Get Creative With Customer Engagement and Loyalty!

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Just yesterday I was in one of my favorite stores, a nationally known co-op. The benefits of membership at this retailer are very straightforward—the more I spend, the more I can expect to receive back at the end of the year. I happened to get a manager as a cashier, and she suggested the store credit card and reminded me of the cash-back benefit of being a member. She was enthusiastic, so I thought I would try out a few suggestions on her. It went something like this:

Me: “Thanks, I’m already a member, but I have a couple of questions: Why don’t you have achievement levels and published milestones for members?”

Manager: “We want all of our shoppers to earn benefits on the first day.”

“Can’t they do that and still be rewarded at increasing levels for bringing more of their business to this brand?

“Yes, but wouldn’t that have to be paid for somehow, meaning the lower-status customers would suffer?”

“What if you could change the math? Wouldn’t rewarding higher purchase levels incent customers to bring more of their shopping to you, increase your average basket size, and also repay your cost of customer acquisition sooner with larger average business per customer?”

“I guess that could.”

“So let’s just play that out. What if status levels could give you another layer of segmentation of your market and an ability to test personalized messages? Wouldn’t that allow you to better engage your highest-spending customers, making them feel rewarded for their high level of loyalty?

“Yes. I can see where you’re going. What’s your name?”

This was one of many conversations I have had when I shop in the stores that aren’t getting creative with customer engagement and loyalty. I’m there for convenience and because I like their offerings, but they’re missing the big picture with me (and losing a chunk of business to other retailers). There is a world of opportunity for brands to not only know their loyal shoppers well, but to use creative ways to tease out the many natural segments within their customer base.

Those segments provide a remarkable platform to test and learn the best ways to build a 21st-century business. Besides, chances are your competition is headed that way.

Creative engagement requires advanced analytics. Learn what you need to know in this webinar co-presented by TIBCO Loyalty Lab and TIBCO Spotfire.

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?

Which Marketing Platforms Are Here to Stay?

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

The sheer number of marketing applications offered as downloads or services is exploding. Everyone wants in on the real-time marketing game, likely because as the U.S. and the world come out of an extended economic downturn, there are few places more ripe for automation leading to efficiency than how we market and sell goods. What’s more, the fast rise of smartphones, maturation of Internet selling models, and high-speed analytics create a technology opportunity for customer engagement that’s hard to ignore for most software vendors.

But like everything that arrives quickly (think: Web companies in the ‘90s), the marketing boom will eventually sort itself out—there will be platforms which brought real value to marketers and those which brought…um…just great marketing.

So who will win and who will lose?

Data-Agnostic and Integration-Ready Marketing Platforms

The winners will be the platforms that have two characteristics: They are data source-agnostic and are able to integrate with other platforms across the marketing ecosystem.

Data source-agnostic — We market in a highly contextual world, and that context flows from many sources today—likely from many more sources tomorrow. Any platform that’s coupled too tightly to specific data sources, or has at its core its own proprietary source of data, won’t be responsive to an evolving marketplace. Experience tells us that marketing is in an ongoing period of rapid change that will alter the landscape enough to render obsolete the platforms that are rigid and data source dependent.

Integration with other platforms — Just like being data source-agnostic, the platforms that will survive will integrate liberally with other platforms, exchanging data and process as necessary to get the larger job of customer engagement done. Self-contained may have been an attractive adjective in a less-connected world, but marketing times have changed and the ability to connect and share information gives marketers more options for understanding context and more ways to engage with the consumer.

The Winner Is…the Open Platform

The real goal of today’s marketer shouldn’t be real-time response to customers, as attractive as that sounds. The goal needs to be right-time marketing that allows the brand to respond to the events that are happening anywhere in the buying environment. It’s the difference between shouting and having a conversation. That means being able to communicate and engage everywhere that matters across a number of platforms: POS, mobile apps, analytics, email services, customer databases, social tools, and whatever comes next. That’s a very integration-rich requirement.

Maybe, most importantly, data-agnostic, integration-ready platforms offer a way to avoid obsolescence of prior IT investments. Everyone likes that one.


Customer Engagement Surfs Big Data’s Insights

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Beaches, believe it or not, are a fantastic way to analogize customer engagement, Big Data, right-time marketing and real time marketing. Everyone loves the beach and its complex interaction of soil, wind, sea, geography, and physics. It has a course-grained scale like wave breaks and dunes, and is also very discreet at the level of drops of water and grains of sand. It has periodic events like storms and long-term interactions like erosion. Studying a beach thoroughly requires a great deal of knowledge. That’s why a beach is Big Data.

Customer Engagement and Big DataCustomer Insight

Customer engagement’s wave breaks and dunes are the lifetime customer value and brand advocacy that are driven by customer loyalty. Its drops of water and grains of sand are each interaction that a brand has with its customers, not only in the form of transactions and customer service, but in every opportunity to engage across the channel of the customer’s choosing.

Missing out on the complex interaction is seeing a beach as simply water and sand: Customers come and go as waves and tide, during good months and poor. Without a way to gain insight into each customer’s needs and expectations as complex interactions, a brand is missing the nuances that explain how and why customers buy and advocate.

Surfing Customer Engagement

So where do right-time marketing and real time marketing enter this scene? Have you ever sat on the beach or stood on the pier and watched experienced surfers in action? A very good surfer is patient and understands the big picture, like the wave break’s direction and frequency, and the slope of the sea floor. They know the effect of the wind and are willing to pass on a wave because a better one is coming next. They know their beaches and give them their own names and protect them fiercely. A surfer is loyal to a beach as much as a beach delivers value to the surfer.

Companies that understand their customers with a surfer’s insight of a beach are far better at customer engagement and know when and where to interact. The outcome is much higher lifetime customer value and a much more symbiotic relationship that turns customers into lifetime fans.

We have the tools to make this happen, so what are we waiting for? A sunny day?