Surprise: iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S are a Killer Customer Engagement Platform

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Apple gave customer engagement management a tremendous boost with its release of the iPhone 5S and iOS 7, and most people don’t even realize it. While much of the world is talking about the smartphone’s fingerprint sensor and other obvious features, Apple quietly (very quietly, in fact) introduced much faster, separate processors that make their new smartphone offering extremely location-aware using iBeacons. The potential benefit this brings to right-time marketing is enormous.

There will be those focused on the other features of Apple’s latest releases, like the snazzy new interface, fingerprint sensor, or maybe even the new gold color choice (really, Apple?). But anyone who watches the company’s technology moves closely knows better. The iBeacons feature, combined with the new platform, is a game-changer for brand loyalty.

Location, Location, Very Specific Location

Rather than try to detect location through a device’s GPS—which can be inaccurate, especially indoors—iOS 7’s iBeacons uses a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) profile that provides micro-location, opening the door to an unlimited number of geofencing ideas.

Brands and customers can carry on a conversation based on information about the customer’s environment, with a very high degree of accuracy.

Any brand that combines this capability with the power of a customer loyalty platform stands to capitalize on the blending of a customer’s history and preferences with a constant stream of the most contextual, real-time information available. When those three components come together, you have the perfect formula for right-time marketing, square at the intersection of Big Data and loyalty.

This is so much bigger than anything brands have been able to do in the past, but also far more rewarding. While data grows exponentially, companies like Apple are helping us get far more specific in how we engage with our customers. To learn more, download this whitepaper.

Transactional Loyalty Programs Breed Transactional Members

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Let’s face it: The vast majority of today’s customer loyalty programs involve earning points through purchases in what can best be called transactional rewards. From a member perspective, these loyalty programs are undifferentiated and become just a kaleidoscope of plastic cards which offer similar savings or other rewards.

These loyalty programs persist because they are simple and generally effective for driving revenue. But there’s a problem: the highly transactional, commodity-driven behavior this breeds in loyalty program members. Without the reward, customers will quickly go elsewhere, making the program only as strong as the investment the brand continues to pour into it. There’s nothing self-sustaining about it.

Genuine connection

If we want customers to be genuinely connected with our brand, we need to move them beyond a point where they are “coin operated,” and instead to a place where they feel invested in the brand and its success. Invested customers are champions, spreading the word “for free” as advocates and having a far higher lifetime value for a brand (learn more in this webinar on the new customer loyalty management).

If transactional behavior isn’t enough of a challenge, the rapid adoption of consumer mobile and social media leaves brands with the need for new ways to reach loyalty program members at the right place and time. Getting to a place where the consumer’s context is known and actionable means having the technical infrastructure to sense and respond to dynamic situations. Most companies aren’t used to such a loyalty program, but they can implement them similarly to TIBCO’s newest program, Turning Customers Into Fans.

The North Face gets it

It’s unreasonable to expect less than real engagement, so what is your company doing to move beyond transactional loyalty programs? Brands are starting to discover ways to engage deeper than the transaction and to create loyalty that isn’t based on constant incentives. Take The North Face for example, where their VIPeak Rewards program offers PeakPoints for participating in local sports events. By rewarding participation in a healthy lifestyle, The North Face has a symbiotic relationship with their customers, which goes far beyond purchase tallying.

The same opportunity is available to any brand that makes the decision to go beyond transactional loyalty programs. Without it, you’re more than likely reinforcing the wrong behavior in your customers and not getting the loyalty you desire.

Meeting Your Customers Where They Are, Anytime, Anywhere

by Chris Taylor 

Many made predictions as 2013 kicked off, but one caught my eye. Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick called this new year the Year of Digital Business. As Fenwick points out, there has been a communications evolution that has many retailers scrambling to find ways to get closer to their customers with innovative new real-time marketing technology to beat the competition. Continue reading

Social Loyalty: How To Do It Right

“Going social” no longer seems like an optional component of the loyalty marketer’s arsenal. Whether you’re engaging with your customers on Facebook, Tweeting out exclusive offers to your followers, or simply promoting campaigns, sales, and products via an opt-in email list, the social realm of loyalty marketing is steadily growing, and continually proving its worth with excellent results.

It’s clear that social is here to stay, and if you haven’t jumped on board, now, more than ever is the time. But the need to implement social in your loyalty program doesn’t mean you should take a one-size-fits-all approach. The ins and outs of social marketing are as delicate and subtle as any other branch of a finely tuned loyalty program — it’s more than email blasting at will, or signing up for a Facebook page and going after as many followers as possible.

We addressed this issue at length in a recent whitepaper with the aim of showcasing the best ways to address your social loyalty needs. In addition to addressing the overridingwhy (traditional media is in a tailspin of a decline, while web, mobile, and social are on a fast-moving upward trajectory), we spotlighted ways to move beyond the obvious means of interacting with your customers across social networks.

Facebook may be one of the most powerful tools to consider when implementing a social side to your loyalty program. The go to approach is to get customers to like a brand, like a campaign, or like a product. But one of the best things about Facebook and loyalty is the ample room it leaves to get creative. We’ve created Facebook campaigns for clients like Nine West with the base strategy of getting customers to like a page or fill out a short questionnaire with points, but further built this out by encouraging customers to really interact on Facebook, fostering a sense of community.

Another valuable Facebook tactic is building a brand program around an app that allows customers to interact with their friends and families while simultaneously promoting the brand, like Kraft’s Mac N Cheese app. By having an opt-in request come from someone you know, you not only build the connection to existing customers, you reach a whole new group of potential buyers.

While Twitter is a giant in the social sphere, and one that should not be ignored, the limited scope of its content makes it less of a fit than Facebook for really exercising creativity in your social loyalty. Still, it’s an important tool for alerting customers of flash sales, presenting exclusive deals and offers, and fostering a casual, back-and-forth level of engagement around certain products, keywords, or events.

Curious to learn more about the TIBCO Loyalty Lab approach to social? Read more about our thoughts and examples of some of our great clients at www.loyaltylab.com/clients

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