By: Billy Collins, Wipfli Digital

The average American is a member of 16 loyalty programs but only actively uses seven of them. What does that say about the other nine?

That these programs weren’t engaging enough to warrant repeat use — or users’ experiences with them were unenjoyable or lacking. Loyalty programs fail when they don’t resonate with users or accurately address their needs. 


The loyalty program concept has been adapted across industries and verticals, from travel and hospitality to food and retail. Most loyalty programs award points for purchases or issue coupons and discounts to returning customers to build long-term engagement.

When executed well, loyalty programs can help you retain customers and boost profits. Nearly all customers (95%) feel “close” to brands with loyalty programs. And about 75% of customers prefer brands that offer rewards.


Emerging digital capabilities have ushered in new a new era of loyalty program possibilities. Brands have enhanced, real-time opportunities to engage with their customer base.

Apps and mobile sites can now:

  • Deploy targeted, individualized push notifications that anticipate a customer’s unique need.
  • Dynamically create data-driven customer segments and follow up with them to ensure promotions are acted upon.
  • Predict customer intent and offer rapid avenues to purchase.
  • Use gamification techniques to encourage repeat usage and boost engagement.
  • Leverage AI to create just-in-time campaigns with little to no human involvement.

And that’s just the start.


If your current loyalty program isn’t netting the returns you anticipated, you may need to reevaluate your approach. Recast your loyalty program with digital CX in mind to create a platform that’s engaging and fun — and builds long-term brand loyalty.

These seven tips can help you increase loyalty program participation and sales with digital-driven CX:

1. Make the benefits obvious and accessible

Make sure the perks of your program are clear, so users immediately sense the advantage of using your loyalty program — and using it frequently. And don’t hide the program from customers. In fact, consider requiring all front-line employees to talk with customers directly about the program during every encounter.

2. Deliver personalized messaging

With today’s technology, you can deliver highly individualized communications to targeted users — so don’t settle for an outdated, one-size-fits-all marketing approach. Customers expect and prefer personalized offers based on their browsing and purchase history. They’re also more willing to provide their personal data when it’s used to create tailored offers. 

3. Appeal to multiple types of customers

Study your company’s typical users and their needs. How does your brand intersect with their daily lives? What do different customer segments expect from a loyalty program? And which perks would they be most excited about? Once you’ve answered these questions, develop incentives that appeal to several personas and spending thresholds.

4. Incentivize repeat use

Make it fun for users to engage with you. Brands can borrow best practices from game design to boost engagement and keep users coming back for more. Gamification connects incentives to user behavior, so customers are motivated to earn rewards. Consider how existing components of your loyalty program could be gamified to encourage participation.  

5. Understand customer goals

Your app and mobile sites should be agile enough to address multiple user goals. For example, some customers might visit to place an order or log loyalty points, while others want to research products or chat with a customer service representative. Your digital design must be flexible enough for everyone to reach their goals — whatever they may be — quickly and easily.

6. Maximize micro-sessions

Users typically engage with digital products in short bursts — “micro-moments” —between meetings or in the school pickup line. Loyalty programs that work well are optimized for quick, frequent usage throughout the day.

7. Avoid overkill

Personalized messaging is good. Too much of it isn’t. Overzealous push notifications cause customers to delete an app. Too much advertising can lead them to hit the “uninstall” button, too. Strike a balance between being helpful and informative — but not overly intrusive — when you develop a messaging plan for your loyalty program.

By recasting your loyalty program with these key CX deliverables in mind, you can develop a digital-driven loyalty platform that is engaging and fun to use — and that builds true, long-term brand loyalty among your client base.


Wipfli can help your company build a digital that’s responsive to customer needs and your business objectives. Our digital solutions make it simple for you to deploy sophisticated technology across the enterprise. 

Contact us today to learn how we can help you grow with digital services. Sign up here to receive more Wipfli content directly to your inbox.