Scott Shurson, Senior IT Consultant for Aimia, is involved with strategy relating to loyalty technology with current and prospective clients. He has outlined a few of the most commonly asked questions below and his responses.
1. How do I Ensure a Successful Loyalty Integration?
The cornerstone of any good loyalty program is the marketing strategy. But without mortar, the IT organization, the program could fall apart at any moment. In my four years at Aimia, I've compiled a quick list of things that successful companies do to cement the partnership between Marketing and Loyalty to ensure an on-time, on-budget, program launch.
1. Bring IT into the Conversation Early
IT has to make everything work. The earlier we are brought into the conversation, the earlier we can provide estimations for development efforts, prioritize the projects that "keep the lights on," and shape program constructs to fit technical capabilities. It's a terrible feeling to work for a month on the next loyalty game changing idea, only to find out that the business doesn't have the technology to support it.
2. Iterate on Business Cases
Which brings me to the second tip. Don't take 'NO' for an answer! Partner, plan, say, "what if we did it this way?" This is where the relationship will be strengthened or lost. Successful teams work to ensure that the other team is successful by providing new ideas and ways to accomplish the intent, if not the ask.
3. Iterate on Development / Deployment
Any good loyalty product (such as either the Aimia Loyalty Platform – SaaS or Enterprise) will have both batch as well as real-time services to help the flow of data. Based on capabilities and priorities, your organization may need to start with simpler functions while giving IT time to integrate real-time loyalty functions that members love.
4. Loyalty is the Business' Priority
With a partnership mindset, keep loyalty as the main priority. Leadership believes that it is the path to better know and communicate with your customers. This translates to providing the customer with the individualized and meaningful information that that keeps them coming back. When I think of new ideas, I apply the lens of, "How will this help change customer behavior?"
2. Can I Track Loyalty Events?
Both Aimia Loyalty Platforms (ALP-SaaS and ALP-Enterprise) can create promotions and trigger segmentation and communications based on any member behavior you can capture. Among these behaviors includes attendance at a loyalty event!
Before my days as Aimia's Sr. IT Business Consultant, I was a corporate Learning and Development consultant. I ran multiple in-person training events where attendance was recorded within a Learning Management System; an application not too dissimilar from a Loyalty Management Platform. The key is how can you meaningfully take attendance? Using standard Aimia Loyalty Platform segmentation and promotion opt-in, we can help you create attendance lists. As members attend the event, a simple check-in desk will help you track who is actually attending, and if you warrant, collect data on member's guests for future campaigns. Next, giving members credit for their attendance.
Using Aimia's standard batch file process, you can load a list of members who actually attended in to the loyalty platform. It's as simple as that! Aimia's platform technology can also be integrated into any on-site member management application to enable real-time reporting; useful when event managers need to be able to review member preferences on the spot.
Just another example of how out of the box and configurable product features can help you create truly unique and personalized member experiences.
3. Does My Loyalty Program Need a Mobile App?
Over the years, I've worked with dozens of companies who are still trying to figure out their Mobile Strategy. Personally, I use two tests to determine if a native application is right for the business:
1. The app must use the phone's capabilities
2. The user must need the app
The first requirement is the easiest. Mobile websites can tap into many characteristics (location, photo sharing, etc.) of the mobile device. There are still some things they cannot do. A mobile application can often be used (in some capacity) when the user is not connected to data service. Tap and Scan capabilities (BLE / NSF) are gaining traction, especially with payment services. The list goes on, but it brings me to the second point.
The user must need the app. There are plenty of applications that do not follow rule #1, but they are a critical part of the user's 'daily' activity. Many of my travel apps don't help much if I'm not connected to the internet, but they do provide faster access to services than their websites. My booking, boarding passes, and points management all can be done through the web-browser, but they are handier in the app. I feel safer with my personal information being stored in the app and use my Starbucks digital card all the time. I play games when I'm off-line too.
Loyalty applications need to follow the same thinking. Is my brand an "every-day" brand? Would my members rely on the app to interact with each other in ways they can't get elsewhere? Does it make sense to manage a digital wallet in our app? Would our members tap/scan? Are we going to make a cumbersome process easier in the app?
There is something to have a mobile application in the store; the exposure, ability to test new functions, and expectations for marketing. Just make sure it is a positive experience.
I've seen loyalty programs launch and I've seen them fizzle based on this relationship. Hopefully, you were already planning to incorporate these ideas into your next loyalty launch.
Globally, Aimia has launched over 300 loyalty programs. Our Aimia Loyalty Platforms are built to empower both IT and Marketing with tools to launch loyalty offers, integrate new partners, and report on program health.

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