Most marketers still believe that a physical loyalty card offers a more rewarding experience than an all-electronic loyalty programme, according to a survey of sales and marketing professionals' priorities by incentive solutions firm SVM. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The US-based survey examined the current practices, preferences and needs of customer reward and loyalty programme operators, and the ways they're being used to increase customer loyalty, retention and referrals.

Most companies that offer customer reward or loyalty programmes were found to offer gift cards as part of those initiatives, with gasoline/petrol gift cards and prepaid open-loop cards being the preferred types of cards offered.

Despite the finding that 84% of those surveyed felt that physical cards are more rewarding than electronic cards, planned future strategies within loyalty and reward programmes include the increased use of digital cards, mobile vouchers and fuel gift cards.

The top challenges that professionals cited in operating customer reward and loyalty programmes included their costs, measurement, and perceived value to the customer.

However, the majority of respondents felt that their customer reward or loyalty programmes was successful, with 57% reporting that it worked either well or extremely well.

The most important success factors involved in running a reward or loyalty programme are, according to the majority of those surveyed, to make customers feel valued, and to increase sales, customer acquisition, loyalty and retention.