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Time-Tested Lessons for Launching Loyalty

Executing a loyalty program is a massive undertaking, but we’ve built a solid foundation through research, strategy and financial modeling in previous sections. Even so, tight deadlines, technological barriers and cross-channel fragmentation are just some of the myriad of issues that spring up like a game of Whack-A-Mole.

In part 4 of Baesman’s loyalty series, we’ll provide some tips and strategies to secure a successful launch and consistent wins as the program evolves.

Data & Technology

Real-time data is superior to batching.

There’s no beating around the bush on this one. Batching quite simply leads to delays in data—which in turn—leads to delays in customer communication. While the immediate impact may be opaque, we can classify a delay in communication as a negative customer experience.

Imagine you are part of a loyalty program and you purchase during a double-points event. You will receive those points on your purchase, but you’ve been place in a batch and have just missed the cutoff for points updates.

As a customer you’ll have to wait until the next regular batch communication for your points balance.

There’s a missed opportunity for brands to bring that customer back for another purchase.
Now consider that on average, any negative customer experience requires 12 positive customer experiences to make up for it according to Parature.

Real-time data and triggered lifecycle communication are the way to go for loyalty.

API’s can be fickle.

API’s are your best friend as a loyalty marketer, there’s no denying that. With the number of vendors, channels, data streams and commerce applications; loyalty would be impossible without them. That being said, API’s can be fickle technologies—working one minute, but broken the next.

A healthy dose of caution is not new for marketers when it comes to technology applications. Be clear with vendor and brand developers on the purpose and implementation of API’s.

They should be able to explain the structure, implementation and result in a way that you can understand. Go with your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, ask questions. Ultimately if the feed doesn’t work, it’s going to cause a problem for marketing, not engineering.

Additionally, quality assurance is paramount. Don’t rely on developers or QA teams to do it for you, you’re going to need to get your hands dirty. It can save massive headaches and dollars as the program comes to fruition.

Offers, Incentives & Strategy

Even the best loyalty framework is nothing without proper incentives and brand-right offers.

The strategy makes the program.

Marketers think of points and tiers as static, but they’re actually quite fluid. Points intertwine with other offers and special events. Remember to look at this from the customer’s perspective. From their view, the program is a unified front. It’s not broken down into tactics, yet each offer impacts their view of the program as a whole.

Utilize extra points events sparingly, make sure they remain valuable to your customer. Implement too many and you run the risk of training your customer to wait.

That’s a slippery slope to a failed program, it’s difficult to dig out of that hole. Gifts with purchase, product exclusives and other offers are a great alternative that can add to the program and provide value without giving away points.

Measure & Change

No matter how much preparation goes into execution, something always goes wrong, it’s inevitable.
The best advice Baesman can give any marketer that’s executing loyalty is to monitor members as much as possible. Their actions will let you know if something is off.

Keep in touch with call centers and what complaints are being logged.

Monitor bounce rates and compare to your Ecommerce sites for a baseline.

Analyze customer paths to see where members are getting stuck, what they’re looking for and what is incongruous with their expectations.

Don’t be overly cautious about making changes based on the data and member behavior. Taking action quickly can save a program months of uphill battles. Small steps now can prevent moving mountains in the future.
Your members are the driving force behind recommendations and purchasing power, fixing barriers to maintain a positive experience is paramount.

Gut Check

Last but not least, give everything a gut check. Look everything over, imagine you’re the customer going through the flow. Everything must feel like a logical next step, so if your gut is telling you something is off, don’t hesitate to quickly evaluate and make changes. The program’s success may depend on it.