You probably already know that acquiring new customers costs more than retaining the ones you already have.

Acquiring new customers can be a staggering five to 25 times more expensive than retaining a customer you already have. On the flip side, if you increase customer retention rates by only 5 percent, you can raise profits by 25 to 95 percent, according to Bain & Company research.

That’s the power of customer loyalty, and yet, it’s an area most companies can do much better in. Recent research found that less than half of companies (44 percent) had a loyalty program, and 44 percent of customers think brands can do more to maintain customer loyalty.

Businesses listened to customers and are beginning to act! Last year, 15 percent of department stores, 6 percent of activewear companies and 5 percent of specialty retailers increased their loyalty programs.

Looking to do the same and seize this opportunity? Read on to find out the research-backed characteristics shoppers want from your loyalty program.

Give the people what they want.

In the last year, companies began offering more product discounts, free ground shipping, birthday perks and access to early products or sales, found Gartner L2 data. But people really want those freebies! Seventy-five percent of shoppers said discounts and free products were the loyalty benefits they wanted the most, found 2019 HelloWorld data.


Fourteen percent more companies expanded their loyalty programs in 2018, according to Gartner L2. Now, 61 percent of companies offer a mix of monetary benefits (like discounts) with experiential bonuses (like early product access).

Keep it simple.

Customers’ biggest complaint about loyalty programs is that they take too long to earn rewards or are too difficult to redeem in time, according to 2019 HelloWorld data.

If someone joins your loyalty program, ensure your program is structured to reward them instantly and on a consistent, regularly attainable basis. If they have to wait months, they aren’t going to be feeling the love (or be shopping with you more).

Surprise and delight.

Sixty-one percent of people said the most important way a brand can interact with them is by surprising them with offers or gifts just for being a customer, according to the same study cited above. A free coupon, sample or even small add-on bonus at checkout can do more to create loyalty than nearly anything else!

Shout it from the mountains.

If you have a loyalty program, chances are good that you have it on your homepage header, but for most, that’s the only place it is! Make it easy for customers to find by placing it in other high-visibility areas, like the footer or checkout process.

Make it mobile.

Nearly a third of customers prefer showing their membership on their mobile phone when shopping in stores, found Gartner L2 2018 research.

Consider adding that to your program within the next year. Need inspiration for what that would look like? Next time you’re at Target, try out their mobile app, which has its loyalty program integrated.