This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Loyalty Program: The Five Keys To Individualized Loyalty

By | Friday August 14th, 2015

individualized loyalty-engageLast week, I started a discussion about how customer loyalty is evolving. Today, I’d like to explore how too often, the recognition a customer enjoys as a loyalty member is disconnected from his/her experience elsewhere with the brand and what you can do to change that. Naturally, a customer expects that having a relationship with a brand includes being recognized – after all, she is part of the tribe, right? But what happens when that loyal customer is treated like a stranger, instead of like family?

It’s damaging to say the least, and regularly ends the relationship.

The speed at which your always-on customers move today, coupled with the breadth of options available to them and the constant hail of marketing messages they’re pelted with 24/7, conspire to erode the customer relationship – or keep it from even getting started.

Without properly onboarding new customers, or bolstering your one-to-one connections with your high-value customers, those relationships wither away, if they ever take hold in the first place. Then, you end up scrambling to find more customers to fill the gap, which requires 6-7x more resources.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Futurist Jason Silva, host of NatGeo’s Brain Games, sees the vast oceans of data our customers generate as an opportunity for brands to connect with empowered individuals in a more meaningful way. “We move into a world of engineered serendipity,” he says.

The word “serendipity” means a “pleasant surprise.” When a brand creates a relationship that pleases the individual by consistently delivering convenience, unique rewards, engaging moments and a true value exchange for the information shared – it may be a surprise for the customer, but it’s the product of considerable engineering by the marketer.

By unifying your disparate understandings of individual customers, you can clearly see the highest-value among them, those that have high potential, and get a better view of where you should be focusing your acquisition efforts in the future. Then, by leveraging those insights through an integrated marketing technology platform, you can engage your best of the best, surprise and delight them, and deliver value worthy of the business they give you and the information they share.

That’s exactly the opportunity you have. You can create an experience that captures the moment with the customer and holds them rapt, an experience that makes them deeply loyal and incredibly engaged with your brand. In other words, every new insight creates the chance for you to engineer a little serendipity – by connecting in right-time relevant ways, by rewarding their relationship and engagement with your brand through an experience that keeps them coming back.

It’s simple: Individualization is now essential for loyalty.

How can you achieve individualized loyalty?

Well, there are as many tools in the loyalty toolbox as there are brands looking to use them. Creating the right experience for your customers is about listening to the information they provide – and answering with the most relevant approach for their needs. Relevance is what cuts through the clutter, connects with the individual, and keeps them from clicking away. Intimate relevance – driven by individualized insights – elevates the loyalty programs of the past to the engagement of the future.

And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the individual. Individualized engagement – fully-integrated into your enterprise and your customer experience – enables you to use deep insights to connect in a vibrantly relevant way, deepening engagement with individuals in a more rewarding manner and ultimately, driving customer loyalty.

By centralizing your customer view to include traditional behavioral data together with emotional insights, you’ll crystallize your understanding of who your best customers are, what they need and want from your brand. Using data driven solutions, you’ll shift from just approaching audiences to co-creating value exchanges with individual customers. And that experience will touch every point of interaction with your customer – online, offline, wherever she is and whenever she is ready to interact.

This two-way exchange establishes more lasting relationships, fuels engagement and allows you to not only increase your share of wallet, but as loyalty pioneer Hal Brierley, founder of Brierley+Partners, says, grow “share of mind’ with your customers.

Make no mistake. This ain’t your grandma’s loyalty program. It requires a mind shift and the right integrated marketing solutions. You’ll need to:

  • Keep pace with expectations. As available options grow, consumer expectations increase. Your customers will have concerns about what you’re doing with their information – as much as they understand that sharing it allows you to create intimacy and relevance. Respect their concerns and nurture their trust.
  • Deliver integrated value. Recognizing the individual and understanding her relationship with your brand is step one. After that, you need to fully integrate those insights into the entirety of the experience, proving that you not only know her as an individual, but can leverage that deep knowing to serve her needs.
  • Recognize that mobile is everywhere. Digital disruption isn’t just about the impact to the marketplace, or what it means for how you do business. As Forrester says, many of your customers have already made the mind shift to mobile, and more do every day. They expect that their customer experience will be everywhere they are.
  • Deliver connected experiences. Individualized loyalty crosses online and offline boundaries, often using mobile as the connection point between worlds.
  • Focus on moments of engagement. Vast budgets can be wasted on disposable interactions that will never be seen, ads invisible to eyes that have grown accustomed to ignoring the irrelevant. In our increasingly connected world, individualized loyalty provides the opportunity to connect with the customer in moments of engagement previously invisible to us as marketers – provided that the interactions honor the relationship and add value for the customer.

Leading brands are answering these challenges. Next, I’ll explore how Disney, Starbucks and Apple are innovating and excelling with individualized loyalty and customer engagement.

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Jenne Barbour

Jenne Barbour who leads marketing strategy for Teradata Marketing Applications. One of Direct Marketing News’ 40 Under 40 for 2014, she drives evangelism of individualized insights. Her background is in data-driven marketing, customer engagement, loyalty marketing, CRM, and social marketing, with focuses on retail, complex system integrations, and making customer relationships more profitable. Jenne has helped Hertz, 7-Eleven, JCPenney, and American Eagle Outfitters drive customer loyalty.
  • This is why we are so excited to work closely with Teradata Marketing Applications – combining top-class personalization through data-driven solutions with our Location/Proximity technology solutions is a powerful cocktail for true Individualized Loyalty! Nice article Jenne

    • Jenne Barbour

      Thank you for the kind works, Chris!