User portals need to engage with their target audience to keep their members engaged. In this checklist, I’ll introduce you to seven loyalty drivers that will keep your users engaged and motivated to interact.
1. Point assignment
If your user portal is empty, i.e. neither new users are joining nor interactions are taking place, you should introduce a points system. This can accompany the complete life cycle of a user in the portal: points are awarded for the first registration, for the registration to the newsletter, for a completely filled out profile including preferences, for recruiting new members, for creating and sharing content, for anniversaries, but also for purchases inside and outside the portal.
The allocation of points can be done in different ways. Either the user is assigned a simple points account in which the number of his points grows. Or a points hierarchy is introduced, to which rights and roles are linked. As soon as a user reaches a certain number of points, he moves up to the next level, where he is assigned a new title, new benefits, or a new role that gives him more rights, such as the right to vote on the design of new products or the selection of content topics.
The user will enjoy watching his points balance grow. The more positive incentives you provide, the better. Also, the more points he collects, the more loyal he becomes. Who wants to lose their points by switching portals? However, a pure focus on sales, as with the Miles & More frequent flyer program, is not effective if your portal aims to create an active community that exchanges ideas and produces and shares content about your brand across all channels.
Leaderboards are ideal for promoting competition among users in your portal. On them, users can see which community members have created the most posts, shared the most content, have the most contacts and thus the greatest reach (keywords: multipliers, influencers), recruited the most members, or simply collected the most points. Such a peer-to-peer comparison motivates more activities. Transparency can encourage users to further exchange best practices, share contacts and topics with each other.
As with all portal content and functions, it is important to reconcile this with data protection guidelines and, if employees are also portal users, with labor law and the requirements of a works council. Without going into further detail on the subject here, reference should be made to the GDPR for Europe.
Without a points catalog, the points are worthless. It therefore makes sense to include the option of redeeming the points account directly in the portal. For e-commerce companies, this can be designed as a store within a store. Operators who do not have their own online store should ensure that this function is offered when selecting their portal software.
Possible rewards include:
- Vouchers (products, tickets)
- Discount coupons
- Exclusive products, e.g. as special editions
- Backstage passes
- Badges / Digital Badges
- Signed products
- Exclusive Events
It is important that the rewards are related to the portal, the operating organization and its products and services. Then the brand is consistently extended and the brand experience is positively enhanced.
“Gamification” is understood as the application of game-typical elements in a non-game context. If this context is education, it is also referred to as “edutainment”. As an interactive element, an online game can enhance a user portal and motivate members to visit the portal more frequently and compete with other users through play.
The structure of each game is basically the same and consists of three elements:
- the “trigger”, i.e. the positive stimulus to try out the game,
- the “action”, the activity of playing, and
- the “feedback”, the reward in the form of points.
Gamification elements can be integrated directly into the portal, for example as a quiz that queries the user’s knowledge of his/her brand or club, rewards him/her, and thus further binds him/her to it. But they can also be outsourced as an app. A successful example of this is the Nike Run Club app, where the collection of kilometers run is rewarded with badges.
A successful strategy for retaining customers is to ask them for their opinion and to enter into dialog with them. Voting is a good way of doing this, where users can vote on topics and thus contribute their opinion. Examples from the sports industry include the “Goal of the Month” or the “Man of the Match”. Likewise, in the consumer goods industry, users can vote on new products, flavors and designs.
Voting can take place sporadically or according to a fixed schedule or content calendar. Alternatively, a user decision tool can be permanently installed in the user’s My-area. Perhaps it is only activated when the user has reached a certain score and thus a new role.
6. Special Content
One of the most important and most frequently cited reasons for being a member of a user portal is exclusive content that is reserved for the portal’s community. This could be a look behind the scenes, under the hood, or in the training area of a club, for example. Users pay for this knowledge with their data, be it contact information when registering, or activity tracking of their interactions such as creating or sharing content.
In a weakened form, the content can be made available to users earlier, if not exclusively. This knowledge advantage then convinces others to become members of the community in exchange with peers.
Content that users create themselves within the portal and share with other members can either be made available exclusively – as in a forum. Or it can be shared by users outside the portal.
When planning this content, it is helpful to create a content calendar that sets out the most important topics on a weekly or monthly basis over the course of a year.
7. Personalized deployment
The better a portal operator knows its members, the more targeted the content it can offer them: a vegetarian receives the new tofu recipe, a new fan father receives a romper suit in club colors as a reward for his pole position in the leaderboard. The user experience becomes more personalized, i.e. more relevant and better, the more the operator knows about the user. To this end, information from the personal profile on preferences and interests can be read out. It can also be analyzed which channels the user uses most often and which content he or she likes to share. Users are also happy to receive a gift for their birthday or a personal community anniversary. This makes them feel perceived and valued as customers.
User portals are only successful if they have active and loyal members. The seven loyalty drivers presented here reward and retain active users so that the portal grows continuously and supports the operator’s business strategy.