Loyalty, it’s not just about the program

Today’s marketer is focused on the entire customer experience

The days of loyalty being just a transactional program where members earn and redeem rewards is long gone. We’ve talked a lot about how loyalty has shifted from a program to a business mindset, and this mindset is focused on personalizing the entire customer experience evolving from 1:1 to 1:You.

In the report, The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Service Providers, Q3 2019*, Forrester says: "Nearly every US online adult belongs to a loyalty program, yet only 44% agree that programs make them feel more loyal to a brand. As brands embrace and increase their investments in loyalty – 62% of the companies we surveyed for this evaluation plan to increase their spending on loyalty by at least 5% in the next 12 months – consumer apathy isn’t good enough.”

Brands looking to create meaningful customer experiences should focus on the following:

Shifting to Big L Loyalty:

Creating a strategy in which you can deliver personalized experiences at scale is key. To achieve this goal, we work with clients to help them develop their Big L Loyalty.

We define Big L Loyalty as the passion, dedication, feelings, emotional connection and trust consumers establish with your brand that motivates them to continue their purchases and move through the customer lifecycle towards lifetime brand loyalty.

But Big L Loyalty is not a destination, it’s a methodical journey that we phase out in three stages to help brands achieve the Big L. These stages are:

  • Stage I: operational/transactional
  • Stage II: customer centricity (little L loyalty)
  • Stage III: enculturation (Big L Loyalty – it’s in the culture).

To get started, marketers need to evaluate and understand the stage you’re in and put a plan in place for getting to the next stage (and realize the level of loyalty increases with each stage) to develop relevant and meaningful customer experiences.

As Forrester puts it, “Marketers need strategic guidance to make the most of their programs and, more importantly, to contextualize the role of the program in a larger strategy for earning, recognizing, and maintaining customer loyalty regardless of whether that customer is a loyalty program member.”

Activating data:

Assembling and activating customer insights is critical to deepening relationships with customers. Through loyalty programs, brands are able to provide value to consumers, where they share information and preferences in exchange for relevant, clear and wanted experiences. Loyalty marketers must have a plan in place to activate data and align it with the appropriate channels.

It’s the analytics component that reveals customer’s likes, dislikes and their behaviors helping marketers to make emotional connections and engage with their customers. These analytic and measurement services consist of financial modeling, customer insights, analytic sciences, measurement framework, business intelligence, reporting design, customer research and VOC and media and interaction optimization.

Remember, your loyalty program is consent-based marketing, meaning members choose to opt into your program and agree to share information and in return expect more personalized experiences.

In the report, Forrester cites that our experience in the loyalty space and well-rounded offering make it a good fit for enterprises looking for a reliable and data-driven partner.

Understanding the benefits of software with services:

When you think of ‘the what’ behind a successful loyalty program, technology often comes to mind. Technology is the science that stores and processes all the technical functionality within our programs. And having an end-to-end integrated solution (or the total solution) that includes multiple marketing functions is essential.

In addition to the technology components, you need to consider the items that fuel the functionality, such as your loyalty services, which are part of the art of loyalty.

There are multiple types of services that contribute to the success of your loyalty program, some of which include program operations management, program management, promotional support, client and account management and change management.

In terms of the program management, we work with brands on loyalty program design and client and account management services includes the day-to-day management of your loyalty program.

Change management focuses on organizational design, business process optimization and digital marketing transformation. These multi-disciplinary services work together to add value to your loyalty program. Certainly strategy and insights are supported by analysts and decision scientists, who provide some of our most in-demand services.

As you continue to enhance your customer’s experience, ask yourself, “Am I communicating to my customers 1:1 or 1:You?”

As my colleague recently shared in his blog, 1:1 is a messaging strategy that’s generically personalized with promotional offers, while 1:You is a holistic customer experience strategy that’s personalized with the best choice for individuals across all points or interactions.

The evolution of 1:1 to 1:You is about the advancements in the marketing strategy with the culmination of data, technology, services and outcomes all focused on creating a better customer experience.

See the full report, The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Service Providers, Q3 2019.

**Epsilon announced that it was named a Leader in the July 2019 report “The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Service Providers, Q3 2019” by Forrester Research, Inc. This recognition is in addition to being named a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Loyalty Technology Platforms, Q2 2019 for its Agility Loyalty®  solution. Only Epsilon is a leader in both evaluations.