Banner Image

We Need a New Approach to Customer Loyalty Programs

Let’s face it: There needs to be an entirely new approach to customer loyalty programs if brands are to survive the digital and mobile revolution. While many brands realize the urgency of change, the challenges they face are daunting. For starters, a modern customer loyalty program is far more than the “points and plastic” of the past. Those programs were entirely transactional and bred transactional behavior in customers. A modern customer loyalty program consumes far more contextual data about a customer and allows a far richer conversation between the customer and the brand.

But if it was as easy as understanding that, most brands would be more than ready. The fact is, there are obstacles to overcome on the road to real-time customer engagement that may be bigger than marketers realize.

The Challenges in Implementing a Customer Loyalty Platform

The first real problem comes with the way retail brands have been organized. Loyalty programs cut across many organizational boundaries and affect not just marketing, but IT, finance, and sales. Each part of the organization has legitimate concerns about how a broad-reaching program will affect their costs, goals, and internal perception.

The second problem arises from the need to convince executives. They sit at the top of the organization and have the power to mandate change, but are reluctant to do so without solid evidence that investment will have the anticipated returns.

Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program

This is the reason the TIBCO Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program is such a compelling way to find success with customer loyalty marketing. We’ve created a fast, affordable customer engagement platform that allows marketers to quickly gain insights through measurable program results. We’ve added enough functionality to make the Loyalty Lab JumpStart Program very quick and easy to set up, with a low month-to-month cost and minimal need for IT support, so that marketers can quickly make their case.

When the barriers to entry are low, the chance for quick success is much higher. A marketer can have just enough functionality to create tangible proof points that satisfy organizational stakeholders and align the broader business behind the customer loyalty initiative. Where else can you change the future so easily?

Learn how to jumpstart your customer engagement program now at http://www.loyaltylab.com/jumpstart.html.

Are You TRUE in Your Customer Experience Management?

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

We’re months past the winter holidays and sellers have a great chance to think about what we’ve learned, now that the dust has settled. Each holiday shopping season is an intense, focused study in what motivates customers to buy and brings many opportunities for improvement. Looking back, it would be too easy to think that a customer completing a long shopping list for gifts would be most motivated by price, but Forrester Principal Analyst Tracy Stokes says otherwise. Stokes recently blogged her advice to big-box retailers, saying that superior customer experience is the differentiator for retail marketers.

TRUE

Stokes uses the acronym TRUE to summarize the approach that she recommends, which stands for trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential. These are certainly great targets for any brand, especially one that wishes to avoid racing to the pricing bottom each season. But how does a brand interact with a customer in a way that meets those requirements both at the holidays and throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall?

Answering that question is more of a challenge than those four adjectives would imply.

Gaining Trust

Consumer expectations are rising fast in the digital age. Knowing where and when a customer wants to be engaged is an enormous part of being trusted. Unwanted or tone-deaf communication breaks trust.

Appearing Remarkable

Great marketing gets attention from the customer and, even more, makes them a brand advocate. An advocate tells their network about their experience because it was that good. But it has to be perceived as repeatable to be shared.

Being Unmistakable 

Being just another bright red flyer in the mailbox isn’t very unmistakable. For a brand to be set apart, it has to promise and deliver an experience that is very personalized and relevant.

Perceived as Essential

Being essential means there’s no competitor that can match a brand’s service or customer experience. A customer feels they have no alternative but to continue to do business with the brand because that’s the best path to satisfaction.

Savvy consumers increasingly using digital means to choose brands will channel their spending toward brands that can delivery on these concepts. Loyalty platforms are the essential tool that make being TRUE possible in a highly competitive marketplace. Are you ready to be TRUE to your customers? You have months before crunch time comes again and now’s the time to create your new plan of action.

Learn more at www.loyaltylab.com/expertise, and watch our webinar, The Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.

 

Customer Experience Hinges on What You Know and When You Know It

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Today’s marketers needs to be focused intently on all of the data that can be gathered about their customers. This modern reality means that data’s two dimensions—”what we know” and “when we know it”—take on a completely new and higher level of importance. This is exactly why CRM falls short when it comes to capturing interaction with the customer in a way that tracks and improves the relationship.

Marketing Is About the Context

The limited data model of traditional CRM systems lacks the context required to engage customers in the best ways possible. That’s because the data available to marketers today isn’t simply historical interaction like transactions. With the data generated by mobile, Web, social and location technology, we can have the context of the customer’s current moment, where decisions are being made, enriched by the over-the-shoulder information from systems like CRM.

Managing Data’s Two Dimensions

This data coming from all directions presents an enormous opportunity for marketers to know more and to know it much more quickly than ever before. Excellent management of data’s “what” and “when” dimensions makes customer engagement a carefully analyzed, modeled, and orchestrated event, instead of an unwanted intrusion. It has relevance and value rather than being noisy and ignored.

Order In Data Chaos

If you’ve ever been to an air show, you know that the planes involved appear to be on the edge of chaos as they make high-speed passes and other stunts. Marketing data today is the same carefully orchestrated but high-speed exercise that we see in the sky. As marketers expand what they know and shorten the time to know it, the customer feels a seamless and immediate experience with the brand. With the right technology, interacting in the “now” moment, despite the noise, looks elegant and easy. Most importantly, brands know what to expect in real time and what will likely happen next.

To learn more, visit www.loyalylab.com/expertise

Why Customer Loyalty and Why Right Now?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

During a recent trip to the grocery store, I commented at the checkout that I always receive coupons for baby food and diapers along with my receipt. I said sarcastically to the clerk, “You’d think I shop for those things and they know it.” The clerk nodded and completely seriously said, “I know, right? It’s like they’re watching everything. Doesn’t it seem creepy?” I had to laugh, but not until I was out of view. Like any period of rapid change, not everyone is fully briefed on the latest events in the digital revolution.

So Much Change

The clerk’s response isn’t all that surprising in the retail world, where so much is changing so quickly. As McKinsey said recently, we’re in the middle of a data analytics revolution. Everything we thought we knew has changed, and our ability to know the customer and tailor offers and other interactions is remarkably strong. Not everyone, the clerk included, realizes that customer loyalty is the opposite of creepy. In an era where so much can be known, predicted, and acted upon, loyalty programs are the only way to help the customer to feel comfortable with a brand’s knowledge of their habits and personal information.

Giving My Permission

A brand I feel loyal to, like my local grocery story, has my permission to track my spending patterns and to make offers on the products I’m most likely to buy or be willing to try. I look forward, in fact, to seeing what discounts and other deals they have in store for me. Think back to “coupon packs” and newspaper fliers of just a few years ago, where the majority of items were unlikely to catch our interest, and you’ll see just how far loyalty programs have come. Today’s programs have outgrown the simple points and plastic of yesterday’s brand loyalty and are executed as an integrated, marketer-friendly, data-enriched, real-time system.

A Loyalty-Driven Revolution

For retail, the digital analytics revolution that McKinsey talks about is loyalty-driven—it’s that simple. Brands that don’t invest in smart customer loyalty management risk breaking trust with their customers and losing business to the competitor who does.

To learn more, download our whitepaper on Customer Loyalty Management.

Location Tells You So Much More Than Where I Am Right Now

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Location is an incredibly hot segment of loyalty marketing for a couple of factors. For one, we’ve come a long way from using cell-based and GPS-based services. Today we have location-based services through products like Apple iBeacon, PayPal Beacon, and Estimote Beacon, which all allow users to benefit from receiving micro-location information associated with products and offers. These sensors, attached to physical locations, also allow brands to know where their customers travel within their stores, suddenly making physical location as precise as website tracking.

Loyalty Marketing Consistency

This has a remarkable effect—the store now supplies data in the same way as online interaction and makes loyalty marketing more effective across all channels. In-store information that is gathered is key to having contextual conversations in the moment, but also serves for analytics purposes in designing better ways to merchandise and interact in consistent ways—whether on a computer, a mobile device, or in person. For loyalty marketing, this is data nirvana: I can serve each and every customer, no matter where they are, based on their history and value to the brand.

Location-Based Simplification

Even more powerful, location-based services include the ability to confirm identity for purchases, meaning anything bought online can be picked up quickly and painlessly in a physical location. Order ahead and beat the lines, or act as your own cashier. Know if something is in stock in your size without having to ask and wait. Even serve as your own sales assistant as loyalty to a brand allows for past purchases, shopping cart abandonments, and other indications of interest to be analyzed and then superimposed on recommendations and offers for today’s purchases. This is shopping without the hassle and with remarkable context.

Each one of these behaviors is an incentive for consumers to share more information with a brand and to become more loyal in the process.

The Tricky Part

The tricky part is no longer the technology—we have that and it works. The challenge is to have the tools and techniques within the brand to make smart use of information at our fingertips and in the timeframes that matter for business. It takes a loyalty platform that manages any and all context, integrated with the data that drives powerful analytics.

To learn more, visit www.loyaltylab.com/expertise

What It Takes to Become a Digital Business

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Business and technology are on a collision course that changes nearly every aspect of the organization. The term being thrown around to describe this is “digital business,” where mobile, analytics, social, and cloud are being married up to legacy systems like CRM, supply chain, inventory, and others so that data—sometimes called big data—has uninterrupted pathways to people, and vice versa.

Right Person, Right Time, Right Context 

This is what defines the new way work is being done—the ability for information to be available to the right person, at the right time, and in the right context. For a marketer, this is having fingertip access to all of the data that defines the customer, the organization’s ability to deliver products and services, and what’s happening at the interfaces in the current moment.

That’s not a description of the latest cloud app or a report being generated by traditional business intelligence tools. It is much, much more and involves bringing data together from across legacy systems and the latest technologies for social, mobile, and visual analytics.

Why a Digital Business?

A digital business has the ability to move and use the data that drives their business in new ways, whenever necessary. A digital business can disrupt itself time and time again because they can change product and customer attributes as necessary and create new combinations that form business ecosystems. A new channel, product, or customer pattern is no problem for a business that defines itself and its operations digitally.

Fundamentally, a digital business is flexible to change as the world changes; this is the secret to being the disruptor and not the disrupted. It is the only way businesses will survive into the future. What does it take? Leadership commitment and an ability to integrate legacy systems with the best and latest technologies.

To learn more, visit www.loyaltylab.com/expertise.

Are You Simulating Your Way to Success or Just Simulating Success?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Are you on a marketing team that closely plans, tests and measures what it does? Marketing can be a funny thing—a place for people who create perceptions of effectiveness—or it can be quite the opposite, full of people who design, simulate and create measurable marketing success. Judging by the sheer volume of “blind” pitches that arrive in our mailboxes (digital and physical) each day, there are still plenty of organizations simulating success rather than doing the hard work of simulation.

Spray and Pray

They are practicing an age-old method called “spray and pray” which has been just effective enough over the years to stay alive. It relies, however, on a cheap way to distribute offers and an expectation that a certain, if small, number of recipients will respond. It relies on the right message accidentally falling into the right hands. It relies on those “right hands” being predictable, which is less and less true every day for two reasons: One, as the world becomes more digital, we’re moving away from expecting offers in physical form; and two, the online world, where we’re rapidly moving, is noisy enough to require mental and technology “filters” that are reasonably good at blocking out the accidental message.

Don’t Get Filtered Out

Marketers, then, need to up their game or get filtered out. And there’s nothing more expensive than failure. Fortunately, there are techniques and tools that are effective at getting through the filters because the audience is actually receptive to the message. The most effective marketers are collecting key attributes of their customers and segmenting to a degree that allows smart matching of message and recipient. Knowing a segment well enough allows simulations to be run so that what eventually makes its way out to customers has been tested for likely success.

Simulation Makes All of the Difference

This simulation is what makes all of the difference. If a marketer knows that a segment has a high propensity to buy items in combination, a targeted offer comes through the “filter” as a beneficial suggestion rather than an insensitive cross sell. Not only is success much more likely, but customer loyalty increases thanks to the positive shopping experience. What started with simulation ends with very tangible success.

To learn more, contact TIBCO Loyalty Lab for a demo. Email loyaltylab@tibco.com.

Are You On The Front Lines Of The Data Analytics Revolution?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Make no mistake, there’s a digital revolution happening, and that revolution is completely changing the world as we know it. What’s more, it’s happening with the greatest impact in the way consumers and retailers interact. In a McKinsey report published this week, the management consulting firm summarized its interviews with eight companies that are leaders in data analytics. McKinsey came to the conclusion that data and analytics aren’t overhyped, but are oversimplified—it takes real work and strong knowledge for organizations to take full advantage of the power of increasing levels of information and the patterns therein.

In regard to retail, specifically, McKinsey said the following:

Retailers, for example, can harness data to influence next-product-to-buy decisions and to optimize location choices for new stores or to map product flows through supply chains.

This statement is actually a highly nuanced challenge to retailers.

The Landscape of Retail

While some brands have invested in new technology and techniques to take advantage of data analytics, many are still on the sidelines trying to decide when and where to react, if at all. Those who have invested are finding out that many packaged applications don’t have the flexibility to manage new channels or take advantage of advanced data analytics.

These are challenging times for those on the front lines, trying to actively decide what steps to take next. Retail has always been about margin, and maintaining margin had settled into a fairly predictable place before the world went digital and mobile. The amount of data being generated offers each brand the chance to create new business and take it away from the competitor by knowing far more precise details about the customer, the product, and the sales channel. Traditional margin models are being exposed as outdated and ineffective in the face of these changes. Those who will survive the revolution will need to move off the sidelines and build new business models supported by flexible, smart technology.

To learn more about the latest trends in retail customer analytics, big data and loyalty, download our whitepaper.

Making Marketing Magic Happen

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Customer experience management is a simple term that describes both a level of effort and wealth of insight that’s never before been required of marketers. The effort is higher because a customer’s experience is very personal and connected to a wide-ranging set of information that describes every past interaction with a brand—whether online, in the store, or on their smartphone. To top that off, customer experience is also defined by the environment around a customer at the moment in which they interact. It is a perfect combination of past and present.

The Enterprise Service Bus

Making the magic happen is all about being able to see customer historical data combined with contextual data arriving in real time. A company needs to be able to capture and use this data—that makes the magic happen. This isn’t a simple affair; it requires a level of connectivity provided by technologies like an enterprise service bus (ESB).

When we talk about integration technology like an ESB, it’s really important to make the distinction between technologies that connect the entire enterprise and technologies that connect anything less. Only an enterprise-wide integration plan can pull together the many pieces of data that support a great customer experience. Marketing analysis of an unlimited set of data is what sets the stage for everything to happen.

Establishing Meaningful KPIs

Given enough data, self-discovery visualization tools create insights leading to development of triggers that allow a brand to intervene in moments of risk or opportunity. It could be a customer about to depart a loyalty program or contract, or a chance to cross-sell or up-sell a purchase. Regardless, the rules that are written to create the best brand responses need to be used in simulation to prove their value and improve their accuracy. This proof step allows KPIs to be established that will be used later to ensure campaigns are working as planned. Having KPIs planned early, when risk is low, is a very important step.

The best approach isn’t a monolithic system that purports to do it all for you as marketing-in-a-box—that would be inflexible. In reality, it all comes together as agile marketing magic when marketers access enterprise data for analytics, a simulation environment to test their insights, and a way to measure the outcomes and change course when necessary during campaigns.

Are you ready to create marketing magic?

Watch our webinar, The Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014, to learn more about how loyalty, integration, and analytics technologies are intersecting and empowering marketers.

Marketers Face a Digital Imperative in Staying Two Steps Ahead of the Game

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

We’ve reached a point where marketers agree that the way business is done has fundamentally changed. In almost every case, they’re ready to rethink strategies, tactics and technology, but most are struggling with how to make smart, durable, effective changes that don’t look like wasted effort in a few months. Wasted effort and lack of vision are a CMO’s nightmare and lead to a short tenure.

One Step Ahead

The CMO needs success in turbulent economic times, with rapid change and constant disruption. Success is defined in this environment as being two steps ahead. That doesn’t necessarily mean one step ahead of the competition, the customer, or the next big trend—it means being multiple steps ahead of all of those things.

Ouch.

That’s a tough prescription in the best of times, but a really big challenge when the only thing that will work is business transformation, which today means digital transformation. There’s no Band-Aid approach that will get you there. It has to be change that goes to the core of the business.

A Digital Imperative

An article published in the MIT Sloan Management Review focuses on the fact that companies now face a “digital imperative.” The digital imperative means companies must:

“…adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence. While there is consensus on the importance of adopting digital technology, most employees find the process complex and slow. Many say their leaders lack urgency and fail to share a vision for how technology can change the business.

The report broaches on the widespread problem of “digital immaturity.” One survey finds that 78% of companies recognize the need to digitally transform, but 63% feel the current pace is too slow; and 38% don’t believe it is a permanent fixture on their CEO’s agenda. If these numbers are realistic, there’s a great deal of disruption about to occur for most enterprises.

What, then, can a marketer do? For one, push hard for alignment within the organization and embrace the digital imperative—tackle it with urgency. Secondly, respond effectively and quickly to emerging digital technologies—don’t be left behind. Lastly, use the technology you have more effectively—integrate what you have so that legacy systems have value and aren’t a showstopper.

To learn more about the digital trends that will keep you ahead, download the whitepaper and watch the webinar, “Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.”