International loyalty: Preparing your people, process and tech for success

In today’s global landscape, marketers are continuously thinking about how they can advance their programs and technology applications to keep up with the evolving consumer behaviors. The successful U.S. based loyalty programs brands have created are not easily transferrable to international markets because of language constraints, the multiple currencies, and cultural differences.

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, loyalty marketing is complex and personalization, or establishing the 1:You connection, is no easy feat. And when you’re trying to create personal communications in different international markets, with all the rules and regulations that come in to play, you need to make sure your people, process and technology are well equipped for success.

People: Ensure you have the right team members

Oftentimes brands have their U.S. based marketing team manage their international programs, especially at the beginning. This is a short-term solution. It’s important for companies to have local teams in place. Think of it in a crawl, walk, run approach and plan for your workplace transformation in stages.

For example, if you have an office in London, hire a resource locally to manage the needed projects, but partner her with a U.S. based employee so they’re working together and have aligned goals with the flexibility to customize the program for their markets.

Next, think about how you want to structure the management of your global employees. If they’re managed by your U.S. leadership, make sure everyone is set-up for success. Plan quarterly travel to meet with your employees, be sensitive to the time differences when setting-up meetings, take time to get to know their culture, listen and conduct regular check-ins.

You want your people in place so they can help enable the success of your international loyalty programs. If your people are emotionally connected it trickles down and impacts customer relationships.

Process: Be consistent, and remember, simplicity is key

Loyalty programs across the globe need to be consistent and simple to be successful. Consistent earning and redemption offerings are important to keep customers engaged. Simple and clear terms and conditions in the local language will help customers understand the value of your program.

Put a process in place in which your members understand the transactional/conversion process of your loyalty program currency. It’s your job to do the math for your customers and make things like currency fluctuation rates transparent.

Technology: Having an agile platform is essential

When deciding on a platform, think Agility. It’s best to integrate a platform that can serve both your domestic and international needs. The technology component of your program should be adaptable to specific currency types, languages and local privacy regulations, such as GDPR compliant.

Also, once you have the market specific criteria identified, think about the shareable items within your platform. For example, review the dynamic creative component that’s stored in your platform to see if it can be reused and repurposed.

And consider having a master content management system within the platform to share creative and other campaign elements.

Brand in action

FedEx does an excellent job with their international marketing, programs and overall focus on loyalty. FedEx’s corporate culture of focusing on their people, process and technology (called Purple Promise) is felt and implemented across the entire organization, both domestically and internationally.

With this alignment, FedEx has built the capabilities to expand their programs into the international markets. FedEx mirrors its successful U.S. based strategy while expanding into international markets and shares learnings across regions.

As you’re evaluating your people, processes and technology to go global with your loyalty marketing program, put an actionable plan in place that’s achievable.

Remember, think in a crawl, walk run mindset. For example, form a steering committee inside your organization to help determine the best approach to take in setting up your global program. Include associates (both domestic and international) from all areas of your organization – IT, finance, leadership, marketing and operations – and put your task list together.

Do research, implement testing, mirror what other international brands have done well and always think with an innovative mindset. Put a plan in place for eliminating the barriers that might arise. And don’t forget to talk to vendors who are actively implementing international programs to learn from them.

*This post first appeared on Loyalty360.