Is your loyalty programme tech-enabled? 4 ways Irish brands are winning customer loyalty digitally

Today’s consumer is fickle. As belts tighten and the cost of living crisis continues, brand loyalty is hard-won. Consumers have a renewed focus on value. Almost all industries are busy strategising how to reduce churn and how to acquire new customers, but this is especially true of utility, telcom, mortgage and insurance providers.

Some utility brands find it challenging to incentivise cost-motivated customers, but loyalty programmes can play a big part in reducing churn and attracting new business. In a high-churn climate, brands must resonate, must create emotional attachment, and also give frequently and meaningfully.

But the landscape of loyalty has changed: brands must also be digital-first. How do leading Irish brands utlise technology and relationships to do this? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Algorithm Technology

At a basic level, competition algorithms can select winners from a group of participants, based on a preset criteria. Algorithms can be as basic as impartially selecting a winner in a lottery-style mechanism, but progressive brands usually want more. Specially-designed programmes can sift through high volumes of entries. So say 500,000 entries are logged, the system can allocate 2,000 prizes across segments, ensuring no repeat prizes go to the same customer, and that repeat customers don’t nab the lion’s share of available swag.

This has been very effective for Vodafone Ireland’s Shake to Win campaign, which has seen nearly 150k prizes – such as Free European Flights, Free Now taxi vouchers, Free minutes, Cadbury’s chocolates and vouchers for Irish brands – distributed to a broad base of customers across ‘bill pay’ and ‘pay as you go’ segments. When it comes to competitions, more advanced algorithms can compare scores of entrants and can allocate a prize to the highest one, arranging them in descending order, and can weigh up multiple criteria to make an impartial decision. Brands also want that all-important back-end access where they can pull reports on prize categories, entrants and winners and can cross-reference them with their own CRM to devise further retargeted marketing campaigns.

2. Gamification

Using design elements of gaming technology is increasingly popular in loyalty programmes. Gamification is shown to significantly increase customer engagement, and contribute to a general feel-good factor. It often comes in the form of earning points for purchases, gaining badges for particular milestones and competing against other customers. For these campaigns, clients need instant dashboard access so that they can see in real-time what’s happening, and can retarget comms effectively, for example when a large prize – like a car – hasn’t been won yet messaging can be very specific.

Today’s budget-conscious consumer is focused on reducing variable expenses and the weekly food shop is in the firing line. In a recent report on the new wave of gamification in supermarket loyalty schemes, The Grocer cited that more than two thirds of those who are loyal to a brand would like a loyalty programme in return, and in a crowded and competitive market, any old loyalty scheme won’t do. Innovation is a must. Last June, SuperValu launched their Scan to Win monthly prize draw and invited customers, through a variety of owned channels to enter the draw by answering a simple Test of Skill question through the Real Rewards app/website. Over the course of 7 full campaigns in 2022, results increased every month with entrants up 40% between the June and December prize draws. SuperValu store staff also reported a great buzz among customers as Scan to Win encourages Real Rewards card use and gives customer another reason to scan their Rewards card/app.

3. Affinity Partnerships

Airlines have wrung the benefits of affinity partnerships for decades. Think of successful air mile programmes with credit card companies, hotel affiliations and car hire discounts. These strategic alliances make sense, offering customers exclusive prices, benefits and rewards to drive customer engagement and loyalty. Each partner also expands their customer base by leveraging the reach of the other. Both in business and our personal lives, good relationships take time, but there can be shortcuts. Over the last decade, we’ve worked with 2,500 travel, lifestyle and leisure clients, and have an in-house team product development team negotiating offers for our clients. This brings speed to market.

Recent standout collaborations in Ireland have seen Vodafone Ireland partner with Odeon cinemas for Vodafone Fantastic Days. By integrating both brand’s and Sweete’s technology, cinema tickets are seamlessly connected to handsets seeing 100% of available ticket codes claimed in the MyVodafone app each week, while app visits increased 150% when ticket codes were live. In all partnerships, transparency in reporting is key. Both partners must have access to key data through custom dashboards so that they can track ROI accurately.

4. WhatsApp

According to Statista, the WhatsApp messaging app is used by 84.6% of internet users in Ireland. By incorporating WhatsApp into your campaign, you’re making it even easier for consumers to opt-in. Customers are mobile-first and want rewards on the fly, and digitally. WhatsApp is especially effective for short-term tactical promotions. For example, Coca-Cola Hellenic, runs strategic six to eight-week bursts around rugby and football tournaments utlising the messaging app. For promotions run through WhatsApp, synching with internal systems means it’s possible to match with a brand’s consumer segments and deliver relevant offers to each different customer category. This means there is no need for manual – and tedious – cross referencing.

5. Localise, localise, localise

All too often what we see in Ireland is large brands copy and pasting loyalty programmes from the UK to the Irish market. These multinationals often have skeleton marketing teams here who must take their lead from teams elsewhere. This is how we see free tickets for UK theme parks and family days out on packaging here. Of course, any loyalty campaign that requires overseas travel in claiming prizes will see limited engagement. Offers to customers must be meaningful and localised to provide value.

Herbal Essence is a brand who understand localisation and have engaged Sweete’s partnerships network to work with leading beauty salons and spas across the country for a campaign encouraging customers to ‘buy two and get a free beauty treatment’. The mechanism for this campaign sees customers upload a snap of their receipt to a microsite as proof of purchase, and customers are then emailed their treatment voucher. Interested in driving customer loyalty and increasing staff retention? Contact Sweete today

About Sweete

Sweete is Ireland’s leading sales promotion agency, specialising in reward incentive and loyalty programmes, bringing fresh thinking, great ideas and best-in-class technology. By investing significantly in technology over the last number of years, we offer a range of reward solutions to our clients, all with innovative fulfillment processes for end users. Our sister company is Gift House, which helps companies to reward and delight their staff with gifts and experiences.


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