The Best Blog Posts of 2016

January 3, 2017 Kirsten Burkard

As the Christmas decorations come down and everyone settles into their new 2017 routines, it’s the perfect opportunity to look back and reflect on the incredible year we’ve experienced here at  From accelerated growth (including hiring yours truly!) to exciting new integrations and the launch of our one-of-a-kind retention calculator, we’ve had an incredibly busy year and feel extremely privileged to have been a part of your own successes in 2016.

best smile blog posts growth 

While we’re proud of everything we’ve achieved, one of our greatest accomplishments is still providing you with outstanding content every single week.  From case studies to expert loyalty advice, we’re committed to delivering nothing but the best loyalty and ecommerce resources.  2016 was no different, and following the success of our blog roundup post last year we’ve decided to do it again!



The Best Blog Posts of 2016

Each of the articles included in this list were published in 2016, and have been ranked according to the number of times each post was read over the past year.  In order to give you a better idea of what makes these posts so outstanding, I’ll be including a brief description of what the post was about.  You’ll also get to see some of the key takeaways, and of course a link to the full article will also be provided.  

Without further ado, let’s see what 2016 had to offer.  

10. Why Does Email Capture Matter? The Importance of List Building

best smile blog posts email marketing

Fact: just because customers have visited your site in the past, it doesn’t mean they’ll come back again.  As much as you might wish otherwise, one positive impression isn’t enough to bring someone back to your store.  The simple solution?  Create more positive impressions!

Whether you’re focusing on retention or acquisition strategies, email marketing gives you the opportunity to create more sales opportunities for your business with every interaction.  This article gives you seven reasons why email capture is important for your business, and tips on how to do it effectively.

best smile blog posts takeaways subtitle

  • Why email capture is a necessary marketing tactic for your business
  • How to bring customers back to your store
  • How to start building an email list

Read the full article here.

9. Loyalty Case Study: Reward Zone

best smile blog posts reward zone

Whether you’re a gamer, movie lover, or tech aficionado, Best Buy works hard to deliver value with every transaction.  Their Reward Zone loyalty program is a huge part of their customer experience, allowing them to adapt to changing marketplaces and compete with other up-and-coming tech retailers.

This case study explores the ins and outs of this well-established program, highlighting both the positives and the negatives.  We’ve left no stone unturned in this thorough case study, and guarantee you’ll pick up a couple of ways you can improve your own program in the process!

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Why Reward Zone is an effective loyalty program
  • How Reward Zone can improve its customer experience
  • How loyalty programs affect customer experience

Read the full article here.

8. Loyalty Case Study: MyNB

best smile blog posts new balance

This is probably one of the most exciting loyalty case studies we’ve ever done because it’s for a relatively new program.  Launched in 2015, New Balance’s MyNB program is committed to encouraging social engagement and building brand community.  These principles are directly tied to the time in which the program was designed, making it highly valuable for the brand and shoppers alike.

But no matter how functional a program is, it can’t all be sunshine and roses.  This case study breaks down what works and what doesn’t work within the MyNB program, helping you decide whether this is a program you should get up and run for or watch pass by from the sidelines.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Why MyNB is an effective loyalty program
  • How MyNB can be improved
  • How to clearly communicate a program’s value

Read the full article here.

7. 7 Outstanding Examples of VIP Programs

best smile blog posts best vip

Here at, tiered loyalty programs have always been a popular topic of discussion.  In fact, we’re so passionate about them that we’ve made it possible for merchants to start their own VIP program!

Obviously you guys share our enthusiasm for status-based rewards, as this program round-up post made it onto the list at number 7.  Whether you’re looking to start your own VIP program or are simply interested in learning more, each of these examples give you an excellent idea of how tiered loyalty can work for your business.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Key features of the world’s most successful VIP programs
  • Overviews of some of the best loyalty programs in the world
  • How VIP tiers maximize retention efforts

Read the full article here.

6. Loyalty Case Study: Plum Rewards

best smile blog posts plum rewards

This is actually the first case study I ever wrote for the blog, so I’m very excited to see you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!  I’ve been a diehard Indigo fan since I was young, and have always enjoyed being a Plum Rewards member.  I mean, come on – being able to redeem rewards for free books is a dream come true!

This case study draws upon my personal experience with the program, and even though I could happily spend all of my money at Indigo I promise that this case study is in no way biased.  There are a couple of elements of the Plum program that are anything but sweet, and these provide excellent contrast for what Indigo’s loyalty program has done successfully.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Why Plum Rewards is an effective loyalty program
  • How Plum Rewards can be improved
  • The importance of accessibility for loyalty programs

Read the full article here.

5. Starbucks’ New Loyalty Program: Good, Bad, or Blah

best smile blog posts starbucks

There are few loyalty programs that can incite the same level of hysteria as Starbucks.  In February 2016, Starbucks announced the changes they were making to their My Starbucks Rewards, and let’s just say that people had (loud) opinions.

This aggressive feedback prompted us to write a response of our own.  In our post, we looked at My Starbucks Rewards from every angle in order to determine if the program’s dramatic changes really made a difference to the value of their customer experience.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • What changed with My Starbucks Rewards
  • Positive and negative impacts of changes to My Starbucks Rewards
  • The impact of these changes on My Starbucks Rewards

Read the full article here.

4. 4 Loyalty Program Examples in Food and Beverage

best smile blog posts food and beverage

These days, you can buy virtually everything online – even consumables!  As ecommerce food and beverage sales continue to climb, the competition in this market will also continue to grow.  This makes customer loyalty the perfect tool for success.

This post was written as an extension of our How to Build a Program In… industry guides.  This series gives you the chance to understand how to design and build your own successful program from the ground up in a number of different industries.  The programs mentioned in this post are all excellent examples of how to build a program that puts you ahead of your competitors and keeps your brand looking as tasty as your products.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Tips for building a loyalty program in the food and beverage industry
  • Overviews of some of the best food and beverage loyalty programs in the world
  • How loyalty benefits food and beverage brands

Read the full article here.

3. A YouTuber Explains How to Pitch a YouTube Channel

best smile blog posts youtube

It’s no secret that YouTube is an amazing way to market your brand.  The tricky part is knowing how to pitch your products so that customers will want to buy them.  This is a very specific skill, and can take some time to learn.

Who better to teach you than a professional?  Last year we sat down with a YouTuber with over 60,000 subscribers to find out what it takes to run a successful (and profitable!) YouTube channel.  This post gives you the inside scoop on how to start a channel, find brand advocates, and make the most of video marketing.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • How to pitch your brand to a YouTuber
  • How to pitch a YouTube channel
  • How to create impactful YouTube videos

Read the full article here.

2. Loyalty Case Study: Marvel Insider

best smile blog posts marvel insider

Marvel made headlines this year by introducing the first pop culture franchise loyalty program.  With Marvel Insider, Marvel pushed the boundaries of rewards programs and gave fans everywhere a reason to put on a cape, watch movie trailers, and read more comic books.

This type of innovation doesn’t come without some growing pains, though.  In this case study I highlight what Marvel did well and what they could improve on with the goal of showing you, the readers, what loyalty can do.  Some of my ideas were even featured on Colloquy!  So if you’re wondering what you missed last year in loyalty, this post is a great place to start.

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • Why Marvel Insider is an effective loyalty program
  • How Marvel Insider can be improved
  • How to design rewards for your best customers

Read the full article here.

1. Welcome to the Future: Virtual Reality in eCommerce

best smile blog posts virtual reality

I’m not even a little bit surprised that this was the number one post of 2016.  For most of the past year, merchants and customers alike have been preoccupied with the future of loyalty programs and what that will look like.  While gamification and experiential rewards are sure to gain prominence, nothing is more exciting than virtual reality.

So what’s the hold-up? Why isn’t everyone already using it?  This article answers those questions and more while exploring what virtual reality can bring to the table in regards to customer experience and marketing.  With this type of technology on the horizon, the future is certainly looking bright!

best smile blog posts takeaway subtitle

  • The rise of virtual reality in ecommerce
  • How to use virtual reality for ecommerce
  • The benefits of engaging content

Read the full article here.



Looking Back on a Year of Excellence

I know we said 2015 was a great year for the blog, but if 2015 was great then 2016 was absolutely magical.  Thanks to your continued support, we were able to publish more amazing content than ever, with our posts being read more than 250,000 times!

best smile blog posts subscriber stats

This number is even more incredible when you consider that these numbers helped our subscriber list grow by 200%!  We couldn’t have done any of that without you, and all of us here at sincerely thank you!

I hope that this list has inspired you to continue growing throughout 2017, and as always I’d love to hear from you!  If you have an idea for an article, or would like to see something specific in our resources section or on the blog, let me know!  You can find me on Twitter at either @kirstenburkard or @smilerewards.

Hats off to 2016, and cheers to 2017! Let’s make it the best year yet!

Previous Article
Loyalty Case Study: My Canadian Tire Money
Loyalty Case Study: My Canadian Tire Money

My Canadian Tire Money is one of Canada's best loyalty programs for many reasons. We give you the scoop on ...

Next Article
Using Loyalty as an Acquisition Tool
Using Loyalty as an Acquisition Tool

You may think rewards programs are only for retention marketing, but you'd be wrong! You can use loyalty as...


Join 30,000+ entrepreneurs already ahead of the game

Welcome to the Smile community ✨
Error - something went wrong!