We obviously live in a fast-paced society. Many people are constantly on the go and in search of ways to simplify their busy lifestyles. As a result, companies are faced with the challenge of frequently devising plans to help adapt to the speed of change. What steps can companies take to help ensure they remain relevant? How can companies promote their products and services or attain specific business goals in a manner which will yield increased loyalty and year-over-year revenue growth? Furthermore, how can companies show their appreciation for those who have been instrumental in helping them reach those goals? To address these challenges, many companies have resorted to implementing loyalty programs. What better way to accommodate the needs of our ever-changing society than to reward individuals for doing something they are already planning to do! The purpose of this article is to expound on three essential phases that will ultimately affect the overall success of a loyalty program launch: Define, Design, Launch.

Loyalty Program Strategy: Define, Design, Launch

Define: Purpose, Target Audience, Budget

Purpose: The most important factor to consider when launching a loyalty program is the purpose of the program. Why is a loyalty program being considered? What is the desired behavioral change? Whether increasing sales, retention, brand awareness, motivating enhanced customer service, etc., it is imperative that the “why” be defined at the very beginning of the process. Also, goals must be clearly identified in order to measure the success of the program. When setting goals, a best practice is to adopt the SMART concept: Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Target Audience: Identify the target audience. Determine who will earn the rewards for helping to achieve the desired behavioral change.

Budget: Establish a budget. Decide on the amount that will be invested in the program as well as the expected return on investment.

Design: Program Structure

Constructing a successful program entails clearly defining how the program will work. It is imperative that the loyalty program be easy to understand. A few questions to consider during the design phase are as follows:

  • Who is eligible for the program?
  • What are the program rules
  • How long will the program run?
  • What rewards will be offered?
  • Are there any restrictions?

Make sure the program is not overly complicated. A simple program will yield the best results.

Set attainable goals. If goals are unattainable, there is a strong possibility the program will fail.

Construct a program site that is intuitive. Participants should not struggle to navigate from one area of the site to another.

Make the program fun!! Incorporate bonus opportunities to help maximize participation.

Launch: Promoting the Loyalty Program

The launch of a loyalty program should be a HUGE deal! The goal is to execute a unique campaign that will drum up excitement and highlight the benefits of participating.

  • Collaborate with the marketing/communications teams to brand the loyalty program. A catchy program name and attractive imagery will help turn heads and differentiate the loyalty program from competitor programs. Remember, Branding is Key!
  • Communicate the launch of the program in advance by sending/posting teasers. Doing so will assist in boosting engagement. A few mediums to consider are email, social media, text messaging, snail mail, brochures and even the loyalty program website.
  • Identify a select group of individuals to participate in a soft launch of the program. Launching on a smaller scale first will help identify and resolve possible bugs.
  • Host a loyalty program kickoff! This can be done at a huge event, such as an annual sales meeting. Awarding points for on-the-spot enrollments, conducting drawings and availing other contests will help build excitement.

Loyalty programs are here to stay! These are just a few strategies that can be adopted to help ensure a successful loyalty program launch. Additional strategies will need to be adopted to facilitate the ongoing success of the loyalty program.

Ramona Taft - Senior Client Manager at Vistex

Ramona Taft
Senior Client Manager at Vistex

Ramona is a seasoned professional in the B2B and B2C marketing arena and entered the incentive industry in 1998 where she managed multiple incentive programs. During her tenure, Ramona worked with third party vendors to manage retail incentive programs which aided in expanding the brand presence and increasing revenue for her company.

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