great customer experiences
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The whole mobile app scene has really shaken things up, making life easier and giving a solid boost to those traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Most importantly, mobile applications enabled businesses to build meaningful client relationships, drive repeat sales, and ultimately cement loyalty.

Now, studies are shouting it out loud – people are super into loyalty programs, especially if they can access them through a mobile app. As such, a dedicated mobile loyalty program is a powerful tool capable of far more than incentivizing purchases. Most crucially, it serves as a communication channel, allowing businesses to improve the customer experience while continually learning about loyalty members’ needs and preferences to optimize and maximize the value of its offerings.

In this article, we'll dive into how some of the best loyalty programs out there work. The big secret? These programs have apps that match the business's style and offer great loyalty features, for example, points, coupons and vouchers, and rewards catalogs.

Also, you’ll find here seven examples of popular mobile loyalty apps as inspiration for designing your scheme. As you'll see, most of the mobile apps listed use similar mechanics configurations to provide unique customer experiences.

When designing your mobile customer loyalty program, you can use some of the most popular features described below and throw in something truly unique to the mix to give you an edge over your increasingly crafty competition.

Key takeaways

  • Mobile loyalty programs continue to gain popularity due to the widespread use of smartphones and the growing integration of mobile technology across industries.
  • Consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if it's available through a mobile app.
  • The most popular mobile customer loyalty programs are built using standard loyalty mechanics configured to achieve set goals. In this way, it's possible to create a mobile loyalty program using typical mechanisms and still provide a more personalized customer experience that resonates with a loyal customer base.
  • Only a few schemes are using original approaches to mobile customer loyalty experiences. There's much room for innovation, especially in harnessing the true potential of mobile apps for loyalty program success.

What is mobile loyalty?

Mobile loyalty refers to a customer loyalty program or strategy that leverages mobile technology to engage and retain customers.

These programs reward clients for their continued business and can be accessed through mobile apps, SMS/text messages, or mobile websites. It's a smart way for businesses to encourage people to keep visiting to earn some benefits for their loyalty, all through smartphones.

Let's browse the key features of mobile loyalty programs from the following areas:

  • Rewards and incentives
  • Personalization
  • Convenience
  • Customer engagement
  • Data collection and analysis

Rewards and incentives

Who doesn't love earning points, snagging discounts, or unlocking special treats just for shopping or dropping by their favorite spot? Mobile loyalty programs are all about giving back to your customers. People can redeem rewards, check out the latest deals, refer a friend, or just keep an eye on those points stacking up – all through an app or online.

Personalization

Mobile loyalty programs often use customer data to tailor offers and communications to individual preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This personal touch not only makes the shopping experience better but also keeps engagement levels high.

Convenience

Gone are the days of carrying around several of loyalty cards or forgetting them at home. By using mobile devices, these programs offer customers the convenience of accessing their loyalty information, rewards, and offers anytime and anywhere. They can check out their rewards balance during a coffee break or redeem an offer while lounging at home.

Customer engagement

Mobile loyalty programs are like a direct line between your brand and your audience, ensuring they're always in the loop with the latest news, offers, and product drops. They provide a direct communication channel with customers, allowing for timely and relevant interactions. This includes push notifications, reminders about offers, and updates about new products or services.

Data collection and analysis

These programs enable businesses to collect valuable data on people's behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns. For businesses, it's a goldmine of info about what makes customers tick, helping them to fine-tune their offers and services. This data-driven approach means better deals for you and smarter strategies for them — a win-win!

Mobile loyalty programs are widely used in various industries, including retail, hospitality, airlines, and food services, to enhance customer loyalty, increase repeat business, and collect valuable insights. They truly represent a shift from traditional loyalty cards or paper-based systems to a more integrated and interactive customer experience.

How has mobile technology affected customer loyalty?

Mobile technology has really changed the game when it comes to how businesses and customers interact, especially concerning customer loyalty. Let's dive into how this transformation has unfolded.

First off, smartphones and apps have become central to our daily lives, haven't they? This shift has allowed businesses to stay connected with their target audience like never before. Companies can now send personalized offers and updates directly to customers' phones. This kind of direct engagement wasn't as easy or effective before mobile technology took off.

Moreover, mobile technology has made gathering and analyzing customer data more straightforward. Businesses can track app usage, purchase history, and even location data to tailor their services and offers. This personalized approach helps people feel more valued and understood, fostering affinity. 

Another big change is in how rewards programs are run. Remember the days of carrying around physical loyalty cards? Now, it's all digital. With apps, businesses can offer rewards and loyalty points seamlessly. People love the convenience of having everything on their phones, making them more likely to stick with a brand that makes life easier.

Let's not forget about social media usage. It's a huge part of mobile technology and plays a significant role in customer loyalty. Brands can engage with buyers directly, address their concerns, and build a community around their products or services. This direct line of communication and the sense of belonging it creates can really boost loyalty.

Finally, the ease of accessing information and making comparisons on mobile devices means businesses have to work harder to keep their shoppers. This competition can be seen as a positive push for companies to continuously improve their offerings and customer service.

So, in a nutshell, mobile technology has made customer loyalty more dynamic. It's no longer just about the product or service but also about the experience and relationship a brand builds with its buyers through these digital tools.

What about you? How would you describe the role of mobile apps in your overall brand loyalty strategy?

7 mobile loyalty app features used by top brands to build great customer experiences

Irek Klimczak
Irek Klimczak
Content & Partnerships Manager
7 mobile loyalty app features used by tops brands to build great customer experiences

The whole mobile app scene has really shaken things up, making life easier and giving a solid boost to those traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Most importantly, mobile applications enabled businesses to build meaningful client relationships, drive repeat sales, and ultimately cement loyalty.

Now, studies are shouting it out loud – people are super into loyalty programs, especially if they can access them through a mobile app. As such, a dedicated mobile loyalty program is a powerful tool capable of far more than incentivizing purchases. Most crucially, it serves as a communication channel, allowing businesses to improve the customer experience while continually learning about loyalty members’ needs and preferences to optimize and maximize the value of its offerings.

In this article, we'll dive into how some of the best loyalty programs out there work. The big secret? These programs have apps that match the business's style and offer great loyalty features, for example, points, coupons and vouchers, and rewards catalogs.

Also, you’ll find here seven examples of popular mobile loyalty apps as inspiration for designing your scheme. As you'll see, most of the mobile apps listed use similar mechanics configurations to provide unique customer experiences.

When designing your mobile customer loyalty program, you can use some of the most popular features described below and throw in something truly unique to the mix to give you an edge over your increasingly crafty competition.

Key takeaways

  • Mobile loyalty programs continue to gain popularity due to the widespread use of smartphones and the growing integration of mobile technology across industries.
  • Consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if it's available through a mobile app.
  • The most popular mobile customer loyalty programs are built using standard loyalty mechanics configured to achieve set goals. In this way, it's possible to create a mobile loyalty program using typical mechanisms and still provide a more personalized customer experience that resonates with a loyal customer base.
  • Only a few schemes are using original approaches to mobile customer loyalty experiences. There's much room for innovation, especially in harnessing the true potential of mobile apps for loyalty program success.

What is mobile loyalty?

Mobile loyalty refers to a customer loyalty program or strategy that leverages mobile technology to engage and retain customers.

These programs reward clients for their continued business and can be accessed through mobile apps, SMS/text messages, or mobile websites. It's a smart way for businesses to encourage people to keep visiting to earn some benefits for their loyalty, all through smartphones.

Let's browse the key features of mobile loyalty programs from the following areas:

  • Rewards and incentives
  • Personalization
  • Convenience
  • Customer engagement
  • Data collection and analysis

Rewards and incentives

Who doesn't love earning points, snagging discounts, or unlocking special treats just for shopping or dropping by their favorite spot? Mobile loyalty programs are all about giving back to your customers. People can redeem rewards, check out the latest deals, refer a friend, or just keep an eye on those points stacking up – all through an app or online.

Personalization

Mobile loyalty programs often use customer data to tailor offers and communications to individual preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This personal touch not only makes the shopping experience better but also keeps engagement levels high.

Convenience

Gone are the days of carrying around several of loyalty cards or forgetting them at home. By using mobile devices, these programs offer customers the convenience of accessing their loyalty information, rewards, and offers anytime and anywhere. They can check out their rewards balance during a coffee break or redeem an offer while lounging at home.

Customer engagement

Mobile loyalty programs are like a direct line between your brand and your audience, ensuring they're always in the loop with the latest news, offers, and product drops. They provide a direct communication channel with customers, allowing for timely and relevant interactions. This includes push notifications, reminders about offers, and updates about new products or services.

Data collection and analysis

These programs enable businesses to collect valuable data on people's behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns. For businesses, it's a goldmine of info about what makes customers tick, helping them to fine-tune their offers and services. This data-driven approach means better deals for you and smarter strategies for them — a win-win!

Mobile loyalty programs are widely used in various industries, including retail, hospitality, airlines, and food services, to enhance customer loyalty, increase repeat business, and collect valuable insights. They truly represent a shift from traditional loyalty cards or paper-based systems to a more integrated and interactive customer experience.

How has mobile technology affected customer loyalty?

Mobile technology has really changed the game when it comes to how businesses and customers interact, especially concerning customer loyalty. Let's dive into how this transformation has unfolded.

First off, smartphones and apps have become central to our daily lives, haven't they? This shift has allowed businesses to stay connected with their target audience like never before. Companies can now send personalized offers and updates directly to customers' phones. This kind of direct engagement wasn't as easy or effective before mobile technology took off.

Moreover, mobile technology has made gathering and analyzing customer data more straightforward. Businesses can track app usage, purchase history, and even location data to tailor their services and offers. This personalized approach helps people feel more valued and understood, fostering affinity. 

Another big change is in how rewards programs are run. Remember the days of carrying around physical loyalty cards? Now, it's all digital. With apps, businesses can offer rewards and loyalty points seamlessly. People love the convenience of having everything on their phones, making them more likely to stick with a brand that makes life easier.

Let's not forget about social media usage. It's a huge part of mobile technology and plays a significant role in customer loyalty. Brands can engage with buyers directly, address their concerns, and build a community around their products or services. This direct line of communication and the sense of belonging it creates can really boost loyalty.

Finally, the ease of accessing information and making comparisons on mobile devices means businesses have to work harder to keep their shoppers. This competition can be seen as a positive push for companies to continuously improve their offerings and customer service.

So, in a nutshell, mobile technology has made customer loyalty more dynamic. It's no longer just about the product or service but also about the experience and relationship a brand builds with its buyers through these digital tools.

What about you? How would you describe the role of mobile apps in your overall brand loyalty strategy?

7 mobile app features in some of the most popular loyalty programs

In this section, we'll examine seven essential features found in highly effective mobile loyalty programs. By dissecting the intricate layers of innovation, we aim to uncover the elements that drive these initiatives to unparalleled success in supporting customer longevity.

Now, let's explore the domain of mobile app features that serve as the foundation for customer-centric strategies, cultivating enduring relationships between brands and their discerning audience. Below is a list of loyalty mobile app features that drive customer engagement and deliver advantages for businesses and users.

1. Digital loyalty card identifier

Mobile loyalty apps provide a convenient way to engage in a loyalty program directly from a smartphone. The shift from physical loyalty cards and stamps to loyalty apps undeniably makes life easier for customers. They can genuinely engage with the program by quickly accessing rewards, tracking their points, redeeming offers, and receiving personalized promotions anytime, anywhere.

From a business perspective, loyalty applications generate valuable data on customer behavior, like preferences, purchase patterns, activation and churn rates, and more. Such data can be analyzed to provide insights into customer trends that companies can use to refine their marketing strategies, personalize offers, and improve customer satisfaction.

Digital loyalty card identifier in the Starbucks® Rewards program 

The digital loyalty card identifier in the Starbucks® app, as part of the Starbucks® Rewards program, is essentially a unique code or number assigned to a customer's account within the app. This identifier distinguishes the customer's account from others and is linked to the customer's personal Starbucks® Rewards membership. 

The digital loyalty card identifier acts as a unique digital signature for the customer's Starbucks® Rewards account. It tracks the customer's purchases, manages their rewards, and personalizes their experience with Starbucks®.

Every time a customer purchases at Starbucks® using the app, the digital loyalty card identifier helps accurately record the transaction to their rewards account. This tracking enables Starbucks® to allocate rewards points (Stars) based on the amount spent.

Starbucks® rewards points (Stars). Source: https://nypost.com/2022/12/30/starbucks-to-change-number-of-rewards-stars-needed-for-free-drinks/  

With the digital identifier, customers don't need to carry a physical loyalty card. Instead, they present their mobile device with the Starbucks® app when they make a purchase. The app can be scanned at the register, ensuring that their reward points are automatically updated.

The app, coupled with the digital loyalty card identifier, facilitates mobile orders and payments. This feature allows customers to order ahead, skip the line, and pay directly from their mobile device, enhancing the convenience of their Starbucks® experience.

The Starbucks® loyalty mobile apps for iPhone and Android
The Starbucks® app is available for iPhone and Android. 

The digital loyalty card identifier allows Starbucks® to customize the experience by tracking the customer's preferences and previous orders. This data helps offer personalized discounts, birthday rewards, and suggestions tailored to the customer's tastes.

The identifier also plays a role in securing the customer's account. It ensures that rewards points and personal offers are only accessible through their account, safeguarding against unauthorized use.

Learn more on the Starbucks® app website.

2. Scan & earn: collecting QR codes on Pampers packs

The "scan and earn" mechanic in mobile loyalty apps involves customers scanning specific items, QR codes, or barcodes to earn rewards and in-app currency such as points. The mechanism uses the smartphone's camera function to scan and capture information, which is then transferred to the loyalty program and rewards system.

For companies, such a mechanic helps increase engagement and improve interactions, as customers actively participate in scanning activities. It also allows companies to gather valuable data on people's behavior, product preferences, and buying patterns.

For loyalty program members, the mechanics of scanning and earning provide gamification, making the loyalty program more interactive and enjoyable. It allows them to earn rewards or points tangibly and immediately, encouraging continued participation and loyalty. 

Scan & earn in the Pampers Club mobile loyalty program

The first loyalty program comes from Pampers, an American brand of infant and toddler products sold by Procter & Gamble. Pampers is the No. 2 diaper brand in the world, with revenues of about $19.74 billion in 2022.

The Pampers Club loyalty program is designed to support a specific type of member, such as prospective and current parents of babies up to 36 months old. The loyalty program is available on both the website and the Pampers Club app. This involves providing some basic information such as name, email address, and possibly details about your child (e.g., birthdate) to receive personalized offers. 

Then, customers get access to more than 14 interactive tools, club rewards, as well as educational content in the form of expert advice and practical tips for parents.

Club Rewards uses scan & earn, and it’s a 3-step process where members:

  1. Buy Pampers products and scan QR codes. Whenever users buy Pampers products, such as diapers or wipes, they scan QR codes using the app, which is essential for the next step. 
  2. Earn points. After the receipt is scanned and verified, points are credited to the user's account in the app. The number of points earned can depend on the amount spent or the specific products bought. These points are essentially a form of loyalty currency.
  3. Redeem points. Accumulated points can be redeemed for various rewards. The rewards catalog might include items like free Pampers products, coupons, discounts on baby essentials, or even toys and books for children. Some programs might offer options to donate points to charity.

So, whenever users buy Pampers products, such as diapers or wipes, they keep the receipt, which is essential for the next step.

Pampers Club members save money directly in the app with coupons, offers, and more.

Learn more at the official Pampers Club website.

3. Loyalty rewards catalog

The loyalty rewards catalog allows customers to browse and redeem rewards and benefits the loyalty program offers. It's like a digital store where loyal members can see all the available rewards and find out how to use the loyalty points or reward currency they've earned.

The mechanics of the loyalty rewards catalog are designed to provide buyers with a wide range of enticing rewards and benefits, increasing customer engagement and brand loyalty. The catalog also serves as a platform for companies to show off their offerings and give customers extra value beyond their main products or services.

Loyalty rewards catalog in the 7REWARDS loyalty program

7-ELEVEn is an international chain of convenience retail stores based in Irving, Texas. The chain was founded in 1927 as an ice cream shop in Dallas. It operates franchises and licenses 84,500 stores in 19 countries and territories as of January 2024.

Loyalty rewards in the 7REWARDS program browsed by category.

The 7REWARDS program and the 7-Eleven app offer customers the chance to save money on special deals. With each eligible purchase, customers can earn points that can be redeemed for rewards such as free snacks and drinks. Additionally, the app helps users locate the nearest 7-Eleven store.

Learn more on the 7REWARDS loyalty program website.

4. Loyalty coupons

The loyalty coupons mechanics involves the distribution and redemption of digital coupons as part of a loyalty program. These coupons are specifically designed to incentivize and reward customers for their loyalty and encourage them to make purchases, boost repeat business, and provide an added sense of value and exclusivity.

In addition, the coupons can be used to track customer behavior and preferences, allowing companies to gather data and insights to improve loyalty program strategies further.

Loyalty coupons in the Lidl Plus loyalty program

Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG is a globally recognized discount supermarket chain from Germany, boasting over 12,000 stores across Europe and the United States. Its presence spans all European Union countries, including Serbia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.

The brand offers a loyalty mobile app known as Lidl Plus, which provides users with various benefits. These include weekly coupons, digital scratch cards for chances to win prizes, a digital loyalty card for collecting personalized rewards, electronic receipts for easy tracking of purchases, a store locator tool, and digital newsletters highlighting the best deals.

Lidl Treats is a feature within the Lidl Plus app that allows users to enjoy weekly in-store savings. Users can browse and activate their preferred coupons on the loyalty platform. At checkout, they simply scan their Lidl Plus digital card to apply these coupons to their purchase, securing immediate discounts. Additionally, the app sends notifications about new deals, ensuring users are always informed about opportunities to save.

Lidl Treats provides loyal customers with new coupons every week
Lidl Treats and weekly in-app loyalty coupons.

Learn more on the Lidl Plus loyalty program website.

5. Dynamically generated tiers

The tiers mechanic in the loyalty mobile app refers to a system where customers are placed into different tiers or "levels" as part of loyalty program membership based on their engagement, spending, or other predefined criteria. These tiers provide varying levels of benefits, rewards, and privileges to customers, encouraging them to continue to engage with the brand, and ultimately solidifying their allegiance and commitment to the brand.

Dynamically generated tiers in the adiClub loyalty program

Adidas AG, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, is a leading global company specializing in athletic apparel and footwear. It ranks as the top sportswear producer in Europe and the second largest globally, trailing only Nike. In 2023, Adidas reported revenues of $23.47 billion.

The company offers the adiClub reward program, which was developed to engage and reward its customers. Through this program, members can accumulate points by engaging in various activities, including completing their profile, making purchases, writing reviews, and using the service actively. These points can then be used to access exclusive giveaways, discover products available only to members, or convert points into discounts on future purchases.

The program is made up of a 4-tier membership structure, with each tier (level) offering a set of benefits and rewards that are progressively more valuable as loyalty members move up the structure.

adiClub Rewards provides 4 levels of membership.

Learn more on the adiClub Rewards program website. 

6. Trackable achievements

The concept of trackable achievements in mobile loyalty apps revolves around establishing specific objectives or benchmarks for members to attain as part of their participation in a loyalty scheme. These objectives are usually linked to particular activities, habits, or spending levels, and offer customers extra rewards or advantages upon successful completion.

The purpose of this feature within loyalty apps is to offer users extra incentives and a feeling of achievement. By implementing goals and compensating loyal customers for their accomplishments, these mechanisms aim to boost customer retention and engagement, foster loyalty, and encourage continuous involvement in the loyalty program.

Trackable achievements in the Chubbies Rewards program

Chubbies Shorts, an online clothing brand based in San Francisco, specializes in men's short shorts and swim trunks. Founded in 2011, the brand experienced significant growth, increasing its net sales from $2.4 million in 2012 to $44.1 million in 2020. This growth reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.8 percent.

The company also offers a loyalty program called Chubbies Rewards. This program allows members to earn points for various activities, including shopping and achieving specific goals. Members can then use these points to get exclusive discounts. The activities that earn points range from creating an account and making a first purchase from a particular collection, to engaging with the brand on social media by liking their Facebook profile or leaving a review.

Chubbies Rewards members earn points for completing goals. Learn more on the Chubbies Rewards program.

7. OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) mechanics in mobile loyalty apps involve the use of technology to extract and process text information from images or documents captured by smartphone cameras. This functionality enables the app to automatically recognize and extract relevant data, such as barcodes, QR codes, receipts, or other textual information, to enhance the user experience and streamline processes within the loyalty program.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in e.l.f. Beauty Squad

e.l.f. Cosmetics, an American brand established in 2004 and headquartered in Oakland, California, offers a wide range of beauty products. Their product lineup includes bath and skin-care items, mineral-based makeup, professional tools, and cosmetics such as eyeliners, lipsticks, glosses, and blushes.

The brand also features the e.l.f. Beauty Squad, a loyalty program designed to reward e.l.f. enthusiasts. Members of the Beauty Squad can accumulate points through purchases of e.l.f. Cosmetics products and engaging in various activities.

Additionally, the e.l.f. Cosmetics & Skincare app enhances the shopping experience for loyal customers, allowing them to earn points for purchases made at any retailer. Clients can simply upload a photo of their receipt or their online order confirmation to receive points.

e.l.f. Beauty Squad members earn points after uploading photos of receipts. 

Learn more on the e.l.f. Beauty Squad website.

Design only successful mobile loyalty programs

So, there you have it – the perfect time to dive into the field of mobile loyalty programs and give your customers a reason to stick around. As showcased by the examples mentioned earlier, a well-crafted mobile loyalty app can do wonders for your scheme and customer retention.

With a compelling loyalty offering, a thoughtful selection of loyalty mechanisms, a refined loyalty app interface, and, most importantly, a nuanced 360-degree view of the customer base, mobile applications help take any business to new heights. 

And if you're just starting out, don't feel pressured to go all-in from the get-go! Taking smaller, thoughtful steps with one or two loyalty mechanics can be just as effective. After all, the idea isn’t to jam-pack loyalty mobile apps with features for the sake of features. Instead, any such developments must always revolve around the loyal customers and the value they can derive from your app, so the experiences you create genuinely resonate.

Use the grasped insights to build customer journeys that not only captivate even the most discerning customers, keeping competitors at bay, but also enhance the overall value your business brings to its loyal patrons.

If you want to get inspired by brands like Pampers, Starbucks, Tchibo, or H&M, download our Top 10 loyalty mobile apps benchmarking study: Top 10 mobile loyalty applications.

Also, check the complete guide dedicated to planning, setting up, and launching a successful loyalty program prepared by loyalty experts: Loyalty program implementation: checklist and good practices.

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