Is the Right Team in Charge of Your Rewards Program?

December 11, 2018
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If your rewards program is for your customers, it makes sense that the people responsible for designing it should know your customers extremely well. That’s what makes your marketing team the best choice!

Your marketing team is the most qualified to design and launch your rewards program.

As a customer-facing team your marketers are, gathering feedback, creating solutions, and enriching every experience your community members have with you. Not only that, but they’re the ones with the skills needed to make people care about your brand community. Through distribution, storytelling, and promotion, your marketing team has the tools needed to make sure new customers discover and fall in love with your rewards program.

So why do so many brands put their rewards program in the hands of their IT team?

 

Marketing needs to manage your rewards program

As important as it is to know who’s designing your program, it’s almost more important to consider who will be managing and maintaining it once it’s launched.

The biggest mistake brands make is not having a customer-facing team in control of managing and changing their program.

The problem is that too many brands delegate this responsibility to their dev/IT team. After letting their marketing team determine the direction, design, and launch of their program, they hand the management of their community over to their developers without realizing what this will cost them.

While it might make sense at a glance to leave this type of experience to “the ones who know how to code,” this is actually the biggest mistake you can make.

Your program can get complicated quickly

The best reward programs are extremely simple. Think about Starbucks Rewards: buy coffee, earn Stars, get free coffee. This start small, build up approach is extremely appealing to customers discovering your brand and program for the first time.

As a result, the best way to discourage your customers from joining your rewards program is to make it complicated. When your developers are managing your program, it’s easy to imagine all sorts of creative ways to make your program unique. From earning actions to spending conditions, it’s possible to customize your program down to every last detail and get caught up in building these elaborate experiences from the start.

The issue here is that nobody wants to jump through a bunch of hoops or read long pages of text just to figure out how the program works. When you’re introducing a new program (or maintaining an existing one!) you need to make small, simple changes over time. Otherwise, you bury your program’s value in the fine print and raise the barrier to entry in the process.

You can't make changes fast enough

As someone who works in tech, I understand that your developers are one of your team’s most valuable resources. They can help you solve problems no one else can and bring ideas to life in ways you would have never imagined!

However, this process takes a lot of time. With so many other priorities to balance, it won’t take much to bump your program improvements or maintenance to the bottom of the pile.

While I shouldn’t have to tell you this is a problem, it happens all too often. Your customers’ motivations change quickly, and if your program isn’t able to adapt at the same pace your program will not be effective. Assuming customers will always want to engage the same way or redeem points for the same rewards is a dangerous game, and leaving this to chance with your development team is a surefire way to sewer your community’s success.

Developers aren't customer facing

Last but certainly not least, your developers simply don’t know your customers the way your marketing team does. As your business grows, your dev team will become more and more internally focused. This improves their ability to execute on incredible projects but also separates them even further from the front lines.

Since your program needs to be valuable to your customers, it needs to be managed by those who understand how your customers think, feel, and act as part of your brand community. Without this first hand knowledge you won’t be able to deliver an experience your customers look forward to, and will instead start to feel like just one more of many.

 

Put your rewards program in the right hands

At the end of the day, your rewards program benefits from being both designed, launched, and managed by your marketers. With a great understanding of what’s happening both in and outside of your entire team, you can treat your rewards program as a need to have component of your brand experience — not a nice to have.

The best part is that a rewards program doesn’t have to be complicated. Here at Smile, we’re passionate about building programs that you can launch and manage yourself, making changes and experimenting as you go to deliver the best community experience possible.

When the right people design and manage your program, there’s no telling how far your program can go.

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