Building a Rewards Program With 5 Million Monthly Visits: PC Optimum

Loyalty Programs
Site & eCommerce
App
Email
October 1, 2020
Grocery

Key Takeaways

Digital Impact — PC Optimum Leads Other Grocery Loyalty Programs: Compared to competing rewards programs, PC Optimum has roughly 6 times more traffic than getmyoffers.ca (the rewards program for Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, & Foodland) & 42 times more traffic than morerewards.ca (Save-On-Foods’ program). That said, both My Offers & More Rewards have experienced more significant traffic growth during the period (+167% & +70% respectively) than PC Optimum (+14%).

Digital Ecosystem Strategy — A Network Effect Scales The Digital Impact & Member Value of PC Optimum: PC Optimum both sends and receives traffic from many other Loblaws digital properties, including grocery properties and related PC properties. In other words, the ability of each property to generate and sustain traffic is highly dependent on the network of other related properties. The same ‘mutual reinforcement’ principle applies to the member benefits that Loblaws is able to build into PC Optimum thanks to its large network of owned brands and programs. By taking advantage of this network effect, Loblaws can create incrementally stronger incentives for members to engage with the program by layering offers across its many product & service providers.

Digital Ecosystem Strategy — The Loyalty Program is New the Bottom of the Digital Funnel: Direct is the largest traffic channel for almost every website on the web, but pcoptimum.ca has an abnormally large proportion of traffic driven by direct, as well as a relatively low proportion of traffic driven by other digital channels. A large proportion of direct traffic typically comes from in-app referrals. In other words, PC Optimum’s abnormally large proportion of direct traffic is evidence that Loblaws relies on driving traffic to the program via the rest of its digital ecosystem, and less so on driving traffic directly via the more typical digital traffic channels such as search, email, paid, etc. PC Optimum is part of Loblaws lower funnel.

Retention Strategy — Weekly Personalized Offers Drive Digital Re-Engagement: Each week, PC Optimum members get an updated set of personalized points offers that are promoted via mobile app push notifications as well as personalized emails to program members who have opted in. Weekly offer emails are an integral part of PC Optimum’s engagement and retention strategy, contributing to significant increases in web traffic (3x) and app usage (1.4x)* every Thursday when the new offers are released.

Advertising Strategy — Digital Ads May Be Better For Re-Engagement Versus New Member Acquisition: Multiple Loblaws social accounts were used for PC Optimum Facebook ads. Top spending ads almost always focused on big point-earning offers. Based on the top nature of the ad creative & copy, Loblaws appears to be using paid social to retarget current users rather than for new user acquisition, supporting the idea that Loblaws relies on digital ecosystem integration to drive PC Optimum member acquisition.


In February of 2018, Loblaws merged their PC Plus & Shoppers Optimum Loyalty Programs to create a unified loyalty program, PC Optimum. 

Tweet #1, Tweet #2

PC Optimum is a standalone loyalty program with its own website (pcoptimum.ca) and app.

Over the past two years, pcoptimum.ca has seen relatively stable traffic of 4M - 6M monthly visits, but growing only +14% since Nov. ‘18.


Compared to competing rewards programs, PC Optimum has roughly 6 times more traffic than getmyoffers.ca (the rewards program for Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, & Foodland) & 42 times more traffic than morerewards.ca (Save-On-Foods’ program). That said, both My Offers & More Rewards have experienced more significant traffic growth during the period (+167% & +70% respectively) than PC Optimum (+14%).

Despite being a standalone program, PC Optimum is deeply integrated into Loblaw’s overall digital ecosystem. 92% of all referrals to PC Optimum are driven by 10+ Loblaws properties.

Despite being a standalone program, PC Optimum is deeply integrated into Loblaw’s overall digital ecosystem. ~99% of outgoing traffic from PC Optimum is to 10+ Loblaws properties.


PC Optimum both sends and receives traffic from many other Loblaws digital properties, including grocery properties and related PC properties. In other words, the ability of each property to generate and sustain traffic is highly dependent on the network of other related properties. 


The same ‘mutual reinforcement’ principle applies to the member benefits that Loblaws is able to build into PC Optimum thanks to its large network of owned brands and programs. By taking advantage of this network effect, Loblaws can create incrementally stronger incentives for members to engage with the program by layering offers across its many product & service providers.

Based on October 2020 web traffic, PC Financial is a cornerstone of the PC digital ecosystem, having generated more traffic than all of the other services combined.

No web traffic for October as it launched in November of 2020


The pcoptimum.ca landing page is optimized for conversions with a short summary of the reward program’s main benefits, a FAQ section, information on where to earn points, and links to the iOS App Store and Android Google Play Store for users to download the PC Optimum app.

The rewards program landing pages for direct Canadian grocery competitors focus less on promoting new sign-ups and more on providing information for existing members—such as visuals on how to load offers or ways to spend their points.



Direct is the largest traffic channel for almost every website on the web, but pcoptimum.ca has an abnormally large proportion of traffic driven by direct, as well as a relatively low proportion of traffic driven by other digital channels. A large proportion of direct traffic typically comes from in-app referrals. In other words, PC Optimum’s abnormally large proportion of direct traffic is evidence that Loblaws relies on driving traffic to the program via the rest of its digital ecosystem, and less so on driving traffic directly via the more typical digital traffic channels such as search, email, paid, etc. PC Optimum is part of Loblaws lower funnel.


Mobile Search (13%) & Desktop Organic Search (4%) drive a combined 17% of site traffic to pcoptimum.ca. For Mobile, 83% of the searches are branded while 87% of Desktop Organic searches are branded. In other words, the vast majority of searches are being conducted by people who are aware of pcoptimum.ca and are using similar search patterns across mobile & desktop.


PC Optimum’s deep integration in Loblaw’s digital ecosystem is also seen in its backlink profile and referring domains structure, where only 12 (2%) of the 500 most impactful backlinks* are from non-Loblaws web properties. Like pcexpress.ca, Loblaws has used its broad digital ecosystem of portfolio brands to support efforts to rank and drive Organic Traffic to pcoptimum.ca.

Based on Authority Score from SEMrush


Each week, PC Optimum members get an updated set of personalized points offers that are promoted via mobile app push notifications as well as personalized emails to program members who have opted in.


Weekly offer emails are an integral part of PC Optimum’s engagement and retention strategy, contributing to significant increases in web traffic (3x) and app usage (1.4x)* every Thursday when the new offers are released.

App usage is for the Google Play store only


Loblaw’s has spent over $700K on PC Optimum related social ads in 2020*. 99% of social & display ad spend was spent on Facebook.

Note: This Ad Spend figure excludes most retargeted Facebook ads and Instagram ads. Actual spend is likely much higher.


Multiple Loblaws social accounts were used for PC Optimum Facebook ads. Top spending ads almost always focused on big point-earning offers. Based on the top nature of the ad creative & copy, Loblaws appears to be using paid social to retarget current users rather than for new user acquisition, supporting the idea that Loblaws relies on digital ecosystem integration to drive PC Optimum member acquisition.

Charity initiatives, Point bonuses, Point multiplier events, Point earning events, Bonus redemption events


The PC Optimum app conforms to many best practices for the App Store & Google Play Store, which are also used by other Canadian standalone rewards programs like SCENE.


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