Most brands focus their marketing energy at driving transactions. From years of experience, they know how to nudge a customer down the sales funnel with a well-timed discount offer or well-placed retargeted ad. However, these techniques are not as effective anymore… and may be doing more harm than good. In order to protect long-term top-line revenue, brands need to look past short-term profits and focus more on lasting relationships. To develop a true relationship with a consumer, brands will need to look beyond the point of sale (POS) to focus on the moments of engagement captured through the likes of social media interactions, feedback loops, customer service moments, content sharing, video connections and more.
As a brand, your greatest asset is a loyal customer, certainly for repeat spend, but also for referrals, evangelists and attracting more customers just like them.
CRM and non-engagement based programmatic loyalty programs, though effective, traditionally focus on driving the next best transaction and only segment loyal customers based on their spend. By creating a customer engagement program or system that optimizes consumer engagement between transactions, a brand will engender longer-lasting relationships. Consumer expectations are ever-changing, and it is up to brands to keep up with that drive, in an authentic way.
1. Add value with non-sales content. Build a stronger emotional connection with customers by serving up content that supports them and does not feel like they are constantly being sold to. Take it a step further and provide content that is personalized. Speak to your customers like you know them, and you will see instant engagement. Take it up a notch and offer points/rewards to your customer for viewing content. Take Vans Family for instance, the brand produces videos specific to their members and then allows them to earn points, just for watching. Or take Best Buy for instance who offered tips for setting up a home offices during the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than pushing computer sales. Share your helpful content via email, on social media, or anywhere else you connect with your customers.
2. Offer engagement through product reviews and surveys. While surveys and reviews typically help a brand collect useful information, they do not always seem to reward the consumer, unless there is a mutual benefit to do so. A great way to open the aperture and drive engagement with customers is to offer a product review or survey in exchange for a reward or recognition. Take Tarte Cosmetics for instance, the brand uses this exact tactic to drive conversation with members.
3. Find ways to give back to charity and show what your brand supports. Supporting causes bigger than your company is a key element of engagement. For example, shoe brand Toms, a pioneer in this space, consistently donates profits to organizations. A brand could also support different efforts like sustainability, climate change, pet care, etc. Or even better, your redemption offering might include giving back to charity or tied to a charitable partnership. There are so many different charitable efforts that could build strong engagement.
4. Create Member Stories. User-generated content should be gold to brands. This tactic is a way for brands to engage with customers through multiple touch points; when you ask for the story (via email, social, website, app or another channel), when the content is being generated and when it is amplified. Peloton, though not a programmatic loyalty program, drives a strong level of engagement and loyalty between the brand and its members. By showcasing member videos to get other members to join, Peloton is genius-ly having its members act as the sales force.
5. Build a sense of community. An excellent way to drive engagement, without being at the POS, is to create a sense of community for your members. Even better, allow your members to communicate among themselves. This is a win/win for a brand – as the engagement is created through your biggest brand advocates.
By creating a customer engagement program… a brand will engender longer-lasting relationships.
Address emotions now, but plan for the future.
The goal to being successful with engaging between the transactions is to open the gap beyond just a small view of your customer. There are so many data points that can tell you more about your customer – and therefore, how to treat them even better. Listen and use everything that your members are giving to you. As omni-channel marketing has matured, engagement data offers a more effective indicator of long-term loyalty versus spend alone. A more holistic view of the customer’s engagement with your brand will help optimize your marketing return in the short and long term. There are so many tactics to focus on to create that brand affinity, beyond a transaction; refer-a-friend, partnerships, social integration, post-purchase communication, replenishment, etc. This is the time to think outside the box and get creative. Those who keep customers engaged between transactions, builds valuable emotional loyalty – another key to a successful partnership.