This post is sponsored by Epsilon.
We are already in December, and it is likely that most of us are busy with budgets and planning initiatives for the new year ahead. While you are considering how to refresh your campaigns, we would also recommend you look to evaluate the state of your existing loyalty programmes (from refresh to relaunch) and to reactivate the engagement and communications you have with your customers.
Across Asia and China, customers are particularly demanding, but in return, they can be incredibly loyal to companies that get it right.
In a 2019 study that Epsilon conducted in China, when satisfied with a brand, 45% of customers said they would take a positive action – be it engaging with the brand on-line or recommending it to family and friends (click here for the full report).
Therefore, it is important to ensure your loyalty programmes continue to engage your customers in a relevant and positive manner. In addition, while there’s no set timetable as to how often marketers should relaunch, on average, the brands we work with across APAC, typically relaunch their programmes every three years.
Here are some of the things to look out for that may determine if you should refresh or relaunch your programme:
- Are you making use of all the data sources available, particularly new digital and social channels?
- Is the member experience memorable and seamless?
- Is your value proposition still compelling and competitive?
- Is the programme performing well operationally and financially?
- Has it kept up with the latest technology innovation?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no or not sure” then it is probably time to consider a programme refresh or possibly a relaunch. If you do, here are some pointers that may help you.
Strategy: start with the human touch
Your loyalty programme initiatives begin with your strategy, and your strategy is created by human intelligence (people), not machines (technology), and informed by analysis (data). With the proliferation of new technologies, brands can be caught up on integrating the “new” or “hyped” technologies into their marketing programmes before truly understanding the impact they will have.
Keep your customer at the front and centre of your strategy, making sure you understand both the value and role humans have in personalising the loyalty experience and connecting emotionally, across the right touch-points, on the right devices, and at the right moments.
Data is your best friend when it comes to understanding customers, and using it to be brand empathetic wins customers over, so it’s critical to understand “the biology” of loyalty.
While marketers need to strategise and think about what is going on behind the scenes of personalisation, in our view, the emotional components fuel the success of personalisation, or what we refer to as 1 : You (you can download our eBook here about the evolution from 1 : 1 to 1 : You).
As you are developing and continuing to enhance your strategy, stay focused on the customer experience, and determine how you can achieve enhanced personalisation at the brand and programme level.
The next step is to ensure you have the funding for the refresh or relaunch. While the strategy starts with human intelligence, oftentimes, refreshes or relaunches create a need for technology modifications – which we know can be a costly endeavour.
We often advise clients to work with specialised martech agencies who can help them understand what technology to take in-house, and what to leave with the agency – taking advantage of the latest developments and insights without the cost of integration.
Another significant addition to budgets during the refresh or relaunch phase, can be when marketers “up the ante” on their reward fulfilment, and shift from the transactional rewards to more experiential ones.
Again, in our recent China report, we found that simple cash rebates, gifts and discounts remain the most popular forms of reward, so knowing your customers and knowing what truly motivates them on a personal level should be a prerequisite before this investment.
Gain executive and staff buy-in:
Make sure your key stakeholders believe in your strategy and rationale for the refresh or relaunch and the positive results that will result from it. We always find that when you prove to them “the why” approval is easier to obtain.
Some ways to do this is to share research or examples of other programmes that have done so with great success; consider running a competitive analysis to see where your brand could improve, and where you are already streets ahead; or undertake an evaluation of your user experience.
In addition, once the programme is refreshed or relaunched, consider having all employees join so they can experience first-hand the benefits of the programme to feel more engaged.
Ensuring success in 2020
While we would encourage you to take your time in your planning process in how you might reactivate your customer engagement and loyalty programmes, we would also urge you to be mindful of the significant undertaking from such an initiative.
It will require careful planning and analysis – maybe using a phased approach or even an initial refresh before a full relaunch to test the impact of the changes – and the better the design and implementation, the better the positive impact it will have on your 2020.
The writer is Paul Davies, senior vice-president for Epsilon APAC. Epsilon is a leader in interaction management, empowering brands to transform ordinary customer experiences into meaningful, human experiences. Our connected suite of products and services combine leading-edge identity management, industrial strength data and technology expertise with big brand acumen gained over five decades working with the industry’s top brands.