#LEAwards 2020 highlight: NTUC Link's secret to keeping new members hooked

Over the years, NTUC Link has leveraged digital transformation to enhance its customer engagement programme Plus!. The programme currently reaches more than two million customers and has more than 100 partners including BHG, Caltex, Cheers, Texas Chicken, and Skechers, among others.

Although successful, NTUC Link did not rest on its laurels. Instead, it continued to develop new ways for new member engagement and its efforts led the company to win gold for "Best CRM Strategy" at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2020.

Challenge

NTUC Link noticed two parallel trends in its member portfolio in early 2019 - strong member acquisition volumes and a dip in member activity levels. The latter was measured by monthly active rate and spend amount. The brand discovered that member activity levels differed greatly across different vintages, which essentially means the number of years an individual has been a Plus! member. Members with newer vintages were less active than those with older vintages regardless of demographic profile or membership type.

Additionally, it realised that there was room for improvement when it came to its existing activation campaigns for new members. The company concluded that it was acquiring new members without engaging them once they joined.

Strategy

To tackle this challenge, NTUC Link gathered three main insights from its consumers.

1. Members become loyal at a steady state after a certain spend activity milestone.

2. Partners outside of NTUC FairPrice form a quarter of new members' spend activities.

3. Customer feedback showed room for improvement on awareness of loyalty partners.

Using these insights, it rolled out a new campaign programme with these objectives: educate and excite new members, encourage a habit of earning LinkPoints, and accelerate the time taken to achieve the campaign goals.

Execution

The result of the insights was an automated and effective campaign journey to encourage new members towards the campaign goals. One of the main goals was that new members should make five spends, also known as milestones, within their first three months of onboarding as Plus! members instead of six. To achieve this, the journey is personalised for each member via emails and SMSes and nothing more. It also begins with member education immediately upon their enrolment.

For example, they receive a re-designed "Welcome" email upon enrolment. and a new "Get Ready" email after receiving their Plus! card in the mail. These emails are complemented by a re-designed membership card welcome kit with information on member benefits, product offerings and key partners.

If customers make their first spend within the first month, they will receive a surprise reward from NTUC Link. Two minor cycles occur every 15 days throughout the three months to nudge members towards the goal. According to NTUC Link, these minor cycles occur within five big cycles to help members reach the goal. Additionally, consumers receive bonus LinkPoints instantaneously when they achieve each milestone. This is on top of the usual number of LinkPoints members earn from their spend activities.

The implementation criteria ensured that the campaign would be automated and personalised, and a soft launch was carried out in June last year. Phase two was launched in May this year, offering a more sophisticated and personalised experience such as tiered incentives, dynamic partner content based on members' recent activity, and multi-channel communications.

Results

With the campaign, NTUC Link witnessed a growth in the proportion of new members making their first spend within the first month. There was also an increase in retention rate of new members from their second to fifth spend, as well as a growth in retention rate of up to three months after the campaign journey ended.