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FINDING LOYALTY IN THE LEAST EXCITING PLACES

Connecting with your customers in a meaningful way is a difficult task — one that starts by nailing the simple things. Building a successful loyalty program is complicated, but focusing on the fundamentals is the best way to earn the trust of your customers and drive profitability.

There are countless places to focus your attention and investment when it comes to building brand loyalty. Technology providers flash the bells and whistles of their platforms, social agencies boast of the power of engagement and branding agencies tout the value of activation. While all of these areas are important, focusing on the most basic areas of your customers’ needs is still the best way to earn their loyalty. When prioritizing your investment, here are a few areas that will offer the most bang for your buck.

(Actual) program benefitsData is everything

There is a clear correlation between the maturity of a company’s data initiatives and their loyalty program’s overall success, which makes data one of the most important investments if you’re interested in deepening the loyalty of your best customers.

The benefits of strong data management are well-documented, from targeting and segmentation to dynamic one-to-one marketing. But a focus on data also offers less visible benefits, starting with the insights and education that brands gain about their customers. In most cases, these insights aren’t even utilized by a loyalty team, but have a major impact on the customer experience. Equipping your store associates, channel marketers and operations teams with accurate customer data is a great way to improve logistics, marketing and operations, as well as to live up to the expectations of your truly valuable customers.

Data capture, associates and the user experience

Across a wide variety of brands and verticals, one truth stands out: extremely efficient data capture is a must for successful loyalty programs. A loyalty program’s success can really be measured by the brand’s data-capture rate, or the percentage of customers who interact with the brand who also sign up for the program.

Increasing data capture starts with creating a cross-functional, in-depth analysis of point-of-sale, both in stores and online. That means involving your user experience teams and getting store associates involved.

For e-commerce, streamline the loyalty sign-up and portal as much as possible. Loyalty managers often want customers to spend time in the portal interacting and engaging, but customers don’t actually want that — they want to check their points balance and get back to looking at products. Keep it quick and simple; members should barely recognize they’re on a loyalty landing page.

In-store is a bit more complicated, but increasing capture involves both education and incentives. With education, the data sells itself. It’s usually clear that if a store has higher levels of loyalty members, its sales, AOV and return frequency are much higher than other stores. Those stores will earn more, and so will district managers.

To appeal to store associates, give them clear, tangible benefits for hitting capture rates — gift cards, parties, increased commission or anything that brings loyalty to the front of their minds during every checkout. Encourage sales associates to not just ask if customers want to be in the program, but to actively sell it. Most customers become more malleable once they learn the benefits.

Loyalty programs miss the mark when brands focus too much on an easy way out or the latest technology that promises to solve all of their problems. Don’t fall for that trap. Loyalty is actually won in the least exciting places. It’s won at point-of-sale, grown through tangible benefits, captured by streamlining the customer journey, and dug out of the data. Loyalty is attainable; it just requires digging in and doing the work.