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Powering lifetime connections. Stage III: Adjusting communications along the journey

Welcome back to the final instalment in the series, Powering lifetime connections. In part two, we discussed the elements involved in creating a plan for ongoing customer dialogue. This time around we are focusing on how to adapt your communication style to suit the different stages of the customer journey.

We have found that a lot of brands can be somewhat extreme in their communication style. When it comes to conversing with customers, brands tend to do one of two things. Either they keep their distance and send just one or two messages to welcome their customers to their loyalty platform or, they are too close for comfort, and over-communicate, running the risk of customers classifying their communications as junk mail.

To ensure sustained customer loyalty, marketers must develop a plan that delivers the right type and volume of communication at the right time. As we’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 your customer are ever-changing, and developing a plan that is adaptable to that is a must.

Understand the customer lifecycle

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

Segmentation is a must

Not all customers are the same. Marketers cannot communicate with everyone in the same way. It’s important to know and understand high potential customers. Identifying and focusing on this audience segment allows brands to reduce wasting time and energy on less valuable audience sets. As it relates to segmentation, leveraging the VAP scores (Value, Attrition, Potential) of consumers helps marketers allocate communication spend and realise a better return on their marketing investment. 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 recognise the difference between proactive and reactive communications. Proactive communications are more predictive and easier to plan for. Examples include ‘welcome’, ‘thank you’, and ‘birthday’ messages etc. Reactive communications happen in real-time where the consumer is live, sharing thoughts about an event they’re at, calling customer service to complain, or 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 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. With this in mind, 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, they will communicate to the same audience set on how trade-ins are in need for their particular sedan while sharing information about the latest mid-size SUV.

This is a good strategy as it’s about understanding where the consumer is at in the lifecycle and communicating to them with the appropriate messages. To ensure you pick up on the all-important lifecycle changes of your customers, consider adding third-party consumer data to augment your understanding of customers.

A final note

As you’re evaluating your communication strategy and making adjustments along the way, it’s important to also consider your internal resources – the people of your organisation. Your greatest key to success in any task, it’s important to ask yourself whether or not you have utilised this resource within your strategy.

Do you have dedicated resources to respond to customer service inquiries? Is your marketing team carrying out social listening? These efforts are an important part in achieving that all important 360-degree of your customers.

This completes our Powering lifetime connections series. Please stay tuned, as in our next series, we’ll discuss the building blocks of personalisation. We’ll explore creating a 360-degree view of your customer through data collection, using artificial intelligence to engage at scale with customised messages, and reaching customers at the right time, in the right place.