Everyone likes to have their loyalty rewarded. While there are many ways to reward loyalty, some are simply more effective than others. At work would you rather get a firm handshake for your hard work? Or would you want something that gives recognition of your hard work?
Customers react the same way when it comes to the rewards offered by being a part of a loyalty program.
Companies are still trying to figure out the “best” way to reward customers and keep brand loyalty; community engagement remains one of the most effective ways. By increasing the way customers interact with the brand, as well as each other; rewards have more meaning and help create longer lasting customer relationships. Your online community is an integral part of increasing engagement between customers and your brand.
While it may be “bad parenting” to make kids compete for your love; your community actually does respond to it very well. You’ve seen some form of gamification at work and not even realized it.
The base methodology of a loyalty program starts with the members of a community given a set of actions to complete for which they will receive “points”. This can allow members to earn a certain hierarchy levels, which can foster a healthy sense of competition. Gamification is used from simple web forums, to more well-known online communities; such as Reddit with their top posts and users’ karma points.
Gamification and You: How to Stay Engaged
In essence, gamification creates an incentive for users to engage with, and maintain an active level of participation in the community. Properly set up, it rewards member engagement while also promoting it.
Remember, a good community is primarily member driven. The more active, responsible, and engaged members are, the stronger a community is.
Giveaway: Appropriate Prizes
Just as you expect to be fairly compensated for your loyalty, your customers need more than just a “cookie” to feel rewarded. You don’t have to “give away the farm”, but if members don’t feel like the reward matches the required effort, they won’t be loyal for long.
An easy way to reward member engagement is through the use of badges. Badges are specifically designed for certain milestones, and provide an easy way to measure loyalty.
If badges aren’t enough, your reward system can use them to determine who is offered discounts on products or early access to new features. For community members, the prestige of being recognized is usually enough; which is where public leaderboards that recognize your top contributing members come in. For communities where users are interested in increasing their own standing, this is key.
Match Their Engagement
As is the case in any type of relationship, the effort can’t be one sided. While a community is largely member-driven, but there must also be effort from your brand. Actively engaged customers expect the brand to be just as engaged. This is why social media accounts are an easy way to build customer loyalty, primarily due to the easy back-and-forth structure of communication. In the same way, when a community is hosted on an online forum, members expect more brand participation, and engagement and interaction between the brand and community members.
Remember, these community members are fans of your brand! They want to be able to communicate directly with the brand in addition to the engagement between members. When members see a brand is just as active in the community, they take it to heart and will stay longer. This is why continuous effective community management is extremely important, especially in the early days.
Value Your Members!
It isn’t enough to buy your members love, or to be a viewer as members interact and try and outdo each other. When members feel that their loyalty is truly valued, the community won’t feel like a gimmick. By measuring loyalty, rewarding it accordingly, and staying active and engaged, you increase the strength and health of your community which will then stretch its longevity.