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Preparing your loyalty marketing program for 2020

A universal challenge loyalty marketers have is obtaining a 360-degree view of their customers. There’s lots of discussions around budget, specifically as it relates to technology, along with the complexities of integrating customer databases to achieve a 360-degree customer view.

As we’re preparing our loyalty program initiatives for the new year ahead, it’s important to take time and evaluate the state of your existing program.

  • When was the last time you refreshed your program?
  • Is it time for a relaunch or refresh?
  • Clients continuously ask me, “how often should I change my program?”, and my answer repeatedly is, “it depends”.

While there’s no set timetable as to how often marketers should relaunch, on average, the brands we work with typically relaunch their programs every three years.


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To help evaluate if your program needs to (or is ready to) evolve, consider the checklist below.

Evaluate: 

The first step is to assess your current loyalty initiative. Here’s some questions to consider for your program’s evaluation:

  • Is the value proposition still compelling and competitive?
  • Is the member experience memorable and seamless?
  • Is the program performing well operationally and financially? I

f the answer to any of those questions is “no” then it’s probably time to consider a program refresh/relaunch.

Budget: 

The next step is to ensure you have the funding for the relaunch. Oftentimes relaunches create a need for technology modifications in which we know can be a costly endeavor.

When I work with my clients, I advise them to take their allotted budget and then add 10% and this should be right around what you’ll spend on the update. In addition to the technology updates needed, you’ll have several other costs, and one that’s top of mind is reward fulfillment.

During the relaunch phase, several marketers ‘up the ante’ on their reward fulfillment and shift from the transactional rewards to more experiential which can significantly add to the program cost. So be financially ready.

Executive buy-in:

Make sure your key stakeholders believe in the relaunch and see the positive results that lies ahead. Prove to them ‘the why’ behind the relaunch. Share research or examples of other programs that have relaunched with great success.

Also, involve them in your decision making of the key components of the program so they feel engaged, and part of the relaunch. And once the program is relaunched, consider having all employees join so they can experience first-hand the wonderful benefits of the program and feel more engaged.

Strategy: 

Once you’ve established your budget and have leadership’s buy-in, the next step is to ensure you have a strategy in place. And it’s important to make sure your strategy is built for continued evolution.

As you’re developing your brand’s strategy, think of ways as to how you can add more emotional components. In my recent blog post, I shared some ideas as to how to keep emotions front and center: data is your best friend when it comes to understanding emotions, being brand empathetic wins customers over, and it’s important to understand ‘the biology’ of loyalty.

It’s interesting because there’s so many articles published today on personalization. Marketers need to strategize and think about what’s behind the scenes of personalization making it happen. It’s the emotional components that fuel the success of personalization, or what we refer to as 1:You.

Start thinking of ways in which you can update your loyalty program. A program relaunch for your brand might not be in the books for 2020, but consider a refresh.

For example, focus on a specific area of your program that you’ve been wanting to improve. As part of Nordstrom’s loyalty program relaunch, they added the rewards of exclusive insider access to style workshops, first-to-shop select brand shipments, curbside pick-up and more. These have been well received by members and they go beyond the transactional point earn/redemption to an experience – something members yearn for.

**This post originally appeared on L360.