How do you build loyalty in a world where brands no longer own and control their own messaging? A world where — like it or not — consumers share information, insights and opinions on social media platforms 24/7.
Traditional approaches still have their place. However today’s loyalty strategy goes beyond the transaction. Social interactions are becoming the new currency. Many brands are playing catch-up, evaluating how they can mine valuable social data and use it to re-evaluate how they best engage with customers in these and all channels.
Today, customers have a 360 degree view of your company. They expect to have an ‘always on’, consistent, value-added and interactive multi-channel customer experience. In today’s digitally-connected society, weekends and evenings are times when customers are looking for information, sales and service. Engaging with them during normal office hours is no longer good enough.
Many brands have struggled to keep up with the increased scrutiny and round-the-clock demands from their customers. Some have made mistakes — witness the number of loyalty programmes where an associated Facebook or Twitter presence has been created in a hurry and then left dormant. Offering points for “likes” or cash for checking-in will create interest but brands should be clear at the outset as to how they intend to use that information and drive genuine engagement.
So brands must respond to the needs of their customers – be there, and be engaging – wherever those customers are. If you apply the 90-9-1 principle of social engagement (passives – editors – creators), it is the 10% of active participants who present the greatest opportunity to influence the 90% of spectators who consume brand or user-generated content. Passive consumption of media is still vital in contributing to brand perception, improving levels of loyalty and prompting purchasing decisions.
According to research by Bain and Company, customers who engage with your brand via social channels spend 20-40% more with you. Moreover, those people that spread the word about your brand are a significant catalyst for growth and should be recognised — not just those that buy.
With this in mind, the challenge is to establish loyalty strategies that create value for both the brand and the consumer, regardless of their channel of interaction. The opportunities for generating valuable data from social channels are huge and greater still, integrating this with relationship data across all channels. The key question brands need to keep asking themselves is how do we look through our customer’s eyes? And by customers we don’t just mean the people that buy from you, but the ones that interact with you at every touchpoint, 24/7, and share their experiences across the digital landscape.
Reward and recognition are still fundamental loyalty drivers; but brands who do not embrace customer experience and social engagement do so at their peril.