Baesman Insights & Marketing is a full-service loyalty marketing agency that captures and manages customer data to generate insights, build loyalty, and create unified customer experiences for its clients. The agency offers strategic planning services and builds marketing programs founded on customer data. Its API-driven platform is designed to integrate with technologies that clients are already using, and the company offers program management to maintain incremental program growth.
 
Recently, Loyalty360 interviewed Evan Magliocca, Brand Marketing Manager at Baesman Insights & Marketing, to determine how his team looks at data, defines customer loyalty, and innovates in the data management space.
 
There’s an abundance of data that’s overwhelming loyalty teams today. What advice would you give brands looking to gather insights, but not sure where to start?
 
The trap with insights and analytics is that so many brands believe it’s about what you know, but that’s only half the story. It’s really about what you can action and what you can scale.  That second filter may seem small, but it’s often the difference between profitability and having an initiative become a net-negative.
 
We advise brands to start building a good foundation and refine over time. Insights are like carving a statue from a block of marble—you’ve got to create the structure before refining or polishing or the entire operation is useless.  Build your core and evolve from there because without a foundation, nothing has any context or relevancy to give it scope and impact.  
 
How can teams use their data at scale, considering size, types, structures, and formats?
 
Scale relies on two factors—technology readiness and each team’s lowest common denominator.  Think of it this way, the social team might have some good metrics, the email and web team might be really advanced and other teams might be very far behind.
 
It’s challenging to get everyone up to the same level—that’s the biggest factor. Brands need to simultaneously work to bring every team up to speed and create seamless analytics across channels, all while relying on the lowest common denominator from every team to create insights in the interim. That’s another reason it’s important to start insights with core transactional metrics—everyone is speaking the same language.
 
What are the roles of technology and marketing in customer analytics? What’s their impact?
 
All three (technology, marketing, analytics) are always tethered together, you can’t have one without the other—or more accurately, you can’t do one well without the other. 
 
Where most brands are challenged is really on the marketing side.  It’s easy to find a technology that enhances capabilities, analytics can evolve over time with the right partners and data sets, but marketing is really the culmination of all of those put together.  Specifically, within loyalty, brands struggle to execute and really market well to their customers. The data can be unwieldy, technologies powerful, yet hard to utilize and lacking unique functions to each brand. 
 
It’s a shame because we often see all of that hard work go to waste because of poor marketing. All of the insights in the world mean nothing if you can’t action them.  Brands have focused so much on technology and insights, but it’s time to start investing in the end product. 
 
How would you define customer loyalty?
 
That’s a simple yet great question. We talk so much about what loyalty means, how it can benefit us and how it can basically save brands.  But actions speak much louder than words.
 
The common traits put into active programs that have outlasted their peers tend to be:
 
-Mutually Beneficial
-Demonstrated value to customers
-Customer behavior or support on a regularly defined basis
-Data aggregation with customer awareness
 
That’s really all we can distill from most programs into a definition and it’s extremely variable. But that’s a huge problem for the industry. It’s still so fragmented that finance departments and decision-makers deprioritize loyalty because it’s nebulous and hard to pinpoint value. 
 
Until recently, we’ve done a poor job of evangelizing loyalty within our brands.  That’s why Baesman Insights & Marketing is excited about the work Loyalty360 is doing and why we are such active members. As a group we can move the loyalty industry to higher standards that carry weight and help decision-makers understand value. 
 
How are customers changing? How are you adapting?
 
With customers, the only constant is change. They’re always evolving and they’re always ahead of brands. A great example is when we simply forgot that for a decade during retail’s dark days and customers clearly let us all know their displeasure by moving to disruptive smaller brands that were more in line with them. 
 
With customers, it’s a constant state of playing catch up.  They need to change before we can react.  So, it’s vital—truly vital—to always have a pulse on your customer’s behavior.  That means strong core analytics with deep, thorough insights on a consistent basis, so you can recognize the change patterns as they happen as opposed to when you start seeing a decline in your bottom line.
 
What challenges do you face in your personalization efforts?
 
The first issue we often see from brands when we start working with them is fragmented data as previously discussed—it’s pretty much impossible to personalize with that many variables or data that hasn’t been properly organized and cleansed.
 
Once we’ve overcome that obstacle the challenge shifts from “How do we do this?’ to “Should we do this?”
 
What level of personalization that’s scalable, impactful, and tasteful to customers is unique to each brand.  Personalization in its best form is more about optimization. Incrementally testing into ideas and possibilities to make sure they’re worth the effort. You can’t rush it because it’ll burn relationships with customers if you go too far or hurt revenue if you institute a strategy that isn’t showing enough gains in key metrics.
 
How does social media fit in to your customer experience and engagement strategies?
 
Social’s prominence really depends on the brand and their goals. Social for the sake of adding another channel isn’t a great strategy. Most brands have social marketing already, adding loyalty is a disruption to that ecosystem and it needs to be scaled for maximum benefit. Sometimes it’s worth a unique handle and sometimes it’s just a communication strategy within the current handle. Either way, we build our social strategies to complement our partner’s loyalty program and objectives. As with any channel—it’s strategic viewpoint should always be as a component supporting key objectives. 
 
What are your thoughts on corporate social responsibility?
 
CSR has been thrown around for a decade now and usually within the PR space until recently. It’s interesting that we always talk about the data trail for customers, but brands actually have one now as well. And while we’re all focused on collecting data on customers—they’re keeping an eye on us too. Because every action a brand takes is visible—from your suppliers to sites for advertising—everything is a known quantity if a customer wants to know it.
 
On top of that, there’s simply so much competition within industries that customers can be extremely subtle on what they select and why. There’s no longer one place to shop in a vertical, there’s thousands and they’re often very similar. Because of that CSR and reputation management can actually be deciding factors on a customer conversion. 
 
If you could ask a competitor, a technology provider, or a customer one question, what would it be?
 
My question would be:
 
What are three hard metrics you can point to that show loyalty has had a positive impact?
 
It seems easy, but once you start digging, its more challenging than it seems. And if you can’t point to three metrics off of the top of your head, you need a new partner. 
 

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