Customer Loyalty Trends Heading into the New Decade | Q&A with Annex Cloud

Annex Cloud is a mid-market to enterprise-level loyalty software provider that delivers integrated Customer Loyalty, Referral Marketing, and User Generated Content solutions. With a focus on acquiring and retaining customers, Annex Cloud works with its clients to build genuine customer loyalty and increase customer retention through impactful solutions.
2019 was a fast-paced year for customer loyalty and as brands work to set themselves up for success over this next decade, understanding new technology and having a firm grasp on evolving trends is crucial. Through its latest report, Customer Retention Strategies in 2020: Driving Growth with New Age Loyalty, Annex Cloud outlines where the industry is headed, and the top trends marketers are looking into today.
To learn more about what companies are seeing as customer loyalty changes, Loyalty360 recently spoke with Sean Ogino, Annex Cloud’s Digital Marketing Manager. Ogino provided considerable insight into customers view of loyalty, how it is changing and the important areas of focus on at this time.
What types of brands does Annex Cloud serve?
The brands using Annex Cloud’s technology are mid-market to enterprise level clients, in various verticals such as retail, health and beauty, CPG, B2B and more. We focus on wanting to take brand’s customer loyalty to the next level. For example, our clients e.l.f. Cosmetics, uses on of our solutions called native receipt scanning, which allows them to reward customers for their actions, whether they are purchasing on their ecommerce site or at a retailer they’re selling at.
Can you give us a brief overview of the “Customer Retention Strategies in 2020” Report? What was your goal for the research?
The goal of the report is to highlight upcoming trends and focus on what we expect to see in the marketplace. The report captures what we hear from customers and how we can provide clients the best strategies for the next year and beyond.
A few of the key trends for 2020 and the next decade that we covered are on the importance of experiential rewards, rewards personalization and segmentation, gamification, premium loyalty, and convenience – just to name a few.
As you mentioned in the report, how do customers view customer loyalty now and how is it changing?
We are seeing empathy, nostalgia, and corporate social responsibility taking a lead, especially during these trying times. What was already a long-term trend is really pushing to the forefront. Even though there is a lot of uncertainty in the industry right now, we’re seeing a lot of these trends continue to take hold. We see brands baking these trends into loyalty programs as a way to reinforce good brand imaging and increase customer retention rates.
How is emotional loyalty changing in 2020?
Emotional loyalty is just as important as always, however the nature of emotion loyalty has slightly shifted. Over the last five years, we have noticed brands trying to be as unique, interesting and transparent as possible.
Earlier this year, we were looking at ways for customers to feel connected and bonded with their chosen brand. Emotional loyalty is everywhere now. People are expecting brands to put their money where their mouth is. Pack on promises of social responsibility, proving they are a human brand, and we should see customers react to these promises being made in a positive way.
What are some important channels to focus on when brands are looking to connect with their customer base?
Email still works! Brands can use personalization tools and cadence management to manage as much as they want. Also, one of the most important places to talk about loyalty is your website. The loyalty program must be in the marketing on the website, without it people won’t utilize the tool and you aren’t getting the benefits of customer retention and keeping customers notified.
How do you define a successful loyalty program?
We see three parts to a successful loyalty program - the ROI on loyalty program, the increase of repeat purchase rate of customers, and the rate of retention we see among those customers. Generally, we are looking at a 25-33 percent increase (depending on the industry) within six months to a year of program launch.
What is your opinion on customer acquisition versus customer retention?
We see that on average it is five times more expensive to acquire a customer versus retain a customer. Businesses looking to keep their growth model up should focus on retaining customers, especially during these troubling times. By focusing their marketing on retention, it keeps costs down, increases lift, and keeps customers happy.
What advice would you give to brands during the market uncertainly that we're seeing right now?
There are two important things for brands to focus on. At this time, the first answer is action. One might need to pause for a day or two to reconsider their plan, but putting everything on pause and engaging in inaction is the most detrimental thing that could happen right now.
The second thing to focus on is retention. This is the core for most businesses right now because people trust brands that they already know. People are scared and go to things they trust. The ability to leverage your name/logo/message with customers that already know you is paramount to continued success. New customers you do acquire, you have to try hard to keep - double down on keeping those clients.

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