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May 24, 2018

3 must-have features of a loyalty management system

Mike Sędzielewski
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Every e-commerce needs a loyalty management system. Period. Today, when customers hop across to other brands just because of a single coupon, you have to equip your marketing team with the tools to fight back. Tailored loyalty software is one of those tools. Here are some substantial features a good loyalty platform should have.

Consumers are tired of irrelevant mass-offers they’ve been bombed with all day long. If you want to win their attention and increase your chances of driving repeat purchases, your messaging has to be human and feel familiar to them. How to achieve this? It’s as easy as:

  • remember some facts and dates (and sometimes whereabouts) relative to them,
  • invite them into an incentive,
  • deliver to a customer at the right time.

Do it regularly, on a regular basis and for the whole customer base, and you’ve just built a basis for a loyalty program.

Let’s drill this down a little bit.

Dynamic segments & incentive personalization to stand out in the crowd

To connect your campaigns with customer attributes, you need to make your loyalty management system aware of them. This most probably means it should be synced with your CRM software. On top of that, it should be capable of storing other data relevant to loyalty campaigns. Having all this in place, your marketers are able to see consumer profiles and history in a unified customer view.

Such a view helps to create loyalty incentives. By browsing the profiles one by one, marketers can come up with some personas and respective incentive scenarios. They learn how to leverage complete data to launch targeted campaigns. Then, the natural next step is to assess how many customers will be affected. Dynamic segmentation gives marketers a way to achieve this; with the advanced set of filters, marketers can split the customer base into fine-grained groups like “dormant”, “offer X product”, “anniversary” and so on. This will then help them to evaluate the impact the campaign will have on customers, the very first step of A/B experiments.

But before we jump into A/B testing your loyalty campaigns, let’s talk about rewards. The crux of loyalty software lies in its ability to adapt campaign logic to business reality. It’s rewards that motivate customers and drive them to the next best outcome.

How does this translate into particular features? The campaign editor should support:

  • points - marketers should be able to define how customer earn the points. The platform should support the most common shopping events, but also custom ones like points for social media activity or rewards for providing feedback/reviews.
  • gamification - the system should provide out-of-the-box milestones which marketers can use to build powerful loyalty programs. The milestones should be based on time, frequency, revenue, earned points or any other custom “currency”.
  • multiple rewards - as personalized rewards are the best engagement artifacts, the “your loyalty” software should cover several types, including coupons, gift cards, stored discounts, cashback, loyalty points, or any “currency”. However, to control the promotional budget, campaign designers should have the ability to limit the cart volume and structure or set the reward expiry date.

Needless to say, these parameters should be easy to tweak from the UI, so marketers don’t have to bother the development team every time they want to change anything about an incentive.

Integrations & API to enable every marketing channel

Designing a loyalty campaign is one thing. The equally important other step is to deliver to the customers to get their attention at the right time and in the right place. In today’s world, an omni-channel approach to loyalty campaigns isn’t an option anymore. Of course, sending general information about the loyalty program with an email newsletter is a must. But then there’s much more; in-app messages, dedicated landing pages, Google & Facebook Ads, push notifications, SMS. You probably use some 3rd party vendors to activate these channels, so it’s good that your platform can be easily integrated with them through a plugin, Zapier integration, or the API.

The API itself is a critical thing. Nowadays, when marketing teams have dozens of services supporting their job, the ability to integrate several systems is becoming a must-have. The landmark example is the BI tools. Attributing the loyalty program ROI and comparing member vs non-member behavior from A/B tests are the key tasks for every CMO.

Therefore, loyalty platforms should be equipped with a developer-friendly API. What’s developer-friendly API you ask? API with thorough documentation, an onboarding engineer, software development kits (SDK), and practical usage examples. Such a package reduces the time and effort of development teams which can account for more and more significant amounts of the CMO’s budget.

Always be engaging with the self-serve customer portal & notifications

Apart from developer effort, running loyalty campaigns requires operational help from customer agents. Somebody has to answer dozens of customer questions related to terms of conditions and rewards. To reduce the load of this task, your loyalty system should provide customers with an easy way to monitor their performance and to redeem rewards. A self-serve customer portal integrated with your online shop or app, where the customers see the current progress and previous rewards, is a smart solution. Because there’s a high chance people will be visiting it often, marketers can use this space to advertise other, relevant offers.

The last tool marketers can use to engage customers in your loyalty program and ultimately into your brand is reminders. To cut through the noise while not being accused of spamming your loyalty platform, you should send relevant and informational notifications about program details. What’s the point of getting a reminder about an already expired reward? Would you like to get notifications about earning points for products you never buy? Yet, because of generic technology, it still happens. Smart reminders are based on real-time customer attributes and are timely displayed non-intrusively on a device of choice.

Takeaway

To stand out and enroll customers into your loyalty program effectively, more and more personalization is needed. Without being able to segment and engage customers at the right time and in the right context, your loyalty campaigns will drop in efficiency. So, before you launch your first loyalty program, sit down with your CTO and discuss how you can leverage your web application and CRM software to build marketing technology that will sky-rocket your campaigns.

Learn how Voucherify’s building blocks and API helped our customers build personalized loyalty campaigns.
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