Finding and maintaining loyalty in today's fast-paced omnichannel world is a complex undertaking. There many opportunities but also speed bumps, including a predominance of consumers who are more technologically and socially empowered but also less tolerant of marketing in general. Add to that an ever-increasing demand for marketing dollar accountability.
How can a brand find the right individuals when customers present themselves with numerous identifications - including but not limited to credit card numbers, phone numbers, loyalty program membership and a Facebook account? And if that's not challenging enough, the brand brings along its own complications - for instance, marketing, store, merchant, ecommerce and customer services groups acting as independent entities within the organization. The result: much-needed customer intelligence is siloed and stratified - and not at all useful for informing marketing decision-making.
Make Loyalty More Meaningful: 5 Best Practices
What then is the formula for success for those marketers seeking to facilitate loyalty? A compelling value proposition (one that is financially sound) needs to be combined with consistent and accurate customer identification at as many customer touchpoints as possible, plus operational elegance that is consistent with the customer experience. These three considerations, brought together in proper balance, should consistently generate profitable, incremental behaviors. Here are five winning moves for bringing this formula to fruition.
1. Eliminate the Word "Channel" and Replace with "Customer": Customers don't think in terms of channel, so brands shouldn't see them that way either. Open promotions and sales-du-jour strategies erode brand value. Strive to recognize customer activity across multiple channels so that most valued customers feel valued.
2. Smartly Move Beyond a Strictly Transactional Relationship: Make the customer experience more robust by facilitating engagement with touches outside the transaction. We've looked to examples that include Amazon's price comparison app, Blue Moon Brewing Company's "beer finder," Weber Grills recipes and "how to" tips, and numerous food and wine pairing apps. These types of interactions enable brands to reach out to the audience with meaningful content and collect valuable data in the process.
3. Understand What Data is Important: Today a marketer's challenge is less about getting data than knowing what to do with the data that's secured. Data sources are popping up everywhere and the combinations continue to multiply. Each data source is individually identifiable, but which data points are relevant? Which are not? The new sweet spot of marketing lies where relevant value, authentic dialogue, and ubiquitous experience converge.
4. Demand and Facilitate Partner Alignment: How can marketers effectively identify customer interactions if every vendor assigns its own version of a customer ID? A strong alignment among partners is a critical ingredient for a brand's success. The brand brings a clear definition of roles and responsibilities and the partners (agencies, ecommerce providers, database providers, program/tool providers, point of sale providers, email providers) must embrace their roles and foster strong ties across the network to ensure success. Together they create the loyalty ecosystem, which is the result of establishing and maintaining one version of the customer.
5. Commit to the Importance of the Customer Experience: New competitors are redefining the customer experience. Brands today not only live in the merchandise and the shopping experience, but also in what happens after the customer leaves the retail store or website. Use known data to be relevant, timely and appropriate and customers will become and stay more loyal.
Brands that seek to integrate these steps into their strategies are more likely to find and maintain loyalty among valued customers.