Editor’s note: Ansira SVP, CX & Loyalty Mike Weaver recently joined experts at Forrester and Oracle for a webinar discussing loyalty and customer experience trends and strategies, which served as the foundation for this blog.
According to “Forrester Predictions 2021: Digitally Advanced Firms Will Have a Sustained Advantage Over Their Competitors,” we know that loyalty and retention investments by companies will increase by 30% this year. COVID-19 and quarantine regulations have only accelerated this trend because of the increased ease of digital shopping and lower switching/splitting barriers for customers engaging via digital channels. Brands have no choice but to react and create more reasons for customers to remain loyal.
Emotional Connection is Key
Deciding where and how to invest to drive measurable improvement is tough, but a good starting point is to remember that you cannot separate your overall CX strategy from your loyalty program strategy. The effectiveness, ease, and emotional pieces of each customer experience have a big impact on a loyalty program’s ability to drive retention, cross-sell/up-sell, and advocacy. Emotion is the biggest influencer of loyalty and, as a result, you must reward member behaviors while continually enhancing member experiences.
At this stage in the loyalty marketing game, it is almost impossible to differentiate on transactions alone (unless you are willing to invest a significant percentage of your profit margin back into your members). Likewise, it’s hard to build meaningful and emotional connections with your customers if you’re only asking them to transact. That isn’t going to cut through the noise of all the marketing content coming at them and will fall short of their expectations of a favorite brand with whom they’ve agreed to share much more of their data. Transaction-based communications are also transparent and may go against your brand’s values and positioning.
The Business of Cultivating Experiences
Instead, brands need to create content and cultivate experiences for loyalty members that encourage their participation and drive their emotional connection with a brand. If you’re a modern marketer, you are already in the content and experience innovation business. A big part of that is using the data that members share with you to inject personal relevancy into each interaction a customer has with the brand. I like to call this Personalization 2.0 because it is much more than using “First Name/Last Name” insertions or recognizing the city your customer is in. This goes beyond dynamic fields and token replacement – it’s about anticipating needs and factoring in your customer’s current emotional state based on a combination of historical and real-time data.
To ensure a successful content delivery, you need to leverage the full power of your customer experience management technology stack to personalize interactions across inbound and outbound channels. Personalization 2.0 demands that you are dynamically determining the best design, imagery, copy, features, etc. in real time based on everything you know about each member, both historically and what’s happening within the current interaction.
In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll dig deeper into the techniques and technologies that modern marketers are using to deliver personally relevant experiences at scale that build and maintain customer loyalty through emotional connection. We’ll look at the juxtaposition of current behavior and need state against historical behaviors and emotions, and how you can add valuable context to improve the accuracy of delivering differentiated experiences.