Unlocking the Power of Lottery Loyalty Programs

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Steve Mason
by Steve Mason
EVP Group Account Director, Lottery

I’m loyal to loyalty programs. I’ve been fortunate to help develop and market loyalty programs from airline frequent flier programs to cruise line past-passenger initiatives. Over the last several years, I’ve worked with multiple state lotteries and their Player Clubs. In every case, I’ve seen first-hand the fundamental power of connection between brand and customer, and the resulting measurable successes associated with loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs have been around as long as retail. Bakers were centuries ahead of Lotteries when they tucked an extra bun into the sack, creating the “Baker’s Dozen” – an early form of Spend and Get rewards program. What followed were punch cards (buy 10 and your eleventh is free!) to more sophisticated stamp and sticker programs like 1896-founded S&H Green Stamps.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and the proliferation of airline frequent flier programs such as American AAdvantage and Continental OnePass. Marriott Honored Guest program, launched in 1983, was one of the first hotel frequent guest programs. Today, 88% of consumers participate in a loyalty program, and 79% are more likely to continue to engage a brand due to a loyalty program.

Lotteries took a while to catch up. In 2007, the Idaho Lottery and INTRALOT led our industry when they launched the first lottery VIP Club, awarding players points for purchase and play. Today, 35 state lotteries offer a Player Club, VIP Club, or Rewards program.

If you don’t have a loyalty program for your lottery, now’s the time to start one. If you do, now’s the time to start thinking about how to up your game, add more value for your customers, and continue to engage new audiences. Here’s how you can do it:

Cash is still king, but fun is fantastic

When you’re thinking about what prizes to offer in your second chance drawings, cash prizes will always be popular. But there’s also a chance to add a new element to what you can win. Fun prize experiences like sporting and concert events or specially designed promotions like the Maine Lottery’s Warehouse Dash prize runs can reach new target audiences and help you acquire new members.

Bring your rewards to life

 When you meet customers where they are at large-scale community events, you build positive associations with your lottery and give your brand a chance to interact with customers on a human level. Real-time play and prizes, swag, and event activations are a great way to raise awareness and engagement with your loyalty program.

Keep adding value

 It is all-to-easy to fall into the complacency of regularly scheduled emails that carry repetitive, expected messaging. Loyalty should be seen as a place to add even more creativity and fun to lottery gaming, which makes them a perfect place to test new thinking. This gives you the potential for a wildly successful engagement, and at worst, it gives you information for how to better tailor promotions for your players and prospects in the future. 

Make it social, but offer exclusivity

Customers love to feel like they’re in on something cool. They also love sharing it with friends. Creating member-exclusive games and prizes can make your existing customers feel valued, and it can also turn your long-time players into ambassadors for your brand. When you combine exclusive offers with shareable content, you do more than encourage play. You build a community.

With our partners at Maine Lottery, we put these theories into action, and the results are eye-popping. Working as a team, Fuseideas, the Maine Lottery and Scientific Games have generated more than 58 million ticket entries representing more than $350 million in ticket purchases to date. 

The RewardME Club was not left to stand alone. RewardME was supported by a set of TV spots delivering a message of “Get more than you bargained for.” The campaign featured vignettes of the target market enjoying situations where they have received something extra. “After all”, the spot notes, “who doesn’t love getting a little more?”

We all do. And that’s exactly why reward programs are such a powerful tool.