Loyalty today is transforming. As millennials and other groups become more active consumers, and a primary target for brands, we are seeing the industry shift. Previously, transactional reward programmes were sufficient to get loyalty amongst customers. You gave them points, they could redeem them, and they'd be loyal to your brand. But not so much anymore.
Today, it's really about experiences. Creating an emotional engagement with your customers. And that's challenging because it's not just about earning points. That's a minimum requirement these days. Consumers today want to know what other value the brand will add for them.
Taking your loyalty to the next level is something we in Epsilon have been vocal about for a long time and we often talk about the concept of big L versus little L loyalty. Little L is the traditional loyalty programme – a points-based construct or some sort of exchange of value that customers sign up for. But the big L concept is much more. It requires a brand to know what it truly stands for and to determine how they can engender brand loyalty amongst the broadest set of customers they can.
The idea of big L loyalty goes far beyond the loyalty programme. It speaks to your brand identity. What does your brand stand for? How do you connect with your consumers? How do you get them to engage with your brand when they're not transacting? So, brands need to consider the entire customer experience, which of course includes those customers who are not yet members of your loyalty programme.
But how do you attract those that aren't actually enrolled into the programme so they can realise value and, in turn, unlock that additional value for you and your brand?
1. Customer Service
A potential customer’s first interaction with your brand is key to creating an ongoing relationship, which provides value to you both. Whether it’s an in-store experience, social media engagement, email open or mobile app visit, all of these interactions create emotional signals that you need to pick up on - both positive and negative.
Take the time to figure out how to track those, capture them, interpret them, and bring that into lifecycle communications in such a way that you can actually engender the kind of emotional engagement that goes beyond just the transactional.
Customers need to clearly see the value of enrolling in your loyalty programme, and they need to see it as soon as they begin to interact with your brand, regardless of the channel they connect with you on.
Once you successfully create a clear reason to enrol, your next focus should be on personalisation, and doing that at scale. Our own internal studies show that over 75% of customers, who provide their data to you as part of the exchange of value, expect you to use it. They expect brands to personalise their offers, personalise the communications, and do it every time they interact with the brand, regardless of device.
Many companies find personalisation at scale hugely challenging, but it is absolutely expected amongst customers. In our blog series, the building blocks of personalisation, we outline actionable steps you can take to get started.
3. Emotional engagement
If you're friends with someone, you expect them to know you. You also develop an emotional attachment with them and sometimes that's when things get tricky. It requires that you have a knowledge of how people are receiving your part of the value equation, and while transactions are one way to look at that, you also have to pull in the other indicators.
Emotional engagement is easier to achieve with a loyalty programme because it is permission-based marketing. Your members are actually raising their hand, telling you who they are and giving you an opportunity to engage with them. As long as you're paying attention and using that information to curate the conversations that you're having with them moving forward, you can get that kind of emotional engagement and drive the resulting benefits.
We work with brands all the time to help them understand what their true brand identity is, what their unique assets are, and how they can activate those with their customers in the broadest sense. When you think of it as a journey, if the customer has engaged with you initially, you need to develop a plan to get them to eventually sign up for your loyalty programme. As it’s permission-based marketing, that's when you really pull them in and have the tightest relationship with them. We encourage brands to really look at this big L loyalty concept and think about the customer journey before they become a part of your loyalty programme, and how you can entice them to enrol.
We know with loyalty programmes, if they're delivering value and they engage the customers, those customers are more valuable to you, and it has a direct impact on your bottom line. Based on our analysis, we see that loyalty members spend three times more than non-members. And I think if you boil down the reason that brands do loyalty programmes, it’s to keep their customers engaged, happy, and coming back for more, which, ultimately, drives revenue.
If you’d like to find out more about our loyalty offering, please get in touch.