Loyalty Marketing and Picking Pumpkins for Halloween

By Jeanne Roué Taylor

Would you associate loyalty marketing with Halloween? You will when you finish reading this.

When we were kids we headed each October to the local farms to find the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. The biggest constraint was the size of the pumpkin…it was a rule that we had to be able to carry our choice to the car.

We were a highly motivated bunch, but in the end the size of our pumpkin was always a little less than we would have liked. There was always next year.

The Weight of Loyalty Data

Today’s loyalty marketing has the same challenge. We know intuitively that the more customer engagement data we can “carry,” the higher the value of our loyalty programs. We know that our customers communicate across many channels, including in stores and on the website. We also know we need to engage with them at the time, place, and through the channel of their choosing.

This is a very heavy load for the systems that were built for an earlier time.

Carrying the Load

But, there’s a way out of this challenge that isn’t available in the world of pumpkin picking. As children, we had limitations that very gradually fell away as we grew older. Customer loyalty programs, on the other hand, have the ability to surge forward and manage significantly more data by deploying a loyalty platform that scales with the need for customer engagement. Suddenly, engaging customers is much easier, whether through a mobile platform or across social media and at any time of the day or night. Loyalty marketing just went through a serious growth spurt.

There’s a fantastic opportunity emerging from the heavy load of today’s Big Data and it centers on customer experience management, supported by customer loyalty.

Are you ready to choose your pumpkin?


Sense and Respond: Event-Driven Marketing

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The concept of “sense and respond” has been around for years, but it’s a relatively new concept for marketers. Times are changing very rapidly, and the rise of mobile, social and far faster cache memory applications gives the field a whole new way to interact with customers. It is an ability to sense the environment and respond immediately.

This isn’t the kind of interaction that a call center handles, or the idea of ‘touch point management’. From a process perspective, sense & respond gets much closer to the customer than ever before.

From a technology perspective, it means being able to move the marketing function out of a database-centric world and into a real-time, location-aware, flow-based marketing opportunity.

This new world is both context aware and cross channel at the same time. It differs from traditional marketing, even its most recent developments, by focusing on interaction optimization more than just the nuts and bolts of interaction.

Operational real-time

Most companies, including startups, lack the ability to assemble and respond to context fast enough to change customer behavior.  Unfortunately, real-time too often means gaining important information in the moment but doesn’t go the extra distance to meeting the customer in the moment.

What’s more, many of the systems implemented in the last three to four years are already outdated in their approach. They are not operationally real-time.

Truly operational, real-time sense and respond takes interaction to in-location, in-store or even in-basket levels of timing. It means having innovative analysis of what to expect and sensing a combination of factors in the moments they occur.

More of the same

If we stop for a minute to consider how much has changed in the recent past, we can easily assume that the change will continue and the opportunity for greater context and interaction in real-time is only going to grow. Likewise, customer expectations will shift to a demand for rewards in real-time – wherever they are and for whatever they’re doing.

Anyone who isn’t taking advantage of sense and respond will see their competition pulling away in the very near future.  Time to get started.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our webinar on 2/12, Event-Driven Marketing: Success with Real-Time Omni-Channel Engagement.

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When the Big Event Isn’t a Sale

by Chris Taylor

We’re heading into Columbus Day Weekend in the U.S., giving us a great chance to look at the fundamental changes that technology is bringing to retail. The new game is event-based marketing.

Big Sale!

A quick look at the LA Times shows who’s in the old game. The pages are full of merchants using discounting as impersonal enticements to come out shopping. The merchants want to move overstocked merchandise, maybe, but more likely are hoping people will buy non-sale items while in the store.

But this isn’t an efficient model. The stores have to re-compete each time for the same customer using ever louder advertisements on the web, emails, print and broadcast media. This is a dead-end game and a broken process but the standard model for those who haven’t invested in loyalty programs. And as a recent article pointed out, loyalty programs are about much more than discounts.

Loyalty’s real purpose

Preceding event-based marketing was trigger-based marketing, and it would be worthwhile to look at what that means: Rather than choose a date like Columbus Day and discount of x%, trigger-based marketing involves really knowing and understanding the actual customer, not just their demographic group. Knowledge of the individual allows key events in the customer and business lifecycle to combine with measurable changes in customer behavior, ‘pulling the trigger’ on specific marketing activities.

Types of triggers include transactional (a purchase or question), recurring (birthdays and other life events), behavioral (initiating new accounts, changes in spending levels), and threshold (amount spent, limits exceeded). Each of these has implications for retention, up-sell and cross-sell that drive profitability.

These triggers are monitored in technology systems that continuously watch for predetermined patterns and enable delivery of marketing activities with the best timing and highest relevancy. Getting those two things right involves doing things, not after the ideal moment has passed. It means reacting to the customer when their actions and business conditions indicate, not before and not after.

But we can do even better.

Anywhere, everywhere

We’re in an omni-channel world…social, , mobile, web, physical location (0nline, in or near store) and already moving beyond trigger-based marketing to event-based. Real-time, mobile and event processing technology takes the trigger idea much further. For example, a customer visits a website, puts things in their shopping cart but then abandons it. If they are within a distance of a local store, they receive an offer delivered to their phone for the things left in the cart. As you can imagine, the response rates are much higher when the system works one-to-one and not one-to-many.

While these sophisticated systems have a cost, it involves up front investment that has recurring return, unlike the traditional advertising model. Where graphic art and a holiday once dominated, information flow, predictive analytics, cross-channel integration and process automation are the new tools of effective retail. Where we once shouted, we now understand, anticipate and act.

Find more by Chris Taylor at his blog, www.successfulworkplace.com and @successfulwork.

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