There is no doubt that loyalty programmes offer a powerful way within your ecommerce marketing strategy, helping you to connect to customers, drive more sales and work towards increasing customer lifetime value. Done right, loyalty programmes are extremely effective. With that said, simply offering a loyalty programme without first taking the time to think about the best programme for your particular products, niche and store is never a good idea.

In this guide, we share some of the loyalty programmes that provide the biggest value to both you and your customers. We also share some tips on how you can choose the programme that is best suited to your ecommerce marketing goals.

Designing Your Ecommerce Marketing Loyalty Programme

How do you go about designing an ecommerce marketing loyalty programme that is right for your specific needs? For starters, it is always useful to think about the biggest factor that influences any type of loyalty programme – your audience. Who exactly are your customers? What are they looking for? What would add genuine value to them? How can you entice them to your store in a way that encourages them to not only spend more but also come back time and time again? Keep reading to find out what each of the most popular types of loyalty programme offers and how each type can work within your ecommerce marketing plan.

Points programmes

The points programme is the most common of all loyalty programmes, working on a points basis as the name implies. With this type of programme, customers are awarded points on a range of actions they take. This could include signing up for an account, subscribing to your newsletter, purchasing products, writing reviews, referring friends or any other action. Each point has a monetary value, such as 1 point = 1 Rand. Points can then be redeemed at your store and spent as virtual currency.

This type of programme works well because it is simple and easy to implement. It is also easy for customers to follow without having to think too much or get confused. It is also a great way to grow your email marketing list, generate product reviews, encourage referrals, and reward customers for numerous other actions they make take when visiting your store. If you are looking for a straight-forward ecommerce marketing loyalty programme for all store sizes, this is a good starting point.

Paid programmes

Paid programmes work a little differently. In this type of programme, loyalty members pay a small monthly fee to access exclusive products and offers that are not open to the general public. This programme is also often known as a club, with members paying to receive goods each month that add genuine value. For this programme to work well, you would need a large customer base to start. You would also need to be able to provide free products or discounted products. Products that work well with this type of programme include books (virtual and otherwise) and other similar products including smaller value items.

What makes this programme successful is that it provides a high level of prestige, which is always good for ecommerce marketing strategies designed to boost reputation. When the exclusive member deals are seen to be something that cannot be obtained without signing up, the result is a programme that attracts high-value customers. This, in turn, can help to inspire larger orders and higher-value purchases.

Charity programmes

Working a little differently to most other loyalty programmes, charity programmes give back and pay it forward. An excellent example of this programme is the Woolworths My School card. This card allows customers to choose a supporting charity, who will receive a percentage from every purchase, every time the card is used at a Woolworths store. Customers get to help the causes they care about while shopping, which makes them feel good every time their card is swiped. At the same time, Woolworths is positioned as a brand that cares not only for its customers but also its customers’ causes.

This programme is a good choice for brands that want to give back in a way that helps them stand out for all the right reasons. Brands that pride themselves on being authentic and caring can opt for a similar system to the My School card or choose a charity that is in line with the brand vision and then offer to reward this charity on purchases, referrals, reviews and other actions customers might take after signing up for the loyalty programme.

Partner programmes

With a partner programme, the benefits are further reaching, adding even more incentive for customers. After signing up for this programme, customers can earn points and rewards in several ways, by shopping at partner stores or related businesses, such as a set number of gym classes for a sportswear store, for example. Partnering with related brands and stores – online and physical – can help to add more value to your rewards programme, benefiting everyone in the process.

If your store falls within a niche that can successfully partner with related stores or businesses, this is a good programme to consider. Established stores that have already built a relatively strong presence will do especially well with this programme. Choose your partners wisely and make sure that your vision and values are closely aligned to get the most from this type of programme. Working with a junk food vendor will not be a good move for our sports store example, but working with a pilates class or a health food restaurant would be a far better move.

Tier programmes

Tier programmes are very similar to point programmes, with a slight twist. In this programme, there are usually three tiers – entry level, medium level and higher level. Each level offers increasingly better rewards, with progression to the next level typically determined by the amount that is spent in-store. A customer wanting to go up a level is therefore enticed by exclusive benefits that reward higher spend. These programmes also help to engage customers and keep them active, using gamification to add even more fun to the process.

If you are battling to engage your customers, this type of programme can be a good choice. To make it work, be sure to make each level progressively value-added, with genuine value offered. You could include things such as early access to new products and sales, birthday gifts, free samples, free full-sized samples, custom discounts and offers or anything else that encourages customers to move up the tier.

Community programmes

Finally, we have the community programme. This programme is by far one of the most effective when it comes to combining engagement, incentive, brand reputation, and overall community spirit. You can combine a basic points system or a tier programme or any other programme, with the added feature of a community space that is available to members only. Within this space, you can create a closed Facebook group or similar type of forum, exclusive tips and resources, member-only offers, member-submitted photos, tips or stories, community events, and various other content that is available only to loyalty members.

This programme works for larger stores that have already built some presence. If you have a large social media following, this type of programme would be a good way to add even more value. It is essential that all community channels are managed, so you would also need to have a strong team in place to respond to customers and keep things running smoothly.

Growing Ecommerce Marketing Loyalty

As you can see from these examples, there are many ways to foster lifetime loyalty authentically so that both customers and brands benefit. Including a loyalty programme within your ecommerce marketing strategy will allow you to give back to your customers and continue to grow from strength to strength.


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