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Getting started building a VIP Loyalty Program: A Step-by-Step Guide
Getting started building a VIP Loyalty Program: A Step-by-Step Guide
Written by Joanne Chai
Updated over a week ago

Last updated: 2024-06-04

Estimated reading time: 20-25 minutes


Creating a VIP program is a proven strategy to increase customer loyalty and drive repeat purchases. With Ako Marketing, you can motivate your loyal customers to make more purchases by offering flexible upgrade methods, tier-based rewards, and cashback incentives. This empowers you to tailor a VIP program that effectively drives revenue growth. In this article, we will guide you through the process of building a VIP program that works.

Before you start

✅ Loyalty program is available in our Platinum plan(US$49/month) and above. Please navigate to Service Plans from the Ako Marketing panel to ensure your current plan is on Platinum or above.

✅ If you haven't installed Ako Marketing App, click here to install it and start your 14-day free trial.

Step 1: Activate your Points Program

  1. From Ako Marketing admin, go to Loyalty Program > Programs, check if "Points" feature is on an active status.

  2. If you haven't setup your point program, see: How to set up a Points Program and enable One-click Redemption

Step 2: Determine Membership Expiration

  1. From Ako Marketing admin, go to Loyalty Program > Programs and click on VIP.

  2. In the Expiration section, click "Edit" to set the expiration type as Lifetime or Custom Year (valid for 1-5 years), then click "Update" to save.

🚨Note: Once saved, membership expiration settings cannot be changed. If you need to modify your expiration settings, please contact us at

📌 Difference between Lifetime & Custom Year

  1. Lifetime ⮕ Once a customer reaches a tier, their membership will last for their lifetime.
    📝 For example, if Amy reaches the highest level and does not request any refunds or exchanges that would decrease her accumulated spending or points, she will retain that level for her lifetime.

  2. Custom Year ⮕ The system will recheck the member's eligibility and automatically upgrade, downgrade, and dynamically extend the membership duration after each valid purchase.
    📝 For example, if the membership duration is set to 1 year, and Amy reaches the Silver level on January 31st, 2023, her membership will be valid until January 31st, 2024. If she continues to make purchases and reaches the next level of Gold on March 31st, 2023, her membership duration will be updated to March 31st, 2024 until she makes another valid purchase to unlock the new tier.

Step 3: Determine How a Member Enter Their VIP Tier

  1. In the Entry Method section, click Edit.

  2. Determine the VIP tier's entry method from the "Select method for customers to unlock" list. There are two options to choose from, click Update to save.

    1. Amount Spent: This method calculates the total amount from orders marked as paid.(If an order has been cancelled or refunded, it will be excluded from calculation.)

    2. Points Earned: This method calculates the total amount of points that customers have earned from their orders marked as paid. Points are excluded from calculations when it's manually adjusted or refunded.

    3. (Optional) Orders Count: If you want to check the customer's orders count in a given period as well, check the "Orders count" option.

  3. (Optional) Extension Condition: If you need to set an easier threshold for your members to maintain their VIP tier and extend their membership, select "Set extension goals for different VIP Tiers" and click "Update".

Step 4: Specify the Entry Goal and Benefits For Each Tier

In the VIP Tier section, you'll find that there are 4 default tier templates available for editing. If you want to add more tiers to your VIP program, click "+Add new" to create a new tier. (The maximum is 20 but it is recommended to have tiers under 5 for running an effective VIP program.)

👇 Click Edit on the level you want to customize, and follow the instructions below to customize your vip program.

4.1. Tier Name

Provide a name for your tier.

This name will be displayed in the VIP Tiers section within the loyalty widget.

4.2. Entry Goal & Renewal Goal

Define the entry requirements for each tier. For example, if you have chosen the entry method is "Amount spent + Orders count," you can specify the entry goal as 3 purchases and a total amount spent of $100 to unlock the Silver level.

4.3. Rewards to Members when They Unlock a New Tier

There are three types of rewards that can be sent to customers when they unlock a new tier. Rewards rules can be configured to include an expiration date, ranging from 1 to 120 months or a minimum requirement for redemption. This allows for greater flexibility and control over the redemption period for the rewards.

  1. Points

  2. Discount codes(including percentage off and fixed amount off)

  3. Free shipping discount.

📝 How upgrade rewards operates at Starter level

When a visitor registers through email or social login and hasn't made any purchases, they will be assigned to the Starter level by default. If you provide a welcome offer to encourage new customers to place their first order, it will be given to Starter level members only once per lifetime.

4.4. Set Regular Checkout Discounts for Each Tier

The regular checkout discount will be applied to customer's entire order. For example, Silver members can enjoy a 10% discount on each order. The checkout reward serves as a powerful incentive for members to make more orders, as they can enjoy greater savings with higher membership levels.

4.5. Set tag key for VIP tiers

Tag key works similarly to customer tags in Shopify. Each tier level should have a unique tag to represent the tier itself. Ako Marketing will use the tag key to manage VIP levels and store the tag name in customer metafields.

⚠️ Tag key can't be changed or removed once saved. If you need to modify it, please contact us at

4.6. Upload icon

You can either use the default icon provided or upload a custom icon for each tier. If you choose to upload a custom icon, please ensure that it is in either PNG or JPG format, has a 1:1 aspect ratio, and a file size smaller than 50KB.

4.7. (Optional) Perks

Perks are not issued through Ako Marketing. They are additional benefits provided to members upon tier upgrade, such as early access to sales or special products.

Step5: Activate VIP program

Once you have finished setting up the rules from Step1 to Step4. Click "Activate" to release your VIP program.

Step 6: Configure Ways to Earn Reward

From Ako Marketing, go to Loyalty Program > Ways to Earn Reward to configure rewards-earning rule to encourage your members to join your loyalty program, and attract potential customers to engage with your brand.

For example, you can create order-based rewards (which can vary by tier level), birthday rewards, welcome offers and special events such as a members' day to boost repeat purchases, and so on. For a detailed guide to configuring all the ways to earn, see: Exploring ways to earn rewards: overview

Step 7: Enable Email Notifications

When members complete ways to earn reward like place an order, unlock new tier) Ako Marketing will send out email notifications to notify your members that their rewards have been issued and remind them to use them.

  1. From Ako Marketing admin, go to Loyalty Program > Programs > Email.

  2. There are 11 types of event that trigger sending out email notifications. See this guide to customize your email notifications: How to automate email notifications for your loyalty program?

Step 8: Edit Copywriting and Add Translation to Loyalty Widget

  1. From Ako Marketing admin, go to Settings > Loyalty widget. In the Languages section, you'll notice that English has been set to default as loyalty widget's language. Click "Edit" button next to English to adjust your copywritings.

  2. If you also sell to multiple markets on Shopify, click "+Add language" in the Languages section. You'll find seven language templates that can be used to translate your widget copywriting and publish it to your target markets.

Step 9: Customize the Design of your Loyalty Widget

  1. From Ako Marketing admin, go to Settings > Loyalty widget > Appearance.

  2. Click the Widget Button and Widget Color to customize the widget icon, placement, padding, button color and widget screen color.

Step 10: Enable Social Login

Enabling social login will simply the login/register process when customers wish to redeem their points or join the loyalty program. To enable social login, please navigate to Settings > Social login and toggle on the switch for "Account page social login" and the social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Google and LINE.

Once activated, the social login options will be embedded on login page and on loyalty widget.

Ako Marketing will store the login data and provide a report outlining the performance of the login platforms, login devices, and login times. To access the report, please navigate to Customers.

Step 11: Final Step✨ Turn on the Loyalty Widget and Points Redemption

11.1. Loyalty Widget

From Ako Marketing, navigate to Settings > Loyalty widget, turn on the switch of Show Widget and decide what timing you'd like the widget expand automatically to show the loyalty program details to your members.
.Open the widget when customer
.Open the widget after customers log in or sign up

.Open the widget on the Thank You page

11.1. Point Redemption

  1. From Ako Marketing, navigate to Loyalty Program > Settings > Redemption. In the drop-down list, choose the theme you want to embed points redemption with. The current theme will be the default option here. Once selected, click "Preview in theme" button.

  2. This will enable your customers to redeem their points during the checkout process. For a step-by-step guide and redemption demo, please see: Embed One-click Points Redemption and Redeem Process Demo

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