Life Beyond Loyalty Programs: The Evolution of Consumer Engagement

We’re always advocates of thinking outside the box. It’s how we find the best solution to meet each client’s specific needs. While loyalty programs are an important part of that formula, we also know there are innovations that will expand our current view of loyalty into a broader consideration of meaningful customer engagement and relationships.

That idea isn’t new, but the technology supporting it continues to evolve. Particularly in an always-on, nearly-always-online world, finding ways to battle both the digital clutter and consumer digital fatigue will be critical for any brand’s sustainable success.

Consumers crave customization and convenience. That means you need to nurture them with experiences that feel made for them and continue to keep them interested in what you can offer them. It also means you’ll need to find ways to interact with them that reflect how they live, not just how they interact with your particular brand.

The key to addressing this issue is through data that helps you understand how consumers operate in an omnichannel world. It comes down to the idea of value exchange. Consumers have shown they’re willing to share some of their data when brands provide a relevant, timely, frictionless experience. So how can you push yourself to meet those expectations as a cutting-edge competitor?

There are four areas of innovation that seem to be defining the next wave of brand and customer interactions:

  • Portfolio-wide marketplaces. Parent organizations of multiple brands are trying to optimize the loyalty experience for customers by building community across their family of brands.
  • Mobile wallet. It’s an effective way to reduce friction and reach customers with a tool they’re already using without giving up control of the customer relationship.
  • Gamification. Recognizing the potential in 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, brands are leveraging common aspects of gameplay in their rewards programs to engage this audience.
  • AR/VR/MR. Although not as large as gamers overall, there’s an equally dedicated population of augmented/virtual/mixed reality users brands could engage in an environment where they are already spending their time.

Before rushing into any of these approaches, however, ask yourself if you have the appropriate infrastructure for third-party technology integrations, if you have the resources to support new initiatives of this magnitude, and if you have a plan for seamlessly connecting the dots across all of your touchpoints. With so many choices now and on the horizon, you need to show you’re willing and able to evolve–strategically. 

Read more about this new frontier in Sparkfly CEO Catherine Tabor’s latest Forbes article.