What is Loyalty Marketing in the Digital Age?
As we strive for better integration between technology (marketing automation tools, CRM, social listening platforms) and massive amounts of data, marketers still find themselves at a point of heartbreaking irony. At a time when so much is known about the customer, marketers still struggle to build loyal and lasting customer relationships.In fairness to marketers, data silos and weak marketing systems still hamper efforts, but an equal hindrance is the know-how and experience in crafting loyalty programs that keep the “human” side of their business alive in order to cultivate long-term brand loyalty in the digital age.
Make the hard choice and adopt a customer-first mindset
The danger in digital media is that the world is filled with incredible technology that can lull you into thinking that customer loyalty can be gained through magical apps, cool new platforms and other gizmos that deliver a flashy, but momentary, customer experience.That’s far from the truth. If you want to build a business in the digital age that is based on customer loyalty then you simply have ask one question. Am I willing to put the customer experience at the center of my business? If yes, then the path is clear but the work is hard. There is no easy way around it. And the hard work involves building a culture, systems, processes, data flows and then ultimately, the loyalty programs that allow you to live by this decision.
Marketers are responsible for some truly awkward and sometimes downright creepy errors in judgment when it comes to using technology for creating loyalty-building experiences. With social media and streaming news feeds, these errors in judgment have cost brands countless dollars in lost loyalty. But fear of doing it wrong has stopped too many from doing it right. Don’t be afraid to get intimate. Just put your best consumer hat on and bounce your ideas around a diverse team where criticism is the expectation.
Keep what you’ve earned and stratify rewards:
When brands get into penny-pinching mode, product managers say that you shouldn’t provide expensive offers, especially incentives or discounts, to customers who are going to buy from the brand anyway. That’s dangerous thinking. Loyalty can’t be taken for granted, and it isn’t a one-size-fits-all game. Some customers buy from you every day.
Your messages are cross-channel, but is your loyalty program?:
Marketers today rarely, if ever, build a single-channel program. Traditional Email Services Providers (ESPs) developed cross-channel capabilities years ago, and now a new crop of specialized cross-channel campaign automation SaaS vendors has emerged. You know it’s important that your messaging is consistently delivered across the channels where your customers are active, but does your customer loyalty program behave consistently across your message path? Can I earn points online, on app and in-store? Can you sign up for the customer loyalty program from any channel? If not, you are missing out on critical interaction and data collection points.
Don’t ask for too much too soon:
Think of a loyalty program like a relationship. You aren’t going to get married and meet the family on your first date. You need to get to know each other a bit, understand what makes the other one tick and build upon your interactions over time. Asking for complex point tracking, referrals or an abundance of information up front asks far too much of your customer far too soon. According to a study by Mintel, when looking at what makes a loyalty program appealing to customers, 55% prioritized ease of reward redemption, 51% noted ease of earning points and 22% wanted ease of enrolment. While the today’s consumer may appear complex and hard to catch, modern marketers.
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