First impressions are everything, they say. And if there’s something companies want to do, it is to make a great first impression. So it’s no big surprise that Antavo’s loyalty experts receive a lot of questions asking when the perfect time is to launch a loyalty program, because every company wants their customers to have the best experience possible.
The answer is more complicated than circling a date in your calendar, however. As cliche as it may sound, you, as an organization, have to be mature enough to ensure the successful launch of a loyalty program. Here are some of the most important factors in the decision on timing.
Picking the Right the Date in Your Calendar
The first aspect to consider when planning the release of your loyalty program is your peak season. At which point in the year do you experience the most traffic? Are there any major retail holidays you’re banking on, such as Black Friday, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day? Obviously, launching a loyalty program before a major retail rush will no doubt help you stand out from the competition, as customers will flock to your brand to make the most out of the shiny, new rewards program.
However, it would also make sense to go live with your loyalty program during a less stressful time of the year. In this case, there’s less of a bang marketing-wise, but in exchange, you’ll have plenty of time to test the waters, gauge community interest, and make some improvements. This approach also allows members to get familiar with the program, and even spread the word on social media, helping you grow your membership base.
Before going fully live, all loyalty programs require at least 2-4 weeks of internal testing. If you wish, you can include your most valuable spenders in beta testing. This kind of privilege not only provides useful feedback before the public launch, it also strengthens the bond with your core audience.
Integration Speed Is Dictated by Scope
Whichever approach you find more compelling, the key to success lies in having a solid MVP. After all, you can’t go wrong by delivering the core components on time, then continuously expanding them with new features later on. But heed my word: an MVP lives and dies on scoping. What does that mean? Before starting the planning process, you have to scope out all the critical aspects.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- Geographies, languages and currencies
- Structural elements such as program type and point value
- Design, style, themes and names for the program, tiers and currencies
- What kind of rewards will be available
- Whether you wish to launch with a mobile app
Having a solid scope helps you identify the right loyalty technology provider and makes it easier to formulate a budget plan and integration timeline. Use a timeline template, the timeline is especially important if you’re planning to launch before a retail holiday, because with a rock-solid scope, the chance of unexpected delays are much lower.
Start planning out the concept and scope of your loyalty program using our handy worksheet.
Getting Ready for a Loyalty Program Launch as a Business
Besides marking a day in the calendar, “perfect timing” for a loyalty program launch also takes the current stage of an organization’s evolution into account. To put it simply, companies need to reach a certain maturity and readiness before they can fully reap the benefits of a reward system. Maturity directly correlates with your ability to create a comprehensive scope, as you need to be aware of key strengths of your business, your core audience, and their needs and wants in order to map out the right reward journey.
Another aspect in terms of organizational development is whether or not you can dedicate manpower to running the program itself. This isn’t something you can skimp on: developing a program on your own requires an in-house development and strategy team. If you don’t want to go it alone, hiring an agency to implement and run it in your stead is extremely costly. Or you can opt for the more comfortable middle road: a no-code loyalty platform that’s quick to integrate and needs very little involvement from the IT team. Then you can simply appoint a team of CRM experts to manage your campaigns and rewards.
The timing may also be right for a loyalty program launch if you’re planning to move towards digitalization, or making your business more omnichannel. Many companies during and after the Covid-19 pandemic used next-gen reward systems to stay relevant for customers.
Organizational Requirements You Should Keep in Mind
There are other aspects that play a key role in whether or not you’re ready to launch a loyalty program:
- Do you have a data strategy? Customer information is the bedrock of a reward program, allowing you to personalize the program effectively
- What are your most important KPIs? Loyalty programs can be used for both acquisition and retention—or even community building—but you need to select and tailor the features accordingly
- What vertical are you in? Luxury brands benefit the most from focusing on privileges and experiential tiers, while businesses with a high purchase frequency should consider gamification and earn & burn systems.
Are You Ready to Launch a Loyalty Program?
Hopefully you now have a clear vision of when to launch the loyalty program of your dreams. If your organization is ready, and you have a scope in mind, then odds are high that your launch will be a success.
If you still have questions or wish to discuss how Antavo’s no-code loyalty platform can turn your loyalty concept into a reality, feel free to strike up a conversation with our experts either by booking a demo or sending us an RFP.
Until then, here’s our top ebook about planning a viable budget for your loyalty program.