A solid promotional marketing strategy requires promotional infrastructure that you can build upon and tailor to your needs. This requires an investment in the right tools, whether that means buying an off-the-shelf solution, investing in a promotion-specific SaaS platform, or building the promotional infrastructure in-house.
Building your own promotional infrastructure is possible if you cover your bases and commit to the task ahead. It’s important to note, however, that this is a resource-intensive and time-consuming endeavour. This blog will detail the ins and outs of building your own promotional infrastructure, the challenges behind it and whether it’s a worthwhile investment. Let’s get into it!
Decide your outcomes
Before you start any project, the first step is to decide the desired outcome and how you can accomplish it with existing tools and anything else you need to make it work.
When it comes to building an effective promotional infrastructure, any solution must be better than what your eCommerce and/or CRM platform can already do. It must also integrate with the existing platforms that you use for customer information or you won’t be able to effectively personalise your promo campaigns – which is one of the keys to success!
Customisation is key
In building a promotional infrastructure, you need to decide which features you want included. They must provide the right level of customisation for your unique business needs. The more customisable your platform is, the more you can tailor the levels of personalisation for your customers. Some of the more common features include:
Flexible delivery and validation — automation, codes on-site, via email, etc.
The ability to pull criteria and customer information from your CRM or other sources
The ability to inform customers why codes aren’t valid
The ability to display promotions across different channels
Set up an IT team
The next step will be deciding who is going to build this solution and what it will take to bring together all the parts you need. There are advantages and disadvantages to having your IT team build an in-house solution.
The advantages include:
You’ll own the finished product
You will have full control over the functionality
It will be customised to fit your exact business requirements, meaning it can be adjusted and scaled up when needed
There are also some significant disadvantages:
It’s expensive and time-consuming to develop
You’ll likely need to bring on additional IT staff with specialised skillsets
You’ll have to constantly maintain and upgrade, and ensure there are no bugs that could ruin your campaigns
If you’re still unsure, here’s a question you may want to ask: if my IT was going to build this essential tool, why haven’t they done it yet?
Think about time and capacity
One of the reasons your IT team probably hasn’t done it is that big projects like this require commitment, time, resources, and specialist skills from the IT team. It’s a complex tool to build and you must have the right people and the financial commitment to build it on your own.
You’ll need to decide what your IT team’s workload and capacity are, and allocate resources. It’s not just the initial build, but also includes upgrades, bugs, maintenance, and future feature enhancements, etc. Since there’s no outside expertise with an in-house solution, your IT team will have to be ready for anything.
Another concern is scope creep. Scope creep occurs when there’s the continual expansion of functional requirements or the scope of work. When you’re building an in-house promotional infrastructure, there’s always the request to add one-more-thing. Essentially, this means the project never really gets completed. Do you have the capacity for that?
So, what are the alternatives?
About now you may be thinking what are the alternatives to the in-house model that can meet your goals. There are two ways to go about it.
Off-the-shelf promotional solutions
There are some ready-made promotional tools with a set amount of standard promotional capabilities that allow you to run promotional campaigns. These allow you to do things such as set start and expiry dates and measure against validation criteria.
While this solution is ready-to-use, it comes with limitations: there is only so much customisation allowed, meaning you can’t tailor this to your business’ exact needs. It really depends on the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. On top of that, it may require multiple software solutions which may or may not integrate with your legacy systems.
A promotions engine
A promotions engine is a SaaS solution that provides everything you need. It will generate, validate, monitor, and track codes.
The right promotion engine will be able to:
Automate the generation of reward-based or discount-based promotions.
Validate repeat-use and single-use unique voucher codes.
Integrate with your CRM and eCommerce platform and/or website to deliver bespoke, customised capabilities linked to promotional marketing.
You can set parameters down to hyper-specific criteria to give you complete control over your campaigns, for example, it will only offer a customer a coupon code if they complete set actions in a set order. It will also have robust reporting functionality.
Another key function of a SaaS+ promotions engine is that you get the software with advanced capabilities but you can also benefit from the provider’s industry expertise. Think of it as DIY+. When you’ve got a complex campaign set up, or want to experiment with different promotional campaigns, there’s an expert that can help guide you.
If you’re considering a promotions engine as a solution, here are some of the things you will want to consider:
Will you need development support? You don’t want a tool that will turn into an in-house development project. Customisation is the key and most off-the-shelf solutions won’t give you what you want.
Will you need support creating specific or complex promotions? The best promotion engine vendors will work with you as promotional marketing consultants and provide personalised advice on the best ways to drive outcomes.
Is there flexible pricing? You want to be able to buy what you need now and expand later if needed. It’s also important to understand the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Will it integrate with my existing eCommerce platform and CRM? A promotions engine needs to pull customer information to personalise and distribute vouchers. Make sure any tool you purchase is compatible with your existing ecosystem.
Does it offer advanced promotional options? Whether you need them right away or not, you shouldn’t pick a solution that limits your ability to create. At a minimum, your solution should provide advanced promotional capabilities, such as time-sensitive or diminishing discounts, a range of promotional options, and gamification to create urgency and engagement.
Can I test and optimise? One of the keys to creating and optimising campaigns is the ability to measure the results and further customise offers based on the results. You need robust reporting options — and an easy way to view that data, like a dashboard — and the ability to isolate categories of promotions to A/B test the outcomes.
Deploying the right promotions strategy can be a game-changer for your business. And partnering with the right vendor — like us at Uniqodo! — will ensure that you’re positioned to win.
Implement the promotional infrastructure that’s right for you
Ecommerce platforms offer functional promotional marketing capabilities for simple campaigns. But there is significant value in getting more sophisticated with your promotional marketing strategy. To creatively align promotions with business outcomes, you need a better way.
When trying to find the right solution for you, you need to consider your business needs, capacity, costs, and overall goals. If you are unsure about which direction is the right one for you, check out our eBook — Do You Need a Promotions Engine? — and find out if you need a promotions engine for your business and what kind of promotions will fit you best.