Powering lifetime connections, stage III – adjusting communications along the journey

In part two of this series, I discussed the second stage of powering lifetime connections which is creating a plan for ongoing dialog. More often than not, brands either send one to two communications to welcome customers to their loyalty program, or, they over communicate and run the risk of customers classifying these communications as ‘junk mail’. Marketers need to develop a communication plan with the right number and types of communications for each program member to sustain customer loyalty. But as I’ll discuss, in the final part of powering lifetime connections, communication plans need to be flexible and accommodate for change along the journey. The needs and wants of consumers are ever changing and developing a plan to adjust to these needs is a must.

Understand the customer lifecycle

A customer’s loyalty lifecycle begins with the first purchase and enrolling in a brands’ loyalty program. Once the customer is engaged, brands share communications highlighting additional products and services to educate the consumer and create awareness. Within the customer lifecycle, change is constant and marketers need to embrace this change. Expecting and /anticipating change allows for the flexibility in building a communication plan around customer’s expectations and helps to ensure marketers can reach customers in the moments that matter most.

Segmentation is a must

Not all customers are the same. Marketers cannot communicate to everyone in the same way. It’s important to know and understand high potential customers to focus time and energy on a high-performing segment and to reduce waste. As it relates to segmentation, leveraging the VAP scores (Value, Attrition, Potential) of consumers helps marketers allocate communication spend and realize better return on marketing investment. And marketers are advised to re-run these scoring processes on a regular basis, so adjustments can be made accordingly.

Finding the balance of being proactive versus reactive

It’s important to recognize the difference between proactive and reactive communications. Proactive communications are more predictive and easier to plan for such as a welcome message, thanks for redeeming, recognizing a birthday, etc. And reactive communications happen in real-time where the consumer is live, sharing thoughts about an event they’re at, or calling customer service to complain, tweeting about a positive experience they just had with your brand, and so on. It’s important to be able to react to these moments in real time, when it matters the most. Marketers should consider setting up a communication infrastructure including both proactive and reactive communication types to leverage with their interactions with consumers.

Let’s put powering customer connections into action through the example of purchasing a car. Married couples, (who are interested in having a family), on average wait three to five years before having a baby. Automobile manufacturers may consider a communication strategy for the newly married couple that showcases the latest and greatest sedan. Then, three years following their purchase, communicating how trade-ins are in need for their particular sedan while sharing information about the mid-size SUV is a good communication strategy. It’s about understanding where the consumer is at in their stage in the lifecycle and communicating to them with the appropriate messages. Consider adding third party consumer data to augment your understanding of customers, to pick up on lifecycle changes that you might miss.

So as you’re evaluating your communication strategy and making adjustments along the way, also think about your internal resources – the people of your organization. Do you have dedicated resources to respond to customer service inquiries? Do you have marketing staff members doing social listening? These efforts are important in achieving a 360-degree of your customers.

This completes my powering lifetime connections series. Please stay tuned, as in my next series, I’ll discuss the building blocks of personalization in which I’ll explore getting a 360-degree view of your customer (data capture), using artificial intelligence to engage at scale with customized messages and reaching customers in the right moment, in the right channel.

This article originally appeared on Loyalty360 on June 1, 2018.