The customer landscape has changed so much in the last few years, and majority of Irish businesses are now focusing their attention on retaining their existing customers and driving higher levels of loyalty from their customers. Here are All About Loyalty’s future trends for loyalty for the year ahead with tips on how you can leverage them, to improve your customer loyalty strategies.
We have seen an explosion of loyalty initiatives in Ireland over the last few years which is fantastic, but with more and more brands implementing loyalty strategies, businesses need to ensure that they stay ahead of their competitors. New loyalty strategies will be focused on a more segmented customer approach, targeting specific life stage, life style and interests, rather than the generic ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Businesses will need to stop copying their competitors’ approach to loyalty and need to focus on what their customers want in return for their loyalty. Using this customer insight, they can develop loyalty strategies that tap into their customers’ needs, have clarity on their loyalty proposition and stand out from others in their industry. With this in mind loyalty and retention marketers will need to keep an eye on the following predictions when planning for the year ahead, in order to drive higher levels of perceived value, increased participation and gain higher levels of loyalty from their high value customers.
#1 LET’S FACE IT – NOT ALL CUSTOMERS ARE EQUAL
Knowing the metrics that determine the high value customers and high potential customers in your business is imperative, and we will see more loyalty strategies taking a tiered approach to recognising and rewarding their top customers.
Identifying these high value customers will move towards looking at more than just revenue, frequency of purchase and tenure and will also include participation, engagement and commitment to the brand.
This approach will certainly help businesses focus their programmes, resources and budgets on the customers that are the most valuable to the business, resulting in increased retention, higher levels of loyalty, and a bigger return on investment (ROI).
#2 REWARDS HAVE TO BECOME MORE RELEVANT TO YOUR BUSINESS
With the increase of discount sites and money off coupons available in the market, it is becoming more challenging to identify innovative, non-core (third party) rewards that are relevant to your customers and will connect with them on an emotional level.
Due to this, we have seen a huge shift in the customers’ perception of value and therefore behaviour, when interacting with loyalty programmes. Many businesses will therefore need to review their current loyalty reward structures in order to find more innovative ways of rewarding their customers.
We will see a rise in two areas of rewards in the year ahead: Core Rewards and Experiential Rewards.
- Core Rewards are business specific, i.e. airlines giving upgrades on flights, car hire companies giving free child car seat hire, mobile companies giving a hand set, etc. It’s actually quite simple, customers that are engaging with your business want more of what you have on offer as a reward – not a completely irrelevant reward that has no obvious link with your brand. International research proves that there is at least a 10% increase in reward redemption when core rewards are on offer. For some programmes, this would more than double their current redemption rates.
- Experiential Rewards are an effective way to get your customers to actively engage with your brand. Many global loyalty strategies are being positioned around these experiential rewards to develop “shared memories” with their customers. One example is the MasterCard World Programme, which gives its customers the opportunity to join the loyalty team at VIP Priceless events that they otherwise would not be able to attend.
Including experiential rewards into your loyalty strategy will:
- Enhance your loyalty programme’s differentiators.
- Increase customer engagement through ‘shared memories’.
- Increase programme participation.
- Support the customer experience with the brand.
- Enhance brand value.
- Increase spend.
#3 EXPECTATION OF RELEVANT COMMUNICATION
We all know how frustrating it is when you receive an offer on nappies from your favourite retailer and you don’t have children. Or you receive your loyalty card statement in the mail and the covering letter says “Dear Valued Member”. These are messages that customers expect you to get right first time, as they are the basics of engaging in a conversation.
All loyalty communication needs to be personalised, relevant (this is a necessity!) and timely to get their attention and keep them engaged. In Ireland, we are seeing customers become a lot more loyalty-savvy, understanding that by you offering them the opportunity to join a loyalty programme, you want to build a deeper relationship with them and generate more revenue from them. Customers are demanding higher levels of personalised, targeted, relevant communication whether it be through direct mail, magazines or email – and so they should!
#4 MOBILE ACCESS HAS ARRIVED
Research has proven that customers are more likely to forget their wallet at home than their mobile phones, and with the increase in smart phone penetration in Ireland, customers are ready to use their phones for more than just text and calls, which proves that mobile devices will have to form part of any loyalty strategy. Businesses that are currently using plastic loyalty cards need to identify ways to incorporate and leverage the mobile phone as part of their existing strategy.
This can be done through loyalty apps, which are becoming hugely important to customers, as they want to access and manage their loyalty programme when it suits them and are looking for real time rewards that give them instant value.
This presents a great opportunity for businesses to engage in instant two-way communication with their customers by requesting immediate feedback. This level of two-way interaction is becoming imperative to the success of a loyalty programme, as customers generate higher levels of advocacy when they are given the opportunity to engage in a two-way conversation with you.
#5 MEASUREMENT NEEDS TO BE AT THE CENTRE
With budgets still being squeezed, marketers will need to have a clear line of site on their loyalty and retention metrics. These include customer lifetime value, net promoter scores, revenue, tenure, frequency, return on investment, etc. but more importantly, it is the year of participation and depth of relationship.
Businesses will need to focus on measuring the depth of relationship, not breadth of relationship with its customers. It is no longer about chasing acquisition onto your loyalty programme, it is about looking for ways to deepen the relationship, increase participation and frequency of those that are already engaged with your programme.
#6 B2B LOYALTY AND RETENTION IS GOING TO BE BIG!
The majority of B2B companies can prove that a substantial amount of their sales come from their existing customers, yet the implementation of B2B loyalty and retention strategies have to date, lagged far behind that of consumer programmes in Ireland.
We are seeing a significant shift in B2B companies, focusing on the development and implementation of B2B loyalty & retention strategies. This is in order for them to better develop deep, sustainable customer relationships that actually drive bottom line results and help them to focus their marketing and sales activities on their most profitable customers.
Companies such as eBay, Allergan, P&G and Coty are amongst some of the companies that have had huge success with B2B loyalty and retention strategies over the last number of years and we will see many others follow their lead, so don’t get left behind.
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