Building a loyalty programme: Do it yourself or hire an agency?

Loyalty is important, it will bring you new customers, repeat customers and increase your revenue. What makes The Rocket Marketing Group experts you ask? We’ve been doing it a little while now and have created some awesome products and strategies for our clients. All under one roof, if we don’t have what you’re looking for we’ll be able to get it. Don’t hesitate to get in touch whether it’s just for a friendly chat about what we do or something more specific – we love talking loyalty…

For now, we’re here to help you make the right decision for your brand.

There’s going to be a lot to consider when you decide to build a loyalty programme. It may be that you already have one in place and want to revamp it or you’re starting from scratch. Either way, the question is whether you’re going to do it within the business or hire an agency to do it for you.

There are pros and cons to both, so you just need to work out which is more suitable. We’ve investigated the nitty-gritty of the choices below to give you a helping hand…

Why choosing an agency could be the right decision for your brand

If you’re starting from scratch your biggest gap will likely be knowledge. Hiring an agency that are experts in loyalty and have done it before is going to be really beneficial. It will reduce the time you would have to take researching trends, technical aspects and potentially surveying your customers. Outsourcing gives you a whole team dedicated to creating a bespoke programme, with experience under their belts.

If you are looking to review and improve a loyalty strategy you already have in place, outsourcing will allow a fresh set of eyes. They’ll be able to see what’s working from a new standpoint and offer new thinking which your teams may not have had the opportunity or time to do. Of course, you are the experts on your customers and business so finding an agency that will work alongside you (rather than independently from you) is important.

Cost is of course a consideration in all scenarios. Outsourcing does give you the chance to save money, especially if you are starting from scratch. Building a loyalty programme in-house for the first time requires manpower and likely, a whole new team. If this is brand new to you then there will be much to consider around tech. Agencies are likely to have already spent the time and money finding the best solutions and platforms to use. That way they can get you off the ground pretty quickly and save you money trying and testing the best tech solutions (because let’s be honest, first choice is not always going to be best). On top of the initial cost of build there will need to be ongoing upkeep and maintenance, requiring full-time positions within the business. Hiring an agency that will continue to work with you after launch and manage your programme for you will save you money and time.

And with that being said, time is money! Leave it to the experts. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, how it should work or an experienced member of staff in the business then why take on that pressure. A truly collaborative partnership with an agency will see them working alongside your business and supporting your goals rather than independently, dictating.

Going alone

Now, let’s consider doing it yourself. By no means are we suggesting that building a loyalty programme in-house is not the right way to go, however, there are some crucial points to consider if this is a route you’re going to take.

The first stage you should really scope is the complexity of the loyalty programme you want. If you’re looking for something simple like rewarding on purchases or discount for repeat purchase, then absolutely this is doable in-house. And dependent on your structure, maybe even with the team you have in place already.

If you’re looking for ways to reward customer based on a variety of different actions or behaviours they take, then it could start to get complicated. Make sure if you are going to take this on in-house that considerable time is taken researching. Knowledge is the key to success. You need to get under the skin of your customers, survey them, understand what behaviours they are currently taking (split them up into groups) and then find out how they would like to be rewarded, what would entice them? In the meantime, get clued up on loyalty – what are the current trends, what works and what doesn’t, what’s appropriate for your audience… The list goes on.

Once you know what you want, you’ll be able to understand what you need and how long it could take. Luckily the internet is our friend. There will be so much information for you to use just make sure you have the time to do it properly. Taking this on is not for the fainthearted and it’s important that the business is aware of the time that will be required to get it right (especially if you are not adding more manpower).

If onboarding an agency is for you, how do you choose the right one?

So, you’ve decided that outsourcing is going to be the right path for you. What next? You start the endless google search, come across some slick websites, smart branding and all the right headline offerings. But, how do you choose? And how do you know if that’s the right decision? This is probably one of the most daunting tasks so let’s break it down…

There are things that you can check and look for when deciding which agency is the right one:

Is everything under one roof? A lot of agencies will claim to provide a ‘full end to end service’. We’re not saying that won’t be true in some cases but in some, it won’t. So, check. Are their design team in-house? Do they outsource IT or customer service? You are already taking the step to outsource from your own business so using an agency that really do it all in-house is going to be important. Stay away from agencies that have multiple departments or areas outsourced.

How do they speak to you? That probably sounds a little silly… But it’s going to help in the long run. If you’re not experts in loyalty, so you want to make sure they’re clear with the information they’re giving you and speak in your language rather than theirs. When you’re halfway into a project the last thing you need is an explanation that makes no sense to you around crucial steps like timelines. Take note of the conversations you’re having early on and make sure they’re catering to you. You want them to be explaining what they’re doing but also why. Communication is key. Say no to jargon.

Pricing. Obviously. It may be that pricing is clearly communicated on an agency’s website, that’s great if so. Tick. However not all of them will, and that’s not a problem. Just ask. If you’re looking for something tailored, you’ll want personalised pricing anyway. If it’s something new, getting a tailored price is also a benefit. The part to be cautious of is when you get the price. You want a clear, no strings attached proposal with any potential additional costs communicated upfront. You shouldn’t be seeing spreadsheets full of different numbers (that will probably come later with a full project breakdown) for now, it’s upfront conversations with ‘to the point’ numbers.

Case studies. This is something you’ll probably end up looking at first. Hopefully, they’ll be included on a website but again, nothing to worry if not. Some agencies don’t want to give it all up straight away, but they’ll likely have a presentation of case studies waiting at your request. Obviously, you want to make sure they have done this before but more importantly, you want to judge their work for yourself. It’s great to see an agency that works across multiple industries rather than just one. Their speciality is loyalty and that can be applied to all types of brands. You should expect to see numbers; Was there an increase in repeat purchase? Was there an increase in new customers? If it’s not clear, ask. And if they are unable to supply them – you’ve got yourself a warning sign.

And finally, questions. If there is anything you want to know, or a more in-depth understanding of a process then ask. It will help build a relationship but also show what you expect in terms of information upfront. Your agency shouldn’t judge or patronise you and if they do, make sure you consider what that will look like long term.

Now it’s time to sit back and… Think

Hopefully, we’ve helped cover some of the questions you had, it’s safe to say there is a lot to consider so don’t rush it. Make sure you work through all of the requirements your end before taking on any new challenges. In the meantime, we’re only an email away!

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