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Online-Only Loyalty Programs that Rock

Posted on 4.17.2014

Loyalty programs have long held a prominent role in many industries – most notably lodging, transportation and grocery.  

Loyalty programs can help gather valuable customer data, assist with retention efforts and increase customers’ average yearly spend. Even better, they aren’t just reserved for brick-and-mortar businesses. 

Plenty of online-only brands (of all sizes) are capitalizing on loyalty programs’ many benefits and using accessible technology to do so. via 500Friends 

500friends powers’s Fresh Rewards, a three-tier customer loyalty program. All online shoppers are eligible to sign up for Fresh Rewards, where they are rewarded one point for every dollar spent with participating brands (see image). For every 200 points, they receive a $20 Fresh Rewards Pass. Throughout the year, they’ll also receive bonus point opportunities, special previews and exclusive offers. 

Once members hit certain amounts of points, they automatically move to the next tiers (with added benefits, of course). This loyalty program maximizes the lifetime value of’s customer relationships. By using 500friends, the company has a flexible framework designed to maximize the program’s return on investment through highly targeted promotions and communications, seamless cross-channel integrations and flexible rewards management. 

500friends has integrations with many of the top email service providers (ExactTarget, Experian and responsys), e-commerce platforms (bazaarvoice, demandware, Magento and richrelevance) and social login providers (Gigya and janrain). Perhaps more importantly, its customers are able to access all of its brands (and earn and redeem points) with a single login. via Bunchball – an online news website for a northern California newspaper – turned to Bunchball to grow its readership and engagement on the site. They added gamification to so contributors could build online reputations with meaningful rewards. For example, when readers rate a comment (those made on individual news articles) as insightful, the user earns points toward repuation levels and rewards. To help get better engagement, the readers also receive badges next to their names and move up the virtual leaderboards.

According to the case study, the results were more active and meaningful engagement with a 10 percent increase in comment volume and less moderation required. Overall circulation increased to half a million unique visitors and 5 million page views per month with a 25 percent increase of time spent on the site.

eBay via PunchTab

While only for a limited time, PunchTab helped eBay drive awareness and traffic to its Hybrid Car Sweepstakes by launching a simple, yet effective program that encouraged daily visits from a target audience who could uncover a new green driving tip that could be shared with friends, earning points toward the Grand Prize while entering to win the daily prize: a $100 eBay Gift Card. For even more interactivity, users could browse the site for embedded orange keys which signaled point earning opportunities when they viewed the tagged content. 

In just 2 weeks, according to the PunchTab case study, the average user viewed 34 pages and shared four times on social channels. 

(Editor's Note: Click to zoom in.)

The Rest of the Best

Brands looking to start their own loyalty/engagement program should check out these other top providers too (although not all are limited to online only):

BellyCard (Ideal for local businesses - of all sizes.)

BigDoor (Offers fully customizable programs.)

NextBee (Good for both customer acquisition and retention.)

Perka (Rewards local customers as they visit more frequently.)

CrowdTwist (Runs topnotch omnichannel loyalty programs for some of the largest brands in the world.)

Perkville (Offers monthly subscription plans for local businesses.)

Badgeville (Increases customer loyalty and employee engagement with gamification.)

Pluck (Powers communities for the likes of Target, the NFL and more.)

LoyalBlocks (For local storefronts, it's mobile-based and includes in-store beacons.)


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