Seven Ways to Keep Your Rewards Front and Center

Keep telling the story of your rewards program to keep your card at the top of your users' wallets.

If you’re a neobank or other financial institution, launching your cardholder rewards program is a huge achievement. Even with a partner like Kard handling much of the heavy lifting, it takes quite a bit of effort to launch a cashback product for your cardholders. The mere existence of your rewards program is often seen as table stakes to get cardholders in the door. Recent surveys show that inflation-weary Americans are placing increased importance on loyalty programs, and that credit card users are serious about choosing new cards based on the value of the rewards. But how do you use rewards to keep cardholders engaged, using their card, and reaping the rewards of the program once you’ve launched? The answer is in awareness driven by regular marketing.

How to Market Your Rewards for Better Engagement

Make a Big Deal of Your Program Launch

To drive the most benefit to your business — and to your customers — you need to make sure people know about your rewards program. When launching your program, be sure to shout it from the rooftops.  You’ll want to create a rewards home page on your website to drive prospective cardharders and clients to in order to learn more.  Including visuals and FAQs will leave them feeling excited and informed.  Promoting the program via social media is also a great way to drive awareness of the program and your card.  And don’t forget email as a mechanism to officially launch the program to your cardholders and let them know how to take advantage of it.

Send Regular Communications

Regular communications in the form of email, text, notifications, and in-app content are your friends when it comes to communicating rewards and offers. At a bare minimum, you should expect to send one monthly email to your cardholders about the rewards available to them. You can also highlight holiday or seasonal rewards opportunities (like back-to-school reminders, major sporting events, or Black Friday deals), or send out reminders to check the app for new offers in the user’s vicinity. 

A Simple But Powerful Communications Cadence
  • Monthly newsletter. Sending out a regular newsletter, whether it’s about your rewards program specifically or about your product in general (with references to rewards), is a great way to keep the benefits of your platform top of mind for your customers. 
  • Rewards program emails. Outside of your newsletter, you can send emails about upcoming offers, especially those that are seasonally relevant or that coincide with a holiday. Keep your subject lines clear; consider mentioning a few big merchants early on to capture the attention of the most cardholders. Don’t ignore the power of your newsletter and your rewards program emails. Email marketing is still significantly more effective than a variety of other channels; a much-cited McKinsey & Company study found email marketing to be 40 times more effective than social media.
  • Texts. Texts are best reserved for very high-value offers or very personalized notifications. They can feel more intrusive than an app notification, but they can also capture more attention. Consider sending a text only every so often, and only when it is likely to be immediately actionable for your customers.
  • In-app notifications and content. You should already be sending a near-real-time notification when your users earn a reward. Your cardholders are used to other app notifications from you, too; perhaps deposits, withdrawals, or interest earned, depending on how you structure your platform. This is another space where rewards marketing can give big dividends! You’ll want to be careful with the cadence here: the average US smartphone user gets 46 push notifications a day. Keep in mind that even outside of push notifications, your in-app content and your UI should also reference your rewards program.

Customers respond well to nudges, but you don’t want to spill over into nagging. Keep communications brief and cardholder-focused. Group a few offers into verticals before doing marketing, or time your marketing communications with the launch of a brand-new offer. You can also schedule communications based on the time of day a user might consider buying the brand; coffee in the morning, take-out at night!

Including logos, screenshots, and other visual elements in your communications can be key to attracting the short attention your audience can give to your marketing (after all, it’s unlikely that many of your customers are excited to read an entire marketing email). 

Keep in mind that some of the offers you serve will be targeted to new or lapsed customers, or to another specific audience. Consider reaching out to those targeted customers with similarly targeted communications about how they are uniquely eligible for the offer!

Integrate Your Rewards Storytelling Into Your Static Content

Be sure that you’re telling the story of your rewards program across the digital real estate on your website and in your app, as well as in any regular communications you send to your customers as part of their sign-up or onboarding process. Every step in the customer journey from discovering your brand to swiping a card for a purchase has the potential to reinforce the value your cardholder can get from rewards. 

In the app, it can be useful to add banners that refer back to your cashback and rewards program, even in sections of the app that aren’t related to rewards. Most people aren’t logging in just to check in on new rewards available to them; so, leverage every login as an opportunity to get them thinking about earning cashback.

And don’t forget your social media content! Your followers on social media are already engaged with your brand and either customers or potential customers; marketing your rewards program to this audience can get you more swipes that day and more sign-ups in the following weeks.

Go Big for Big Merchant Names

The truth about consumer spending is that while shoppers are always open to new brands and experiences, the bulk of their purchasing likely comes from relatively few big brands. When your rewards program serves you a big-brand offer, shout it from the rooftops to make sure your cardholders know about it! It won’t just drive purchases with the named brand; it will also create a positive feedback loop wherein your customers expect big names and as a result begin to engage with your rewards marketing more and more.

Update Cardholders about New Products

As your rewards program and your other offerings evolve, make sure to keep your cardholders in the loop! New offer filters, new app portals, a new UI, the launch of a promised feature…people expect their financial institutions to work for them, and the more you show them that you’re building new features, the happier they’ll be to log in! Keep in mind that these can be products that directly touch users’ cashback opportunities, or they can be products that sit adjacent to the rewards program; any reason for the user to open the app represents another opportunity for you to capture their attention with rewards.

Remind Customers About Their Earned Rewards

Keep the surprise-and-delight moving by putting out a regular review of your cardholders’ personal rewards earnings. The in-app notification you send when someone redeems a reward is great, but it’s temporary. By tallying up the total rewards a customer has earned for a certain period and then sending them an attractive summary, you can keep the long-term value of the cashback program front of mind for your most loyal users. Keeping a cumulative lifetime total visible is another great way to keep interest and engagement high.

Run Proper Testing and Experimentation

Regardless of how you’re marketing your rewards program to your cardholders, be sure to keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll be in the unique position to see essentially all the metrics for the success of your marketing; transactions, logins, views of your rewards program page, and nearly everything else can be tracked and logged and measured. Take advantage of the vertical integration of your rewards program marketing! Run A/B testing on your communications to see which types of marketing perform the best, partner with your rewards provider to run randomized incrementality experiments, and tinker with your philosophy (and UI/UX!) around “featured offers” or other engagement strategies. The statistics you get from the whole process will be able to inform your decisions regarding best practices for your own customers.

Remember, It’s About Them

Throughout your marketing of your rewards program, put yourself in the shoes of your average user. Customers focus on rewards, so the rewards should focus on the customer. They want to save money easily, by doing something they were already going to do; you should help them in that regard, and not get in their way! They’ll be happy to receive alerts about relevant, valuable offers, as well as new features that make their lives easier. If you’re a fintech or bank just now starting to think about rewards, reach out and we’ll get you started on the tech side!