APIs — or application programming interfaces — have changed how we view digital technology. Thanks to these coding structures, the potential benefits of applications, software, and platforms have skyrocketed. Integration between different software has dramatically improved the capability of digital solutions while enhancing the user experience.
This is certainly true when it comes to rewards programs and customer engagement strategies. With rewards APIs, businesses can seamlessly integrate rewards into customer-facing applications and websites, giving customers better access to loyalty programs than ever before.
Read on to discover more about this as we explore how integrating a reward API into your platform can make it far more engaging for your users.
What is a rewards API?
A reward API is a form of application programming interface — a piece of coding that enables multiple software to communicate.
APIs form a secure gateway to support this communication so that specifically defined data can be transferred between the two systems. Only this specified data can be transmitted, and the connection is based on strict rules and parameters. In this sense, an API is a secure and reliable way for systems to interact.
But this is only a generic description of what an API is. A rewards API is a specific type of interface that allows businesses to offer reward points and gift card redemptions within their website structures, as well as within web apps and standalone applications. The rewards process becomes seamless, supporting a better customer experience while also making the management of your strategy straightforward.
Data transferred via the API ensures that all relevant databases are updated with the latest information. In the past, data would have to be downloaded into a specific file format and then transferred to another system, where the database would be updated and checked.
This made the whole process slow and cumbersome. Today, there is no need for this difficult and laborious process, as the data is transferred automatically. When gift cards are claimed, redeemed, or modified, the system is modified in real-time.
Businesses can also report on this data, running the information through powerful analytics to achieve immediate insight. Reward APIs have revolutionized the entire process, and these handy pieces of coding are at the heart of what makes Runa a vital asset to our users.
The engagement benefits of rewards
Why is this such a big deal? Why is it so important to adopt a strong and reliable rewards policy? Simply because rewards are so effective for engaging customers. Rewards programs help keep your customers returning for several reasons:
Customers loves good value
All customers like great value. In an open and diverse marketplace, there are many competitor brands and retailers, so customers have a great deal of choice as to who they shop with. In order to choose the best candidate, customers will often seek out the retailers who can offer the best value.
This means giving something back to customers. If a customer makes a purchase and receives reward points, this is tangible evidence that they are getting added value from every transaction. When they redeem these points, this proves their purchase was valuable. This may tip the balance in your favor when it comes to consumer decision-making.
Customers like to feel important
No one wants to feel disposable. No one wants to think that the businesses they work with don't care about their customers or are not bothered whether or not they come back and become repeat clients. Instead, they want to feel valued by businesses and cared for by the retailers they shop with.
Rewards programs are highly effective in achieving this. When customers recognize that they are receiving a high-value gift or reward in exchange for their transaction, they will feel that the business truly cares about them. Customers are more likely to come back to businesses that do this.
Opportunity to leverage big-brand names
Gift card aggregator sites help businesses offer gift cards from companies other than their own. This might seem counterproductive at first — after all, why would you want to send your customers to other businesses? However, this can still be valuable for engagement.
For small businesses that are not yet well established, offering gift cards in exchange for rewards points might not be such a big draw for their audience. However, offering gift cards for big brands helps elevate the feeling of value and may carry more weight. This is something that can really hook customers in. Provided that the other businesses are not direct competitors of your own, this can be a very effective strategy.
Provide targets and objectives to customers
Rewards programs include an element of gamification. In other words, they introduce the aspect of gameplay, turning the process of shopping into something like a game. By collecting reward points, customers are achieving success in this "game."
Redeeming reward points for incentives like gift cards gives the customer an objective they need to reach to receive a "prize." This is automatically much more engaging than simply exchanging money for a product or service in a more traditional way.
The target must still be achievable — i.e., the customer must feel they can reach the threshold required to claim their reward. However, the threshold should be high enough to maintain the audience's attention over time.
Customers want to use their reward points
Customers are not likely to just score some reward points and leave it at that. Instead, they want to use these reward points — they want to come back and claim the gift card reward or another incentive.
This is an important form of engagement. Yes, the customer is returning to claim a gift card that may not be for your business, but the fact they are returning means they are interacting with your business. This represents another chance to make a sale and complete a transaction.
More opportunities for communication
If a customer has signed up for your rewards program, they are automatically a warmer lead than those outside your program. This means they will be more receptive to any communications they receive from you, including marketing and promotional materials.
As part of the reward program sign-up, you will gain the customer's contact information. This means you are building your mailout marketing channels with highly qualified leads. Provide carefully crafted updates and news bulletins to these leads, increasing your chances of making a sale.
Direct benefits of reward API integration
We've examined what reward APIs are and how reward schemes can boost engagement, but let's look at the benefits of API integration into your platform. For instance, integrating Visa's API into your reward program enables you to offer prepaid cards as a reward option, providing greater flexibility and choice to your customers or employees. Integrating a reward API into your platform creates a seamless connection between your customer-facing and back-end software solutions and your digital reward programs. Here's why that's so important:
Easy customer access
Reward API integration makes the customer experience so much easier. They can access reward scheme content directly from their apps and websites without going elsewhere. Whenever customers have to click somewhere to use a service, they run the risk of churn — so putting everything within easy reach makes the reward program more effective.
High level of data integrity
The API ensures that data sharing occurs in real time, meaning that all data stores remain fully current. There is no risk of data becoming corrupted or teams working with out-of-date information.
Better analysis and insight
Direct integration with analysis and reporting tools makes gaining in-depth insight into how rewards programs function even easier. This provides a valuable foundation for building your strategy's next steps, as you will know exactly what is working — i.e., driving engagement — and what needs to be changed.
Labor and resource savings
The process of managing the rewards programs becomes much easier for in-house personnel. The labor and resource intensity of overseeing the effective execution of loyalty and reward strategies are greatly reduced, thanks to a seamlessly unified set of software solutions.
New channels for revenue
In addition to improving the product experience for your users, there’s a major potential financial benefit to embedding rewards. The rewards themselves can create a new revenue stream. By working with a company such as Runa, HCM solutions can benefit from the discounts we’ve negotiated with the brands on our network.
Explore the Runa platform today
The future of HR is employee-centric, and being employee-centric can also be profitable. By integrating rewards, your platform can both better serve your customers and drive risk-free revenue.
If you're looking for a rewards infrastructure to power your program, Runa can help. With just one reliable payouts API, you’ll gain access to more than 1,300 brand globally across crypto, subscriptions, gift cards and more.
The Runa API is highly intuitive and can integrate with your existing systems in as little as two hours. You can also access raw customer data through the Runa portal to track gift card redemption and popularity, allowing you to make more informed decisions regarding your rewards programs.
To discover more about integrating rewards to your platform, reach out to our team, and let's chat. For even more insight into how Runa works, schedule a demo of our platform today.