With so much economic uncertainty ahead, it’s more important than ever for brands to build and lean on communities and loyal customers.

To do that, brands are turning to loyalty programs as a tool to keep customers coming back to purchase more and to increase the average customer lifetime value. Brian Berger, CEO and founder of Mack Weldon, hosted the first edition of the Glossy+ Talks series where he spoke about the future of loyalty programs.

Mack Weldon decided early on that the brand would never operate around a promotional model because, “once you go there, it’s very hard to get consumers to focus on anything other than price,” said Berger. That led the company to revitalize its program over the last two years rather than tempting shoppers with constant discounts and sales.

During the discussion, held virtually for Glossy+ members, Berger shared why Mack Weldon won’t be scaling back any economic tier in its loyalty program – spending $200 gets consumers from level one to level two – and how to determine success metrics depending on the brand’s goals.

What We Learned

Personalization will continue to be essential for any brand loyalty program, as well as best-in-class experiences.

Despite being buzzwords heard over and over again, creating experiences and focusing on personalization are two core parts of any successful loyalty program.

-It doesn’t need to be complicated, but taking the time to make a customer feel seen by your brand can go a long way.

-It can be something as simple as rethinking email marketing, using a conversational tone in the body of the email and addressing the customer by name. “We see a higher level of engagement in those emails than in the more broad based, generic emails,” said Berger.

-In-person events may be on hold for now, but those will continue to be a big part of fostering communities in the future, whether that is through in-store events or sending special gifts out to some of the most loyal customers.

Different brands will have different success metrics, but it’s important to measure those metrics regularly.

Depending on the goals of each brand’s loyalty program, there will be different key metrics, but those aren’t things you can measure right away. “This is more of a marathon, not a sprint. You are not going to see these results right away,” Berger said.

-It’s important to figure out what the goals of the program are before launching to the public. For Mack Weldon, the goal was to reward customers for increasing order frequency and lifetime value. “You can make the argument that a customer who buys one product each time they order, but has over ten orders is more valuable than a customer who places one giant order. We want to make sure we are recognizing loyalty at the customer level versus the product purchase level,” he said.

-To that end, it’s crucial for brands to have the mechanism to measure the effectiveness of the program from the very beginning and that they are measuring those metrics continually over time.

-Additionally, leaning on customer feedback is another way to ensure the success of a loyalty program in the future. Figure out what’s working well or what customers want to see next and take those suggestions to heart, Berger said.

Don’t cheapen your program, even during a time of crisis. Evolve it and use it to your advantage.

Customers may be spending less in the coming months with all of the economic uncertainty that lies ahead, but Berger said Mack Weldon is not considering lowering the $200 spending threshold for level two of the loyalty program.

-Customer may be spending less in coming months, but that won’t lead Mack Weldon to require customers to spend less. If anything, Berger said the company will be adding more tiers in the near future based on customer feedback. “People who are engaged really see value and want you to set a higher bar for them,” he said.

-Many brands might be tempted to cut back on marketing spend right now, but Mack Weldon continues to promote its program, Weldon Blue.

-While having a solid group of loyal customers is important, and offering perks and benefits is a key way to do that, it doesn’t replace quality product. “Having a great product and customer value proposition drives loyalty. Having a great loyalty program does not drive loyalty,” said Berger.

Glossy+ members can access full video of the Talk and Bryan Berger’s slides below:

Event video
See the slides: