Technology innovation creates a vast set of new capabilities for loyalty programs. Machine learning allows brands to predict consumer preferences, understand habits, and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing loyalty for both the customer and the marketer by analyzing receipts and customer profiles behind the scenes; it facilitates unique, personalized customer experiences upfront and allows brands to understand how specific customers interact with their brand, and what types of messages resonate best with each customer. These technologies open a door to a wide range of new possibilities for loyalty marketing. For so long, marketers have wanted just that: connect customers more deeply with their loyalty programs. However, with these tools available, marketers are now struggling to execute on what their tech enables them to do.
This is not the first time that brands have run into this issue; from CRMs to DMPs to CDPs, marketing departments are constantly jumping to the newest promising acronym, often without regard to clear-set goals. Purchasing emerging technology frequently takes priority over the important process of establishing systems that make it work for your loyalty strategies. The fast pace of change leads to companies working with software and technology they don’t know how to use properly, hindering its effectiveness.
As technology and customer expectations have shifted, marketing departments have remained largely unchanged. But truly capitalizing on these high-powered tools requires a shift in strategy and an organizational structure that supports innovation. Here are three steps that will help you better take advantage of powerful customer experience solutions:
Be patient and prepared
Marketing organizations need to master the simple things first. Laying a strong foundation for marketing efforts is crucial to future success. It can take months to implement “Welcome” and Thank You” email messages, but once you have accomplished this, you can easily add extra flair later.
Starting with overly ambitious plans can be detrimental as well. Shooting for the stars without a solid understanding of basic operations causes more intricate loyalty features, such as journey maps or personas, to sit and collect dust. Marketers cannot skip three steps on the ladder to success; one must take the time to master the fundamentals and later assess how to implement bigger, better technological advancements.
When you are talking about the capabilities of your upcoming new technology investment, talk about your current state, and the steps you will take to be prepared to use the new features offered by your next tech investment. If you can’t get excited about the steps to get there, you aren’t going to get there.
Emphasize internal buy-in
It’s easy to get a group or department excited about your idea for revamping customer engagement and building lifetime customer loyalty, but it’s more challenging to get them to commit and fully buy into that idea’s success. Retailers may develop an innovative feature for member-only pricing, but it will sit unused if product and buying teams aren’t involved to give insight and approval.
Encourage teams to collaborate throughout the process to help projects gain traction and be successful. This tactic spreads out ownership of the project and gets everyone on the same page, reducing the risk of failure.
Let marketers innovate
Marketers learn to identify their audience and then target messages toward them, but this is a backward approach. You should figure out what you want to say and let technology help you identify those receptive to your message. Treat your marketing efforts as if you have a brief window where one customer gives you their full attention; you must choose your message before deciding where you should display it. This is the way to build a successful CX, loyalty and engagement strategy. Well-crafted messages placed in front of a relevant audience can nurture emotional loyalty, creating long-term relationships.
Additionally, allow marketers more freedom to develop new techniques. Just as technology is advancing, marketing must advance as well. Non-marketers think we already know everything there is to know about marketing, but that’s not the case. Innovation in fields surrounding marketing will inevitably force various learning curves on marketers as they see new opportunities and challenges. It’s often easy for tech employees to recommend changes, but you should grant similar status to high-level marketers to avoid stagnant marketing efforts.
While new AI, machine learning and other technology are enticing, using it effectively necessitates a ground-up approach. It’s like getting in a Formula 1 car with no training: you’re either going to go two miles per hour or crash and burn quickly.
Too many marketers are focused on new efforts instead of existing problems. Thus, starting small will provide a foundation for future tech success. After you establish the basics, you can’t just change the tools you use and expect a huge impact. You also need to adjust your processes and operations to keep up. Combining cutting-edge technology and existing marketing strategy is risky, but correctly preparing to implement new features will encourage long-term success.