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What is Loyalty Management? And Should You Tackle it In-House?

Nearly 70% of consumers agree that their loyalty is more difficult to maintain than ever before and say retailers could do more to earn their long-term loyalty.

It’s a big reason why loyalty management is a frequent topic in marketing conversations. But it can mean different things to different people.

You might think of it as simply a piece of software. Or maybe a vendor who manages your loyalty program.

In reality, it’s all that and more.

So, what is loyalty management? And how do you know whether to handle it in-house or work with a loyalty management partner?

Download The Ultimate Guide to Loyalty Management eBook.

Download The Ultimate Guide to Loyalty Management.

Loyalty Management Defined

Loyalty management can loosely be defined as the strategy, tools and tactics around how your company acquires, engages and retains customers.

It helps your brand target the right audience and then provides benefits, experiences and rewards that drive long-term engagement.

Aside from your loyalty program itself, comprehensive loyalty management includes numerous elements:

All these pieces need to work together for a successful loyalty program.

And while certain retailers handle some of them in-house, managing all these pieces correctly can take up a huge amount of resources, technology and expertise.

For this reason, most retailers choose to outsource some, if not all, of these elements to qualified loyalty management companies. But not all of these companies are created equally.

Depending on your needs, you’ll want to work with one that fits. And there are several types to choose from.

Types of Loyalty Management Solutions Explained

There are three main solution types in the loyalty space:

  • Loyalty agencies
  • Loyalty technology platforms
  • End-to-end loyalty solutions providers

Loyalty agencies typically offer the consulting needed to help brands with due diligence and program management.

That is, they assist with conducting market research and often draw on their own experiences to help you figure out your loyalty strategy. Then, they help build your program and manage it after launch. Many of them will assist with performance measurements and offer operational support.

Most of them work with existing loyalty platforms and don’t have their own technology. Some, on the other hand, do offer some of these capabilities. The cost usually depends on the size and scope of the project and additional services might be billed hourly.

Loyalty technology platforms are just as they sound – offering the software as a service (SaaS) technology platforms that companies need to manage their loyalty programs.

However, support services are usually pretty limited. Some platform vendors offer implementation, integration, analytics and support. Others leave you on your own.

These types of vendors usually charge for consulting and platform setup and the fees often run into the six figures. Plus, they normally charge an annual or monthly license fee that can exceed the cost of implementation – depending on the number of members in the program.

End-to-end loyalty solutions providers combine the best of both worlds.

Partners in this category combine consulting, program management services, and a technology platform to manage the full loyalty program picture.

From the initial strategy to platform setup to ongoing management with analytics, all-in-one loyalty solution partners provide end-to-end service which allows you to focus on running your business.

Many brands that work with these partners leverage them for day-to-day program management and operational services.

Learn more about the premium loyalty revenue share model here.

Which Type of Loyalty Management Solution is Right for You?

The type of loyalty management partner you should team up really comes down to this:

  • What are your goals and what are your resources?
  • Do you have the technology and the people?
  • Do you want to update your own system constantly?
  • What type of loyalty program are you looking for?

If you have unlimited resources and lots of loyalty expertise, you could potentially build it and manage it in-house. However, if you don’t, it’s probably in your best interest to talk to a loyalty management company.

If you’re just getting started (or even if you don’t know where to start), talking to a loyalty agency could be a good first move. They should be familiar with most of the platforms out there and can draw from their deep experience to help you figure out the best move.

Looking at loyalty technology platforms might make sense if you have an abundance of technical and marketing resources in-house.

But if you’re serious about loyalty and you have finite resources like many retailers out there, an all-in-one loyalty solutions partner is worth talking to, especially if a premium loyalty program is on your horizon.

An all-in-one loyalty management partner will free up your resources to focus on your core business and can also alleviate the significant costs of building and maintaining a successful program.

Now is the Time to Take Action

Either way you look at it, loyalty management is a critical piece of your overall marketing strategy. Remember, nearly 70% of consumers agree their loyalty is more difficult for a retailer to maintain than ever before.

First, determine whether or not you have the resources to manage your loyalty program in-house. It could make more sense to work with an experienced loyalty agency or partner.

When choosing the right partner, consider whether you just need some guidance and consulting or whether a full-blown end-to-end loyalty solutions provider is the best fit. Working with a loyalty management partner is one of the quickest and most impactful ways to start building better relationships with your best customers.

Next, learn how to choose the right loyalty management software.

Paul Wolfer

Paul is our Senior Manager, B2B Marketing. He works closely with the leadership team on strategic positioning, messaging and branding. When he's not posting on LinkedIn or working on the newest data study, he can usually be found adventuring to breweries or attempting to learn a new song on his guitar.

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ebbo™ is an all-in-one loyalty company. With our data driven strategy, full-service approach, and the unwavering support of the people behind the platform, our dedicated team will work with you to understand your loyalty goals, innovate solutions and help you build customer engagement on repeat.

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