To serve the needs of the digitally connected consumer, brands have been seeking ways to connect their traditionally structured loyalty programs to activity on the social graph. New communications channels (Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter) can be easily plugged in to a loyalty program, but the question remains, which channels are the right ones to connect and how do marketers know which to choose?
I’ve noticed a pattern emerging relative to new product and technology launches. Whether in reaction to new consumer technology (“I’ve gotta get the latest iPhone”) or business platforms (e-CRM, Gamification, location based marketing), it goes like this:
- Near feverish pursuit of adoption that seems to imply “I’ve got little time for absorbing the entire argument, let me just write the check and get started”
- Retrenching and evaluation as buyers take a step back to evaluate post – launch criticism and early failures in order to limit their own risk
- A second wave of adoption that is better informed, goal driven, and focused on creating a return on investment rather than just a big noise.
This pattern suggests that steak always wins over sizzle in the long run, and the evolution of Loyalty Marketing as “Social” provides a great example. In the advent of Social Loyalty , Marketers everywhere were rushing to build Facebook pages, open Twitter accounts, and claim their locations on Foursquare before they had any idea of where these efforts would lead. Building awareness, laying claim to an audience, and matching competitive moves were the primary motivators of early experiments linking loyalty with social media.
Research has made clear that intelligent and discretionary selection of social channels as means of communications with loyalty program members is what’s needed to succeed. To just declare that your firm is taking an “omnichannel” approach to marketing seems to ignore the messy details of implementation.
New research published by the Logic Group in the UK cites additional evidence that while consumers are building their faith in all things digital, some hesitations can’t be ignored. Survey results showed that only 21% of UK consumers confirmed their desire to receive loyalty program offers through mobile and social networks, but double that number flatly rejected new tech channels for this purpose.
Adapting your loyalty program to meet customers where they are and communicate with them in the channels they prefer can be determined by trial and error, but the process is made more efficient by simply asking them. Now is a great time to reevaluate the data you collect in the program enrollment process and how you manage online profiles.
Be prepared to give away incentives to tap deeper into the preferences of your best customers. The results are valuable to you as a business and the consumer is increasingly aware of that value.