The gaps between media channels are closing. A modern day shopper might check into a physical store on a mobile device, redeem a coupon received via email in-store, and then recommend that product to all friends on Facebook. It may only be one purchase, but along the way, that customer has provided a wealth of valuable data about himself or herself, including shopping behavior. For this reason, it’s imperative that retailers know how to best capture this data and, more importantly, how to act on it.
It is no longer enough for a brand to simply be present across channels. Companies must incentivize action and engage their audiences seamlessly and consistently across every medium—mobile, social, in-store, online, etc. After all, consumer engagement is an increasingly important approach that helps brands drive sales, understand customers, and build long term loyalty. To accomplish this, brands are turning toward multichannel loyalty and engagement solutions. In the complicated world of multichannel marketing, one size does not fit all. Insight gleaned from one channel should inform communication and drive action across all other channels. Knowing what motivates customers—where they shop, when they shop, and what they shop for—and keeping them active after the initial purchase is key to nurturing long-term relationships.
Loyalty Programs Offer Consumer Insight
Nearly three-quarters (70% ) of members feel loyalty programs are part of their relationship with a company, according to Maritz (now known as Bond Brand Loyalty). Typically, engagement after the initial sale is shown to improve customer retention and drive repeat purchase. What’s more, loyalty programs allow businesses to track and understand consumer behavior across numerous channels, offering further insight to create more relevant messaging to nurture the relationship.
By using loyalty programs as the central gateway through which customers can browse for products online, earn points, receive discounts, share on social media, view branded content, and redeem accumulated points, companies can influence the entire user experience while capturing granular data about the actions of individual customers. This information gives brands the ability to personalize future interactions while providing a real-time look at the overall trends and behaviors of their entire customer base. Data drives personalization. As a result, personalization becomes more important in building brand loyalty. Having a unified, multichannel loyalty platform that informs those efforts while rewarding customers for their engagement is an invaluable and mutually beneficial tool for businesses and consumers alike.
With More Paths To Purchase— Social and Mobile Engagement Gain Value
As the path to purchase becomes more streamlined—evidenced by the growth of mobile payment apps like PayPal and Apple Pay and the fact that Twitter and Facebook are integrating purchasing capabilities—it is easier than ever to get products into consumers’ hands. This also means that ensuring engagement on all channels and devices, especially mobile and social, is increasingly important as a way to build loyalty and drive revenue. Brands are now using their loyalty programs to reward everything from following Twitter feeds and posting on Instagram to giving customers the option to share their cell number in return for targeted real-time discounts or coupons. According to Bond Brand Loyalty, 73% of customers engage with their loyalty programs on their smartphones. What’s more, Lithium found that another 72% of consumers say social media helps them stay engaged with brands. While these channels have historically been platforms where brands simply looked to provide personal, one-to-one experiences, engagement on these channels can now result in increased revenue as media channels become increasingly interconnected.
Rewarding and Inspiring Advocacy
It’s no secret that the best kind of publicity for businesses is Word-of-Mouth recommendations with 84% of people saying that suggestions from friends and family are the most influential way to get them to try new things. For this reason, companies are pivoting their loyalty efforts away from the traditional model of incentives based solely on purchases and moving toward a model that offers rewards based on a more holistic view of a customer’s level of engagement and their value. By incentivizing activities like social sharing and public product ratings or reviews, companies are extending their reach directly into customers’ social networks. This interaction reactivates existing customers, which is an important tactic for improving retention, while also reaching new potential leads in a personal way. Since existing customers are both a key source of revenue and a powerful driver for new business, companies must ensure their loyalty programs reward behavior that maximizes their influence.
In today’s increasingly connected world nothing exists in a vacuum. Technology allows consumers to be everywhere at once. To keep up, brands must ensure that they are everywhere, too. By building a multichannel loyalty program as the central portal through which customers interact with the brand, companies are improving engagement and data collection across channels, driving revenue from new sources, and creating vocal brand advocates.
Geoff Smith is SVP of CrowdTwist