It is hard to know your customer’s preferences when all of them have changed. The travel vertical was arguably one of the most impacted industries by COVID, and the loyalty landscape wasn’t spared either. While brands developed many strategies to continue driving incrementality and enterprise value during this time, one tactic that helped safely address the future of loyalty in the new normal is partnerships.
Before we dive into partnerships, let’s talk about what we mean by “safely” (and no, we’re not referring to Kris Jenner’s home cleaning line). Well-designed programs start with a very clear value proposition and an easy-to-understand framework. Customers don’t have to overthink their interaction with your brand because you have standard rules for engagement, such as earning and redeeming points and working up program tiers. When you have a clear construct in place, you can utilize dynamic benefits like partnerships to bolster your program in a number of ways. Let’s explore how…
Participation through partnerships.
First, drive program awareness and participation through partnering with other brands. Not only are partnerships valuable, but they’re also becoming a necessity for smaller and mid-sized brands. The co-marketing that partnerships offer exposes brands to a new set of relevant prospects and can create an emotional halo effect around their brands. Each time these customers interact with your partner, they are thinking of your brand even if they are not directly engaging with you. To exemplify this let’s talk about a retail brand that focuses on women’s athletics. If that brand were to partner with complementary brands in the health and wellness verticals, they could increase engagement through meaningful and natural touchpoints with customers. Early on in the pandemic, we saw Reebok partner with Chobani Complete for an at-home fitness sweepstakes to drive customer engagement across brands that rewarded the lucky winner with a bundle of wellness merchandise.
Amplify program value.
Now the next component of partnerships is resizing your program. You can diversify your revenue streams by allowing members to earn in other places, which keeps your brand top of mind when they are engaging with your goods and services. As an example, let’s talk about travel and hospitality during COVID. During this time some members still wanted to travel and earn and couldn’t, so utilizing partners was crucial to staying relevant. Like when United Airlines offered members an earning bonus of 450 miles when they filed their taxes with TurboTax.
You can also reduce program costs by adding low-cost benefits that have a higher perceived value to members as a way to offset program expenses. Cashback, for instance, is a powerful tool to control liability and create a potential differentiator for your brand. And who doesn’t love spending money, without actually feeling like you’re spending money?
Personalize and optimize with data.
Kobie’s loyalty ethos is comprised of five key components, and one of those is to collect and activate first-party data. Partnerships are your perfect tool, as you can derive extremely valuable data about your customers and your prospects. Utilizing the data collected, you can apply the right partner promotions to the right members at the right time – try saying that three times fast! We refer to this tactic as leveraging triple play data – which is creating opportunity at the intersection of emotional, behavioral, and transactional data. Not sure what emotional data looks like? We got you covered. Hit that contact button below to learn how Kobie’s Emotional Loyalty Scoring® tool uncovers the emotional motivators that drive your brand’s customers.
Try new things.
Like the kids say, #YOLO. brands should be taking leaps with newer trends and emerging partners. Doing so can allow brands to address growing member segments. You can use limited time offers for earn and redemption opportunities to figure out if a deeper partnership is worthwhile. Additionally, partnering with newer brands and business models that are craving partners provides an outlet to easily test out the strength and relevance of a partnership, because we all have a little bit of #CommitmentIssues.
At Kobie, we believe a strong loyalty partnership should reinforce the product and the program. In the end, with whatever partnership route you take, remember to stay true to your strategy. We’re ready to help you assess what the right partnerships are for your brand – and how to execute them. Contact us today to learn more.