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Key action items for your loyalty program relaunch/refresh

The time for change is now. Consumer expectations are constantly evolving and the digital, hyper-personalized world we live in is complex. The true meaning of customer loyalty has shifted from a transactional brand relationship to one that now communicates on a 1:You level. And, the opportunity for program expansion has become a reality.

The global market for loyalty programs is expected to reach $201 billion by 2022, reflecting a compound growth rate of 5% annually. Loyalty marketers are seizing this opportunity and are in the midst of evaluating their loyalty programs to determine if they should consider a refresh or relaunch.

As I discussed in my last article, there are many variables that come into play to help guide the ‘relaunch or refresh' decision, including budget, leaderships' buy-in/support, etc.

In addition to the program update initiatives, you need to plan for the to do’s following the refresh/relaunch of the program and ensure the value is being communicated to all stakeholders involved.

Here are some action steps to incorporate into your relaunch/refresh:

1. Develop your communication strategy

It’s easy to get into the daily grind of a program relaunch/refresh. But you also need to plan for post relaunch/refresh.

The first step is to develop your communication strategy: How are you going to create awareness of the new benefits of your program?

There are many stakeholders that need to be informed and it’s your job to make sure all parties are in the know. For example, determine the best way to communicate to the folks you engage with in the PR and Investor Relations communities.

And given the investment it takes (in terms of your time, effort and budget dollars) to relaunch or refresh your loyalty program, you should incorporate an advertising strategy into the communication plan.

Lastly, put a plan in place as to how you plan to communicate to your members – that is your customers.

2. Don’t dismiss the importance of segmentation

As it relates to communicating to your customers, I recommend segmenting your list by your top tier customers and make sure they receive a priority communication that’s relevant to their specific interests in your products/brand. Go above and beyond for this tier and make sure you’re fully engaged with these members.

Oftentimes the clients I work with ask me if their customers will be happy with the program changes. As I always say, “some will like the changes, some will not; some will complain about them, some will not; some will shop more, some will shop less.”

It’s not always predictable, but the more you communicate, the better off you’ll be. Additionally, leverage the program refresh/relaunch as an opportunity to re-engage lapsed members. 

3. Leverage analytics to unfold meaningful insights

With limited time and budget, you need to determine where it’s best to focus for the most impact. Following the relaunch or refresh of your loyalty program, plan for how you can incorporate analytics to further increase the program results.

Analytics are very telling (and predictive) and can be used for a variety of initiatives, such as monitoring your customer’s behaviors/feelings to the changes in your program (promotional offerings). Also, they can help guide retention strategies and recommendations for future purchases.

4. Create an employee training program

Your employees are your best advocates. As you’re planning for the changes to your loyalty program, keep in mind the training that’s needed for your internal team members (your employees) to ensure everyone is bought into the program and understands the updates along with the benefits.

Have your employees enroll in your program so they get to experience the program first-hand. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. And make sure they are prepared to communicate to customers (and members) about the changes, what they mean and what improvements were made.

One example is Nordstrom, which recently relaunched its loyalty program, ‘the Nordy Club’. The retail powerhouse revamped its member tiers and now offers more experiences and perks. Additionally, they increased the earning potential of their rewards by over 50% in comparison to its previous terms.

But the program now extends beyond the transactional rewards. Members now have access to new product launches and are able to experience personalized services such as ‘the first to shop’ or a personal shopping concierge. And the program relaunch has earned positive results.

So as we’re heading into the new year (and new decade), take time to evaluate and plan for how you can achieve success with your program refresh or relaunch.

And don’t forget to have fun with your planning, be creative and think outside the box.