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What to look for in a rewards program partner

Establishing a consumer loyalty program is a major step for any business. In most cases, rewards program outcomes are quick successes, with companies reporting increased data collection and enlivened customer interactions pretty much overnight.  Even so, there are times when programs can be DOA. That’s why it takes partnering with the right rewards vendor and understanding your audience to create an effective program.

Here's what you should look for as you select a rewards program partner:

  • A shared understanding of brand goals. Maybe you want to reduce costs or are changing your rewards program to reflect a diversified catalog. Discuss your brand goals with the potential partner to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Establish objectives. For a consumer loyalty program to be successful, it must have clear, attainable objectives. A good partner should use its experience and knowledge to help you establish effective objectives and goal markers that align with your program's life stage.
  • Understand consumer data. Most experienced partners start by asking about audience demographics. Understanding your demographic breakdown in tandem with your loyalty program objectives is critical in selecting the right rewards and program structure. And while demographics are a starting point, your partners should also want to dig in and understand your business’ KPI’s and existing customer behavior.
  • A consultative process. While tempting, it's not advisable to select a partner who'll do everything on its own. An ideal partner should take more of a consultative role that includes a formal process for evaluating your current situation and understanding your desired outcomes before proposing any kind of solution.
  • Outside the box results. Ask potential partners about their past clients. Do they have the ability to customize programs for your organization's unique needs or do they offer their product as more of a template? If it’s the latter, don't pass go. You want a partner that has the right mix of industry experience and the technical ability to help you stand out from the crowd and your competitors.

Partnering with an inexperienced vendor or choosing one who takes over the entire process will create a lopsided consumer loyalty program that often doesn't jive with your audience or the brand you've worked so hard to create. Instead, invest the time it takes to find a partner who bolsters and enhances your team, understands your industry and has the technical competence and content offerings to power your vision.

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