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Customer Loyalty Management Software 2021: Ultimate Guide

Customer Loyalty is a set of programs designed to encourage loyal customer behavior. In particular, Loyalty Management focuses on promoting repeat purchases by the same customer, whether of the same product, or of allied products and services, or even of other products offered by the company. In practice, Loyalty Management involves the design and implementation of processes – both, internal to the business, and where the business interfaces with customers - that enable loyal customer behavior. Lately, rewarding customers for a desirable non-purchase activity such as signing up for newsletters, endorsing the brand on social media, attending brand events, etc. have also been brought under loyalty management’s purview. Learn why Loyalty Programs are important for your business and how to choose the right software.

Last updated: Apr 8, 2021

Customer Loyalty Management Software 2021: Ultimate Guide

What is Customer Loyalty Program in Marketing?

Customer Loyalty! That holy grail of brand managers!

A loyal customer is a gift that keeps on giving. The cost of retaining existing customers is just a fraction of that of acquiring new ones. This is so well-known that it is now considered axiomatic. More importantly, a loyal customer generates consistent and high revenues at a low engagement cost, and thus, is of immense lifetime value to the company. In addition, loyal customers often take on an evangelical role for the company and endorse the brand and its products and services to others, often at no cost to the company.

Customer Loyalty is a set of programs designed to encourage loyal customer behavior. In particular, Loyalty Management focuses on promoting repeat purchases by the same customer, whether of the same product, or of allied products and services, or even of other products offered by the company. In practice, Loyalty Management involves the design and implementation of processes – both, internal to the business, and where the business interfaces with customers - that enable loyal customer behavior. Lately, rewarding customers for a desirable non-purchase activity such as signing up for newsletters, endorsing the brand on social media, attending brand events, etc. have also been brought under loyalty management’s purview.

Satisfaction is a rating. Loyalty is a brand.


Shep Hyken

Customer Service Expert

Loyalty Management execution usually involves crediting buying customers with “points” or coupons that can be accumulated in some limited fashion to be exchanged for further purchases, or cash credits against further purchases, or, in some cases, providing opportunities for aspirational experiences. A typical loyalty program is likely to be one or more combinations of these, arranged as tiered rewards programs with the higher tiers reserved for the more valuable customers.

How do you create a Loyalty Program?

Points Based Loyalty Program

The points based systems are based on the paradigm that for the money that you spend you earn reward points and the points can be accumulated over a period of time. Businesses allow redemption of points against either cash back or purchase of goods or some kind of merchandise purchase. This type of reward system is popular with retail, grocery, credit card companies. In the airline industry, reward points or miles can be exchanged for seat upgrade. Some businesses offer redemption points for donation and charity purposes.

Tiered Loyalty Program

In this system, the reward program is based on levels of loyalty. The more customers spend or more frequently they spend, the higher the levels of reward. The benefits, offers and discounts vary depending on the loyalty level. This type of reward program is popular with fashion, beauty, airline, hotel and credit card companies. The benefits here can include free upgrades, privileged checkin and lounge access facilities for airline customers. VIP passes in entertainment programs, early preview in case of the fashion industry are some of the ways benefits are offered. In case of B2B customers it could be higher discounts, upgrade in service options, extended warranty, to name a few.

Paid Loyalty Program

In this type of loyalty program, customers pay a nominal fee upfront to be an exclusive member and such members get recurring discounts on the goods and services or VIP benefits like free and/or priority shipping, early privileged preview before major sales. This is common with retail, grocery, beauty and salon services, food delivery apps. Amazon Prime is a good example of such a loyalty program.

Referral vs Loyalty vs Customer Advocacy

Both referral and loyalty programs focus on customer centric marketing. Both the programs focus on rewarding consumer behavior that is beneficial to business. However, there are important differences in the approach.

Referral programs focus on encouraging existing customers to bring in new customers. Referral programs help in acquiring new customers at low cost. Loyalty programs encourage consumer behavior to make more frequent purchases, increase the share of wallet and focus on customer retention and stickiness. Loyalty programs are ideal for businesses where there is high level of competition, low margins, high degree of customer flight. The value of rewards in referral is much higher compared loyalty rewards.

Customer advocacy programs focus on using a small set of loyal and passionate customers to act as brand ambassadors to advocate the product to a relatively large group of people typically using social channels. This is facilitated by action such as testimonials, reviews, sharing content and social posts. Referral programs reward customers to advocate the product or service to a select group of people that typically includes people in their personal and professional network. This is done through personalized 1-1 connection. The scale of advocacy marketing is much larger using a few sets of customers whereas referral programs try to get a larger number of customers to advocate for their brand which results in fewer leads per customer.

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What is Loyalty Management Software?

What is Loyalty Management Software?

The success of a Customer Loyalty Management program depends on how well each audience segment is targeted with the loyalty program most appropriate to it, and then, the excellence in executing each program. Loyalty Management Software decidedly elevates the quality of both these aspects.

In most industries, significant parts of the purchase process have moved to the digital space, so, loyalty programs also need to inhabit the same space and competently deliver the right incentives to the right customer at the right moment. Customer Loyalty Management Software enables this significantly.

Omnichannel software solutions straddle multiple online platforms and devices as well as the offline world seamlessly. Armed with the ability to process vast purchase behavior data, they assist marketers with predictive models for customer behavior and loyalty program recommendations. Moreover, Loyalty Management Software provides the execution framework for the roll-out and comprehensive management of the selected loyalty programs.

Loyalty Management is very closely related to other business processes like Referral Marketing, CRM, Lead Management, Customer Journey and Experience. So it is important to look at all of these together to drive a holistic approach to digital transformation.

Are Loyalty Programs worth it?

According to the MarketsandMarkets report, the forecast for the loyalty management market growth is from USD 6.8 billion in 2019 to USD 10.9 billion by 2024, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.1% during the forecast period. The major factors driving the market are increasing adoption of omnichannel and multichannel programs, Emergence of advanced technologies, and Growing need for competitive differentiation. While incentivized selling recognizably similar to modern loyalty programs have existed for centuries (over 300 years by some accounts), dedicated software is what makes modern Loyalty Management highly effective. Specific benefits of using Loyalty Management Software include these:

Enable Customer-Centric Marketing

Organizations adopting customer-centric marketing will necessarily have loyalty management as a key part of this strategy. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product of the company as well as spend 31% more than new customers. Loyalty management software makes it easier for businesses to centralize and process customer data to drive meaningful loyalty marketing programs that foster customer loyalty. Customer-centric marketing which includes loyalty management and building customer communities can drive up to 5X increase in sales. This also helps in customer retention and stickiness to the brand. Loyalty programs derived out of customer-centric marketing drive increased share of customer wallet.

Increase in Revenue

The software can make loyalty program recommendations including well-differentiated interventions targeted at specific customers or customer segments. Recommended interventions can comprise selling opportunities including upselling or cross-selling, or non-sale interactions such as prompting the customer for particular brand engagement actions.

Loyal customers, they don't just come back, they don't simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.


Chip R Bell

Customer Loyalty Expert

Improved Customer Journey Mapping

With Loyalty Management Software, loyalty interventions are far more targeted as they can now be planned on the basis of actual customer journeys. The software’s capabilities ensure that individual customer journeys can be mapped in detail and classified, future journeys can be forecast, and reliable predictions can be made on customers’ lifetime value to the company.

I think the acquisition of consumers might be on the verge of being mapped. The battlefield is going to be retention and lifetime value.


Gary Vaynerchuk

Entrepreneur, Speaker

Increase in Customer Lifetime Value

Are Loyalty Programs worth it?

The insights from available data and the recommendations generated by Loyalty Management Software make planning loyalty programs significantly easier, quicker, and more comprehensive. With programs better targeted by categories of loyal customers, loyalty programs are better adopted by their target audience, which in turn boosts customers’ lifetime value to the organization considerably.

Enable Scale of Operation

Loyalty program execution and management receive a major shot in the arm with the use of Loyalty Management Software. The software enables depth and scale to a degree that is very difficult to achieve with manual operation. The spurt in capability enabled by the Software actually implies not just that prior campaign objectives are achieved more easily, but even that the objectives themselves can be set far beyond the limitations of manually executed programs.

Industries that Use Loyalty Management Software

As a customer behavior influencer, Loyalty Management is industry-agnostic, and so is the use of Loyalty Management Software. Loyalty programs are commonly rolled out by consumer product companies, retailers, financial services firms, technology service providers, travel and hospitality providers - pretty much every B2C industry conceivable. Popular B2C industries that adopt loyalty management include retail, CPG, FMCG, and travel, fashion, jewelry, cosmetics, F&B, beauty, gaming

As a marketing tactic, loyalty marketing is far more visible in the B2C space, but it is also widely used by B2B organizations to nurture relationships with buying centers within client companies, build up the seller company’s brand profile in the client organization, and to stack up the costs of switching to competitors by raising the perceived benefits of staying with the seller.

Some of the major industries where loyalty management programs are heavily deployed include - BFSI, aviation, automotive, media and entertainment, and hospitality.

Loyalty Management Software is employed to craft and execute loyalty programs in a variety of sales environments - offline brick-and-mortar, brand-owned e-commerce portals, e-commerce aggregators - delivered through various online and offline channels.

Users of Loyalty Management Software

Loyalty Management is ideally a multi-functional exercise, involving Marketing, Sales, and Operations departments. Program conception and design, execution, and post-execution follow-up require the active collaboration of these departments. Moreover, loyalty management is most effective if treated as an ongoing evolving program fed by feedback loops from previous instances rather than as a one-off, which too is best-served by a multi-functional approach. Users of the software, therefore, would be spread across these functions.

Why Loyalty Software is Important?

The software enables nuanced planning and execution of loyalty programs while avoiding or minimizing potential business problems arising from manually running loyalty programs.

Underutilization of Customer Data

Copious customer data that gets collected routinely and is under-utilized, gets its deliverance with Loyalty Management Software. Manual spreadsheet-based analysis can use only a small portion of the customer data that gets collected routinely but remains under-utilized. Loyalty Management Software, on the other hand, is purpose-built to crunch all your available customer behavior data and produce usable insights.

Inconsistent Customer Engagement

Loyalty and reward programs that are not automated result in inconsistent customer engagement and communication. Loyalty Management Software enables rapid scaling up for program execution. For example, the software assists in drawing up communication schedules detailing what is to be communicated to which customer category at what point in time. Communication dispatch too can be automated, so that customers receive due communication without the need for active human intervention.

Lack of Differentiation

Customer Loyalty Management Software offers myriad options to launch a variety of reward programs for your customers. These are tailored to specific industries as well. A variety of choices can be provided to customers - points to dollar conversion, discount at favorite outlets ( which the client can partner with), discount for a product upgrade, limited edition product access, increased warranty or service to name a few. The variety of choices can act as great motivators for customer retention.

Barriers to increase User Generated Content

Loyalty management Software effectively removes barriers to increase user-generated content. The key barrier is to make the customer provide reviews, ratings, or testimonials and it is not about unduly influencing the rating. Even the most satisfied customers need to be nudged to provide reviews and ratings. With rewards and incentives, it is much easier to generate user reviews, ratings, and testimonials.

Prevention of Fraud

Loyalty Management Software can protect your organization from fraudulent misuse of your loyalty programs. Pattern recognition and predictive analytics can detect and flag suspicious activity instantly, so they can be examined for genuineness.

The software can be your key ally in the detection of fraud and misuse of your loyalty programs. With the ability to intelligently parse large amounts of data and pick out anomalies or suspicious patterns, your Loyalty Management Software could function as a proactive warning system.

Key Features of Loyalty Management Software

Omnichannel Tracking

A core function supported by Loyalty Management Software is the ability to track individual customer purchase behavior across online and offline channels, making it possible to put together a unified transaction history for each customer, which in turn makes highly personalized program targeting possible.

Loyalty Profiling

Customer behavior data can be used to profile types of customer loyalty and journey stages. Profiling tools in Loyalty Management Software do just that, which makes for more customer-relevant programs and messaging.

Reward Program Management

Loyalty Management Software provides a platform to execute and manage various types of loyalty programs - points-based, tier-based, cashback, VIP groups. Most such software also provides support for rules-based combinations of these, enabling focused targeting of different categories of loyal customers.

Gamification Options

Customer interest can be created and held by gamifying loyalty programs. Loyalty Management Software often supports various game options, usually, spin-the-wheel, sweepstakes, faster points rate, treasure hunts, etc.

User-Generated Content

Content originating from the user carries the double advantage of higher credibility and better customer engagement. User-generated content may include reviews, ratings, testimonials. Many Loyalty Management Software support methods that make it easier to prompt and enable users to produce content on social media, e.g., hashtag contests.

POS Integration

Enabling the brand to engage the customer during her visits to physical stores while retaining seamless integration with currently running loyalty programs is an interesting feature. Kiosks are used to engage the customer with a gamified store experience of the current loyalty programs and to redeem points/ coupons/ vouchers/ offers at checkout.

Messaging Support

Insight-led, targeted, and timed emails, messaging on SMS, MMS, and various social media platforms, all can be actioned through the messaging support features. An allied feature is the ability provided to the customer to link her social media profiles with her loyalty account with ease and get rewarded for it.

Referral Marketing

Loyalty Management Software often also supports referral marketing programs, which are closely associated with loyalty programs, enabling the customer to experience a seamless flow between the two.

Key Features of Loyalty Management Software

Analytics and Reporting

Beyond program management, Loyalty Management Software has the ability to continuously process customer behavior data and dynamically update and report customer profile insights, and to track, analyze, and report on specific loyalty programs.


Most Loyalty Management Software offers the wallet functionality that supports various currencies alongside points, coupons, vouchers, and so on, for handling rewards smoothly.

Data Security

Loyalty Management involves dealing with a large amount of customer data collected from various sources and also keeping track of all of the data related loyalty points, currencies, redemption records, etc. The software should ensure that data is securely stored and managed so there is no breach of security. This is key to maintain customer trust.

Artificial Intelligence in Loyalty Management Software

Companies routinely capture vast amounts of customer behavior data and rarely succeed in actioning it in any significantly meaningful way. Harnessing this data to deliver an enhanced customer experience would be a natural area of contribution for Artificial Intelligence, and it is.

Loyalty Management Software increasingly leverages AI for predictive analysis of customer behavior - dynamically classifying customer behavior types, predicting customer journeys and churn, pre-empting fraudulent or otherwise undesirable behavior, and so on.

AI-generated insights also provide inputs into configuring audience-optimized loyalty programs. The insights become available in double quick time, far less time than is possible with conventional analytics. As a dynamic learning system, AI-platforms become more effective with time in accurate and nuanced analysis, and thus, in distilling progressively advanced insights.

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Buyers’ Guide - 7 Factors to consider to buy Loyalty Management Software


The needs of the consumers and customers of different industry segments vary widely. The reward mechanism to deal with aviation customers can vary compared to how loyalty programs have to be implemented for the automotive industry. Loyalty Management software should be tailored for industry needs and industry-specific nuances have to be analyzed before selecting the software.

Buyers are recommended to consider peer reviews and expert opinions that are extensively available on Cuspera before making buying decisions. Cuspera’s AI based engine guides you through the requirement process to help you choose the right software.

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B2B or B2C

Loyalty program implementation varies widely for B2B and B2C customers. In the B2C environment, loyalty programs are mainly targeted for individual consumers or at the most pool comprising family and friends, however, in the B2B environment the target audience are the businesses, and hence reward systems have to be suitably tailored. The choice of loyalty management software should be made after assessing whether it can support B2B loyalty requirements and whether reward systems are geared towards this segment. In B2C, the software should provide enough customization to tailor to different segments of consumers.

Cloud or On-premise

Loyalty Management Software is available both in the SaaS model as well as an on-premise deployment. The choice largely depends on the company’s needs and policies. While using the SaaS model, it is important to assess the data security and privacy policies. Also it is important for businesses to own the customer data and software should support it.

Geographical or Region Considerations

The loyalty program design greatly varies across regions and geographies. It is important to know whether the software supports regional considerations. It could be the reward structure, currencies, integrations needed, localization, offline-online model to name a few.

Point Product or Suite

Loyalty Management is a business process that is executed in conjunction with other business processes like lead management, CRM, referral marketing, customer journey mapping, customer experience management. There are several vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Capillary that offer integrated stack which is ideal for enterprise loyalty management requirements. On the other hand, there are several vendors who only focus on loyalty management along with referral marketing. Depending on your organization’s ecosystem and needs, you can choose either integrated stack or point loyalty solution.


Assessment of capabilities provided by software is a key consideration for selecting the right-fit software. If your loyalty programs need social media coverage, it is important to consider social media support as part of omnichannel support. Similarly ability to create dynamic segments, personalized recommendations for individual experiences, customized reward programs, self-service portals play a key role.


Loyalty Management is never a standalone business process. It is closely related to other business activities like CRM, lead management, marketing automation,referral marketing to name a few. If you are not opting for a suite where some of these capabilities will be included, it is important to ensure that the Loyalty Management Software offers good integration capabilities via API. Loyalty Management needs to access content management systems to extract customer data and hence out of the box integrations to popular CMS like WordPress is desirable.

Challenges in Adopting Loyalty Management Software

Ability to Identify/Prevent Fraud

The biggest challenge currently facing businesses that commission Loyalty Management Software into their marketing management effort is to find the fine balance between ‘frictionless’ customer experience and adequate security measures at a reasonable cost to limit fraud. Many internal marketing teams are already struggling to keep up with new technology, multiple channels, and demanding customers; and loyalty fraud becomes too complex an issue that brands and Loyalty Management Software teams alike are still trying to figure out comprehensively and end entirely. Monetary loss and reputation loss can be substantial for any brand.


The true potential of a loyalty program, and the Software that supports it, can be realized in an overall marketing environment that has kept up with technology-driven methods. Deploying Loyalty Management Software without commensurate automation in other parts of marketing has very little potential to deliver significant results. There are multiple ways a customer can reach a brand. If loyalty programs are not able to integrate all channels to provide a cohesive and seamless experience from one touchpoint to another, that takes out much of the wind from its sails.

Speed of Change

Loyalty program managers particularly cite technology and the pace of change as a hurdle they face. They also say that consumers’ expectations change very quickly, and keeping up with appropriate responses keeps them on their toes. If the software platform does not actively help this situation, obsolescence could be quick.


Across North American and Asian markets, loyalty program managers reported difficulty finding personnel with the right loyalty experience and technical expertise.

Improving ROI with Loyalty Management Software

Increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%.

B & C

Bain & Co

Advisory Firm

Clearly, there is much at stake in running effective customer loyalty programs.

Effectiveness of the loyalty program can be measured by point redemption, repeat customer rate, purchase frequency, average order value, points expiration, time between purchases, and RFM analysis. Many of the software provide means to measure these metrics and analyzing the metrics over a period of time helps businesses to fine tune their loyalty programs.

To reiterate as discussed in the earlier sections, Loyalty Management Software can analyze your customers’ behavior, categorize them on several parameters, identify those with the potential for the highest lifetime value, recommend appropriate loyalty programs, and enable comprehensive program management, all of this very rapidly.

Software can mean the difference between low-impact cookie-cutter loyalty programs and high-focus, targeted ones, the latter delivering profit increases near or at the 95% quoted above.

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