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How to pick the right loyalty partner

No two ecommerce brands are the same. The challenges you want to solve with a loyalty program may be shared with others, but your specific requirements are unique to your store.  

This can make the process of selecting loyalty partners feel quite daunting. But we’re here to help. 

Keep reading for a breakdown of the key questions you’ll need to consider to ensure you choose the right loyalty program provider. 

What is a loyalty partner?

When you decide to invest in a loyalty program, it can be a complex undertaking for your brand. You may lack the resources, experience, and expertise needed within your team. This is exactly where a loyalty partner can help you. You will want to find a partner that can:  

  • Provide best-practice out-of-the-box earning and redemption solutions for basic programs
  • Offer onboarding advice and guidance to get a loyalty program live 
  • Enable more zero-party data collection through the program 
  • Provide technical support as and when required 

Standalone or suite?

Arguably the biggest decision you’ll have to make when you decide to invest in customer loyalty is whether to work with a standalone platform or to select a provider that provides a suite of tools. This decision will depend on many factors – for example, do you already have any of the other tools within that suite? And if so, are you happy with their performance and the providers’ levels of customer service? 

There are pros to working with a loyalty provider that offers a suite of tools. Streamlined billing, account management, and communications will keep your inbox tidy. Plus, you’ll only need to worry about one renewal process. 

But, if you already have some of the tools included in that suite, then it can be more work to migrate multiple platforms than to just onboard one new one. While working with one account manager might feel like less effort, you may find yourself relying on someone who has a surface-level understanding of all the areas they work on. But they’ll be short of in-depth, specialist knowledge of loyalty more specifically. 

While a standalone provider will be another platform to manage, it will come with dedicated loyalty expertise from an account manager who knows retention inside and out. You will also have the confidence that all investment and product direction is being channeled into loyalty, rather than it being diluted by other focuses. This specialist approach will far outweigh the convenience of a suite when it comes to seeing results from your loyalty and retention strategy.

Available integrations?

One of the key benefits of investing in loyalty in this opt-out era is the ability to use loyalty data and insights to power your other marketing tools and tactics. 

Selecting a loyalty platform that’s part of a suite can make it easy to integrate your program with other marketing channels and strategies such as email, SMS, and reviews.  But, with multiple tools to maintain, improve, and innovate, you may find that these providers are less able to respond to changing requirements or industry changes efficiently.

Most standalone loyalty platform providers can provide synergies with the same tools that you’ll find within a suite, passing loyalty data and insights via native integrations or APIs.  While this may feel like more work in the setup phase, this approach makes sure you benefit from subject matter expertise while getting access to a wide selection of best-in-class tools.

Integrating a standalone platform with your existing tools may require more up-front effort, but it will mean your technology stack stays up-to-date for longer, as well as giving you access to greater innovations over time. See LoyaltyLion’s best-in-class integrations

An extension of your team?

The third key question to ask yourself when considering loyalty platforms is how your provider will add value to your internal team, business, and brand. Too often, loyalty marketing is seen as an additional and complex item on the to-do list. This is your opportunity to work with a partnerthat helps you avoid this scenario and improve the customer experience.

Regardless of who you work with, you will likely have access to customer support. And, depending on the level of your engagement, a dedicated account manager. If that account manager is focused on customer loyalty only, then you’ll be adding invaluable retention expertise to your team.

The loyalty platform providers you choose should have a thorough onboarding process, and they should provide you with everything you need – like help documentation – to build your own program and go through the launch process. They should also have different options that cater to different levels of technical knowledge within your team.

Learning a new technology can be time-consuming. The right loyalty platform partner will make the process as easy as possible. LoyaltyLion has been the highest-rated Loyalty Management provider on G2 for over a year thanks to the glowing reviews about our customer support. Find out more on G2

Safe and secure?

Finally, loyalty and trust go hand in hand. As consumers become more and more sensitive to the ways their data is used in marketing activity, it’s crucial to be comfortable with the security practices of your provider.

The right provider will be able to support you to meet the data regulations in every market you sell and ship to. Take the time to review their terms of service, security policies, and any sub-processors they are using to make sure you’re comfortable that they can meet your security standards.

Look out for SOC 2 attestation to be doubly sure the platform you’re considering has the required best practices in place when it comes to handling customer data. You can find out more about LoyaltyLion’s security here

Trustworthy analytics and reporting?

As time goes by, you’ll want to keep interrogating whether you chose the right loyalty partner. This will ensure that you make the right decision again at the time of renewal. One of the key criteria for that conclusion is likely to be how well your loyalty program is performing. 

The key to answering that question lies in the data you’re able to gather from the loyalty platform you’re using. So, as you’re working through your options it’s a good idea to deepdive into the reporting and analytics available within each platform. 

Will you be able to easily understand how well the program is performing and whether it is having a positive impact on your business? Will you be able to attribute a genuine revenue figure to your loyalty program in order to justify continuing it? Will you be able to get concrete answers on whether or not your loyalty program is increasing customer lifetime value, and by how much? 

Ensuring that the reporting within the platform you choose to work with is robust and works for the kinds of questions you typically have to answer within your business is key.  

In summary

You know your business better than anybody else, so you’re well-equipped to pick the right loyalty partner. But before you commit, take a step back and stress test your decisions against the above criteria. That way, you can be sure the program you build sets you up for long-term retention success rather than short-term quick wins. 

Want to see some award-winning loyalty programs in practice? Check out the LoyaltyLion Hall of Fame.

LolayltyLion Hall Of Fame

About the author

Fiona Stevens

Fiona Stevens is the Head of Marketing at LoyaltyLion, a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform for fast-growth ecommerce merchants. LoyaltyLion helps thousands of retailers worldwide to build fully customized loyalty programs, proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Fiona has almost 15 years experience in Marketing, having worked in-house and agency side across functions including PR, SEO and content. She has specialized in loyalty for retail and ecommerce brands for the past eight years.

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