You know it’s the right time to invest in loyalty and retention, or you wouldn’t be here. But sometimes taking others on that journey with you is the hardest part of starting a loyalty program.
That’s why we’ve created this quick guide to getting your retention plans approved. Keep reading to find out how to build a business case for loyalty that will have your team falling over each other to get started.
1. Highlight where your program will integrate and add power to existing tools
A high-performing loyalty program doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s integrated with the other tools and technologies so that your loyalty data and insights power and personalize your communications across all marketing channels.
Make sure your plan has detailed how loyalty data – such as points balances, available rewards, and tier statuses – will be passed into your existing platforms including:
- Your email service provider (ESP) and automated email flows
- Your SMS provider
- Your helpdesk
The best way to increase buy-in for your loyalty program is to show how loyalty data significantly improves the performance and ROI of the technologies you’re already investing in.
2. Suggest where your program can be a part of other marketing activities
One of the common question marks around launching a loyalty program is around time management. Who will dedicate time to the day-to-day running of the program, and how will it fit around the tasks already on the to-do list?
Your proposed loyalty strategy should include examples of the marketing channels that your program will naturally support and optimize including:
- Increasing social media audiences by incentivizing follows
- Additional social media content created by loyal community members
- Loyalty program lookalike audiences to improve PPC targeting
- Driving review content to boost SEO performance
There are many unexpected ways that your loyalty program can support other marketing activities. Make sure you take the time to highlight how loyalty tasks can fit under many existing parts of a Marketer’s task list rather than becoming an additional set of activities.
3. Outline where your program will positively impact your profit margin
Every stakeholder speaks a different language, but for your plan to resonate with those who are closest to the numbers, it needs to translate in terms of margins. Be sure to cover the ways your loyalty program will positively impact (and even protect) the profit margins of your business.
Your plan should reference areas where your program will create efficiencies, for example:
- Cost-effective, experiential rewards that reduce your reliance on discounting
- “Free product” rewards that help shift excess stock before it becomes costly to keep in your warehouse
A loyalty program can do much to drive up profit margins and save wasted spending in areas of the business that you may not consider yourself connected to. It’s important to highlight these savings right from the start.
4. Show how your program will reduce your acquisition costs
From the Marketing bank of desks to the board room, everyone is talking about increasing acquisition costs and the decreasing performance of the channels we’ve traditionally used to win new customers.
As such, it’s essential that your loyalty strategy represents exactly how your program is going to help counter those challenges, and bring new customers in the door more cost-effectively. Make sure that you include:
- How incentivizing loyalty program members to refer friends and family helps to attract customers that are more likely to convert
- How incentivizing program members to leave reviews can help drive more consistent conversion of new customers
- How your program will reflect your brand – for example, with charitable rewards – that help to attract customers who share the same values
5. Show what success will look like
Nobody has a crystal ball, so it can be difficult to predict exactly how your program will perform, particularly in the first year while it grows and becomes more established.
To give greater confidence to those reviewing your strategy, make sure you’ve represented all the metrics that you’ll be tracking to prove your success and make decisions. For example:
- The hard metrics such as customer lifetime value, repeat purchase rate, and average order values
- The program metrics including enrollment figures, reward redemption rates, and activity completion rates
- The softer metrics such as NPS
- The feedback that you’ll collect from customers with surveys, focus groups, and other two-way communications
Benchmarking these numbers and getting the measure of how your business is performing before you even start adds powerful ammunition to your proposal, and helps your audience to understand exactly where you will be making an impact once you’re up and running.
6. Share the success stories of others
You may not have hard evidence as to how successful your program is going to be at this stage, but you can tell the stories of others to help get others on board. Make sure to include the successes of other brands in your proposal, including:
- Research into competitors that you know are running loyalty initiatives
- Industry examples of other businesses similar to yours who are seeing success – you can check out our Hall of Fame for ideas
- Examples of where your program could go in the future – include inspiration from major brands such as Sephora and Nike who are already winning and proving the value of their loyalty program every day
Not everyone outside of Marketing will share your vision or understand what you’re trying to build, so make sure you illustrate your points with examples and success stories that will get even the most nervous of stakeholders excited.
7. Be clear about how you’re going to upskill and become an expert
One of the most uncertain elements of launching a strategy is whether or not you have all the skills you need to make a new venture a success That’s why you should make it clear from the start that you’ve given this due consideration and you are dedicated to driving the success of your program by staying on top of changes and developments in the loyalty space.
Take a few minutes to give your stakeholders comfort that you have a plan in place for:
- Reading up on best practices, for example, spending a small amount of time each week working through the Loyalty Academy
- Setting up Google alerts or newsletter subscriptions that will help you understand headline changes in the space with just a skim read
- Getting the inside scoop by networking with other loyalty and retention marketers
By showing that you’ve already considered how you’re going to stay on top of learning about loyalty, you’ll give your team the confidence they need to kick off a new activity.
Time to go back to your plan and make sure that it’s ticking all the right boxes. If there are any areas you’re not sure about then don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the LoyaltyLion team so they can help you tell the very best story. With the right strategy outlined from the start, you’ll get the buy-in you need to get your loyalty program up and running as fast as possible.
About the author
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.