One of the inherent benefits of loyalty programs is the data and insights marketers can glean about their best customers. Yet, as I talk with clients I often find marketers have the perception that their data strategy and loyalty programs do not belong together, and they are treated as separate marketing entities with unique teams, goals and plans. But data is an integral part of loyalty programs. Data fuels customer identity so loyalty marketers can better understand the behavior of their members, predict future behaviors and as a result drive more loyalty to their brand.
We recently partnered with Wylei Research to better understand the ways consumers feel about brand loyalty and the drivers behind those feelings. While the study revealed some interesting findings (stay tuned for the full report), one in particular caught me off guard. The research revealed that loyalty reward programs do not drive loyalty. That’s a bold statement, but if you think about it in the context of the current economy and marketing landscape, it makes perfect sense. Today out-of-the-box loyalty programs can no longer survive. Implementing a “me too” and standard “best practices” approach results in minimal marketplace differentiation. Whether your effort is implicit or explicit, traditional design or based on game mechanics, you must have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, what your brand represents, and who your ideal customer is. Then, use ‘best processes’ to define the best strategy for your brand. The recession has had a dramatic impact on the attitudes of consumers. The result is a transformation loyalty marketers need to understand to survive. With the data deluge, the shift from .com to .me and the epidemic of ‘time starvation’ your messages and offers must be relevant, in the context of a consumer mission and must add value for the consumer or they will be ignored. Successful modern day loyalty marketing must be built on six pillars: