Why Should You Invest in a Good Loyalty Platform?
What is a loyalty platform?
A loyalty platform (loyalty management software) is a platform to create, launch, manage, and track your loyalty programs. Loyalty platform helps you run your loyalty programs more efficiently.
In this post, we will focus on the advantages of having a (good) loyalty platform.
Why should you invest in a loyalty platform?
Why should you invest in a full-blown, all-in-one loyalty platform if you can run your loyalty program with your developers, developing new features as you go? While manual or MVP solutions might work in the short run, in the long run, a good loyalty platform helps you optimize your ROI and makes managing your loyalty programs easier and faster.
Saving you time and money and optimizing your loyalty campaigns to maximize the profits are the main goals of a loyalty platform. There are multiple ways in which a loyalty platform can support these goals. Let’s dive into the topic and see what a loyalty platform can do for your loyalty program management.
Here are the main benefits of having an out-of-the-box, all-in-one loyalty platform in place:
- Faster time-to-market
- Omni-channel distribution
- Landing pages creator
- Customer cockpits
- CRM integration
- Dynamic segments
- Personalization of rewards, eligibility criteria, and incentives timing
- Validation rules
- Expiration date
- Loyalty program tiers
- Rewards stacking
- Offline and online redemptions
- Budget control
- Fraud prevention
- Tracking and reporting
Building your loyalty program from scratch takes time. Changing the rules of the program takes time. Rolling out new features, you guessed it, takes time.
If you use a loyalty platform with out-of-the-box features, from the start, you have a lot of features to choose from, which gives you faster time-to-market and the flexibility to change the program rules and add new features. Good loyalty platform providers are continually working on new features you can use as soon as they become available on the platform.
With a good loyalty platform, you can test your loyalty program, analyze it, and optimize it. Changing the point assignment rules, rewards, tiers, timing, distribution channels, and much more should be doable with just a couple of clicks. Such changes would take weeks or even months of development without a dedicated loyalty platform.
An omnichannel approach to loyalty campaigns isn’t an option anymore – it’s a must. In-app messages, dedicated landing pages, Google & Facebook Ads, web channels, SMS, e-mail, chatbots, and more. Who knows what will be trending next year?
If you run your loyalty program manually, you will need a content editor to copy-paste all the promotional messaging into all the platforms and make sure that it is consistent. If you use an all-in-one loyalty platform, distribution channels can be easily integrated through a plugin or API. That way, it’s enough to set up the campaign and the messaging once, on one platform, and it will be delivered everywhere, at the same time.
Reminders & loyalty program notifications
Smart reminders are based on real-time customer attributes. To avoid being accused of spamming your customers, you should send relevant notifications about the loyalty program details. You can automatically send them with a good loyalty platform based on various attributes, such as three days before the points expire or five days after joining the program. Sending out reminders manually would take too much time, especially with campaigns that people join at different times (e.g., a 5% voucher for a newsletter sign-up, valid for one month), where you can’t manually track when the reminders should be sent.
Loyalty landing pages creator
A well-designed loyalty platform speeds up campaigns time-to-market and lets marketers create the campaigns on their own. The landing pages creator should contain a couple of page templates, reusable widgets, and e-mail collection forms. It also should have branding possibilities. A good loyalty platform will offer all this out-of-the-box. This will save you time and money if you want to launch unique campaigns on top of your loyalty program’s basic rules.
Customer cockpit is an individual customer space that shows which incentives are currently available for the given user and gives them a platform to exchange their points for rewards. Customer cockpits with loyalty points or rewards available to your customers on your website or mobile app will heat off customer support agents by helping them self-serve. Having white-label customer cockpits out-of-the-box in your loyalty platform is a great time-saver.
To make the most out of your loyalty program, you need to offer appropriate incentives to your customers. A good loyalty platform will use the data from your CRM to personalize your loyalty program, segment customers, and protect you from fraud. By using a good loyalty platform, your marketers can see consumer profiles and history in a unified customer view.
It might also be beneficial to have some of the information about your customers, their use of the loyalty program (participation in the loyalty program, amount of loyalty program points, redeemed rewards) fed back to your CRM system from the loyalty platform. Building such a two-way communication between your loyalty program and CRM system from scratch is time-consuming and requires constant maintenance work. The best-of-breed loyalty platforms are API-based and can integrate with your CRM system and other software fast and without much work on your end.
Dynamic segmentation adds your customers to the relevant segment based on their metadata. This means every customer that meets the requirements will be assigned to the appropriate segment and access the relevant campaigns. For example, suppose you want to make your loyalty program exclusively for your already loyal customers. In that case, you can set up a segment of customers who have spent over 1000$ in your store over the past calendar year, and everyone who meets these criteria will be part of your program.
Dynamic segmentation can also be used for differentiating the loyalty program’s incentives. For example, you can rule that every customer from Germany gets double points for Mondays’ orders. Every new German customer will automatically be a part of this segment and get the “special” loyalty program rules applied. A good loyalty platform offers dynamic segmentation out-of-the-box to enable dynamic promotions.
Personalization of rewards, eligibility criteria, and incentives timing
What makes a good personalization? When talking about loyalty programs, personalization covers mainly three areas: rewards, eligibility, and timing.
If possible, you should expand beyond the standard point-based model with material rewards. There are plenty of possibilities — you can reward your customers with discounts, free samples, gift cards, cash payouts, or free delivery, depending on what incentive would work best for a particular customer segment. Your loyalty platform should enable you to be flexible when it comes to the rewards catalog.
It is critical to define who precisely and in what conditions gets the offer. The loyalty platform should allow you to quickly impose and change redemption rules based on new customer trends, product and order attributes, and budget constraints.
The last bit of personalization is timing. You can push customers to action by creating urgency with expiry dates or strategically placed countdown timers. Also, calendar-driven loyalty programs for occasions such as holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries are just a brilliant and natural way to entice customers throughout the year. A good loyalty platform should let you set fine-grained timeframes and expiration dates and schedule promotions.
One more thing to keep in mind – if you want to personalize your campaigns, you will probably come up with factors that were not accounted for in the loyalty platform, for example, weather conditions in a customer location. This is not a “usual” type of data to store in a CRM system or a loyalty platform. The best loyalty platform has a solution to add such “custom” metadata and personalize your campaigns based on it.
Validation rules (redemption limits)
Reward validation system – a good loyalty platform lets you set up fine-grained validation rules. It is not enough to set the rules and hard-code them once. You should be able to change them as you learn more about your customers and for special promotions (e.g., double points for VIP customers on a specific day). You should be able to set the validation rules based on:
1) Customer attributes, purchase and reward redemption history
By making your loyalty platform aware of customer attributes and behavior, you can create segments and assign them to a particular campaign. To make it work, you should sync your CRM data. With this in place, every time the reward is applied, the system checks if a customer is eligible to get it.
2) Order structure and volume
You might want to grant the rewards based on the order structure and volume; in other words, what and how much of it the customers are buying. You can achieve it by integrating your validation rules with the shopping cart engine. Your loyalty software should understand the order’s content and validate whether the customer can redeem it against an active reward campaign.
3) Custom Events
You might want to reward your customers for their purchases and other activities that prove their loyalty to your brand. For example:
- A customer subscribed to the newsletter.
- A customer liked one of your social media profiles.
- A customer left a review of your product.
To do that, you should have the possibility to add custom events to your loyalty program’s earning rules. A flexible loyalty platform enables you to do that.
Points expiration dates
Expiry dates are one of the essential features of a loyalty program. You can set the timeframe for the loyalty campaign and the loyalty points’ expiry date to entice customers to use them on your loyalty platform. That helps you control your budget and brings a sense of urgency for the customers, generating more sales.
Suppose you can set fine-grained time limits easily in your loyalty platform. In that case, you could also create a kind of “happy hours” promotion by multiplying your rewards on certain days or during certain hours, for eligible purchases, in your loyalty program. That’s another way to motivate people to purchase due to a limited offer, without giving cashback right away.
Loyalty program tiers
Creating different loyalty program tiers can help make your loyalty program more interesting for the customers, adding a gamification effect. Customers could be qualified to different loyalty tiers based on their purchases or other earning rules, like custom events.
Loyalty tiers could be differentiated by:
- The rewards catalog – offering some rewards only to higher tiers. For instance, you could be offering physical prizes for the bottom tier, points for the second, and cashback for the highest tier.
- The rewards worth – offering different discounts to different tiers (5, 10, 15% off).
- The earning rules – giving 1 point for a certain $ amount spent for the bottom tier, 1.5 points for the same $ amount for the middle level, and 2 points for the VIP tier.
- Expiry dates – for example, VIP clients could have longer expiry dates for their rewards.
Building such a complicated mechanism is very time-consuming. With a loyalty platform that has tiering built-in, you can try out different scenarios to see what motivates your consumer segments the most.
Loyalty rewards stacking
The stacking functionality lets you define allowed and forbidden discount combinations that give you even more space for loyalty program personalization. For instance, you can offer discounts and gift card credits as loyalty rewards. Depending on your business use case, you can allow or disallow using both for the same order. This way, you can also define some loyalty rewards that should or shouldn't be combined with other active promotions.
For instance, a general 15% discount cannot be combined with a 20% discount received via loyalty program membership. This way, you can protect your loyalty budget more effectively. A good loyalty program allows you to choose which promotions can be combined easily and the loyalty rewards hierarchy.
Offline and online redemptions
Your loyalty program should have online and offline redemptions enabled if you have brick-and-mortar stores or venues where you serve your product or service. This can be done via a mobile app and QR codes, for example. A good loyalty platform usually offers such options. You can also use Google Pay integration to connect your loyalty program with the Google Pay app to allow in-store redemptions.
In some cases, loyalty program members can abuse some criteria for getting points, and a program without limits can negatively affect your business’s financial condition. That's why it is critical to limit how many times customers can be rewarded for a particular action in a specific timeframe. To protect you from overspending and target only the customers you want to incentivize, your marketing team should have an option to cap the number of rewards up-front on the loyalty platform.
There are several ways to do so, for example, by limiting the:
- The number of redemptions per customer.
- Total redemptions for a given campaign (e.g., first 500 customers are eligible).
- Total discounted amount within a single campaign (e.g., maximum 30000$ worth of discounts).
- Total order value within a single campaign (e.g., maximum 100000$ worth of orders should take part in the campaign).
- You could also create limits for triggering points per earning rule (e.g., max 100 points for social media activity). It could help manage your budget spent on enticing certain customer behaviors and budget spent on enticing purchases separately.
A loyalty platform helps you manage your loyalty program(s), especially if you run more than one program or run unique campaigns from time to time (for example, extra points for Christmas shopping). The more loyalty programs you run, the more complex budget management becomes, unless you have a way to limit the budget upfront.
You should also consider having a kill switch. If your loyalty campaign goes wrong — you have noticed fraudulent behavior, or your coupon went viral in the wrong audience, you should always deactivate the related incentive without excluding it manually in the codebase. The best loyalty platform lets your marketing team do this on their own.
A good loyalty platform has features that protect your incentives from fraud.
The anti-fraud measures include quick marketing permissions management, email anti-fraud options, or double-opt-in verification to confirm your loyalty program participant’s identity. Another option worth looking into is the loyalty points expiration that ensures that no points and no rewards will be either collected or claimed after the end of your program.
Tracking and reporting
How can marketers calculate the ROI of a loyalty program? They need data about placed orders, redemptions of the rewards, and the type of rewards used. Your loyalty platform helps you first validate the reward usage and, second, inform which incentive has led to a particular order. The platform shouldn’t be tied to a few fixed reward types and values because your developers will be modifying this part every time the marketing team comes up with a new incentive idea.
A good loyalty platform tracks all redemptions and automatically differentiates all reward types. And your developers won’t need to create (or read) code. The best loyalty platform displays this data in an easy-to-digest dashboard or reports that your marketing team can use without sending a request to developers.
A good loyalty platform helps you launch, manage, and track your loyalty program quickly and without much development effort. It lets you quickly change the validation rules, launch timed promotions, change your distribution channel, re-segment your customers, and much more. It helps you to protect yourself from fraud and support you with optimizing and saving your budget. An excellent loyalty platform enables you to maximize your ROI and minimize your headache.
To support you with choosing the right loyalty platform for your business, we have created a guide on selecting the best loyalty software for your business. When choosing, you should check which features that loyalty platform can offer. This article gave you a short overview of features you could benefit from when using a loyalty platform vs. building a loyalty program yourself. To provide you with an overview of all possible loyalty program features, we have written a post about a good loyalty platform’s multiple features.
If you feel like you need a reliable loyalty platform, we’ve got you covered.