Customer loyalty expert Ashley Tate was shocked by one key statistic in BigDoor’s 2014 Loyalty Marketers Survey Results of marketers in the loyalty space. That number: 57 percent of respondents were not totally confident in their loyalty marketing data.
With that in mind, Tate is keen on seeing brands focus their efforts to put their loyalty marketing data and analytics to much better use in 2015.
Focus on Data
With customer loyalty software now designed with so many “knobs and levers you can turn in order to push in the right direction,” Tate’s surprised that more marketers aren’t confident in their data. Without good data, she says, a program is setting itself up for future failure. Tate hopes that customer rewards programs in 2015 will look to their internal teams or to experienced third-party vendors to help them gather and glean useful data and beneficial insights. Furthermore, she suggests that data-driven loyalty programs ensure better individualized data on their customers rather than just data that looks at similar groups of customers.
Barry Kirk of Maritz Motivation echoed her sentiments on the need to better utilize loyalty analytics, noting that he’d read a recent article online where a marketer claimed, “We’re not even sure loyalty programs work. It’s very hard to even prove that they’re doing everything.” Kirk called the statement ludicrous because “it’s very easy to prove the ROI (return on investment) of a loyalty program if you are securing your data and know what to do with it.”
In addition to viewing loyalty programs as a way to increase customer engagement, companies need to see the other benefits of such programs. As Kirk said, “I can extract data from the loyalty program to figure out how to better segment my customer base, how to develop new products, [and] how to reach out to new markets.” In other words, with the right loyalty analytics and insights, a brand can reap many of its own rewards from its customer rewards program.
Focus on Engagement
Because many customers now expect certain companies and brands to have a loyalty program, their expectations for such programs are shifting. They want more from the brand, whether that means better rewards, being rewarded for social interactions around the brand, or being allowed to use their points like currency on the open market. Loyalty programs must now discover what best engages their customer bases and work to strengthen those aspects of their program. Brands need to ask both “What do our customers want?” and “What types of rewards would stand out in a busy loyalty space?”
Kirk encourages brands to “focus on engagement versus transaction.” While transactions are a necessary aspect of any customer rewards program, successful loyalty programs need something more than that: participation, interaction, and engagement. When a loyalty program figures out how to best reward their members for such interactions, their engagement — and consequently their transactions — should both increase.
Hear the interview from Barry Kirk and Ashley Tate about the recent past and near future of loyalty marketing programs in the full TechnologyAdvice interview: Will 2015 Be the Year of the Zombie Loyalty Program?
This interview was provided by Loyalty Games media partner TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that connects buyers and sellers of business technology through meaningful relationships. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.