Tad Fordyce

Let’s face it. The loyalty marketing industry has shifted from transactional to experiential strategies and tactics, though we’ve been discussing the transition for well over five years now. It’s been our strategic vision, an integral component of our marketing plans. So what’s the difference today versus five years ago? Primarily, it’s the power of new technology that allows us to implement our strategic vision and connect with loyalty members to create lifetime loyalty through personalized experiences.

44% of shoppers believe that the rewards they’re being offered are irrelevant, making it imperative that loyalty marketers continue to evolve the value exchange of their loyalty program.

Experiential rewards are one way to create more value for customers and now the focus of most loyalty programs. For example, marketers are including bonus promotions within their programs that give way to exclusive experiences and auctions. Further, new programs are launching exclusive tiered structures where, in addition to earning points, members are given elite access to special events and limited availability items. Consumers have come to expect these relevant experiences and look forward to them, especially when they involve an element of surprise and delight.

So how can you ensure that you’re creating and providing relevant experiences to your members? Consider these three tips:

Get more personal

There's no doubt that consumers crave personalized experiences. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. As advancements in loyalty marketing continue, and marketers embrace the experiential component of loyalty, the role of personalization becomes more important. And through powerful technology platforms we’re able to do it effectively – in real time – to create meaningful experiences for consumers. As Jeff Rosenfeld, Vice President of Customer Insights of Neiman Marcus says, "Personalization is the new loyalty."

So how can marketers add more personalization to the experiential loyalty program? By leveraging data insights to truly get to know members through extensive analytics (predictive, modeling, etc.) and by developing algorithms to understand behavior and act on these behaviors in real time.

Add an element of fun

Think of ways in which you can put the fun in fulfilling loyalty experiences for members. For example, gamification is an effective way to engage consumers, as well as employees and franchise owners, across a variety of touch points. Gamification strategies can motivate consumers and provide higher and more meaningful levels of engagement. Humans are hard-wired to enjoy games and have a natural tendency to interact more deeply in activities that are framed in a game construct. Starbucks, for instance, uses gamification tactics to enhance the experience of its members. As members log into the Starbucks Rewards app, they are greeted with ‘surprise’ bonus star opportunities that generate excitement upon clicking on the app to uncover what the ‘total surprise star reward’ will be. 100 stars might be offered for visiting a Starbucks four times after 2:00 pm within a week. And the program has proven results. Membership in Starbucks Rewards grew 11% year-over-year to 13.3 million active members in the U.S., with member spend representing 36% of U.S. company-operated sales.

Be consistent

As you continue to advance your experiential marketing, remember to be consistent with your messaging, offers and experiences in all channels. Marketers can often become laser-focused on ‘channel success’ from marketing efforts, but they can lose sight of the role of other channels. For instance, consumers still crave the retail brick and mortar experience - in fact, 80% of clothing and shoe purchases still take place in traditional brick and mortar stores. So think of ways you can offer experiential loyalty rewards that are integrated across channels. Select retailers, like Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom, are now offering customized tailoring services as an experiential reward. To be consistent with this type of experience, these retailers could also offer an online personal shopping assistant to help select clothes from the new fall collection; then these clothing items can be shipped to the store for free where the shopper experiences in-store tailoring services. Each channel is related to one another and consistency is key.

To learn more about powering lifetime connections in the retail ecosystem listen to our recent webinar.

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