Key loyalty marketing trends for 2012  

    Marketers are at a critical juncture because, despite reporting that retaining and engaging customers remains one of their greatest challenges, most believe that customer loyalty rather than customer acquisition is now the critical driver of sustainable business growth, according to Loyalty 360.

    To help marketers develop more effective loyalty strategies, Loyalty 360 suggests that they should closely examine and act upon several important customer loyalty trends that are expected to dominate the loyalty marketing sector during 2012 and beyond. The trends observed by Loyalty 360 include:

    1. Customer engagement is the journey, and loyalty is the destination. Loyalty is a much bigger, broader, richer and growing ever more complex idea than it has been in the past. Loyalty is no longer about points, discounts, miles, rewards; it is about the way the processes, technologies, ideas, interactions engage an individual with the brand. The only way to achieve loyalty is through deeper engagement.
    2. There will be a renewed (and well-needed) focus on customer retention and loyalty vs. customer acquisition. Customer loyalty has been identified as the top non-financial business challenge facing companies in 2012. While daily deals like Groupon, LivingSocial are generating lots of buzz, marketers are realising that these price-based technologies have taken their focus away from the real prize: customer loyalty.
    3. Brands need to recognise customers at all touchpoints, especially the call centre, to deliver a quality customer experience. A recent poll by Loyalty 360 found that 78% of respondents believe that having a great customer experience makes them loyal. Creating this type of customer experience involves delivering quality customer service across all touchpoints, and marketers are realising that this means integrating the call centre into the overall customer experience.
    4. Marketers will work to glean intelligence from social media feedback. The vast majority of real-time data created today is unstructured data. Study after study is showing that marketers are struggling with mining this data and analysing it in order to derive valuable insights and actionable intelligence from it. In fact, a recent report by EMC found that only 38% of business intelligence analysts and data scientists strongly agree that their company uses data to learn more about customers.
    5. Loyalty programme is seen as critical element of lifecycle management. Engagement with customers over a lifecycle is the new model for success. The only way to earn loyalty is through deeper customer engagement and data gathered from loyalty programmes can be used effectively to drive a quality experience across all touch points and at all stages of the customer lifecycle.
    6. Marketers will look at a mix of location-based behavioural data and attitudinal and preference data. This trend will have an especially important impact on the daily deal space. Brands will want to have this data and control the message rather than offering such huge discounts to anonymous individuals…


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