Loyalty is Your Currency — How Are You Spending It?

Customer loyalty has always been vital to the bottom line, but in light of all the changes that the pandemic ushered in, loyalty is something you absolutely have to market, spend, and convert wisely.

How are you approaching yours?

According to the Generation Pay Report, US consumers across all generations are increasingly turning to rewards and other digital conveniences in order to make purchasing decisions. In fact, during COVID, 35% of US consumers bought more frequently from businesses that offered loyalty and rewards programs than they did pre-pandemic. They’ve become very specific about their wants, too. Consumers across all generations want to earn points from brands that don’t expire, and they want the brand to track their spending and rewards for them. They also want purchases to be made easier through technology, as evidenced from the 46% of Millennials, 44% of Gen Zers, and 44% of Gen Xers that use a digital wallet to make payments.

It’s not just digital wallets and similar conveniences, though. COVID exposed a desperate need for brands to accelerate a holistic digital transformation. After all, we live in an always-on, on-demand, digital society where consumers expect brands to make buying seamless, personalize offers to their specific tastes, and share them in the channels that are most convenient. In fact, consumers are so used to personalized marketing efforts that they only notice when you get it wrong!

And remember, part of personalizing is sending a conversational message — not just a BOGO offer without any context. These days, it also includes showcasing your commonly shared values and infusing meaning into purchases. For example, &pizza’s Hero Pies campaign takes customer donations to make and deliver pizzas to hospital workers. As a result, customers know that their hard-earned money is going towards a worthy cause, and they know that &pizza cares about frontline workers as much as they do.

How can you better understand your customers

To learn more about each customer’s particular preferences, you need the right customer insights, all in one place. The average customer can have more than 20 tech touchpoints with your brand, through channels like email, SMS, social media, mobile app, TV, radio, and more. With all of that data being gathered in all of those places, you need to ensure the information isn’t siloed. If it is, you’ll wind up with a bunch of data points and no real way to know how to actionize them.

Plus, as we move towards a cookieless future, the right digital transformation will be the only way for your loyalty program to gather zero- and first-party data that will help you gather richer, more personalized customer insights — which will help you optimize your marketing spend and increase your customer lifetime value. The good news is, consumers are now willing to engage with brands in more creative ways and try new experiences. As a result, they’re more willing to share additional personal preferences than they were a few years ago.

All of this means that you need to build towards personalization at scale. Your ability to send tailored messages to thousands of customers in multiple interactions can increase your loyalty, grow your sales, and reduce your marketing and sales costs by as much as 20%.

So, how do you start

Personalizing at scale should begin with your most frequent customers. Build data insights off of their purchase history, preferences, and other engagements, and start targeting similar people. From there, you can broaden your personalization efforts armed with what’s going to drive the most results.

One way to personalize at scale is to take advantage of geo-targeting. For example, send a push notification with an offer whenever a customer is within a mile of your restaurant. Or, send a text just before the lunch rush offering a lunchtime goody. Depending on what your data shows, you can even throttle specific market offers up and down.

Aside from personalization, customers expect instant results. For example, they want to be able to redeem an offer the moment they rack up enough points to qualify for it. They want to receive an offer as soon as they sign up for your loyalty program. They want you to send them a special thank you for referring a new customer.

Today’s customers also want to know that you are responding to their concerns by mitigating risk. For example, contactless payments and mobile order drive-thru pickup show that you’re taking steps to keep them safe. In the end, little things like these can go a long way towards building trust and, thus, increased loyalty.

Customer loyalty is one of the most valuable commodities your brand can have. With today’s expectations and capabilities, you have to work smart in order to maximize it. With the right technology, the right insights, and the right data-driven decisions, it doesn’t have to be hard to make your loyalty flourish.