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.


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.

It’s All Relevant in Event-Driven Marketing

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Marketers have a challenge on their hands: the public that they need to reach and convince to buy is increasingly using PCs and laptops, mobile devices, and social platforms to decide when and where to shop. That puts enormous pressure on brands to understand the changing nature of exactly why, where, and how customers make buying decisions.

Event-driven marketing customer segments

And it isn’t just the changing nature of customer loyalty. With the arrival of smartphones and Big Data technologies, the amount of data available is increasing. As the data grows, it is becoming more diverse in source and structure, and accumulating faster than ever before.

Data Carries Events

Smart brands realize data isn’t just discreet bits of information. Data carries a series of occurrences (and non-occurrences) that technologists call “events.” These events are more than transactions and include anything that has meaning to the brand.  Events can be historical or immediate, one-at-a-time, or in correlated occurrences (as this event-driven marketing whitepaper and webinar explain).

Analyzing events in aggregate reveals patterns that are equally meaningful and were previously invisible to the naked eye.

Events are Relevance

It has never been more promising or challenging at the same time to pay attention to events. There is relevance “gold” in events, including the ability to understand very specific factors relating to event-driven marketing:

  • The customer’s immediate context – Is it daytime or nighttime? Where are they? Is there an open retail store nearby? How is the weather?
  • The brand’s immediate context – What inventory do I need to move? Where are my hottest items located? What is my competitor offering?
  • The customer’s historical contextWhat level of fan is the customer? What do they typically buy? When do they buy?
  • The brand’s historical context – What are my sales patterns for this type of customer? What do I normally sell in this weather or time of the year?

Relevance is Everything

Understanding the customer comes down to the ability to follow the precursors to a buying decision and understand the sequence of events as they happen. Event-driven marketing is the ability to know each discreet thing that leads up to a purchase and to be able to anticipate when and how to react as those events play out.  The ability to anticipate and react at just the right time is the true meaning of marketing relevance. (Learn more on right-time marketing in this webinar coming up on 7/18.)

These are exciting times to be a brand in a fast-evolving customer and technology landscape. Are you ready to be relevant?

Customer Loyalty: Time to Earn a Return On Relationship™

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

These days, customer loyalty is far more than points and rewards. In fact, true customer loyalty is about earning trust in a way that allows that customer relationship to be managed toward greater value like any other business asset. Author and Forbes Top Social Media Influencer Ted Rubin champions this idea in his book Return on Relationship:
Customer Loyalty to Customer Relationship Management
“Return on Relationship™ (ROR), simply put, is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing, and is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.”

We take Ted’s expertise in customer relationship management and the return on relationship very seriously. Customer loyalty programs need to have tangible business outcomes that require a deep understanding of the customer. Those outcomes include:

•    Efficiency – Loyal customers cost far less to recapture and form a conduit to access the loyalty of their network through brand advocacy. The value of customer loyalty is not just in higher sales but also in the ripple effect they have on others.

•    Forgiveness – No one is perfect 100% of the time, and a loyal customer is far more likely to forgive minor missteps and support a brand through thick and thin.

•    Greater Lifetime Value – Customers loyal to a brand are worth 10 times the value of a customer who shops for convenience or price.

•    Social Insurance – In Ted’s words, this is “a band of ‘dynamic advocates’, always ready, willing and able to come to your defense in time of crisis or simply when you’re in need of support.” He is always quick to point out that this outcome has incredible ROI.

•    Energized Workforce – Stirring your customers to brand loyalty has a powerful effect on your own people, as that customer loyalty becomes powerful positive feedback that energizes your staff and makes their jobs more meaningful.

Gaining that deep understanding means having a 360-degree view of the customer’s history with the brand, their personal preferences for how and when to engage, and the contextual circumstances of when they interact with the brand. As consumers become more mobile and social, and demand control of the moments of their engagement, the challenge is synthesizing widening event-streams in real-time (learn more in this whitepaper on event-driven marketing). Is your brand up to the test?

Along with Loyalty Lab’s Matt Elders, Ted is presenting on Tuesday, June 18th at the CRMC Conference in Chicago, where they will discuss customer loyalty management. Learn more in this webinar and whitepaper.

Learn more about Ted Rubin’s book, Return on Relationship, and more about him on his blog and at CollectiveBias.com. You can follow him on Twitter @tedrubin and @R_onR.

Delete…The Easy Solution For Lousy Loyalty Programs

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

There are two things we can expect every morning when we wake up. The first is that the sun has returned from the other side of the world and the second is a queue of loyalty program emails waiting in our inboxes, screaming of discounts and one-day sales.

According to The Colloquy 2011 Loyalty Census, the average family belongs to 18 rewards programs, but is active in just 8.4. Loyalty is alive and well, but is it really doing its job well?


Considering the impersonal email queue that greets us every day, membership in a program isn’t necessarily the symbiotic relationship that merchants might expect. Customers have rising expectations (as described in this webinar), and the old practices of loyalty marketing are looking more and more like spam in today’s marketplace.

According to Aberdeen’s report, The 2012 Omni-Channel Retail Experience, 42% of respondents expect a similar experience regardless of channel.

We live in a world that’s using diverse platforms, is increasingly mobile and expects loyalty marketers to personalize their offers in an ongoing pattern of communication. Do most programs meet those expectations? Judging by the morning email queue, no.


The numbers also suggest that customers won’t spend much thought before deleting or otherwise ignoring communication that isn’t personalized, relevant, and comes through just one channel (and not the ones preferred). Considering how much copy, coding and graphic work goes into the average advertisement, not taking the steps to make the message “sticky” is expensive and ineffective.

Like so many things, you get out what you put in and loyalty needs to be as strategic and personal as any part of selling. The Loyalty Lab Reward platform is an investment that will keep your best efforts out of the wastebasket.




I Know What You Did in Aisle 5

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Indoor mapping of consumer location is the latest arrow in the quiver of the retail marketer. When marketers know where things are happening, they can develop interesting patterns for where to put resources like people, signage and information technology. Geolocation also provides the remarkable ability to spot the patterns that predict what to expect from consumers, and can be tested and continuously refined based on effectiveness and cost.

Marketers can also send messages directly to the consumer based on where they are in that very moment. They can say, “Hey, you were in Aisle 5 and showed interest in that new phone—here’s an offer for 10% off.”

Service versus stalking

But where does it start to look like stalking and less like helpful service? The difference between creepy and convenience is found in whether consumers are knowingly and willingly sharing details about their path through the store, mall or city, and how long they spend in any one spot. When they’re not agreeing to this level of data collection and use, the outcome looks much more like Big Brother.

Pretty soon, they’re not agreeing to share their location and turning off that app that tracks their location. Who wants that?

Loyalty to the rescue

There is a simple way to make the same information useful both for prediction and messaging. Loyalty programs are the permission that consumers give because they see the benefit of having a closer, more open relationship with the seller. Anyone considering geolocation software as a way to get closer to the shopping cart has to first take into consideration the permission required to stay above the creepy line.

It is that easy. Loyalty programs are the de-creeping of big data and the answer not just to today’s monitoring and analytics tools, like geolocation technology, but also to what’s certainly coming in the not-so-distant future.

Learn more about the tools and technologies that are helping to reimagine loyalty marketing in this webinar.


Real-Time Marketing or Right-Time Marketing?

by Ted Rubin

Webinar 7/18 – sign up now! Right-Time Marketing vs Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is all the rage, though as TIBCO Loyalty Lab’s David Rosen is quick to point out, brands really need to be focused on right-time marketing. “The speed and reaction of marketing needs to be relevant when the consumer is discovering, shopping or sharing,” he said.

Brands need to act with relevance and timeliness without crossing over into creepiness, Rosen warned. “You need to have customers’ permission to collect data and contact them in the time of decision-making. When that relationship is within a loyalty program, it’s far less creepy,” he explained. I agree because when the relationship exists, and it is documented via membership, the consumer feels a connection that otherwise may not exist.

Loyalty and rewards may be the first thing to get right first, he suggests, noting that “…it creates the permission-based relationship between a brand and its consumers.” There’s a value exchange there, he explained; customers have consented and contributed to the brand-consumer relationship. This is a great point because in many ways it makes it easier for the marketer than initially spending time on relationship building without a guarantee the C-suite often requires to fund relationship building.

The collection and analysis of the data available in a loyalty relationship allows marketers an edge in real-time marketing, with greater insight into which messages or offers are most likely to influence a customer in that critical moment. But keep in mind… data and analytics can’t replace judgment. Along with data, be sure to let judgement, learning, inspiration be your guides, not simply numbers.

Simple, Compelling Offers for the Win

The future of offers and real-time marketing is simplicity, according to Rosen. “The best rewards program is simple enough that any employee can describe it. It’s compelling enough that people will naturally want to sign up,” he said, noting that Sports Authority is a perfect example. They offer 5% back on all purchases, an offer everyone can comprehend and appreciate. It’s simple to use and doesn’t require that the customer understand a complex spend and earn program. I find this so incredibly important… ease of use and participation is key!

“If you can achieve high rates for enrollment and out of the gate, you’ll get immediate attention from senior management. If management doesn’t care, you don’t get buy-in and won’t have their support and budget to effectively run your program,” Rosen warned. Simple, compelling offers appeal to customers and can win the support of internal decision-makers.

Marketers are realizing the potential of next generation marketing tactics and tools, such as game mechanics, to essentially stimulate activity, add an element of fun, and change people’s behaviors in different ways. Game elements also help to cement the relationship by keep people involved and engaged.

“In this realm, you’ll see offers like group rewards, where consumers enter as a group to win prizes,” Rosen explained. “Retailers can link a number of behaviors and get consumers to accomplish certain tasks, ie: wearing a certain product and having a picture taken and posted to Instagram.”

Communication = Relationship Management

Better communication with loyalty program members means much more than simply delivering the content they want in a format they prefer. Brands needs to use the information gleaned from the program and other data available to them—through the website, email marketing, social channels and in-store—in order to effectively manage their customer relationships. When your customers are engaging via loyalty initiatives you have the opportunity to interact and engage them on a more personal level.

Are your customers shopping online, making returns, opening or responding to emails, or taking other actions from which you can draw insight?

Customers have come to expect that brands will deliver messages and offers relevant to their needs. This is the power of real-time marketing—the ability to act almost instantly on customer insights. Easing communication means understanding the needs of each customer and communicating the right message to them, at the right time.

It’s so important to keep in mind that right-time marketing means making a connection that goes beyond simply time and place, but takes it a step further and builds the connection… and therefore the relationship. Consumers desperately want to feel heard, connected, and valued, so remember to take it beyond the simple offer to engage and build Return on Relationship.


Information has exploded, between the type of information we keep stored in databases —such as past purchasing behavior or past flight behavior—and the types of insights gleaned from activities happening in real time. “Customer loyalty marketing is not really marketing to people in real time, but using events, happenings, behaviors that are happening in real-time in order to very quickly make decisions about what to do next,” Rosen explained.

Analytics are critical for taking these masses of real-time and stored (historical) data and identifying patterns, in order to determine what to do next.

“The other piece of analytics that is incredibly compelling is that it gives the creative marketer the ability to be more creative,” Rosen explained. “You don’t have to get it right. You just need to have a great idea that it testable. If you have a great idea, you can make a moderate investment and put it in front of a limited amount of consumers and test that; you can measure the impact it had on people.” Great analytics takes away the risk of failure, he noted. Again I will add that analytics can only get you so far, it is easy to interpret data to mean what you are looking to hear, so be sure to let judgement reign.

Powerful reporting helps communicate the value of the program across the organization, not just to senior management, but across other teams, logistics partners, creative partners, etc. Dashboards, reporting and success metrics have become incredibly powerful and are critical for customer loyalty management.

Rosen’s recommendations are designed to help marketers move beyond the traditional loyalty program/offers model, to a relationship-based, mutually rewarding customer loyalty marketing solution. So use the all-important data, but remember the value in the data is in deepening the relationship connection.

“The whole idea is, don’t overcomplicate things,” Rosen advised. “Create a simple program with a compelling hook—this will become your canvas for testing and refining these other amazing things. That doesn’t mean it’s so vanilla people won’t sign up. But once you have that permission-based relationship with your customers, you can really do anything if you’re a good marketer.”

How effective is your brand at real-time marketing, using current and historical insights to influence purchasing behavior at the right time, in the proper channel, and building true relationships at the same time? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Hear more from David on right-time marketing and reimagining loyalty in the webinar, Customer Loyalty Management: Marrying the Art & Science of Loyalty.

Read more by Ted on his blog, and follow him @tedrubin and @R_onR.

Finding the Holy Grail of Marketing

by Jeanne Roué-Taylor

The remarkable amount of change in the consumer world is ushering in a new definition of loyalty. What have long been static programs of points and plastic cards are becoming dynamic, individualized and much, much more engaging.

The old way of simple ledgers and confusing redemption schemes was a fundamentally flawed proposition. Customers were able to accumulate points but struggled to keep track of and gain real value in return. Something had to change.

Enter Customer Loyalty Management

Customer Loyalty Management is the new, holistic approach to driving higher levels of loyalty to brands. It puts a focus on what have emerged as the four ‘pillars’ of loyalty:

  • Loyalty programs
  • Wider event streams
  • Marketer-driven relationship marketing
  • Test & learn

Each of these four is key to finding the ‘Holy Grail’ of marketing: creating ‘fans’—people who think of a brand first and represent a much higher lifetime value. But today’s technology combines social, mobile and analytics to create new ways to drive another layer atop the four pillars, including higher trust, greater insight and relevance, and recognition leading to virtuous cycles of increasing value.

These are lofty goals that would be impossible without the new approach in technology and strategy offered by Customer Loyalty Management.

Aligning the Tools and Techniques

As consumers’ buying patterns change, the tools and techniques of loyalty need to change alongside them. There are four specific areas where the tools and techniques align with the four pillars and matter the most for the new Customer Loyalty Management:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • In-store
  • On-line

Each of these areas is impacted by those changing buying patterns, and there’s an opportunity for brands to avoid disruption and benefit from the shift. These points of personal and digital engagement are the new realities of letting consumers engage in ways that increase their experience and create true fans.

You Might Like:


Moving Far Beyond Mad Men

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

Retailers have gone miles beyond the traditional print, TV and radio marketing of the Mad Men era, for sure, but even the more recent digital campaign-based marketing isn’t the best way to gain loyalty while maintaining profitability.

I’ll tell what works best, but first let’s take a look at how we got here.

Don Draper style

Traditional marketing was about coming up with the best tag line and finding the best audience and channel for delivery. Mad Men’s Don Draper is the perfect traditional marketing guy/ad man (there were very few women). Don is masterful at getting into the heads of the paying client with a promise that he will get his message into the heads of the end customer.  Even with focus groups testing those messages, it was an enormous leap of faith for the firm’s clientele.  It was all about selling an idea and less about proven execution.

Costly setup

Computing brought us beyond Mad Men and gave us the ability to watch for signs of a receptive audience. Those signals, or triggers, are certainly a step beyond Don’s famous tag lines, like London Fog’s, “Limit your exposure.” Campaign or old-style trigger-based marketing delivers personalized, relevant content based on the best knowledge in advance.  That sounds like a great idea but is hampered by structure and slowed down by potentially costly setup and execution.

Getting a trigger wrong means sending messages people don’t want. Missing the timing means marketing into thin air.  Because triggers are structured and reactive, campaign development is based on a cycle that has several steps: Identifying triggers, creating responses, testing and evaluating, operationalizing and then optimizing campaigns.  Traditional trigger-based marketing doesn’t bring the speed necessary to for today’s business.

Getting it right

There’s a new and better way that’s gaining ground with some of the best marketers in the business. The modern Don Draper operates in real-time and with event-driven marketing instead. Events are simply ‘things that happen’ (or don’t). Powerful systems can anticipate combinations of events and fire responses in real-time that can take into effect an unlimited number of factors. Events include location, sentiment analysis, inventory levels, previous purchases and more. These are highly dynamic factors that can’t be correlated in traditional systems.

Event-driven is the marketing answer to mobility, social, cloud and big data. It is a true differentiator in an increasingly complex marketplace.

You Might Like: