The Rewards of Digital Loyalty

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Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
More and more marketers today are incorporating their loyalty programs and campaigns as part of the overall customer experience. They're replacing "channel" with "customer," analyzing Big Data to drive individual loyalty programs that stick, and leveraging gaming mechanics to engage customers in new and innovative ways to drive loyalty.

More and more marketers today are incorporating their loyalty programs and campaigns as part of the overall customer experience. They're replacing "channel" with "customer," analyzing Big Data to drive individual loyalty programs that stick, and leveraging gaming mechanics to engage customers in new and innovative ways to drive loyalty.

The new look of loyalty can be seen everywhere from traffic navigation apps to fitness tracking sites. Waze, for instance, the traffic app that incorporates crowdsourcing, location-based updates, and gamification to make navigation fun by encouraging drivers to report road conditions and traffic, leverages leaderboards to encourage continued participation. And Fitbit, the fitness app that allows users to track their weight loss and healthy activities via digital wearable devices then uploads the customers' data to the site and track progress against other Fitbit users.

As Cynthia Clark points out in her article, "Loyalty's Lift-Off: Gaining and Retaining Traveler Loyalty," a major mistake that organizations, including hotels and airlines, tend to make is to build loyalty programs that focus too much on the points that customers earn without leveraging the unique experiences that particular brands can offer. Successful loyalty programs today go beyond simply offering points in return for purchases. Instead, forward-thinking organizations are striving to give added value to their most loyal customers, rewarding them with experience-focused initiatives. The infographic, "A Look at the Loyalty Investment," points to how customers are responding to these elevated loyalty program strategies.

And Anna Papachristos shows in, "Calculating the Customer's True Loyalty Score," how for the first time, marketers are moving beyond calculating customers satisfaction from loyalty campaigns and incorporating data and metrics from their behaviors when engaging in loyalty programs. Restaurant.com, for example, rewards customers from a social perspective. Each interaction offers a certain number of points, while also earning the user a badge. For instance, by "liking" Restaurant.com on Facebook, users receive the "Thumbs Up" badge, while collecting a complete set of badges allows the user to satisfy an entire mission.

As both Papachristos and Clark show, companies must balance customers' desires for instant rewards with their expectations of long-term value. Marketers must also go beyond points-based programs and leverage the data to get a clearer picture of customers and loyalty participants to offer initiatives that are most suitable to their needs. Whether the program is community or social based, or lives on a card in their wallet or key chain, the most important factor in a loyalty strategy is customer engagement that's tailored to individual's needs.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION