In today’s ever-changing loyalty landscape, how can a brand stand out from the crowd? How can they differentiate themselves from the competition and innovate their loyalty programme? For me, this is where transformation comes in. Brands must look beyond the traditional rewards points-based programme and focus more on providing an experiential customer experience, to build that strong emotional brand connection, with their customers. In Epsilon, we see this as evolving from a 1:1 to a 1:YOU experience. So, what steps can loyalty marketers take to enhance and transform the customer experience for their customers?
Primarily, it starts with collecting, understanding, and using the right data, at the right times, via the right channels. Couple this by harnessing the power of technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data augmentation, enabling you to recognise, reward and delight your loyal members, in real-time, while going the extra mile to enhance the customer experience. At the end of the day, it’s about connecting with your loyalty members on a more “human” level and continuing to evolve the value exchange, to create lifetime loyalty experiences. Indeed, according to KPMG’s recent The truth about customer loyalty survey only “37% of respondents identified points and rewards as one of the most effective ways to secure their brand loyalty” - reinforcing our belief that loyalty marketing goes beyond rewards and offers and more should be about seamlessly enhancing the customer experience and that 1:YOU experience.
The experiential rewards approach is one way for loyalty marketers to advance their loyalty programme. Using the technologies mentioned above, companies can uncover insights and behaviours, transactional and non-transactional, to understand the drivers of member value, enabling loyalty marketers to enhance and take member experiences to new levels. For example, marketers are including bonus promotions within their programmes that give way to exclusive experiences and auctions. Add to this, marketers are launching exclusive tiered structures where, in addition to earning points, members are given elite access to special events and limited availability items. Consumers have come to expect these relevant experiences and look forward to them, especially when they involve an element of surprise and delight.
One brand that has caught my attention and is continuously evolving is Walgreens and its Balance Rewards loyalty programme - a points-based digital loyalty programme, where points are awarded based on spend as well as bonus points for specific categories and behaviours. But Walgreens also delighted members with their “Beauty Enthusiast” programme - a innovate “programme-within-a-programme" concept. Finally, they also launched a digital wellness programme called - “Balance Rewards for healthy choices® (BRhc)”, which has been enjoying much success.
So, how can you ensure that you’re creating and providing relevant experiences to your members, that will enhance the customer experience? Consider these three tips:
Consumers want a personalised experience across all points and interactions and indeed, in today’s “data-driven, technology-first” world, consumers look for the same level of personalisation from companies big and small. Indeed, so much so, they are willing to share their data with brands, to get that personalised experience. Epsilon’s research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers a personalised experience. By investing in personalisation, brands will reap the benefits of building relationships and connect with members on a more “human” level. Not only that, as advancements in loyalty marketing continue, and marketers embrace the experiential component of loyalty, the role of personalisation becomes even more important. Let’s not forget, through powerful technology platforms we’re able to do it effectively – in real-time – to create meaningful experiences for consumers. As Katrina Lake, Founder & CEO of Stitch Fix, says, “I’m most passionate about personalisation. I firmly believe that personalised experiences with brands will most drive loyalty and relevance for customers in the future”.
So how can marketers add more personalisation to its experiential loyalty programme, and drive more engagement with members on a more emotional level? As mentioned above, it all starts with the data and marketers need to leverage data in their decision-making process. By harnessing the power of your data and customer insights to understand your customer - their habits, desires, preferences, abilities, emotions and triggers – and, through the addition of technology and extensive analytics (predictive, modelling, etc.), you can proactively predict how best to engage, in real-time.
Focus on the fun factor
Let’s be honest, we’re more likely to engage with loyalty programmes that think differently in how it engages and connects with us. If the programme has a “fun” element to it, it makes it all the better, and indeed I'd be more likely to recommend that brand to a friend. For loyalty marketers, you must look beyond the “norm” and think of ways in which you can put the fun in fulfilling loyalty experiences for members. For example, gamification is a great way to engage consumers, as well as employees and franchise owners, across a variety of touchpoints. Gamification strategies can motivate consumers and provide higher and more meaningful levels of engagement. If like me, you have a competitive streak, I am more likely to interact more deeply in activities that are framed in a game environment. Starbucks, for instance, uses gamification tactics to enhance the experience of its members. Similarly, Dell leverages gamification to build customer loyalty and cultivate engagement by enabling its members to interact with the brand in a fun and enjoyable way. One key factor in Dell’s gamification tactics is that all of Dell’s gamification is informed by an understanding of human psychology. If you’d like to hear more about Dell’s loyalty programme and the role gamification plays, simply click here.
As you continue to advance your experiential marketing, remember to be consistent with your messaging, offers, and experiences across all channels and devices. We as marketers are often so laser-focused on ‘channel success’ around our marketing efforts, that we sometimes lose sight of the role of other channels. For example, and while COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live our lives and how we go about our day-to-day activities, I firmly believe consumers still value the opportunity of visiting their favourite store. Don’t get me wrong, I understand than online purchases have sky-rocketed for many brands, but there is something beautiful about having a great in-store experience. Look for ways, where you can offer experiential loyalty rewards that are integrated across channels. For example, clothing retailers could offer an online personal shopping assistant experience; then have the purchased items shipped to the store for free, where the shopper experiences in-store tailoring services – simply, seamless and personalised. Each channel is related to one another and consistency is key, across all channels, both offline and online.
To learn more about building customer loyalty and how to enhance your customer experience, why not read our powering lifetime connects series. If you’d like to discuss your loyalty programme, please feel free to contact us.