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

Sochi Olympics Shows Us the Future of Marketing…and It’s Very Cool

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Coverage of the Olympic games in Sochi gives us beautiful insight into the future of marketing. This is the first time we’ve seen wholesale use of drones, sequential photography, and the use of virtual leader lines to show how competitors stack up in every race that has a finish line. We can see winning strategy in full detail and dissect where things went wrong within moments of their occurrence. We’re seeing video Big Data that describes what’s happening in real time that, in effect, segments performances.

Segmentation at an Even Higher Level

Segmentation in the past has been a matter of studying transactional behaviors. More advanced systems today are able to see patterns in non-transactional customer behavior and the most advanced are capturing and using what’s happening right now to create ever more accurate segmentation. Now, before most of the world has caught up with real-time customer context, along comes a new way to understand and interact—video data.

The physical patterns that shoppers create as they move through the buying experience are incredibly valuable. Seeing the Winter Olympics coverage, it is an easy leap to the world of brick-and-mortar retail where knowing who lingers, who moves quickly and purposefully, and who sits down to study products has meaning for the marketer. It tells a story of consumer behavior, how choices are made, and, most importantly, what influences buying decisions.

Making Patterns Personal

For those marketers clever enough to blend loyalty programs with video data, the shopping experience can be captured in a way that maps back to the patterns of their loyal customers. A world of real-time video data can be used to analyze and then influence buying decisions of the most loyal shoppers and greatest brand advocates. Imagine prompting brand advocates to test out a new product likely to fit their lifestyle, shopping profile, and personal preferences, but doing so when the product is within reach. Video data offers a very rich new source of personalization that allows each customer’s “technique” to be understood and seamlessly brought into the marketing equation.

There’s a disclaimer, however, for getting to this level of sophistication. Marketers that struggle to gather the right data to accurately segment today will struggle with this inevitable version of tomorrow. Those who have just plastic and points (read: transactional) loyalty programs will be several steps behind. For those keeping pace with the new technology of marketing, however, this is within reach and a reward for keeping up with change. Where are you on the path to taking advantage of the new wave marketing technology?

To learn more about how to stay current as a marketer, download the whitepaper or watch the webinar, Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.

Photo credit: The Guardian

What Are Your Purple Lights?

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

If you’ve ever flown on Virgin America, you know from the moment you enter the aircraft that you’re in for a different kind of experience. For starters, they have purple lights along the top of the cabin that give off a very soothing, modern vibe. At TUCON 2013 in Las Vegas this past fall, TIBCO CEO Vivek Ranadivé talked about the Virgin America experience and how important it is for businesses to set themselves apart from their competitors. He called it, “Finding your purple lights.”

What Sets Virgin America Apart

What sets Virgin America apart, other than their cabin lighting, is the real-time approach they’ve taken to customer loyalty. Virgin America’s award point values are dynamic and transparent—each dollar spent on the airline or its affiliated hotels, rental cars, shopping, or credit card partners earns points according to the amount spent.

Virgin America’s redemption process is instant and seamless as well. Dollars-to-points pricing gives their loyal Elevate flyers the clear message that there are no hoops to jump through, no matter whether you pay cash or redeem points. Virgin America makes it easy and simple to be a loyal customer.

A Very Slick Technology Backend

With their slick technology backend to support these customer-facing benefits, Virgin America doesn’t have to use blackout days or other restrictions to manage cash flow the way other airlines do. Point prices are calculated based on day of the week, load, cabin class, and the customer’s history that includes lifetime value and recency. Virgin America can adjust the number of points needed to motivate customers to redeem points when that’s what makes sense for the airline.

Virgin America can only do this because they rely on a real-time infrastructure provided by TIBCO that is rare in the travel business. The airline is very aware that this capability is one more “purple lights” way to serve its customers.

Customer Loyalty in a Real-Time, Noisy World

We’re reaching a point of saturation where the noise of the connected world can easily outweigh the value of listening. As social media use continues to increase alongside constant connectivity, the voices that matter most to us—the voices we’re loyal to—end up being the only voices we can hear.

The Saturation Point

When consumers hit the saturation point, they’re highly likely to take a step back from the marketing chaos and ask themselves “What matters most?” and “How can I escape the chaos?” They’re likely to limit their focus to the things and places they hold dear. This is exactly where brand loyalty matters more than ever.

The world won’t get any quieter. To make sure they’re heard, a brand needs to make up for increasing noise with better customer engagement that leads to greater loyalty. When a brand is in a trusted relationship with its customers, it knows its customers far better and offers a respite from the need to filter out the irrelevant. It offers peace from the dark aspects of constant connectivity.

Brands and Noise Filters

When a brand engages loyal customers wisely, it offers a noise filter and creates an appreciation from the customer; that leads to brand advocacy. Strong customer appreciation—strong enough to create advocacy—is a hallmark of the brands that enjoy much higher lifetime customer value and powerful networking benefits as their customers are more than willing to vouch for the brand and introduce others to its benefits.

A focus on customer loyalty is an excellent strategy for a real-time, noisy world.

For more on how to cut through the chaos in 2014, check out this TIBCO Loyalty Lab webinar, Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2014.

Simply Spending More Won’t Improve Your Marketing

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

For most organizations, the digital marketing budget is growing at a rate far greater than traditional technology spend, or even revenue. This represents an acknowledgement that consumer buying activities are migrating to digital channels at a faster rate than anyone expected even a short time ago. Organizations recognize the need to do something differently.

But just spending more isn’t necessarily the way to achieve success in the new marketplace. Simply putting more dollars into digital channels won’t create greater customer engagement and will in fact just add to the noise of an already noisy marketplace.

Characteristic, Context and Channel

Marketing today is less about broad-based spending and more about understanding the characteristics of the customer, the context of the moment of engagement, and the preferred channel for communicating. These are the three elements that matter more than budgetary spend and have a better shot at increasing engagement and spend.

Make Investments in Marketing Technology

The wise way to spend on marketing activities involves investment in technology and techniques that allow an organization to hit all three requirements:

Characteristics of the customer are directly tied to knowing the customer’s history and personal information. This is something a loyalty platform is exceptionally good at managing.

The context of the moment of engagement involves knowing as much about the circumstances of the customer’s interaction as possible. Is the customer online or in the store? What is their recency with the brand? Again, a loyalty platform is the technology that makes this happen.

The channel for communicating not only depends on personal preference, but the moment as well. A text may be welcome at the point-of-sale, but an email may be the preferred channel when a customer isn’t on the website or in the store. Keeping track of communication channels is best done through—you guessed it—a loyalty platform.

The changes happening rapidly in marketing are more than just a chance for a brand to spend more…they are a perfect opportunity to rethink the way a brand interacts with the customer. They are a chance to invest in a loyalty platform that can make the most of the marketing budget.

Learn more about how characteristics, context, and channel are used to engage customers at the right time in this whitepaper.

Shopping, Engagement and the Digital Self

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

For all that’s been said about customer experience management, customer loyalty, and engagement, there’s a simple statement that explains what’s happening today that’s so different from the past:

The customer is becoming increasingly digitally defined. 

Both people and machines are creating data about themselves and their circumstances at a rapidly increasing rate. That information includes location, sentiment, preferences, and a host of other factors. That data forms patterns that reveal even more information about a customer than can be seen at first glance.

If a customer feels that a brand offers better engagement and choices because of that digital definition, they’ll be willing consent to data being collected and put to use. They’ll gladly take part in customer loyalty programs if they see a two-way street of value exchange between themselves and a brand.

That Gives Us Two Choices

Some brands understand that and are taking the steps to digitally define customers by capturing an increasing amount of information that data starts as real-time data and gives context to in-the-moment engagement. After the moment has passed, that same data becomes a part of a historical record of interaction, used to segment the customer base and create propensity models that analyze when and why a customer is most likely to buy, tweet, or attrite. It is a virtuous cycle.

The alternative to becoming digitally savvy is to rely on impersonal offers for discounts made to an anonymous audience. There will likely always be a market for the impersonal, but that market is a hotly competitive place where price is the only driver and increasing volume is the only path to success. This is a vicious cycle. Is that where you want to be?

Have questions? Tweet us @TIBCO with the hashtag #LoyaltyLab.

Customer Loyalty is a Bird in the Hand

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

We’ve heard the phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” since childhood. We were being told by wiser adults to value what we have over the things we don’t. Customer engagement has the same lesson at its heart: We can more easily achieve our goals by creating better, more loyal relationships with our existing customers than by focusing our energy on acquiring the customers we don’t already have. Figures vary, but there’s a consistent theme in the marketplace that it costs five times as much to gain a new customer than it does to retain the one that’s already with you.

Enter Loyalty

Loyalty programs are the cornerstone of a successful foundation that supports customer retention and makes that ratio so important. Think of the marketing and advertising budget applied to creating new relationships. Is it one-fifth of the spend on loyalty platforms for most companies? Too often, it isn’t. In fact, many companies spend far more on acquiring new customers than they do on loyalty and customer service combined.

Big Data Heavily Favors Loyalty

In our data-driven times, driving your business through loyalty is a powerful approach. Loyalty programs provide the permissioning that allows for greater information collection, analytics, and actions based on data your customer has agreed to provide. The creepy factor is greatly reduced and over time, your ability to collect and use data only increases. Customers willingly give detailed information to a brand that they trust, to provide a mutual benefit in the relationship. Loyalty programs create a virtuous cycle of brand and customer engagement.

When companies use the same data-driven approach to customer acquisition, the odds of crossing the creepy or annoying line are greatly increased. That challenge alone holds brands back from being nearly as effective when it comes to gaining new customers using personal data. Our Big Data world favors customer engagement and loyalty by a wide margin. Are you ready to engage your customers and benefit from the bird in the hand?

Going to Loyalty World US? Here Are 5 Las Vegas Shows with Loyal Followings for You to Attend

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Loyalty World US is coming to Las Vegas.

And if you’re planning to attend Loyalty World US October 28th and 29th, you will no doubt want to get out and experience all the city has to offer.

But with so many options, what’s a marketer to do?

Sticking with the loyalty theme (of course), here are five Las Vegas shows with some of the largest and most loyal followings.

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s “O” is made for Vegas. You’ve got your world-class acrobats, your synchronized swimmers, your divers, and your characters performing in, on, and above water to create a breathtaking experience.

It’s an aquatic blend of artistry, surrealism and theatrical romance in a timeless production. The show is inspired by the concept of infinity, which matches the line of thinking you’ll have when heading back to the office, filled with new ideas from Loyalty World US.

Le Reve

Le Reve takes its name from a 1932 Picasso painting hotel mogul Steve Wynn displays in his private collection. It’s a true journey of the subconscious mind with an intense blast of rain, fire and action at the outset.

Eighty-seven performers from 17 countries tell the story using a blend of aerial acrobatics, water ballet, synchronized swimming, comedy, and amazing feats of athleticism. You’ll see performers entering and leaving the stage through air and water. The stage even rises and falls with the water during the show, enabling an 87-foot high dive.

Blue Man Group

Visually stunning, wildly entertaining, hysterically funny – these are the words that have been used to describe Blue Man Group’s critically acclaimed show. Even though it’s difficult to explain exactly what it is you’ll be seeing, audiences of all ages agree that Blue Man Group’s show is an exciting and outrageous experience that will leave you in a euphoric state of bliss.

If you want to learn how to create a loyal following without using a single word while at Loyalty World US, Blue Man Group is the only “seminar” that can show you how.

Jersey Boys

You remember Robin Leach, right? He’s the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous guy. Anyway, here’s what he says about Jersey Boys:

“The production, which is brilliantly staged with genius execution, rockets along at jet-smooth speed and one moment you’re laughing and the next tears well up.”

Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2006, takes you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. You get to ride along with the band – up the charts and across the country.

Donnie and Marie

Donny Osmond is no stranger to Vegas. His first gig was performing with his brothers at the Sahara hotel at the age of 7.

The “Donny & Marie” show features excellent audience participation, and it’s funny and exhilarating. If you remember the Osmonds from your youth, this show will take you back to a special time in your life. If not, then this is your chance to connect with two of the best performers on the strip who still have what it takes to connect with the audience.

And that’s what it’s all about, connecting with your audience. We hope to connect with you at Loyalty World US in Las Vegas later this month. Register now for a 1:1 consultation with one of our loyalty experts, and request an invite to our cocktail reception at YellowTail Japanese Restaurant in the Bellagio on 10/28!

Why Customer Experience Management and Why Right Now?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

You run a successful business, your customers are primarily repeat offenders, and your marketing department is giving you everything you ask for. Why would you care about doing more around customer engagement and, more importantly, why would you do it right now? These are great questions that customer loyalty marketers should be asking themselves. After all, who has the money to invest in the latest fads without solid reasons?

Skepticism is a good thing, but you’d have to agree that if there were compelling reasons, you should act—and soon. Here are the reasons others are implementing loyalty platforms and why you should, too.

The Connected World

First and foremost, we live in a recently-connected world that’s growing more so every day. Customers walking through the door are very likely to be carrying a computer in their pocket, and are interacting with your brand whenever and wherever they choose. Are you there and available to engage? Does your presence outside of the store look more like a billboard or do you ask your customers to raise their hand for your loyalty programs?

If you’ve invested in customer loyalty programs that include mobile loyalty, your answer to these questions is the difference between a shopper walking through the door and a connected, loyal customer. A loyal customer is now one that you recognize and immediately pick up the in-person part of the relationship. While that shopper may have been in before and may come back, the loyal customer shares information with you at a level that betters your products and provides the strategy for how and when to engage.

That strategy becomes reality through the use of a loyalty platform that can tie together data, understanding, and action across any connected channel.

No Brand Is an Island

Secondly, while you’re thinking about your next move, you’re not alone. Many brands realize that the connected world and loyalty are two parts of the same solution for engaging customers effectively. At this point, the value of taking a platform approach to customer experience management isn’t in doubt. The only question is this: Which brands will capitalize on the connected world now, and which will wait, possibly until their customers have gone in the direction of a better experience with another brand?