Identity - The Cornerstone of a Loyalty Program

How To Set Up A Seamless Customer Loyalty Program


Why build a loyalty program?

Loyalty programs can be a powerful lever for growth. By targeting your existing customers with rewards and offers, you hit your already-engaged users with an additional incentive to stay, spend, and refer:

  • Your best customers become your biggest fans: not only will they stick around—they’ll promote you through word of mouth.
  • Typical customers will be more engaged, because they don’t want to miss out on any rewards.
  • By partnering with other brands that your customers love, you build “stickiness”, leveraging those positive associations and giving your customers even more reasons to buy.

An information exchange

Loyalty programs are all about membership, belonging, connection and association. Who you are is at the core of how loyalty programs work. So by their very nature, loyalty programs rely heavily on identity infrastructure – the “who you are” software – to deliver their unique power to engage customers.

The basic relationship for loyalty programs is membership, and “member” is the key role that any loyalty program must model. More sophisticated programs add a second role – “partner” – to the mix. Partners are independent brands with products and services banding together to create a web of positive associations that benefit everyone. Loyalty programs with a range of participating partners give their members even more ways to earn and redeem benefits,


  • Log into your site to accrue points and rewards through purchases of your products and services, and to redeem those points and rewards directly with you.
  • Log into partner sites to accrue points and rewards as well, connecting to the loyalty program through single sign-on (SSO) to use their membership account with partner purchases.


  • Log into the loyalty program’s administrative interface – either a site, or an API – to implement co-marketing, promotions, and member analytics.
  • Establish a single sign-on relationship between their own identity management infrastructure and the loyalty program, so that once a customer is logged into one of the loyalty program’s partner sites, that customer can visit another partner’s site without logging into their membership account again. This can simplify the user experience and solidify the connection across brands in the customer’s mind.

All loyalty programs have membership. Not all have partners, or implement the entire potential opportunity for partnerships. But the more sophisticated the partnership opportunities, the more valuable the loyalty program may become in customers’ minds, and the more complex the identity management challenges.

The challenge

Loyalty program identity management can be tricky to implement:

  1. Security: Whether rewards are earned through miles, points, or some other virtual currency, you’ll likely have hackers and phishers trying to compromise your system, harm your members, and damage your brand.
  2. Scale: If you’re successful you could have millions of members. You may already have millions of members – and need to migrate them to a new identity system.
  3. Social integration: Your members are tired of remembering passwords for all their myriad accounts – and they may reuse a password when they sign up for your program. Danger! Your members and your business are safer if they use a social identity like Google or Facebook to connect, but how do you implement that easily?
  4. Partner Integration: When you partner with other brands, you’ll have to build and maintain integrations with their authentication systems – that is where the rubber meets the road in actually implementing the partnership. But how do you implement SSO between your program and your partners with so many enterprise identity providers and standards (SAML, ADFS, AD/LDAP…) out there? This must be low-friction or your partner on-boarding will suffer.
  5. Mobile Experience: Have a mobile app for your business? Want to let members earn and redeem rewards on your app? How can you make the authentication process seamless and responsive without a massive development effort?
  6. Analytics: Member engagement, shopping and buying behavior is a rich source of marketing intelligence. Want to know which partner products your biggest spenders prefer? Target promotions to those members most likely to buy? You’ll need to tie member identity to behavior in your analytics platform to turn correlations into cash.

Just a few lines of code

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? But what if you could add a few lines of code to your loyalty program site and be done with it?

Imagine a platform that uses a single, simple API with SDKs for nearly every language and framework, and that hides all that complexity. A platform that can authenticate members with username and password or through a social identity account. That logs in partner employees via SSO with their enterprise credentials, and seamlessly handles the back and forth of member identity across multiple partner sites without making members re-authenticate?

No matter whether members or partners are logging in, and no matter whether they’re using an OAuth2-based social identity, enterprise credentials and a SAML-based identity provider, or a username/password account that must be self-service registered and managed, the identity system is securely answering the fundamental question “who are you?” Auth0 gives you one way to answer that question – through a developer-friendly SDK for your preferred platform, but behind the scenes implements all the integrations needed to hide that complexity – built by some of the foremost identity and security specialists in the business.

You get to market fast, you have the flexibility to implement even your most ambitious plans, and your developers focus on the unique features of your loyalty program and leave the messy but critical identity infrastructure to experts.
just few line of code

Easy analytics, powerful intelligence

With Auth0 acting as a clearinghouse for all your authentications, it is perfectiy situated to act as an analytics hub. With Auth0’s powerful rules feature – short bits of Javascript code executed in the authentication pipeline – you can set up a comprehensive and powerful analytics platform to:

  • Pour data from every member authentication into your analytics platform to mix with the other marketing signals you’re getting from their activity.
  • Track the rewards that bring in new members and share that information with your partners. Build a stickier, stronger loyalty program.
  • Use machine learning to build a reward-based recommendation engine and increase the value your program can offer to its members.
  • Cut the rewards that don’t encourage buying behaviors and double down on the ones that do.

Incorporating Social Identity

Because social identity can leverage the rich information that members have already provided to social networks, you get access to deeper insights that can improve the conversion rates of your marketing initiatives.
Imagine you’re about to launch a new partnership, and introduce a coupon code that this partner can offer their customers to accrue points in your loyalty program. Using social analytics, you could segment members based on who would be most likely to redeem the coupon—by age, income, gender, region, interests, marital status, etc.—and send a pre-launch email announcing the new partner and introductory offer to just those members likely to be most interested.

Flexible Security

You’ll want to deliver a great experience to everyone landing on your loyalty program’s site – non-members and members alike. But certain activities such as redeeming rewards, you’ll want to step up security. After all, in many situations, rewards points are as valuable as cash! So, implementing multi-factor authentication might be a good idea. You can ask for additional factors only when the member is trying to do something more sensitive, and not bother them with additional steps when they’re just browsing the site.

With Auth0, you can rest assured that every best practice of credential management is enabled by default:

  • JSON Web Tokens.
  • Passwords hashed using bcrypt().
  • Email verification.
  • Protection against DDoS and brute force attacks.
  • An SSL implementation scored A+ by Qualsys

A complete rundown of Auth0’s security features is available here.

A comprehensive solution

Loyalty programs stress identity management solutions in almost every dimension. They often have huge and active user populations, a wide range of social and enterprise identity providers, and complex, elaborate analytics demands – after all, they’re all about driving even more sales and engagement.

But that’s not all: loyalty programs feature rewards points that are just like money in many situations, and thus require the same grade of security solutions as financial services.

Auth0 is designed from the ground up to make very complex, demanding applications like loyalty programs easy to implement. Just one API gives you access to a comprehensive toolkit of providers, protocols, and SDKs, along with very sophisticated and powerful extension capabilities such as Auth0’s rules that allow you to customize authentication to precisely match your needs. All implemented by experts in security and identity and monitored with comprehensive logging and auditing.
Backed by 24/7 support, enterprise SLAs, and a wide range of pricing plans right for any application, Auth0 lets you solve even the most complex identity problems and focus on what really matters: a turbocharged loyalty program optimized for your members and partners.

Read More: InterMiles: SSO Makes For A Seamless Travel Experience

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