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What Can Kill Your Digital Loyalty Program

December 17, 2018

What Can Kill Your Digital Loyalty Program

Each company wants to obtain loyal customers and real evangelists of the product. In order to create these tight bound relationships, they make a lot of efforts on marketing, advertising and sale process in general. The emergence of the mobile devices had changed the rules of the game. Now the Company can have personal direct approach to the customer. The era of Loyalty program applications has begun. During a few recent years, it has been a ‘must have’ thing for key players of the markets. For the last 6 years, Dashdevs has developed more than 30 different apps for Loyalty programs. All of them are unique good looking apps with different functionality. We covered various industries - retail, FMCG, tobacco, fitness, financial & entertainment markets.

And I’ll sell a wolf ticket if I tell you that all of them are successful now. The mobile application is only an instrument that can produce great profits if the Clients Company is using it correctly. Inactivity and unscheduled action can block (read: “kill”) future evolution of the Loyalty program. It’s a little bit depressing to watch a fabulous application collecting the dust. We always have project retrospectives to analyze the results and to find a way to improve the process. When we reviewed our loyalty programs we found a few patterns that can kill any Loyalty program.

The issues set below are the most critical, that stuck in my memory:

  1. A Client’s Company has no free human resources for supporting the Loyalty program. Any mobile application is just a tool. Rather beautiful and convenient, but just a tool for your influence on users’ minds. Loyalty program needs to be filled in with fresh information, moderated and you need to make sure that all the application rules are kept inviolate. A Client’s Company can underestimate the time that must be spent on support activity. In the end, a cool app is not updated and just stays on the Market/Store gathering dust. 2-month app uninstall rate hits 90%.
  2. Another one, close to previous, a big strategic gap — lack of the app promotion. Your users are not aware of your app at the very beginning. A Client’s Company must be ready to spend time/money on marketing and promotion. And the time for assimilation differs depending on the app. Keep this in mind.
  3. No analytics in the app. Simple Google or Mixpanel analytics can help you to understand why users are leaving your app. A genuinely easy step but it can give you information, that a button is not visible or why users don’t pass some levels. Yeah, we had this problem too. The users just miss one action and got in the trap. The analytics tool in your app is the greatest input for future improvements. Bear with it.
  4. Your customers don’t want to play your games. Over-engineering with gamification stuff is another critical issue. Too many categories, steps, rates, estimations, achievements, rules… and not an obvious transaction between levels are crucial issues. The user opens the app for the first time, ignores/skips on-boarding or coach-marks with explanations (yes, they do) and gets stuck in confusion what the next step is. In most cases, the users think in a simple way and they don’t want to waste the time to understand complicated rules of the application. Remember, when you create any product — use K.I.S.S. rule. By the way, simple prototype testing can prevent future issues. Usually, after receiving business requirements we work on design and prototype creation. A Client’s Company can use it for testing its own hypotheses in a few focus groups. My strong suggestion is not to skip it.
  5. Don’t underestimate maintenance and support expenses for the ecosystem. Now I’m talking only about hosting, admin and DevOps work. Hardware or cloud solutions increase expenses. And it’s necessary to form the budge that covers years of operating. Ask your software company (IT department) to do this estimation for you.
  6. A team from scratch = product from scratch. Sometimes, a new team does not think about existing legacy and compatibility with it. A painful case. A Client’s Company hired a new product team and they decided to create a new loyalty program application with separate backend and using latest technologies. The project was developed in time and ready to run. But reality found us during final integration with main systems and apps of the company. The smallest changes were causing tons of bugs on our or client’s side.

This is my list of biggest strategic failures during the development of Loyalty programs apps. But if you look closer they are really usual practice for all the apps. As an experienced client engager now I ask a lot of strategic questions when I start working with new projects. I don’t like dead projects and don’t want to produce them.

At the end of the day your product lives as far as you believe in it. I have plenty of opposite examples when the app breaks the ground only because one person is fighting for it, spending time and going the extra mile. These people are really encouraging and amazing! I’m extremely proud to be a part of the projects.

Originally posted on Medium