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Although rewards (points) remain an integral component of loyalty programs, customer expectations are changing. As marketers, we need to fulfill these expectations.
Loyalty marketing is complex. But when you keep the customer’s voice front and center and bring them into your conversations, it helps you simplify your strategy to enable quick and broad adoption.
The conversations at last week’s Loyalty Expo were focused on how loyalty marketers are going beyond points with their programs. Here we recap some themes for achieving loyalty beyond points that were discussed throughout the event: experiential reward fulfillment, personalization, brand advocacy and a supportive organizational culture.
We’ve talked about the shift from transactional to experiential reward fulfillment for years, but what’s different today?
We are able to implement these unique experiences by leveraging technology, data and insights. And these experiences help us as marketers to stay emotionally connected with our customers.
If you’re not there yet, that is with fulfilling on experiences, it’s okay and please know that you’re not alone. As Morgan McLaughlin of Johnson & Johnson Vision stated, “For us, it’s truly a transactional conversation right now. Getting to the experience is not in our wheel house.”
Remember, loyalty marketing is an evolving journey. It’s a crawl-walk-run approach. And if you don’t have the capabilities in-house, consider how partners like us can help.
Personalization certainly was a popular topic of discussion at Loyalty Expo. And the shift from mass to individualized personalization is here.
During the event, many spoke about personalizing on a one-to-one level as ‘individualized loyalty’ which was explained as individualizing the loyalty structure to incorporate each member’s behaviors within this structure and communicating to them in the moments that matter – the moments that will give the marketer great wins. We define this as 1:You.
Let’s further explore.
As you continue to advance your personalization strategy, think of it as building blocks. To learn more, read my recent blog series on the building blocks of personalization: Block one: achieving a 360-degree customer view through data capture, Block two: making data useful and Block three: the role of content. It’s an exciting time for marketers in the era of personalization where 1:You messages are achievable.
Creating lifetime advocates for your brand is no easy task. It’s a natural tendency for consumers to switch brands. In a recent study, 87% of consumers reported that they shop around.
As loyalty marketers, we need to focus our efforts on transforming our most engaged customers into brand advocates. This means transitioning them from a loyalist into an organic spokesperson for your brand. An advocate communicates the value proposition of your brand’s product or service through word-of-mouth conversations, email, and comments/reviews on websites and social media. Additionally, an advocate shares his/her positive opinions, which creates a feedback-loop between customers.
As you’re focused on turning your customers into brand advocates, evaluate your program to determine if you’re program-centric or customer-centric loyalty, or what we like to call Little l Loyalty (program-centric) and Big L Loyalty(customer-centric).
Little l loyalty is focused on the tactical elements of the loyalty program, while Big L Loyalty is the passion, dedication, feelings, emotional connection and trust consumers establish with your brand that motivates them to continue their purchases and move through the customer lifecycle towards lifetime brand loyalty. And once you’ve achieved Big L Loyalty, your customers will be brand advocates.
Before success can be realized outside your four walls, loyalty and the support for a program must be built internally via the core of your organization, your people. For your loyalty marketing initiatives to be effective, it’s important to have support from the top, buy in across the organization and a change agent who is willing to challenge the status quo.
Incorporating culture as a primary focus within your organization’s leadership goals is essential for achieving loyalty marketing success.
As you continue to evaluate and improve your loyalty marketing initiatives, think of ways in which you can reward beyond points (or purchases).
To achieve this requires enhancing your program with experiences, focusing on advanced personalization strategies to achieve 1:You communications, ensuring your customers (members) are advocating for your brand and establishing a culture within your organization in which everyone is on the same page and the leadership team is aligned and supportive of your goals.
Here are some concluding thoughts from the event:
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