7 Best Practices to Evolve Your Inherited Loyalty Program to 2.0

By: Brittany Maroney


Taking over an existing loyalty program is often as challenging as creating one from scratch, but there is hope. Here are 7 best practices to get you from Now to Wow, with your inherited loyalty strategy.

We’ve all been there. You are excited to start that new job, meet all of your new co-workers, and are chomping at the bit to get going on exciting projects. You have a fantastic new team, an innovative tech stack, and the support of a leadership team that believes in your ability to hit the ground running. 

It’s the perfect scenario. 

But with all of these amazing opportunities, comes challenges and this one happens to be the loyalty program you are inheriting. Right off the bat, you can see the stats are not great, and engagement is floundering. The content calendar is recycled year over year, and your platform is running more like an eClub than a loyalty and offers program. 

It’s a challenge many brands face, particularly if teams have remained stagnant over the past few years. The good news is, just because your program has been stale, it doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t evolve. With new talent (you!) comes the opportunity to bring fresh eyes and even fresher ideas to the table. 

Here at Punchh, our customers often approach us to help guide them through reinvigorating their inherited loyalty programs, whether it means evolving their strategy or providing insights on how to use their data. Here are some of the tactics we like to recommend to get your existing loyalty program from now to WOW: 

1. Shake Up Your Offerings

Over time, loyalty programs have evolved like any other martech solution. From paper punch cards to today’s loyalty innovations, your loyalty program needs to be operating at full efficiency when it comes to rewarding your customers. Consumers continue to rely on and expect your loyalty program to deliver a fast and frictionless digital experience, from when they receive the communication to when they redeem it. This is only made possible when brands can better collect and act on data quickly to make agile adjustments to the customer experience in real-time. With Punchh’s loyalty and engagement platform, you have access to a single panel screen that offers expanded visual insights, a synchronized view of metrics across campaigns, and flexible components for increased extensibility over time as new campaigns are added and deployed. In addition, you’ll have access to Punchh’s intuitive, multi-step marketing campaign building tool, including a comprehensive diagnostics log to track and analyze campaign events, as well as expanded coupon functionality that allows restaurant marketers to target guests outside of their loyalty program with journey-based email marketing. 

Best Practice: Most recently, we have seen rising popularity in brands offering Points Unlock Redeemables, followed closely by Points Unlock Banked Rewards. Why? Unlock Redeemables provides a range of rewards that are appealing and within reach for low frequency AND high-frequency customers. Banked Rewards offers the most flexibility for brands with large menus.

2. Get Personal

Often, when loyalty programs or marketing campaigns fail, it is because brands are not personalizing campaigns effectively. Until now, it has been challenging for marketers to combine and iterate on customer segments to drill down into the level of personalization they need to create a truly unique customer experience. But with the introduction of modern segmentation builders like Punchh Segments, you can now view, create, and combine complex customer segments in an intuitive, all-in-one flow, with nearly limitless levels of personalization. And the best news? You can do it all in just a few clicks and a fraction of the time. As a representative of your brand, you have a unique opportunity to show your customers that you know and appreciate them through unique offers that reflect their demographic, psychographic, and behavioral profiles.

Best Practice: Segmenting your guests and marketing efforts will pay dividends in engagement and efficiency! Members of your loyalty program are often in different stages, and segmentation can help you target them based on things like their spend and frequency levels, as well as the items they most enjoy.

3. Focus on Transactional Data

In the new frontier of the customer experience, the true measure of effective personalization will be a brand’s ability to understand individual shoppers’ current contexts and deliver precisely what they’re looking for in the moment of need. Whether you are trying to drive a specific outcome like an incremental visit or letting user data drive your actions in automated ways like a personalized push notification, data should steer your campaigns to make the experience feel more 1:1, more conversational. Analyze your reward program redemption rates to see who is redeeming, what they are buying, and when they are buying. If your rewards are too hard to earn or use, your customers will become disengaged. Last but not least, check if your loyalty plan aligns with your business objectives. If not, you can change customer behavior by tweaking your loyalty plan to cater better to their needs and your company’s goals. 

Best Practice: Synchronize all your messages with customers to create a more in-depth customer profile. This will help you to know exactly what they need, allow you to cross-sell relevant products, and help you develop a long-term, organic relationship with your guests.

4. Turn Your Staff into High-Performing Loyalty Program Advocates 

One of the easiest and simplest ways to reinvent your loyalty program from the ground up is to re-introduce it to your teams and drive advocacy from inside the organization. Start by creating a company-wide plan, so all levels of the organization understand the business model and features of the loyalty program. This program should educate your employees on the benefits of your loyalty program and reward them for integrating it into a positive customer experience. You also can incorporate your loyalty program into a successful internal crew member reward program. With the “Great Resignation” affecting many businesses, it’s more crucial than ever to focus on employee retention. Offering employee-only discounts is an excellent way to show your employees that you appreciate their service. The Punchh Platform provides a few different ways to manage and customize employee-only discounts to your brand to reward and retain talent. 

Best Practice: Support your plan by crafting a communication calendar that includes continuous disbursement of employee materials that they can refer back to if your loyalty program changes or if you begin to offer new perks. Create a contest among employees to see who can enroll the most customers, which can include gift cards, prepaid cards, or cash prizes. 

5. Use Your Existing Customers to Attain New Ones

Since 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs, existing customers are a great resource to help increase awareness about your program or grow an inherited one. Historically, restaurants and retailers, in particular, experience significant struggles with these questions due to limited knowledge of their customers. Many brands have looked to their loyalty solution to effectively target different customer segments with offers, gaming, online ordering, gift cards, referrals, social media, surveys, feedback, reviews, and ratings to overcome these challenges. 

Best Practice: For this type of campaign to succeed, the referral reward needs to be beneficial to both the giver and receiver. You want to offer the recipient, the person who is being referred, something enticing enough to get them to sign up. In addition, you want to thank the giver with something; this is usually less than what you give to the recipient. For example, you can run a refer a friend campaign where the friend receives 20 points for signing up through a referral, and the current customer receives 10 points for referring them.

6. Expand into New Channels

It is more important than ever to evolve your strategy into new channels to support our new reality during this world-wide pandemic. That means optimizing on new behaviors like curbside pickup, adding drive-thru options, online ordering, and contactless payment. It also means using your loyalty program across new channels, beyond the traditional eClub format. Experiment with surveys, SMS, apps and gamification. Reinvent how you communicate by offering flexible loyalty options and letting your customers choose the way they want to engage with your brand, whether that be with points, experiential offers or through active engagement with your promotions. Provide value through communicating these options and rewarding users when they make habitual shifts. With these new channels, brands can develop authentic loyalty experiences that are hyper-personalized to each customer’s needs and interests.

Best Practice: Synchronize all your messages with customers to create a more in-depth customer profile. This will help you to know exactly what they need, allow you to cross-sell relevant products, and help you develop a long-term, organic relationship with your guests. Spread the word about your loyalty program on different channels to maximize your reach. A recent marketing study showed that marketers using at least three channels in a campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using only one. 

7. Inject Some Fun into Your Program with Loyalty Consulting from Punchh

Your company should be regularly evaluating and reinventing your loyalty program to better serve customers and compete in the market. It’s just the new reality of our ever changing omnichannel world. But if you are part of a small team or your brand is in the early stages of building out a loyalty program for guests, we at Punchh can help. To create a successful loyalty program structure design, strategy, pilot, and rollout, we’ll work with you to evaluate:

  • Your current technology stack and supported functionality
  • Analysis of existing customer data to understand customer behavior
  • Overall key performance indicators (KPIs) that your brand will use to measure loyalty success
  • Loyalty structure recommendations & campaigns for launch

Our strategy experts will help you build a solution that is focused on completely redesigning all aspects of your loyalty programs to make them correspond with the previously established or the newly developed strategy. We will dive into elements such as customer value proposition, marketing communication, segmentation, rewards sourcing, program organization, and growth road-mapping–all with the goal of maximizing your ROI and customer experience. Increase the quality of your customer lifetime value with advanced tools and loyalty strategies. We will help you measure the economic value of a proposed marketing initiative and better understand the trade-offs between costs and anticipated benefits. In the end, you will have a more personalized and efficient loyalty strategy that delivers that 1:1 customer experience your guest desires. 

Learn more about the Punchh Loyalty, Offers, and Engagement platform with a personalized demo to see how we can help you take your loyalty program from now to WOW.

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