Creating desired and memorable experiences is what drives loyalty. There’s a transformation underway with the shift from transactional to relational loyalty programs that marketers need to think about. As this shift happens, what role does your email program play (or continue to play) as part of your loyalty program?

Last week I had the opportunity to attend MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit in Kiawah Island, SC where I participated in the panel Thinking Beyond the Coupon: How to Reward Loyal Customers. As customers continue to look for unique experiences your email strategy remains fundamental to the success of your loyalty program because it enables personalized, real time and one-to-one communication with consumers. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, email remains a unique channel where consumers invite marketers in for a one-to-one conversation. Marketers need to continue to leverage this for the success of their loyalty programs.

Consumers want more than a rewards coupon or transaction discount out of the loyalty programs they are a part of. In a recent COLLOQUY study, 87% of consumers said they would join a loyalty program that offers rewards for activities other than spending with a particular brand. Another indicator that consumers are yearning for personalized and relevant experiences related to their likes and interests.

Leveraging data can help email marketers create these experiences. On average, marketers use 10 to 12 data points to create their model for email deployments. You need to think about what you’re going to do with the other 1,000+ data points you have on file. In an era of inbox clutter and market disruption across digital channels, it has become so much more important for brands to create an emotional connection with the consumer. Your customers need to know that you care about them and feel that you know who they are. Once you’ve established this emotional bond, you can then leverage it to create experiences for your customers driving lifetime loyalty to your brand.

Believe me, I understand that creating true loyalty experiences is very difficult within an organization because of the multiple channel challenge. Take baby steps. Begin by placing and viewing your customer at the center of the ecosystem. Then, start with one channel, like email for example. Once you’ve established a one-to-one relationship within email, move to a different channel. Focus on social, then mobile and display and so on. Target a holistic approach and you will soon see positive results.

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