Create a Successful Member Loyalty Program

Introducing a loyalty program can improve retention and create more member value. But a lot of work goes into the process. Here’s a look at the choices the Australian College of Nursing made when developing its own successful loyalty program.

Creating a loyalty program can be a great way to thank members for being engaged and a part of your association.

While serving as the national director of engagement for the Australian College of Nursing, Vy Le, CAE, implemented a loyalty program in 2021 that rewarded fellows and members who held their membership for a minimum of two years.

“The major benefit for associations is retention,” said Le, who currently serves as membership director at the Linguistic Society of America. “A loyalty program was our solution to encourage continuity in membership.”

To get started, associations must determine how the program will fit into their strategic goals and objectives. According to Le, ACN’s goal was to complement its membership strategy, recognize member longevity, and find ways to increase member loyalty.

“We looked at different data and found that the three- to five-year mark was an important retention milestone,” Le said. “If they stayed beyond that time, we had them for life, but if they dropped off during that time, it took a lot more resources and effort to bring them back,” Le said.

Once an association determines their goals for the initiative, it’s then time to think about member involvement and how to promote the program.

Member Focus

To build a strong loyalty program, associations must figure out what their members are looking for.

Through surveys, ACN found that members wanted a loyalty program that included hotel discounts, savings on car rentals, and movie vouchers. Knowing that, the organization chose a loyalty platform that allows members to save on grocery shopping and gas, as well as access discounts on dining, and shopping deals from major brands and local independent stores.

Discounts on groceries and gas were vital since members were dealing with rising food costs coming out of the height of the pandemic.

“We also provided access to a library of wellness content from workout videos to mediation guides, which was important for our members,” Le said. “As nurses working through COVID, they greatly appreciated having the support during such a difficult time for the healthcare sector,” Le said.

To ensure that members felt comfortable using the rewards platform, ACN asked some members to participate in the testing phase of the program.

“We knew they’d be able to pick up things that we may not see and identify areas of improvements so we could make any changes before launch,” Le said.

Promotion Planning

Prior to launch, Le recommends building awareness around the loyalty program through promotion on different platforms. At ACN, once members pass their two-year anniversary, they receive a welcome email that includes information about how to access the loyalty program.

The association also promoted the program through social media platforms and in its member newsletter. In addition, ACN’s website directs members to learn more about this benefit and staff discuss the loyalty program with members at conferences and webinars.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the loyalty program from members,” Le said. “For us, our loyalty program is an add-on provision. Individuals will not join an association to access their loyalty programs, but they will maintain their membership to continue their access.”


Hannah Carvalho

By Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is Senior Editor at Associations Now. MORE

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