Powering lifetime connections. Stage II: Creating a plan for ongoing dialogue

In the first series Powering lifetime connections, we introduced the concept of powering lifetime connections and shared the first of three stages – getting to know the customer. Here, we’ll discuss the second stage – creating a plan for ongoing dialogue. Marketers are often laser-focused on acquiring and on boarding new customers. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, once the acquisition has occurred communication from the marketer can wain. The intention may be to communicate on a regular basis throughout their lifecycle, but oftentimes, marketers don’t follow-through on their comms plan or, worse still, don’t establish one in the first place.

Planning your communication strategy

Throughout the acquisition stage you invested resources into getting to know your customers, now is the time to utilise this information and use it to keep the relationship active and alive through personalised communications. Our research revealed that consumers who read a brand’s welcome message engage with over 40% of that brand’s messages during the following 180 days.

 So, even if you had them at hello, don’t stop there. Consider these tactics when developing your communication plan:

Be consistent

Create a baseline communication plan for all customers and build in the flexibility to add communications along the way. The baseline is the set of typical lifecycle communications for a customer. Additional, flexible communications (think of them as additional layers of communications) include the unique messages you may generate throughout the lifecycle as opportunities present themselves. Typical lifecycle messages might include a welcome message, first purchase, or redemption communication. The goal is to schedule service communications based on anticipated events in the typical member’s lifecycle. The first 90 days is tremendously important as you’re focused on cementing customer engagement and reinforcing the value of your programme.

Create a variety of communications

Within your communication plan, it’s important to create a variety of communications that keep customers engaged across channels. These are the additional layers. When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? It’s important to bring simplicity into the complex world of loyalty and get back to the basics at times.

When developing your additional communication layers, segment them into categories. For example, when a member contacts your customer service centre, follow up and make sure the member is satisfied. When customers provide you with additional information about themselves, create a holiday or celebration segment and include birthdays, anniversaries, or other milestone events.

And add an element of fun – who doesn’t like a surprise and delight and hearing from you ‘out of the blue’ or a little gamification to ‘turn up the competitive dial?’ Call this your delight segment.

And what about all of the life stages? Getting married, having a baby, moving to a new home, and so on. Create communication segments that best meet your marketing objectives. After all, you know your customer the best.

Be Nimble

Remember, your customers’ needs change. When you’re developing your communication segments, you need to be flexible and adapt to the current needs of your customers. You need to be reactive to anticipated communications in real time. Capturing the moments in which your customer is coming to you is essential.

Be nimble within all channels in which you market to. The online aspect is very interesting and adds a layer of marketing intelligence. Understand that your customer is going to interact with multiple channels and that it’s your job as a marketer to follow them within each channel to truly get to know them and focus on engagement. Having the ability to respond in real time to online browsing behavior is critical with today’s always-on consumers.

In sum

It’s important for you to know your customers and equally as important to know that your customers will change throughout their lifecycle. As they adapt so must you. In our next piece and the final instalment of this series, we will demonstrate how to create a communication strategy that caters to the ever-changing needs of the customer.