Smart VIP reward program ideas you can learn from

VIP customers truly are very important people. According to a recent infographic from SelfStartr, it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep one. This should come as little surprise to ecommerce stores – loyalty and VIP programs have been on the rise for businesses across all verticals.

Once you have identified your VIP customers, you’ll need a plan of attack to keep them engaged, happy, and purchasing regularly. These are several tactics we’ve seen to successfully keep your VIP customers coming back for more.

Run exclusive sales & perks

The first tactic is to run exclusive sales and perks for members of your VIP or loyalty program. These promotions can include member only sales, extra discounts, or upgrades like free shipping.

REI: Co-op Garage Sale

How it works: Outdoor clothing company REI offers customers a membership program they call the REI co-op. Membership benefits include 10% back on every purchase, special pricing on classes and activities as well as access to their members-only Garage Sale. The REI Garage Sale is a semi-annual event where they offer steep discounts (think 40% off) on merchandise that has been returned. For this rewards program, REI charges a one-time $20 fee for a lifetime membership which they claim can easily pay for itself with one big purchase.

Why it’s smart: This program is a great tactic by REI to extend extra savings to customers as well as clear out all of their returned merchandise.

Downside: Garage Sales only happen in brick and mortar stores, meaning if you aren’t near a local store you can’t take advantage of this perk.

Open sales early

Give your VIP customers access to sales early so they can be the first to pick from sizes, colors, and popular items.

J Brand: The VIP Treatment

How it works: J Brand, a stylish clothier, sends early access email campaigns to VIP customers before they launch the sale to their entire email list.

Why it’s smart: They understand their audience well. J Brand has added a layer of urgency to their copy: “Your early access ends soon- 30% of full-priced styles.” It’s a beautiful email with an air of exclusivity and a nice call to action.

How to apply it to your store: Create a segment for customer’s you consider VIP and send them an advanced communication of an upcoming sale or promotion.

 American Express: Early on sales

How it works: American Express offers card holders early access to concerts and events with their Early on Sales program when using their AMEX card, before they go on sale to the general public through Ticketmaster. They also offer preferred seating, if you want to get some of the best seats in the house.

Why it’s smart: For someone who is really into concerts, this is a perk that is likely worth the somewhat high annual fee that comes with carrying an American Express credit card. This program is also smart for the partnership it utilizes with Ticketmaster.

Create a point system

Another great VIP tactic is setting up a points system. Customers accumulate points with each purchase. Once they’ve accumulated a certain number of points, they can redeem a gift, discount, or promotion.

Point systems really run the gamut in turns of complexity. Some programs like DAVIDsTEA offer a single tier to their VIP program, while others like JetBlue are tiered.

Nordstrom: Nordstrom Rewards

How it works: Nordstrom Rewards is a points-based program that offers a point for every dollar someone spends at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, and HauteLook. For every 2,000 points, shoppers get a $20 Note (gift certificate).

All in all pretty straightforward, with the exception of bonus days, where they offer an increase in points. Nordstrom has removed any mystery around when bonus days are by publishing a year calendar with the dates, something that is pretty out of the ordinary for a retailer to do.

The basic points membership is free and they only require a name, email address, and telephone number.

For those serious Nordstrom shoppers, the rewards program becomes particularly interesting if you’re a cardholder where the points increase to 2x, members can pick days to triple their points, receive early access to their anniversary sales, and get reimbursed in Notes for alterations. On top of that, Nordstrom cardholders earn six points per dollar during their Triple Points events by using a Nordstrom credit or debit card purchases.

Why it’s smart: If you’re a loyal Nordstrom shopper this points program is pretty amazing. During the triple points events, as a cardholder you would only need to spend $334 as opposed to $2,000 to earn the Note. This VIP program is certainly tailored to a certain income bracket but it works really well for an audience that can probably shop just about anywhere. They truly are getting a VIP experience.

Domino’s: Piece of the Pie Rewards

The sign-up clearly lists the perks and functions of the program.

How it works: Domino’s has reinvented their business in the last few years with an updated crust, some hilarious marketing stunts, and last but not least, an easy point based reward system complete with mobile app tracking. For every 60 points a customer spends at Dominos they earn a free pizza. Members earn 10 points for online orders of $10 or more.

Why it’s smart: Who doesn’t want free pizza?! The delivery pizza marketplace is crowded. By investing in an app that solves the biggest issue with pizza delivery, “where is my pizza?”, and builds in an incentive for loyalty (free pizza), Domino’s is focusing on the long term benefits of its rewards program and customer experience.

DAVIDsTEA: Frequent Steeper

How it works: Freebies galore! Ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailer DAVIDsTEA has an awesome points system with their Frequent Steeper program. It’s a straightforward points program that rewards customers with something they’ll love – more free tea.

Why it’s smart: DAVIDsTEA has also added on additional perks like a free cup of tea for your birthday, another cup of free tea for creating your profile, and one for signing up in the first place. This is a super smart move because they gather more data which they can use to personalize their marketing.

The program is also incredibly straightforward to understand. Earn 1 point for every dollar you spend, hit 100 points, get free tea. Boom.

JetBlue: TrueBlue

Points programs for airlines, hotels, and car rentals, typically feel pretty outdated – but these programs really are the pioneers of the VIP program. The trick is that many of them really only reward frequent business traveler. This is where JetBlue’s TrueBlue program stands out.

For an ecommerce store, you could exchange points for product reviews.

How it works: Similar to a traditional travel points program, you earn points for every flight you book with JetBlue. There are also additional points for things like upgrading your seat, in-flight purchases, and completing surveys.

Why it’s smart: They’ve taken what usually feels like a dinosaur program and made it fun, engaging, and actually attainable. There is an interactive map to track your travels and a point leaderboard where you can see how you stack up against your friends and other travelers. Members also earn fun badges for activities like traveling to new cities, traveling on your birthday, and other milestones.

JetBlue’s VIP level is called Mosaic and comes with some awesome perks like priority security and boarding, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and a dedicated priority phone line.

While it can seem daunting to decide and establish a VIP program, it doesn’t have to be. All of the programs mentioned above are successful because they been thoughtfully crafted with the customer experience in mind. By really digging into what customer delight means to your audience, you can be off to the races with a great VIP program.

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