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The difference between a loyalty program and a digital loyalty platform?


The loyalty industry can be a little bit confusing sometimes - because “loyalty” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

With such a broad term, we’ve attempted to get a bit more specific with the differences. 

Let’s start by defining a loyalty program

Is a collect-10-stamps-and-get-a-free-coffee stamp card at a local café a loyalty program? Yes.

Is an alliance of international airlines, with over 760 million customers across 195 countries, a loyalty program? Also Yes.

Obviously, these two things are vastly different in almost every way, but technically they are the same thing.

According to our friends at Wikipedia “a loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program”.

Which makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, Wikipedia defines a loyalty platform as… well Wikipedia doesn’t have a definition for a loyalty platform.


Ok, what is a digital loyalty platform then?

One of the key differences between a loyalty program and a loyalty platform is the perspective you’re viewing loyalty from. 

Loyalty programs are something companies start and run themselves, or in conjunction with other companies.

A loyalty platform takes a more balanced view, attempting to provide benefits to a wide range of customers, and a much broader audience. 

At Piggy, we define a loyalty platform as:

A loyalty eco-system that allows customers to collect points and earn rewards across thousands of companies, with a single account - and provides companies the chance to build loyalty and collect data, for a low monthly subscription.


Which is better, a loyalty program, or a digital loyalty platform?

Well, it’s difficult to say which is better, or worse, because they are both very different. Here are some of the key differences, from a companies point of view:



With loyalty platforms, you get all of the Pros you get from a loyalty program - but none of the cons.

By joining an existing loyalty platform, you don’t need to create anything - and you don’t need to spend a lot of money promoting it. It’s advisable to create a few social media posts, update your website, and give the customer-facing staff an opportunity for onboarding - but this is very limited to running your own loyalty program.

There’s also no need to hire additional specialists to run the program, no need for ongoing digital maintenance and the loyalty platform will take care of customer queries for you.


This can be answered with two direct questions:

How many loyalty programs have you signed up for in the last 10 years?

How many loyalty programs are you an active member of today?

If you’re like most people, you have probably signed up for somewhere between 8-11 loyalty programs in the last decade.

Of those programs you signed up with, you are probably an active member of 2-3.

This is because every loyalty company is essentially competing with each other, when it comes to their audiences attention.  

In the beginning, they seem great, but soon the excitement of the launch fades, and unless customers are using them regularly, they first fade from view, and then from mind.

This is what we call the Participation Problem.


How do digital loyalty platforms solve the Participation Problem? 

Loyalty platforms can guarantee participation because they provide an active benefit to their members - the opportunity to collect points and earn rewards, across thousands of different companies, with a single account.

That means they only need to carry one card with them - or have a single app on their phone.

In reality, that means you could do your shopping at the butcher, baker and greengrocer, stop off on the way home for a carwash - and collect points at all of these businesses, with the same account.

For businesses, this means they don’t have to keep spending increasingly large amounts on participation, instead they can focus on their marketing efforts.


A digital loyalty platform also helps businesses do more with their data

Modern loyalty platforms have become increasingly sophisticated in the way they help businesses use the data they collect from customers.

Not only can companies segment customers depending on how much they spend and their personal preferences, but they also help them actually create marketing materials.

By offering a host of templates, and a huge range of high-quality stock photography, anybody at all can use the drag-and-drop features to create professional-looking emails and promotional material.

No need for graphic designers, photographers or models - and you can start and finish your designs in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee.


So, which digital loyalty platform is the best?

There are a lot of loyalty platforms on the market right now, with a huge range in capabilities and credibility.

A basic Google search will provide plenty of options - or you can speak to one of our loyalty experts here at Piggy, by clicking here.

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