There Are Two Kinds of Loyalty

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

There’s an enormous amount of buzz in the marketplace around loyalty. But how many of the conversations make the distinction between the two kinds: one of them that’s good for the moment and the other that’s good for the long haul? Knowing the difference has a real impact on how a brand designs, implements, and maintains its customer loyalty program.

Loyalty of Convenience

In a recent blog, Seth Godin referred to the first type as the loyalty of convenience:

“I’m going to look around, sure, but probably won’t switch. Switching is risky, it’s time consuming. Switching means a new account manager or moving my software or reprinting something. Switching means I might make a mistake or lose my miles or have to defend a new decision.”

Loyalty of convenience is only as good as the near-term incentives. It is a loyalty that requires steady, non-stop investment or it breaks and loses its accumulated value. A customer stays loyal only as long as the convenience lasts.

Enduring Loyalty

Enduring loyalty is the kind that comes from relationships, not cash rewards or convenience. In the world of enduring loyalty, customers stay engaged because they feel a connection to the brand. Seth Godin refers to this type of loyalty as, “I’m not even looking.”

A loyal customer who isn’t looking doesn’t care if there’s a lower price or competing product somewhere else. Because they’re invested in the brand, it takes more than just a pretty price to turn their head.

Learn more about what it takes to create enduring loyalty in this whitepaper on Customer Loyalty Management.

4 Secrets of Killer Loyalty Programs

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Few things hold more promise right now than Big Data, mobility, social platforms, and cloud computing. Their impact on brand loyalty and customer engagement management is enormous.

The reasons aren’t that hard to figure out and look like this:

  • Big Data brings a rich tapestry of information together at the perfect moments for customer engagement. Both brand and consumer are sharing information at a remarkable rate.
  • Mobility finds the customer where they are in a moment, whether they’re in the store or thinking about a purchase somewhere else. Mobility gives a brand a constant presence.
  • Social platforms have become the way we share our thoughts and passions, and a way for brands to define themselves.
  • Cloud has quickly become the model for seeking and capturing data and for providing technology capabilities that can evolve remarkably quickly.

Take any one of these four trends and you have significant marketplace disruption that creates opportunities for some brands and risk for others. When you have all four, you have significantly more serious opportunities and challenges.

The Four Secrets

Bringing together these trends is, as they say, the whole enchilada. Here are the four secrets to making that happen.

  1. Think loyalty platform: Implement customer engagement management through a loyalty platform. Trying to tie together so much information across so many technology elements is far too difficult and slow.
  2. Sign up for SaaS: Forget about monolithic on-premise marketing applications. By the time those behemoths are created and tested, the market has already moved. Software as a Service is the only practical solution for staying in front of so much change.
  3. Connect to everything: Unless your choices allow you to connect to any and all data, you’re limited to what a loyalty application vendor decides is important. Only you know your personal needs and opportunities.
  4. Think real time, respond at the right time: The technology trends above are all about contextual information that offers brands the chance to know in a moment, but respond at the best moment.

You can’t take away any one of these secrets any more than you can take away the four technology trends that define today’s customer engagement management. Are you ready to be on the right side of disruption?

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.

Isn’t Big Data Really About All Data?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Customer engagement involves having access to the information that allows right-time marketing to happen, based on interaction channel, context, and customer’s preferences. For some, this is the definition of Big Data’s role in creating brand loyalty, but what if the Big Data conversation wasn’t enough?

Going Beyond the Data Set

In a recent Venture Beat piece, TIBCO CTO Matt Quinn brought up a flaw in the discussion of Big Data. Quinn says that the way we talk about Big Data is an attempt to put a scope around it, or “compartmentalize it.” We do this because it’s what makes us feel comfortable in a world that has long been transactional. Comfort that doesn’t solve the problem eventually becomes discomfort when it becomes clear that something’s missing:

“That’s the reason we talk about data sets and batch jobs. It fits a paradigm we’re comfortable with, but at the same time, aren’t we missing something? Aren’t we failing to take into account all of the data being created everywhere, every day? The perceived value of different types of data today will grow exponentially in the future. Just because today certain types of data may not appear useful, valuable, or be too difficult to process—I can guarantee that your future self will see things differently.”

Going Beyond the Transaction

Quinn recommends thinking of the bigger picture by linking data together, allowing for broad analysis, and making that information available to anyone in the organization who needs it. In the marketing world, that sounds like the requirements for a loyalty platform that isn’t full of silos, isn’t only aware of transactions, and doesn’t only find answers through batch processing. A great loyalty marketing platform offers a unified way to see all data.


Are You Part of the Real Time Marketing Renaissance?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

It wasn’t long ago that marketing was all about the art of segmentation, message and ad spend. For some it still is, but for some clever marketers, the dark art days of marketing are over, replaced by customer engagement, real-time marketing insights and right-time marketing. Science, in the form of data, analytics, prediction and action is far more effective at achieving customer loyalty and aligning an organization around its revenue goals.

Real time marketing represented on word press This real time marketing renaissance is a departure from the Dark Ages of spray-and-pray spending, and for customer loyalty it goes well beyond points and plastic cards. Today’s change was probably born of the economic crash of five years ago, when companies slashed budgets almost as quickly as customers stopped spending.

Coming out of that cycle, companies that could do more with less—thanks to automation and better use of data—showing the world that there was a way to increase business without adding more manual labor back into the system. Once those kinds of realizations occur, there’s no turning back.

Today, if you can identify and engage with a customer using a real time marketing technology platform that seamlessly manages the customer’s characteristics and history, the context of the selling moment, and the channels where customers are found—be it social, mobile, website, or in store—why wouldn’t you? Risk? Cost? Organizational alignment? Those are all factors in why people choose not to change, but they’re also the last reasons why anyone should be missing the boat at this crossroads in history.

There’s more risk, cost, and poor alignment in not changing.

Just as the printing press was a driver of the Renaissance in the 15th century, the ability to directly interact on a personal level with customers is the driver of today’s successful brands. Similar to how the printing press put lots of monks out of the text copying business, platform-based customer engagement management will cause smart brands to survive and others to become relics.

If you’re not aware this real time marketing  renaissance is happening, time to learn more… watch this webinar on Right-Time Marketing!


Real Time Marketing is the Intersection of Big Data and Loyalty

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

It would be hard to overstate the level of attention being given to Big Data over the last several years. Is it really what The Economist calls a “data deluge,” and is Popular Science accurate when they say, “Data is Power”? It would be completely understandable to be cynical of the hype driven by analysts, journalists, and a myriad of vendors, large and small.

real time marketing street sign

But behind the hyperbole, there is something very real when it comes to what customers want and brands need to understand about real time marketing: Customer loyalty is driven by context, channel, and characteristics of the consumer.

The Three Cs

At TIBCO Loyalty Lab, we call those concepts the Three Cs. Each is driven by an ability to manage a wide variety of data coming from many different sources, and is used by organizations that need to respond to their loyal customers at just the right time, with just the right real time marketing interaction.

The real time marketing magic starts early, with an ability to manage historical data to better understand what’s likely to happen in the “real world” of fast-moving information. Those analytical results become the touchstone for what to look for and how to respond in the moments that count.

Real time marketing is much bigger than any one piece of data; or having an immediate response ready to go the moment a customer shows up on a website, app, or in the store. Real time marketing is being able to combine the context of the situation, the channel where the interaction is occurring, and the characteristics of each individual customer as they interact. It takes all three to make the best decisions and each represents an ability to manage data, large or small.

Are you ready to interact in real time? To learn more, download this whitepaper.


When We Say, “The Customer is in Charge,” What Do We Mean?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

We hear those words constantly in conversations about customer engagement.  There’s a broad perception that changes in technology, and buying patterns have upset any previous balance in brand loyalty.  Nowhere is this greater than in retail loyalty marketing, where an explosion of mobility and the growth of social media have blown away any short-lived retail loyalty equilibrium that might have formed between online and brick and mortar retail.

retail loyalty strengthening customer

What Makes Mobile Different?

Mobility changes the dynamics of when and where a customer shops, and also how and why a brand would engage in ways that could deepen customer loyalty.  While online retail changed the “where” of buying decisions, mobile devices change the entire engagement model by adding geolocation, events, proximity, accessibility, and a host of subtle changes.

Having more choices for engaging with a brand—including the choice to participate in retail loyalty programs while engaged in the store, on the mountain, or any other circumstance—means the customer chooses the moment. That moment may not coincide with the Weekend Sale, customer service hours, a new campaign, or any other timing the retailer attempts to establish and measure.

Mobile loyalty has become a key component of creating brand loyalty.

How Social Changes Things

Social media also gives customers the benefit of mass communication and wrestles for control of brand image. Social media is now a channel for the customer to be the brands biggest critic or advocate. Brands need to find ways to execute social loyalty programs or face enormous perception risk or loss of customer advocacy.

This is the meaning behind “always-on,” “omni-channel,” “customer first,” and other ways of describing that we’re in a new world.  This new world heavily favors the brands that see retail loyalty programs as a holistic approach to understanding the customer characteristics in all of their environments and contexts, and across any engagement channel (learn more in this whitepaper on Right-Time Marketing).

That’s a very tall order, especially for companies with existing programs that need to be recharged and remodeled. Most are finding that the way to manage characteristics, context, and channel is through a loyalty platform that provides the technical means to put the customer in charge, while also meeting the brand’s goals.


What Have You Done For Me Lately?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Today, I found out that a major electronics retailer no longer considers me a high-value customer. As I left the register, they reminded me that I had 15 days to return my items, a significantly shorter period than the last time I shopped. Surprised, I asked what had changed, and the clerk said, “Let me see…ah, you’re no longer a high-value customer.”

customer loyalty mass produced boxes

There it was, just like that. My history of customer loyalty dismissed.

Never mind that I have spent thousands of dollars each year with that retailer, both online and in the store. Never mind that my lifetime total is likely significantly higher than the average. Never mind that I go to their site or store as my default. It only mattered what I spent since New Year’s Day.

Their problem, whether they know it or not, is that customer loyalty is a fast-evolving practice. While other brands are coming up with “Lifetime ________” to recognize a customer’s overall value over time, some are keeping it simple in ways that won’t ultimately reward the customer or the ongoing relationship, and thus, the brand.

Dynamic Customer Loyalty Initiatives

I doubt what happened today was due to the retailer’s lack of appreciation for my business. I suspect, instead, that their customer loyalty initiatives are behind the times, and they have lost their competitive edge. I also suspect that what they’ve set up took some time to create, isn’t easy to change, and simply can’t keep up with the dynamic capabilities of modern customer loyalty management..

In short, it isn’t personal.

Making Customer Loyalty Initiatives Personal

The data, channels, and processing available today to the modern retailer makes retail loyalty very personal in several ways. We can absolutely know the lifetime spend of a customer; we can know each and every customer’s preferences; and we can know when they’re likely to respond favorably to a particular interaction. In fact, analytics and right-time, real time marketing make growing customer loyalty pretty easy.

When we know these things, we can decide when and where to engage with the customer in ways that are the most relevant and meaningful. We can make loyalty the common thread of their purchases and other interaction rather than transactions and math.

Like never before, we have the chance to make loyalty a key factor in a customer’s buying decision, rather than a seemingly opportunistic program with a very short memory.

Customer Loyalty Becomes More Mobile, Real Time, and Personal

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

The science and art of customer loyalty are changing rapidly, and that’s not much of a surprise to most. As customers, we show our retail loyalty when bookmark our favorite brands and use our favorite retailers’ apps on our smartphones. We create our systems to filter out the noise and include just the valuable conversations.

This is exactly why TIBCO Loyalty Lab is on a non-stop journey to make customer loyalty interactions more flexible, seamless, and intelligent.

Customer Loyalty - Getting Even Stronger

Loyalty Lab Reward release 13.2 further enables real time marketing, sense-and-respond marketing, and adds mobile loyalty channels and clientelling to make it even easier for customers to sign up and have great customer loyalty-based engagement. It has never been more about the customer than it is today, and we can expect that trend to continue as technology puts the buyer in the driver’s seat.

Real-Time Marketing Event Processing

While many talk about real time marketing, there are few in the marketplace that have the ability to manage transactions alongside streaming data in-memory, rather than in databases that can’t scale at the speed of customer change. This speed enables the following to happen at the fastest speeds available:

  • Qualification and awarding of offers
  • Earning and redemption of points
  • Evaluation of customer-targeting profiles

Mobile Loyalty Channels

The addition of the Loyalty Lab Mobile Microsite gives program members access to their information where and when they choose, increasing customer activity, opportunities for engagement, and the perception of your program and brand.

Clientelling Expertise

This browser-based experience allows customer service representatives to add a very personal touch to their in-store interactions with customers. It gives the ability to quickly and easily enroll new members, look up existing ones, check point balances, and update basic account information across an array of devices.

Closing the loop between the in-store experience and customer loyalty initiatives is the difference between good and excellent customer loyalty management. Loyalty Lab Reward 13.2 is designed for a marketplace undergoing significant change and increases capabilities that every brand needs to have.  Learn more about Loyalty Lab Reward and check out the press release.

Real-Time Marketing: 4 Best Practice Examples of Getting It Right at the Right Time

By Ted Rubin

Amazon, Walgreens, eBay, and Netflix—you know these companies. And if you’ve done business with them, or visited their websites, they know you, too. Not everything, of course—that would be creepy.  But they probably know more than you think; they probably placed you in a category or two; and they probably know you watch spy thrillers on the weekends and order four pairs of shoes for your kids to try on, but that you usually keep just one. Even though it seems invasive on the surface, you’re probably just fine with it. Why? Because they take that knowledge and enhance your experience using real-time marketing—at the right time.

The following marketing executives all know how to use real-time data to solve problems, offer support, and make recommendations based on your needs and interests. They have helped their companies establish customer loyalty by engaging in the proper context and allowing customers to feel control over the message, which leads to an emotional attachment with the brand and at the very core—a Return on Relationship.

Example #1 – Neil Lindsay, VP of Marketing at Amazon

If you’ve shopped Amazon, you know how hard it is to purchase just one item. That’s because Amazon is second to none at suggesting other items based on real-time, market-driven, user-specific data.

At the 2012 ad:tech conference, Lindsay explained Amazon’s preference toward investing in product development and the customer experience—leaning heavily on real-time customer data to enhance both—so Amazon can continue to rely on word of mouth instead of more traditional marketing methods.

Example #2 – Graham Atkinson, Chief Marketing Officer at Walgreens

Walgreens may not strike you as a highly innovative company, but a company doesn’t stick around for 112 years without innovation. Walgreens invented the milkshake, pioneered self-service shopping, and established the drive-through pharmacy.

While Walgreens has lagged behind other national retailers on the e-commerce front, it has recently made major inroads. The key is to “keep technology simple,” says Atkinson. And simple is exactly how Walgreens achieved rapid adoption of its mobile app. The app allows customers to reorder prescriptions by simply scanning the bottle, which also eliminates human errors. Refill-by-scan now accounts for more than half of all prescriptions ordered through Walgreens’ mobile app. Customers also use the app to access prescription history, browse, shop, check in-store availability, and order photo prints directly from their phones.

Example #3 – Richelle Parham, Chief Marketing Officer at eBay

The relaunch of eBay’s homepage introduced us to “the Feed,” a data-driven revamp that highlights a few of eBay’s nearly 350 million items based on the user’s browsing and purchasing history. Consumers can also “follow” categories of items based on their interests.

“In designing the Feed, we mapped out the customer’s journey toward a purchase, from the moment he’s aware of a product to how he researches it and then decides to buy it,” said Parham. “We found the number one thing customers care about is curation. We also learned that big, rich photos really matter. That’s why the Feed is all about creating a visual environment of the things you love.”

Example #4 – Kelly Bennett, Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix

Netflix data usage is responsible for a full third of North America’s total data consumption. Maybe if Netflix hadn’t created such an intuitive algorithm, its customers wouldn’t be streaming all day. Netflix takes customer actions and uses them to make recommendations in real time, which provides a tailored user experience.

Knowing what customers want also helps Bennett strategize and promote original content. The overwhelming success of House of Cards and the relaunch of Arrested Development are proof that Netflix knows what its customer base wants.

These executives all know one thing that their customers obviously value: good real-time marketing doesn’t feel like marketing, but feels like a favor enhancing the relationship.

Getting real-time marketing right drives engagement and builds relationships…both of which drive loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Learn more on the latest in real-time and right-time marketing in this webinar and whitepaper from TIBCO Loyalty Lab.

Ted Rubin is the Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias, a Social Shopper Media Company that drives retail sales through the coordinated creation of social media stories. He is a leading social marketing strategist and in March 2009 started evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, #RonR. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter according to Social Media Marketing Magazine, one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to Say Media, and one of the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, 2013. His book, Return on Relationship was released in January. Connect with Ted on his blog or @TedRubin.