Loyalty360 – Focus on digital transformation and customer experience drives customer success
Zsuzsa Kecsmar is Co-Founder, CMO and Head of Partnerships at Antavo, an enterprise loyalty technology provider that builds loyalty programs for brands in various verticals, including retailers and shopping malls.
Loyalty360 CEO Mark Johnson sat down with Kecsmar to discuss the company’s growth in the 2020/2021 pivotal years during and after the pandemic and the impact of the changing consumer landscape on loyalty at the brand.
Could you give us a brief history of Antavo, an overview of the business today and how you relate to the brand’s customers?
Kecsmar: Antavo is a loyalty management platform, which means we provide sophisticated and flexible technology for corporate loyalty programs. This has been our company’s focus since 2016, although the company was founded in 2012 with the goal of generating leads.
For the past 100 years, the primary purpose of loyalty programs has been to incentivize purchase. But in 2022, this is no longer enough: to succeed, companies must engage with their customers outside of the buying cycle. That is why gamificationexperiential rewards and lifestyle loyalty programs are so important.
For example, one of our clients is a reseller of mountaineering products. The company’s mission statement is to promote the idea of hiking, which is why their loyalty program was designed to do so and, indirectly, to use their products. This was made possible by integrating the Strava tracking app into the loyalty program, which tracks members’ hiking progress and prompts the loyalty platform (powered by Antavo) to issue rewards when said members reach a new height. or a new milestone.
2021 has been a great year for Antavo with significant revenue growth, an expanded customer portfolio and the release of your annual Global Customer Loyalty Report. Can you tell us a bit more about your “key wins” from last year?
Kecsmar: 2021 found us ready. Post-pandemic, digital transformation accelerated and businesses around the world were looking for the best solutions to revitalize. Antavo had the technology, products and processes, and the know-how to help them.
We’ve signed up with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and millions of farmers will use their Crop Sciences loyalty program powered by us. We have also signed up with one of the largest airports in the world, and their frequent flyers will be able to enjoy benefits at this airport.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all of our clients are looking to launch their first loyalty program. Many companies have implemented programs, but they want to switch to a more reliable platform or overhaul the existing loyalty logic.
What do you think was the key to your success in 2021 and how did that guide your plans for 2022?
Kecsmar: We focused on the main product. Many companies set up a sales organization, but instead of pushing ourselves, we want to be one of the world’s leading loyalty technology providers. We spend 60% of our revenue on R&D and have been releasing quarterly product releases since 2018. It’s a big commitment to constantly develop the product, but it ultimately paid off for us.
Recently, we have started producing short event streams of the latest developments in video format, along with screencasts. Here is an example of the last Product launch Q1 2022:
What are your existing customers and new opportunities asking of you in terms of technology, strategy and support? And how does Antavo adapt to meet customer needs?
Kecsmar: Gamification mechanics, especially challenges and badges, are a recurring topic, as many of our customers are looking for ways to add value to their program and build a more event-driven relationship with their customers, without too much rely on discounts.
We also get a lot of usability inquiries. Companies are leaner than ever, and they want to make sure program management doesn’t become a second job for the team.
Finally, customers often ask how to combine loyalty programs with other features, such as early access, so they can truly engage with their brand’s fans.
What do you think works in your customer loyalty programs and strategies? Can you give 2-3 examples?
Kecsmar: Creating a rewards catalog where certain products or gifts can be purchased with points works very well for companies that want to increase the redemption rate.
Offering newly enrolled loyalty program members an instant reward (like a short-term discount or a one-time perk) is also a popular feature.
In general, companies are looking for a simple yet attractive loyalty program structure that provides a memorable experience, preferably via an app.
A new trend on the horizon is the influencer program that harnesses the power of community referrals and word-of-mouth, while helping program owners identify potential brand ambassadors.
In 2021, Antavo not only expanded its customer list, but also onboarded a number of strategic partners. How does Antavo generally approach partnerships and how do your customers benefit from these new partnerships?
Kecsmar: Partnerships played a key role in our success in 2021. These partnerships fall into different categories:
- Loyalty consultants, who create the structure of the loyalty program – what tiers to use, how should points be distributed, should there be points? Having a loyalty strategy in place is essential for us to start working with our clients, so if they don’t have a loyalty strategy yet, we send them to one of our partners.
- Technology companies like CDP and marketing automation companies (like Bloomreach or MAPP) are another cornerstone of our partnership. When a digital transformation project occurs, companies typically want to revamp their entire technology stack, and together with our technology partners, we are an attractive solution.
- Systems integrators provide a team of engineers who help with implementation and connect systems together. We train these system integrators, such as Acxiom, EPAM or Astound, so that they demonstrate high competence when working with Antavo’s technology.
- And let’s not forget industry organizations like Loyalty360 that help loyalty experts gain visibility around Antavo, because we’re so grateful. You are one of the driving forces in the market and we are very happy to work with you.
How does Antavo define and measure the success of your customer loyalty efforts? Are there any specific metrics/KPIs you recommend?
Kecsmar: The KPIs that can define the success of a program are not set by Antavo, but by the program owner himself. It usually depends on the goal they originally had when starting the program. In terms of program health metrics, we consider acquisition metrics (enrollment rate), engagement metrics (activity rate), and redemption rate to understand if the program is delivering value. The KPIs we see related to a sales experience can include customer lifetime value, total spend, frequency, AOV, depending on the company we work with.
Powered by Antavo Loyalty Technology, BMW inner edge The rewards program offers the company’s drivers a revolving selection of rewards to help them save time, save money and enjoy the ride, including free coffee, free skincare, l access to thought leadership apps and content that makes their job easier, and more.
What’s the next ‘big thing’ for Antavo and is there anything we should be looking out for in 2022?
Kecsmar: Get ready to learn more about Antavo as we increase our investment in the product even further.
We will also continue to publish various industry reports through 2023 as they provide invaluable insights for CMOs, Loyalty Managers and CRM Managers. Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022 was a huge success, and by the time this interview is published, we may also have published three regional reports, analyzing loyalty trends in APAC, North America and Europe.
In just 15 weeks after publication, over 2,400 people requested Antavo’s 2022 report – it’s our most popular publication to date.