Data and customer loyaltyLeveraging data to create actionable insights into how the customer wants to experience your brand, coupled with personalization and relevance at each customer touch point, can lead to customer loyalty.

On Thursday, Loyalty360 hosted a webinar titled, “Great Expectations: The Digital Journey to Customer Loyalty,” which was presented by The Alliance Data Businesses: Alliance Data Card Services, Epsilon, Conversant, and LoyaltyOne.

Jeff Berry, Senior Director, Research and Development, LoyaltyOne, told attendees that “data drives our business.” 

Meaningful customer insights translate to bigger sales, stronger customer relationships, and sustained brand loyalty, Berry said. Connecting customers with brands is critical in this day and age, which Berry referred to as a “Renaissance of Marketing.”

Loyalty marketers can glean great insights from learning where customers like to shop; what devices they like to use; the time of day they prefer to shop; what they’re shopping for; and a specific message that will interest them.

“Often loyalty has a bad rap today because it’s often synonymous with a program,” Berry said. “We like to think of loyalty as a strategy, which is customer-centric.”

Loyalty as a program is, Berry said, viewed more as a business-centric approach.

“Data is the foundation for customer-centricity,” Berry said. “I hate the term Big Data. We think about the right data to inform some kind of action meant to drive some kind of customer behavior change. Data without action is, ultimately, overhead.”

Berry offered a significant statistic: Nearly 90% of customers don’t see any degree of personalization. Digital customer engagement is crucial and Berry offered three Digital Building Blocks:Personalization with data

Personalization:  Knowing the customer through the use of data.

Relevance: Understanding what motivates the customer and when they’re receptive to the message.

Engagement: Keeping the customer connected to the brand, wanting to shop more, and downloading the app (How do we keep customers active with us?)

Raju Malhotra, Senior Vice President, Products for Conversant, told attendees that his company’s research found that about 90% of interactions consumers have with brands are actually in the “anonymous” state.

Four keys to breaking through that anonymity are:

Recognition and reach

Individualized profiles

Decisioning and delivery

Measurement and insights:

“Use this information in real time to deliver appropriate messages,” Malhotra said. “It improves marketers’ spend effectiveness. Many times, our messages aren’t going to resonate with consumers. The key is to have that closed loop reporting to learn and adapt to make this process work. Maintaining chain of custody increases return and creates long-term loyalty.”

Sheryl McKenzie, Vice President, Products and Capabilities, Alliance Data, talked about the power of mobile today and its impact on digital customer engagement.

“Engagement is the precursor to loyalty,” McKenzie said. “Seventy-five percent of smartphone owners have their phones with them 22 hours a day.”

Mobile transactions using mobile virtual cards increased more than 190%.

Overall, mobile spend rose 238% from last year.

Customers spend an average of 65% more when they use their mobile cards versus plastic cards.

My Loyalty App: A quick to market, brand immersive loyalty app providing customers with a personalized experience that easily allows them to shop, earn rewards, and connect with the brands they love most.

Using mobile to connect the moments that matter:

Adds value for our brand partners through:

Responsive/adaptive customer experiences.

Deeper customer knowledge insights on what they need, when they need it.

Location-based marketing that drives visits and in-store sales.

Connecting the most loyal users with an app that engages.

Dino Michetti, Senior Vice President, Client Services, Epsilon, talked about how millennials are changing the face of loyalty. By 2018, 50% of business travelers will be millennials, he said.

“That is the way travel companies are determining how they communicate with those customers,” Michetti said. “It’s how quickly you can give me something and what values does that thing have for me. They’ve changed the game for us. The connected customer is the new way we need to think about marketing today. Especially, when we look at loyalty and how millennials are changing the face of that. They’re changing the way we think about engaging the loyalty customer.”

Millennials, Berry added, are “very much driving the future of how we think about customer engagement and how we define loyalty.”

To find out if a company’s efforts are working, Malhotra recommended a test and control-based methodology.

“Do a series of events, activities, messages and put them in a control bucket versus a different bucket,” he said. “That’s how we really can scale our efforts to make it a part of our DNA.”

McKenzie said brand partner sales represent ultimate success, but it also comes “from the customer telling us that.”

Michetti said Epsilon has returned to the basics.

“We’re really starting to focus on the basics such as brand affinity brand awareness, social health of the brand,” he said. “As we shift toward a customer engagement model, we see a lot more of the softer metrics coming into play.”

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