The CMO’s Guide to Customer Loyalty

May 23, 2018 Lauren Baer

As the technological landscape evolves, so does the role of Chief Marketing Officer. CMOs are tasked with the colossal mission of inspiring and guiding the overall brand vision and marketing activities that drive new business and repeat sales. Establishing a truly loyal following of customers is challenging for every CMO operating in a competitive market, especially with the emergence of new technologies.

Integrating a multichannel loyalty program can help CMOs acquire and retain customers, keep them engaged and increase customer lifetime value. Key components to a successful loyalty approach include impactful acquisition and retention strategies that leverage artificial intelligence, personalization, and engagement tactics.

Here is a guide for CMOs and high-performing loyalty teams to help ensure your strategies stay ahead of the curve and entice customers to choose your brand over competitors.

 

Align your brand identity with your loyalty marketing strategy

Successful loyalty programs begin with strong loyalty marketing strategies that align with overarching brand identities.

Joanna O’Connell, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, urged marketing executives to “drop everything you’re doing and start thinking about identity” before jumping into the minute details of a rewards program. Consider what makes your brand unique: who is the target market? Does the brand demonstrate social responsibility? Is the business subscription-based? Is it a luxury brand?

Based on your brand’s distinct position in the market, your loyalty strategy should reflect your unique values. For example, a luxury brand may avoid a points-based program, and instead focus on inviting its most loyal customers to personally curated, exclusive high-end events. Meanwhile, companies with ties to social causes may offer opportunities for loyalty members to donate points or dollars to its charitable partners.

TOMS is exemplary at aligning its Passport Rewards program with its brand identity. TOMS adopts a “one for one” approach, vowing to donate one pair of shoes for each pair purchased, and also helps people in need access clean water, essential eyewear, and maternity medical care. Passport Rewards members have the option to donate their points and dollars to support all of these charitable causes.

 

Engage consumers across all marketing activities

Traditional loyalty programs use a “spend-and-get” approach where points are awarded for dollars spent. However, this is no longer the most comprehensive way to drive loyalty. Engagement-based loyalty programs enable brands to create more meaningful connections with customers across all marketing activities by inviting them to share content marketing, attend VIP events, complete product reviews, and more.

These engagement-based programs lift the performance of associated channels and campaigns while strengthening members’ affinity to the brand, resulting in a 40% increase in customer lifetime value across program members. Because most loyalty programs remain founded in the traditional spend-and-get model, integrating engagement not only drives member participation and lifetime value, it also offers brands a competitive advantage.

Members of the AMC’s The Walking Dead Fan Rewards Club can engage with their favorite television show even when it’s not on air by sharing who their favorite character is, watching sneak peek videos, and reading The Walking Dead articles in addition to purchasing merchandise in exchange for loyalty points. All of these activities strategically align with the overarching marketing goals of The Walking Dead to learn more about their fans, extend their reach and viewership, and make smarter business decisions.

 

Leverage data to curate personalized experiences

Engagement-based loyalty programs are a secure and efficient way to collect first party opt-in data about your customers and curate personalized experiences for them. When you offer a variety of opportunities to engage with customers across all marketing channels, you can collect insights about more than just purchase transactions and build a 360° view of your most loyal followers. Not only can brands collect information on purchases, but they can also collect information like style preferences, likelihood to read online content, social advocacy, and responsiveness to engagement on social media vs. in-store.

Apply your data-driven discoveries to lift performance across channels by using lookalike audiences for ad campaigns, merchandising decisions and email marketing strategies. Additionally, use the insights to develop tailored rewards for your members like exclusive events for your social advocates, surprise gifts for your avid bloggers and product reviewers, or special swag for your high-value shoppers.

As Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen said, “The fundamental truth–and challenge–is people buy experiences, not products.” Brands should invest in a multichannel platform that utilizes artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to evaluate program members holistically and curate personalized experiences based on unique preferences and trends, beyond just purchase history.

 

Adopt a multichannel approach

To successfully acquire and retain customers, keep them engaged and increase customer lifetime value, a CMO should think about loyalty holistically and adopt a multichannel approach that touches every facet of the business. Offer customer touchpoints online, in store, on mobile or social media, and ensure a consistent experience across each channel. For example, retailers can leverage a multichannel program to drive store traffic with mobile promotions, while entertainment brands can encourage online behind-the-scenes access and incentivize audiences to tune into live programming.

To achieve this, CMOs should cultivate cross-functional teams that are aligned in understanding the benefits of a comprehensive loyalty offering and can help the program evolve. Work with other cross-functional leaders to train store employees, call center representatives, and digital teams about the specifics and benefits of your program. Nurture a culture of loyalty across teams and channels by communicating that loyalty is not transactional, but an enduring approach to deepening connections with customers and ultimately providing a superior experience.

Steve Madden’s SM Pass program is truly multichannel – members are rewarded for their spend and engagement at every brand touchpoint. The loyalty program is seamlessly integrated across the mobile app, social media, the website and in-store too, creating a unified user experience across all channels. For example, SM Pass rewards members with points for making mobile purchases, and uses digital bonus point campaigns to drive in-store foot traffic.

SM Pass mobile app campaign:                        Steve Madden Instagram campaign:

 

Conclusion

Chief Marketing Officers are adopting multichannel loyalty as a vehicle for differentiating from competitors and providing an exciting customer experience. While loyalty programs are by no means a new concept to CMOs, executives should view data-driven, engagement-based loyalty as a competitive advantage. When done right, these programs should stem from the brand’s fundamental values, incorporate customer engagement activities, curate personalized rewards, and reach customers across various channels.

Previous Article
5 Loyalty Best Practices for Subscription Companies
5 Loyalty Best Practices for Subscription Companies

In a highly competitive space, it’s crucial for subscription brands to create experiences that keep custome...

Next Article
7 Steps To Building A World-Class Luxury Loyalty Program
7 Steps To Building A World-Class Luxury Loyalty Program

In this guide, we’ll highlight the unique tactics luxury brands can implement in their loyalty offering to ...