14 May 2012 by Ann Revell-Pechar
Listen up, marketing and branding pros: Don’t assume the customer programs you’ve developed are the ones that will hit home and keep your customers brand loyal!
ROI. It’s the only reason most marketing departments justify budget growth. So here we are well into Q2, and you’re either preparing a new budget (if your calendar year starts in July), or you’re starting to tweak your 2012 budget to more clearly align with desired results. So it’s time to take a look at what’s working and what’s not, and begin some re-considerations.
Do you have a Brand Loyalty program in place? Yes? Well, how’s that working for you?
What’s going on? Well, let’s start with the survey snapshot. More than 150 BtoB and BtoC marketing execs were surveyed. Results? Survey says:
- Two-thirds have a department or functional area dedicated to customer loyalty and retention
- 13 percent plan to add one
- Less than one in four consider their loyalty and retention efforts “very effective”
- Approximately 44 percent think their programs are “somewhat effective”
OK, so we’re investing all this time and money, and the efforts are not returning much in the way of loyalty. If you take findings from a CMO Council survey into consideration, you’ll find that what’s really happening as a result is defection! Bulldog Reporter points out that research from the CMO Council suggests loyalty programs are actually alienating our customers, especially when we repeatedly send information that is not tailored to individual needs or interests.
Stop Spamming Your Customers!
As a group, marketers have gone deaf on our customers. Instead of listening to what they need, we tell them what we want. We tell them and tell them and tell them. What are we saying? “We want you to buy more!”
And what our seemingly desperate actions say is that “We don’t care what you buy, just buy something! And we will keep emailing you with irrelevant offers until you DO buy something!”
Or, more likely, until they bow out – gracefully, or not so gracefully.
Let’s consider a few personal examples. Think of that wine club you joined online recently, or that makeup you purchased using a store credit card (whose bill you pay online), or the new store downtown that offered you 10 percent off in exchange for your email address. Every one of them wants to make you a loyal customer, and every one of them has your email address.
Now, how many emails have you received from them lately? One a month? A week? Or is it closer to one a day? Are those emails tailored to you, to what you want or need? How do you feel as a result – do they instill a desire to tell all your friends about how great this is, or would you talk about how obnoxious they are?
Stop Pushing. Listen More.
We’ve been blessed to be marketers in a time when we have a plethora of tools at our disposal. It’s time to use those tools, and use them to refocus on the customer. It’s time to look at the long term value of that customer – and retrain your efforts in converting them into not just ‘loyal customers’ but the Full Monte: A Brand Evangelist!
So be serious. If you think the primary goal of your loyalty program is to get customers to spend more now (as it was with 47 percent of those unsatisfied marketers in the survey), I encourage you to think again.
Likely, your ultimate goal is a hyper-committed customer – someone who recruits new customers for you, who is proud to use your product or service. The best way to drive the long term financial success of your product and your company, thus meeting your objectives, is to create what Loyalty 360 CEO Mark Johnson calls “sustainable behavioral change.”
At Arketi we call this Stop Selling. Start Listening. It’s a way of thinking that re-orientates BtoB marketing to place buyers and their needs at the center of all marketing priorities. Understanding what buyers care about, how they make decisions, and how they want to receive information, makes marketing about them, not us.
That’s not done by beating your customers over the head. Instead, develop a formal customer lifecycle program. Start early in the program – maybe even before the first purchase – and integrate loyalty data into the research and purchase process. Recognize that your customer’s voice is easier to hear now, thanks to social media. Start listening for it. That’s where you’ll get value from your loyalty program.
The SAS/Loyalty360 online survey, entitled Facing the Challenges of Building Loyalty and Retention: The New Strategic Imperative, was conducted from November to December 2011 from a cross section of industries.
This blog post was featured on CommPRO.biz on May 8, 2012 and can be found here.