Why Choose a SaaS Loyalty Solution—A Candid Comparison of Loyalty Alternatives
It’s been proven that loyalty strategies and loyalty programs can have a positive impact on your business. Especially now that third-party data use will be limited, loyalty is a powerful way to collect first-party data at scale. Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with your loyalty strategy, the next step is not only knowing where to look for the right experts to help you reach your goals—it’s also knowing how to choose your loyalty partner.
Even if you already have a loyalty initiative, as part of your continuing digital transformation, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your vendor choice. For years, loyalty has been a silo in organizations because the technology was built specifically for loyalty, expensive, and not agile enough to adapt to today’s dynamic tech stack. Now, there are innovative, tech-first solutions that allow your organization to embed loyalty into everything you do—the way it should be.
The significance of loyalty for your business
Industry experts, such as Forrester, have revealed why loyalty programs are crucial for your business. From retaining your existing customers and enhancing business revenue, to boosting customer acquisition, and building strong customer relationships—there are many reasons why loyalty programs have emerged as a business-critical strategy for brands. Study after study show that loyal customers buy more, buy more often, and are more likely to recommend your brand to their peers.
These statistics highlight some of the key benefits of loyalty when done the right way:
The journey to success
Loyalty isn’t a one-and-done strategy, nor is it just about rewarding customers for purchases. Loyalty is about leveraging every opportunity to deliver a value-based interaction before, during, and between transactions—in other words, it should span the entire customer journey.
Ideally, your loyalty vendor must be capable of designing a program in a way that makes loyalty an integral part of every touchpoint along the customer journey. Customer journey mapping is undoubtedly important but ensuring your loyalty program maps into the entire customer journey is even more crucial as it helps increase repeat purchases, reduce the sales cycle and drive incremental revenue. Embedding loyalty across the entire customer journey brings an array of benefits for both your business and your customers. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to have a roadmap for selecting the right vendor—one that can design the perfect loyalty program to help you get to where you want to grow.
Start with your goals
Before launching a new loyalty strategy or modernizing your existing program, it’s important to be clear about what you want to accomplish—from both a macro business level and a micro loyalty program level. Start by asking yourself why you’re looking at a new or refreshed loyalty strategy. What challenges are driving this decision?
Start by asking yourself why you’re looking at a new or refreshed loyalty strategy. What challenges are driving this decision?
Map out your strategic business goals. Typically, this includes measurable goals for revenue, margin and/or growth. Once you’ve clearly defined your overall business goals, it’s easier to identify specific loyalty program objectives that can best support the achievement of these goals. These two steps will shed light on the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll need to monitor on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to measure the effectiveness of your loyalty program. And you’ll want to choose a vendor that makes it easy to track these metrics.
Key factors in your decision making
Selecting a loyalty vendor
Selecting a loyalty vendor can be a daunting task. We’re here to help by getting you acquainted with the parameters on which you should base your evaluation. It must also be mentioned here that evaluating a loyalty vendor implies evaluating loyalty technology. Your evaluation should include these two perspectives:
- The expertise of the vendor in meeting your loyalty program requirements and in truly understanding your business and your needs
- Efficacy of the vendor’s loyalty platform as compared to other solutions
In the first, you’re evaluating the vendor’s capabilities in terms of loyalty program design and implementation experience; the second one requires you to evaluate the loyalty platform from the perspective of your unique requirements. Analyzing the takeaways from both perspectives will help you make a more informed decision on choosing the loyalty vendor that’s perfect for you.
Let’s explore the key criteria to look at within these two perspectives. They include:
- Proven systematic approach
- Solution features matching your specifications
- Pre-built integrations
- Data, security, privacy, compliance
- Proven experience
Key criteria for selecting a loyalty vendor
– Proven systematic approach
– Solution features matching your specifications
– Pre-built integrations
– Data, security, privacy, compliance
– Proven experience
Proven systematic approach to delivering a successful program
Project management systems work because they ensure proven processes are followed, and that all important steps are completed. You should look for a loyalty vendor that follows a proven approach, one that starts with your business goals and integrates loyalty across your entire organization and customer experience to meet those goals.
The process reads like a good novel:
- Who will be involved in the process from your team and the vendor?
- What are your organization’s goals and objectives?
- When in the customer journey can loyalty impact those goals and objectives?
- How do we integrate loyalty technology to execute our program?
- Where do we manage deliverables, milestones and measures for success?
Why choose a SaaS loyalty solution over the alternatives
Businesses have several options when it comes to loyalty programs, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few popular loyalty solution alternatives:
- Simple Loyalty Platforms: Simple technologies were created to allow for a digitized version of the old cardboard punch cards. These types of programs are popular with high purchase frequency organizations. They’re effective in rewarding repeat purchasers. The downside of these platforms and programs is that, ultimately, both are extremely limited in functionality and capability. A true loyalty program can bring you and your organization much further.
- Email Service Providers: This isn’t loyalty per so but gives you a way to collect a simple database of email addresses to communicate with your customers. An email strategy will allow you to collect basic information from your customers and communicate on a regular basis. An email service provider vs. a loyalty provider can support this effort.
- eCommerce Loyalty Platforms: There are a number of loyalty providers focused on loyalty for ecommerce brands. These platforms are developed to support transaction tracking, track spend to a specific amount and trigger discounts. Some of these platforms may also offer the ability to earn points, then redeem online. These are great starter solutions. If you’re looking to expand to brick and mortar or collect customer data, you’ll want to consider a more sophisticated solution.
- Custom Loyalty Programs: Customer loyalty platforms allow an organization to build their loyalty program to a specific specification. The platform will have exactly what the specifications of the strategy are—no more, no less. This is a great solution until you need something you didn’t foresee in the initial specs or you want to jump on a new trend. It’ll take significant investments of time and money to make that happen.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This type of platform has a foundational element of data management, including rules engine and other core loyalty functionality. Then the platform provider will build out your strategy specifically to your specifications. These platforms are typically less expensive and faster to market than a custom solution. Yet, there’s still significant cost and time required to build out your vision. This option will also mean longer lead times and additional budget to add features and functionality.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): This type of platform is one code base that all customers use. All the features and functionality are available to all customers. Each customer configures the (no code) platform to their specifications. Adding to your program or running new campaigns down the line can be done with a few simple re-configurations that take minutes. In addition, because all customers are using the same code base, the platform gets richer with each new client. When clients have additional requirements, those are added via frequent sprints, typically at no cost to the client.
No matter which loyalty platform you decide to use, all have the potential to encourage customer loyalty and generate repeat business.
Why choose SaaS loyalty
Finding the right loyalty partner can be a challenging task but choosing a SaaS solution provider gives you crucial advantages. Working with a loyalty vendor like Annex Cloud equips you with the agile technology necessary to continually gain insights about customer behavior, enabling more meaningful customer engagement, more timely and relevant offers and better program performance.
Working with a loyalty vendor like Annex Cloud equips you with the agile technology necessary to continually gain insights about customer behavior.
Here are some of the key benefits of choosing a SaaS loyalty solution:
- Easily and affordably accommodate business growth
- Gain instant access to new features and functionality to maximize your competitive advantage
- Gain insights about customer behavior to inform more timely, relevant campaigns and rewards
- Drive more meaningful customer engagement with personalized experiences
- Leverage built-in analytics to quickly and easily evaluate performance
- Make informed decisions and create targeted marketing campaigns that drive better results
- Access your loyalty solution from anywhere with an internet connection to enable on-the-go productivity
- Easily budget with a pay-as-you-go subscription model
- Lower cost by eliminating hefty upfront capital outlays and on-going maintenance, including updates and traditional license management
- Optimize resource utilization by paying only for what you use
- Free up IT resources to focus on strategic, growth-oriented projects
- Increase security by leveraging your SaaS provider’s significant investment in security technology and expertise
SaaS loyalty providers, like Annex Cloud, allow you to reap the benefits of a robust loyalty program while minimizing costs, hassle and risk. With a common code base and customer input, new features can be added quickly, and all customers benefit from them at the same time. This ensures instant access to the latest features and functionality, maximizing your competitive edge. Companies should consider the flexibility and scalability of such solutions, as well as the analytics capabilities and potential personalization options to make the best decision for their businesses and customers.
Internal SaaS benefits
Before selecting a SaaS provider, it’s crucial to evaluate factors such as speed to market, ease of use and the availability of dependable support without incurring high costs, long delays and complex infrastructure challenges.
SaaS loyalty solutions provide relief to IT and Marketing teams by allowing them to deploy loyalty programs quickly and easily with minimal technical resources required. SaaS loyalty solutions often come with built-in analytics and data-driven features, which can provide marketing teams with better insights into customer behavior and help them create more targeted campaigns, while giving them more independence from the IT team. And all these features and functions are readily available for use.
SaaS solutions also provide IT teams with the ability to scale and modify the loyalty program as needed, without having to worry about the technical labor and cost drains normally associated with designing and deploying loyalty programs. SaaS loyalty solutions often come with dedicated customer service and support teams, which can help IT teams quickly troubleshoot any issues or problems that arise.
Overall, SaaS loyalty solutions provide IT and Marketing teams with a reliable and cost-effective way to deploy loyalty programs, gain insights about customer behavior, and create targeted campaigns. This can provide a major relief for IT and Marketing teams, freeing up their resources to focus on growth-oriented initiatives.
SaaS loyalty vs. alternatives
|SaaS loyalty program||Alternative loyalty platform|
|Cloud-based||Lack of flexibility & scalability|
|Unlimited flexibility||Limited flexibility|
|Cost savings & control through subscription model||High start-up costs & on-going maintenance|
|Available anywhere with internet||Limited accessibility|
|Drive meaningful engagement with personalization||Limited ability to collect, segment and action on data|
|Built-in analytics||Lack of experience|
|Ability to track loyalty metrics across all customers in one platform||Fewer features & more costly to add features|
|Seamless omnichannel experience||Difficult to integrate into martech stack|
|Improved security||Increased risk|
|Instant access to new features & functionality||New functionality requires custom development|
Annex Cloud’s SaaS-based solution
Annex Cloud is a technology company that’s 100% focused on loyalty. Our unique SaaS-based approach delivers five unique benefits to enterprise brands.
- Maximize your competitive edge—Unlike most loyalty solution providers that build developer-dependent solutions to solve immediate challenges, Annex Cloud’s 140-plus developers are dedicated to keeping you ahead of the loyalty market with the latest technology, tactics and execution capabilities.
- Enjoy scalability without limits—Annex Cloud’s solution is highly configurable, enabling you to test, pivot and scale without time-consuming development. Get instant access to all the latest capabilities. Grow without limits on members, attributes, transactions or program size. Easily manage loyalty programs across regions and brands and accommodate seasonal spikes in demand.
- Leverage easy-to-use features & campaigns—Maintenance and support is done for you. Easily add features, tiers and campaigns without any additional services. Advanced personalization options and customer analytics make is easy to use predictive models to impact behavior. Configurable global capabilities enable market expansion without excessive customization.
- Deliver an omnichannel journey—Annex Cloud’s continual investment in integrations puts loyalty at the heart of your organization—enabling you to collect zero- and first-party customer data, build a unified customer profile, and leverage more than 125 pre-defined connectors to push this data across your tech stack—delivering a personalized, consistent experience at every touchpoint.
- Explore endless possibilities—Expanding your loyalty program beyond discounts and points requires knowing your customers’ preferences, motivations and values—not based on assumptions but by asking them. Annex Cloud’s loyalty solution gives you a full set of next-gen capabilities, including customer engagement and communication options, to collect zero-party data and serve up meaningful offers, rewards and promotions you know your customers will be excited about.
Talk to an expert to explore how a SaaS-based loyalty solution helps you integrate loyalty across your customers’ entire journey.
Solution features matching your specifications
Following a proven systematic process, you should understand your loyalty program features and specifications.
While this may sound obvious, many organizations start looking for a loyalty technology provider with only a general idea of their ideal loyalty solution. Many organizations copy what a competitor is doing or think of their personal favorite program and use these as their guideline as they search for a partner.
While there are some standard features that every loyalty initiative typically includes, there are some nuances that can make even simple features complex as you are choosing your vendor. Every loyalty vendor can track some type of transactional behavior and reward discounts or points based on those behaviors. Also, most will be able to share loyalty program information and offer opportunities to earn more points or discounts with your customers. This sounds simple enough but the right vendor should help you navigate the feature set.
There are critical underlying data and technology considerations to keep in mind throughout the decision-making process:
- Not every vendor gives you access to your data.
- Not every technology allows you flexibility—in communications, in building customer profiles, in being able to bring in data from other sources, and in tracking those behaviors.
- Only a few technologies allow you to build out segments, campaigns and offers based on any combination of the data collected.
- Not all technologies have all features and functionality native to their solution. Some providers partner with other vendors to enable certain features, some acquire companies to be able to deliver specific functionality. In these situations, there can be challenges with your user experience. There can also be challenges with accessing your data in an easy and seamless way.
Ideally, you should choose a loyalty vendor with the proven experience to deliver the widest range of program options.
Not all features are created equal
Ideally, you should choose a loyalty vendor with the proven experience to deliver the widest range of program options. You need the flexibility to design a program that fits your unique customers, business model and goals. A vendor’s list of features is not enough to make an informed decision. You need to understand your requirements within each feature and the ability of the platform to deliver within your tech stack.
Key platform features and criteria
You need extreme flexibility in managing rewards as they’re the main attraction in every loyalty program. The platform must allow for adding or removing rewards whenever required. It should offer the ability to define any type of reward for specific tiers, channels or segments. See if gamification can be employed to make rewards more engaging. You may want specific customer transactions to be ineligible for earning rewards, so you should ensure the vendor’s solution can identify ineligible transactions.
The loyalty solution should have the ability to easily create targeted campaigns to award any customer segment for reaching milestones over a set time period. Loyalty campaigns build excitement and urgency into your loyalty strategy by adding rewards above standard benefits as each milestone is reached. Multiple campaigns should be able to be scheduled well in advance to follow a promotional calendar or to take advantage of an opportunity.
You should inquire whether the solution allows you to issue bonus points for any predefined customer activity. Bonus points are treated as special points that are earned in addition to standard program points. Also, it’s important to know if the solution supports setting up bonus point limits for specific tiers, members, segments or channels.
The solution should be virtually unlimited in the number of tiers and benefits than can be created and the related milestones for your customers. Tier status should be achievable through actions, point accumulation or through paid subscription.
If you have plans to launch different loyalty programs for different countries, does the platform support different languages, currencies and time zones? Does your strategy include different programs for different regions? Does the vendor support best practices for security and privacy? Plan ahead, because even if you are selling in only one country today, most companies eventually cross borders.
Multi-channel sales recognition
You’ll want to make sure that purchases from all channels, including all third-party retail and marketplace channels as well as any direct-to-consumer are included in your loyalty program. To accomplish this, the vendor will need the experience and technologies to capture the sales data and apply it correctly to the members accounts.
Product returns are a pain point for nearly all retail consumer brands. When a loyalty program member requests a return, the points accumulated on account of that purchase should be deducted from the customer’s total points balance. It’s important to find out how the vendor handles delaying a reward or reversing a transaction.
It’s critical that all types of non-transactional behaviors are supported by the loyalty platform. This includes rewarding engagement on social media, referrals and product reviews. Rewarding customers beyond purchases is the unique way loyalty keeps them engaged and builds emotional bonds. The vendor’s solution should support both web and app-based loyalty program access for members to review and manage their status and rewards.
Loyalty program enrollment is a big event—for you and your customers. Enrollment is the first opportunity to capture valuable first-party data and start the relationship on the right foot. Online signup is the optimal way to have customers enroll so you’ll want to make sure it’s quick, easy, and convenient. The vendor’s platform should allow for social login or mobile app sign-in for program enrollment. Your employees should also be empowered to enroll customers when requested by the customer.
Additional platform features
- Managing multiple programs from a single portal
- Managing B2B and B2C loyalty programs
- Managing local and international loyalty member accounts
- Defining tier rules across multiple loyalty programs
Customer Llfestyle considerations
In today’s world, convenience is currency, so you want to make things as easy and hassle-free as possible for your customers.
Mobile program access
Loyalty program members should be able to easily check their status, see their points balance, earn, and redeem rewards on the from anywhere on any mobile device. You should make sure the platform allows your customers to access their loyalty program membership details from within an app and/or their Android/Apple wallets.
Duplicate and householding accounts
Be sure to understand how your vendor handles duplicate memberships and their inherent problems. This is an area that’s nuanced with each vendor. Furthermore, if loyalty program members belong to the same family (e.g. husband and wife, or father and son), these accounts may benefit from linking. Determine if the platform supports getting permission from the individuals involved.
The ability to integrate with your entire tech stack plays a crucial role in determining the value of loyalty solutions. You’ll need to ensure the vendor’s loyalty platform integrates with all of your current technology with special attention on pre-built integrations. The depth and breadth of pre-built integrations is a great measuring stick for the commitment the vendor has made to the rapidly expanding digital marketing landscape.
One of your objectives should be to offer a seamless, more satisfying experience for your customers and that means the seamless capture, exchange, and leveraging of data. Consider, for example, that the integration between the loyalty platform and a marketing automation platform will allow you to trigger more personalized, automated communications via email or SMS. It’s the first-party data gathered in the loyalty platform, pushed to the marketing automation system, that makes the improved personalized experience possible. First-party data capture is one of the key reasons for launching a loyalty strategy and full integration allows you to leverage that data to the fullest.
A loyalty platform must integrate with a broad range of technologies:
- Marketing automation, ESP and SMS
- Management systems including CRM, ERP
- CX and Service Cloud solutions
- Customer data platforms
- eCommerce solutions
- Point-of-Sale and payment systems
- Mobile apps
Speed to market
A deep set of pre-built integrations also ensures faster implementation of your loyalty solution, accelerating your time to market. The faster your program rolls out, the greater the benefits to your business. Be sure your vendor has an extensive list of integration partnerships to enable pulling and pushing data across every touchpoint of the customer journey.
Data security, privacy and compliance
Data is the underlying reason for your decision to embark on a loyalty strategy. It’s the data that unlocks all the opportunities and, ultimately, the experiences you can deliver. Keeping this data secure needs to be your top priority.
It goes without saying that you need to ensure your customer data is protected. Therefore, you should look for a loyalty vendor that guarantees high-end security for your customer data. To assess the loyalty vendor from the data security perspective, the first step is to find out about the security protocols the vendor has in place for safeguarding the data. Does the vendor have security and compliance certifications that demonstrate they’re secure enough to collect and manage your data? Next, ask the vendor for their position on collecting data. Most loyalty vendors will talk to you about not sharing personal identifiable (PII) or payment card industry (PCI) data if it’s not needed. This isn’t because they don’t have the standards to keep your data secure, it’s because they understand that the fewer places your data travels, the better. Typically for loyalty, you will want the vendor to collect PII data. You’ll want customers to create a profile and share their preferences with you. On the flip side, it’s seldom necessary for a loyalty vendor to collect or use PCI data (such as credit card information). Next, you need to ensure that your data is stored properly. Your foremost security concern should be about where and how the customer loyalty data is stored—whether the vendor deploys in-house servers for this purpose, uses cloud services, or leverages third-party data centers. The data collected will need to flow between systems. For this, the vendor will follow standard encryption rules and ensure the data is encrypted both at rest and in transfer. You may also find out if the vendor’s loyalty platform facilitates data exchange with other applications via a totally secured channel. It’s crucial to know if the loyalty solution includes the essential security measures that allow only the authorized people to have direct access to the data.
You should look for a loyalty vendor that guarantees high-end security for your customer data.
Globally there is a significant movement happening, both in the U.S. and abroad, to protect people’s privacy. This movement is requiring companies to be good stewards of peoples’ data—including safe keeping of the data as well as giving customers a say in how a company uses their data. This started in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Then came the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which morphed into the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) in California. Ten U.S. states have hopped on board and now the federal government is looking at legislation to ensure the safety of personal data. Plus, new laws have come to fruition across the globe, including new laws in Australia. GDPR compliance ensures your data stays private and secured—it’s a prominent data protection standard set by the European Union. GDPR is designed as a standard framework for data protection, which global service providers commit to maintaining to ensure optimum privacy of their client’s data. To reiterate, GDPR is only one of the many laws being enacted. Your own company compliance team should have a solid understanding of these laws. Make sure that your loyalty partner uses a similar standard.
One way to really kick the tires on your loyalty provider is to understand if they’ve gone through and completed IS27001 and SOC 2 security compliance. ISO27001 and SOC 2 standards evaluate the vendor’s effectiveness against specific security principles and related data security criteria. The loyalty vendor’s compliance to SOC security standards establishes the fact that the vendor fully meets the established security criteria and is competent to prevent unauthorized access to data.
Let’s dig into the SOC 2 Type 2 evaluation.
ISO/IEC 27001 is an international standard for how to manage information security. The standard was originally published jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 2005, then revised in 2013. It details requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an information security management system (ISMS)—the aim of which is to help organizations make the information assets they hold more secure.
Most organizations have a number of information security controls. However, without an information security management system (ISMS), controls tend to be somewhat disorganized and disjointed, having been implemented often as point solutions to specific situations or simply as a matter of convention. Security controls in operation typically address certain aspects of information technology (IT) or data security specifically; leaving non-IT information assets (such as paperwork and proprietary knowledge) less protected on the whole. Moreover, business continuity planning and physical security may be managed independently of IT or information security, while Human Resources practices may make little reference to the need to define and assign information security roles and responsibilities throughout the organization.
ISO/IEC 27001 requires that management:
- Systematically examine the organization’s information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities and impacts
- Design and implement a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that are deemed unacceptable
- Adopt an overarching management process to ensure the information security controls continue to meet the organization’s information security needs on an ongoing basis
Note that ISO/IEC 27001 is designed to cover much more than just the IT department.
What controls will be tested as part of certification to ISO/IEC 27001 is dependent on the certification auditor. This can include any controls that the organization has deemed to be within the scope of the ISMS and this testing can be to any depth or extent as assessed by the auditor as needed to test that the control has been implemented and is operating effectively.
Additionally, ISO27001 was strengthened with Annex C Controls, which include:
- Information security policies
- Organization of information security
- Human resource security—processes applied before, during, or after employment
- Asset management
- Access control
- Physical and environmental security
- Operations security
- Communications security
- System acquisition, development, and maintenance
- Information security incident management
- Information security aspects of business continuity management
- Compliance—with internal requirements, such as policies, and with external requirements, such as laws
The controls reflect changes to technology affecting many organizations—for instance, cloud computing solutions.
Let’s dig into the SOC evaluation. It’s a multi-level evaluation across multiple principles.
SOC 2 Type 2
The SOC 2 Type 2 audit is based on criteria used to evaluate controls relevant to the security, processing integrity, availability, confidentiality, and privacy of any system. The SOC 2 Type 2 report includes audit details of the service organization controls outlined by the Trust Services Criteria (TSC) set by AICPA.
IT system software and application programs
All manual and automated procedures
Personnel using the system
Physical, IT, and related hardware
Files, tables, data bases, transmission streams and output processed by a system
Some other areas specifically analyzed under a SOC 2 Type 2 audit include:
- How customer data integrity is protected from data entry to data deletion and all points during the data lifecycle
- How privacy is communicated to customers and enforced through company policies
- Protecting rights customers have regarding their data
- Steps taken to protect customer data confidentiality
- How the company guarantees data availability
- Whether access to data, software, functions and other IT resources is restricted to authorized personnel only
- Whether physical access to sensitive locations is restricted to authorized personnel only
- Whether appropriate background screening procedures are in place
- Whether an access control and monitoring system is implemented to detect intrusions
- Whether incident response procedures are suitably developed and tested
- Whether clients and employees understand their role in using the system
- Whether hardware, software, and related infrastructure are updated regularly
- Whether any system changes are communicated to the correct personnel in time
- Whether a change management process is available to address deficiencies in control
- Whether a disaster recovery plan is tested and documented
- Whether systems for addressing environmental risks are in place
- Whether data is processed, stored, and maintained accurately and timely
- Whether risk assessment includes identification of potential threats to the system and analyzing risks associated with each threat
- Whether a fully documented data retention policy is in place
- Whether physical and logical access controls are in place
The proof is in the pudding or, in the case of loyalty, it’s in having well-known, successful brands as clients. This demonstrates the vendor has the chops and proven loyalty marketing expertise you need.
Examine the positive outcomes derived by brands after implementing the vendor’s loyalty solution to understand the impact it may have in terms of revenue, profitability and other key business metrics. A vendor with proven expertise to meet the loyalty program requirements of diverse industry verticals is more likely to be competent when it comes to meeting your specific needs. The Client Satisfaction Index (CSI) is a good indicator to help gauge the experience brands have had working with a given service provider. The higher the CSI, the better the experience. When a brand realizes increased ROI and other gains by deploying a vendor’s loyalty solution, the level of satisfaction with that vendor is significantly higher.
Quality content speaks volumes
Analyzing a loyalty vendor’s thought-leadership content can provide a good indication of how well a vendor knows loyalty as well as loyalty for your specific industry. Take time to browse through the vendor’s website and, especially their resource pages. If a vendor has a good number of white papers, webinars, expert interviews, case studies and industry news—all with good quality content—it’s safe to say they check the industry expertise box. It’s not a bad idea to check out their social media presence and content as well—especially LinkedIn. Also, the loyalty knowledge and technology they demonstrate throughout the sales process is a critical factor in determining if they’re the right fit.
A vendor with proven expertise to meet the loyalty program requirements of diverse industry verticals is more likely to be competent when it comes to meeting your specific needs.
Look to the analysts
Top analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner produce reports only after conducting rigorous research on the key players in the space. Mentions and rankings indicate how well a vendor performs based on a range of factors—including things like annual revenue, growth in client base, captured market, geographical presence, client satisfaction index, technology competence, technology innovativeness and more. Reviewing analyst reports as part of your search can provide some helpful insights to help you create a shortlist of top loyalty program vendors.
Loyalty vendor competency analysis
Annex Cloud provides a robust scalable loyalty management and retention platform. We’ve built a large partner network offering more than 125 pre-defined integrations to enable brands to go to market quickly and efficiently.
Annex Cloud has designed and implemented high-performance loyalty programs for global brands across diverse industries—from retail, healthcare, grocery and automotive to B2B, fashion, CPG/manufacturing and more. Annex Cloud specializes in providing cost-effective loyalty solutions tailored to the unique requirements of brands in diverse industry verticals. Annex Cloud checks all the boxes, delivering on all the vendor selection criteria outlined above. Be it data security, pre-built integrations, platform innovation, or flexibility—Annex Cloud has it all to ensure a seamless omnichannel loyalty experience for you and your customers.
Below is a detailed overview of how Annex Cloud stands out.
Best loyalty management in the space
Annex Cloud excels in every aspect of loyalty technology—including loyalty management, UX, execution and innovation roadmap. Strong partnerships further reinforce Annex Cloud’s foothold in the loyalty space. Leading market analysts have featured Annex Cloud’s industry-leading technology in their loyalty vendor reports, including:
Annex Cloud earned the highest scores in 15 criteria in The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Solutions, Q2 2021
Annex Cloud named in Forrester’s Now Tech: Promotions and Offer Management Providers, Q3 2021 Report
Annex Cloud featured as Gartner Cool Vendor and referenced in 2020 Gartner Multichannel Marketing Hub (MMH) with SAP
Annex Cloud featured in Gartner’s Market Guide for Loyalty Management 2020
Full native engagement suite
Annex Cloud’s Loyalty Experience Platform™ provides the most comprehensive engagement suite, empowering brands to attract, recognize and incentivize their customers. Gamification, social sharing, native receipt scanning, user generated content and referrals are just some examples of what’s possible when it comes to building strong customer relationships.
Annex Cloud’s gamification includes using leaderboards, badges and various other competitive elements to engage customers in fun, meaningful ways that ultimately drive revenue. Annex Cloud’s Loyalty Experience Platform unlocks features like Ratings & Reviews, Questions & Answers and Social Comments to enhance customer engagement, build trust, spark conversations and improve conversions. Acquisition costs have nearly doubled, and Annex Cloud’s Refer a Friend module offers a more cost-effective way to gain new customers.
Annex Cloud’s Native Receipt Scanning, a favorite for manufacturers and CPG companies, increases customer convenience, ensures customers are rewarded for all purchases no matter where they choose to shop and also provides important insights for co-sell and upsell opportunities. Native Receipt Scanning allows customers to upload photos or original receipts to
Annex Cloud’s Loyalty Experience Platform enables enterprise clients to collect and leverage zero- and first-party data at scale to deliver timely, relevant, value-based interactions across every touchpoint.
The Social Login add-on enables customers to access their loyalty program from their preferred social media platforms—and social login users spend more time on your website and buy more compared to customers that use conventional login methods. Moreover, you gain valuable data about customer preferences and buying patterns through their social platform. Social Login also provides robust customer data to leverage for tailoring the customer experience.
Annex Cloud’s Loyalty Experience Platform lets you start with the basics and easily leverage more features and functionality as you grow. Kickstart your loyalty strategy with a simple value exchange to collect zero- and first-party data, then add more sophisticated features, programs and rewards. From a simple points-based program to a more complex tiered program with multiple engagement options and touchpoints, you have a full set of next-gen capabilities to build emotional, attitudinal and emphatic connections that last. The platform is designed to facilitate seamless delivery and meet diverse industry needs.
Annex Cloud’s Loyalty Experience Platform enables enterprise clients to collect and leverage zero- and first-party data at scale to deliver timely, relevant and value-based interactions across every touchpoint.
Most extensive partner network and pre-built integrations
Annex Cloud’s extensive partner network and 125-plus pre-built integrations enable consistent delivery of your loyalty strategy. The Loyalty Experience Platform integrates seamlessly across your tech stack—including ERP, POS/Payments, CRM, CX, CDP, ecommerce, ESP, Marketing Automation platforms, mobile, etc. Annex Cloud goes a step further to develop partnerships
with some of the top system integrators to ensure seamless execution.
Technology-first SaaS-based approach
An effective loyalty program enables you to not just collect the data but also fully leverage it across each customer’s journey. Annex Cloud’s SaaS-based loyalty platform complete with 125-plus predefined integrations is constantly evolving to not just solve for today’s challenges but future-proof your loyalty program for tomorrow. It’s easily scalable, so you can adapt quickly as your needs change—and offers unlimited member attributes, program size and more. Gain instant access to new features and functionality—no custom development required. Create targeted campaigns using any combination of attributes and use advanced personalization options easily without additional services. Maintenance and support are done for you, so you can focus on delivering a seamless, consistent, personalized experience at every touchpoint.
Strength in numbers
Two areas where Annex Cloud excel include customer analytics and personalization. Annex Cloud provides a powerful analytics tool that enables brands to analyze the impact of their loyalty campaigns in real time. The smart campaign design tool goes beyond suggesting campaigns based on your desired outcomes. For example, if you want to run a campaign aimed at doubling your product sales, the tool can offer the optimal campaign that fits this criterion. Leveraging smart functionality like this, it’s easier to achieve business goals through your loyalty strategy. Annex Cloud enables you to collect first-party data at scale and push that data across your tech stack to deliver individualized experiences across every touchpoint of your customer journey.
Annex Cloud’s comprehensive reporting and analytics simplifies tracking your loyalty program performance.
Annex Cloud’s analytics dashboard provides a clear representation of the customer enrollment in figures as well as graphical formats. So, depending on how you want to interpret the data, you have multiple options available. Depending on the data available for customer enrollment metrics, you can assess the customer participation rate and make data-led changes to boost enrollment. Similarly, there are diverse metrics based on the marketing activities you perform for boosting your loyalty program effectiveness—all easily tracked using the analytics dashboard, including:
- Data on the financial impact of diverse emails sent to customers—for example, emails for double points offers, point expiration reminders, etc.
- Comprehensive engagement reports for loyalty marketing activities done over a specific time period
- Single-view and detailed loyalty financial report tracking of the total revenue generated by your loyalty program
With such massive mission-critical data available at your fingertips, you can gain strategic insights and implement data-led changes to your loyalty strategy to support your business goals. Annex Cloud’s comprehensive reporting and analytics simplifies tracking your loyalty program performance. A data-intensive customer dashboard provides you administrative access to all data tracked by Annex Cloud’s loyalty solution.
Annex Cloud fully understands how vital data is for building emotional, value-based brand-to-customer relationships. That’s why we make protecting customer data a priority—including full ISO27001+Annex A and SOC 2 five-principle Type 2 compliance. We maintain the highest data security standards and rely on sophisticated, world-class data centers to ensure customer loyalty data is securely stored. Annex Cloud follows standard encryption rules to ensure data at rest and in-transfer stays completely encrypted, which further ensures the security of customer data.
Let’s talk loyalty
Hopefully, the loyalty vendor selection details in this paper will help you make an informed decision when looking for the right loyalty solutions provider. Annex Cloud’s technology-first approach, proven loyalty expertise, flexible and self-serve configurable technology, pre-built integrations, wide range of engagement options, and full suite functionality are combined in a SaaS-based, purpose-built solution designed to accelerate growth while building lasting customer bonds.
Dare to dream of a loyalty program that delivers unique, memorable experiences your members can’t find anywhere else. If you want to explore how Annex Cloud can help you design a loyalty strategy and program that meets your growth goals, all you have to do is ask. We look forward to talking with you.