Note: this blog was originally published on Kobie Marketing’s website.
1 billion devices in active use worldwide. Products in half of all U.S. homes. 400 phones sold per second. For a company without a traditional loyalty program, Apple still commands one of the most loyal audiences in the history of consumer goods. With the new generation of Apple phones announced, including a $1,000+ phone that is guaranteed to demonstrate the lengths of Apple fan loyalty, there’s never been a better time to look at how Apple owns such a dedicated audience and how you can apply these learnings to your loyalty program.
Demonstrate how your product or loyalty program can benefit the consumer
Every year Apple holds two announcements of interest: one to reveal the details of the new operating system, and one to reveal the new hardware. Both instances are full of technologically exciting features that put the consumer front and center by explaining the value. All of the processing power in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t explain how it benefits the consumer, and Apple knows their audience. Rather than focusing on tech-speak, they highlight the easy-to-understand features and focus on how they benefit the consumer.
Your loyalty program should follow suit. In a market saturated with loyalty programs, the average consumer might be resistant to taking a few minutes to sign up for yet another rewards program. Think about how many times you’re approached on a weekly basis to sign up for rewards at the stores you shop at, the restaurants you eat at or the attractions you visit. How many do you really join? As a brand, it’s your responsibility to highlight the benefits of your rewards program and excite the prospective consumer. Otherwise you’ll be just another loyalty card cluttering up the back of someone’s wallet.
Be transparent about details (and don’t be ashamed)
Much has been made of the iPhone X costing $1,000 or more, but truthfully Apple products have always been luxury electronic goods. When Steve Jobs first introduced the original iPhone, there was plenty of wincing from an audience not used to forking over several hundred dollars for a telephone (this was the age of the cheap plastic slide and flip phones, after all). Nevertheless, Apple never budged. Their computers cost more, their phones cost more, their tablets cost more, and their smartwatches cost more. This is as predictable as the sun rising tomorrow morning, and consumers have come to understand this because Apple never tried to hide or downplay the cost or quality.
Similarly, your rewards program can benefit from the same transparency that Apple employs. What good are accumulated points if you can’t see the cost of rewards easily or understand the perceived dollar value? 17,000 points doesn’t mean anything without knowing their worth. Showing the true value, program restrictions and other elements that you might deem unsavory will help build trust and loyalty with your audience. It’s far better for your members to easily access the information up front than to spend time frustratingly wasted calling a toll-free number to learn more.
Offer streamlined, intuitive experiences
Apple isn’t the only smartphone creator in the market, and many Android users annually scoff at new Apple features that Android users have been enjoying for years. What keeps the Apple faithful returning year after year is the “customer first” streamlined digital experience that links all Apple products. Both hardware and software are designed together to provide an easy-to-use and sleek experience that is accessible to anyone, just not the tech-minded.
Loyalty programs also benefit from carefully crafted user interfaces to maximize the consumer experience. By creating a central hub and leading the user through the program you create an enjoyable, exciting and informational rewards program that sticks in the consumers mind and keeps them returning.
Connect your rewards program
Apple services and products don’t exist in a silo; any digital purchase made on one can be viewed on others. Similarly, Apple doesn’t focus on one product (for instance, their iPhone line) at the expense of the other devices. It’s all part of one Apple family, and your rewards program should be doing the same by being present across all areas. Rather than shuffling your rewards program off to a hidden corner of your website or tab on the menu bar, make it an integral part of your consumer experience. By introducing the program early and often, the program will not feel like a separate entity that was bolted on, but rather a key cornerstone of the shopping experience.
Applying the lessons
Rome wasn’t built in a day and Apple didn’t become an overnight success (in fact, they had significant highs and lows throughout their existence). Their successes come from a finely tuned strategy and the aforementioned qualities, which lays a roadmap for your loyalty program to reach the same peaks while avoiding the pitfalls. While a one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t benefit all rewards program, these learnings can elevate your brand and loyalty program.