Loyalty found: Optimizing customer experience to encourage allegiance

Customer loyalty is something all brands covet, as it can be hard to come by. Customers are reporting lower levels of loyalty than in the past – 56 percent of surveyed high income consumers indicated they are less brand loyal now, compared to years prior. If customers are less loyalty-driven, does that mean loyalty programs and efforts becoming obsolete? Quite the opposite! A well-marketed loyalty program can drive both customer retention and new customer acquisition for your brand.

A Financial Services client recently approached Epsilon looking for strategic advice on how to increase customer engagement with their rewards program. While the program itself was well established and compelling, customers weren’t regularly engaging with program-related communications. Epsilon provided the client with strategic direction on ways to optimize program communications to drive repeat customer engagement.

Ready to step up your loyalty game? Whether you have a formal loyalty program or not, we recommended you take the following actions to foster customer loyalty:

Deliver a seamless CX

Whether customer loyalty is a specific priority for your brand or not, every marketer should strive to provide a consistent and optimized CX across channels. Look to identify where your customer experience has room for improvement.

  • Review customer service communications to determine if there are any large CX gaps.
  • Leverage social listening to do a pulse check of what your customers are thinking and talking about on various social platforms.
  • Consider deploying a customer survey asking loyal customers for their feedback on their overall brand experience or the loyalty program in particular (when applicable).
  • For under performing emails (or pages, banners, posts) develop a test and learn plan around key elements to determine what customers respond to.
    • For the aforementioned Financial Services client, Epsilon identified specific email campaign types that were under performing and proposed a detailed test and learn strategy to develop known-truths about what works for the client’s rewards program.

Get personal

Remember those high-income consumers who reported lower levels of brand loyalty? Well, 62 percent of the surveyed population noted that having a personal connection with a brand is a key factor that contributes to their loyalty. We recommended that our Financial Services client layer in personalized content and communications touch points with business-as-usual rewards program marketing efforts.

  • Make your customer feel known and understood with personalized recommendations, relevant banners across channels and native ads. Striving for personalization should apply to offers in addition to brand/product-level marketing content. According to a recent loyalty survey, 77 percent of consumers said loyalty programs should have personalized rewards.
  • Leverage feel good messaging to thank customers for their loyalty. You can try out different surprise and delight offers for VIP customers (research has found millennials respond best to surprise and delight promos compared to other generations). While promotions do help drive conversion, not all customer appreciation efforts need to be promotional. A thank you note campaign will allow customers to feel appreciated and your brand to seem more customer-focused and human.

Consider the full lifecycle

Look to supplement regular marketing campaigns with lifecycle messaging to nurture relationships. Think about where your customers are in their lifecycle. What support do they need at any given moment? If this seems overwhelming, identify a few key customer personas and implement specific touches that will benefit each of them.

  • After analyzing our financial services client’s customer engagement data, we identified key segments that needed extra attention – 33 percent of their customer file had been inactive with Rewards campaigns for at least 4 months, while 22 percent were very engaged. Based on the findings from this analysis, we were able to develop a needs-based action plan. The end result was an enhanced marketing calendar that still included standard communications, but also factored in lifecycle-specific versions and dedicated lifecycle campaigns to drive specific actions.
  • Don’t forget to celebrate moments like birthdays, brand anniversaries, customer anniversaries and holidays. Not only does this allow the customer feel special and appreciated, but it will also give your brand more engagement opportunities in the customer lifecycle with a chance to be relatable and human.

To learn more about how Epsilon can help you drive customer loyalty and engagement contact: