Guest Column - January/February 2016

Customer Loyalty in 2016

Attract & Retain Customers With New Strategies in Loyalty & Marketing

By Paul Gordon


As the new year gets rolling, and as business owners reflect on what 2015 yielded, it's time to make serious considerations for 2016 and focus on how to garner and retain customers.

Loyalty isn't a given; it's earned through trust and the appreciation you show for the customers and clients who directly contribute to your organization's success. Patrons need to find value in the product and relationship with the company.

An excellent solution to customer retention is a comprehensive loyalty program and corresponding marketing plan targeting consumer interests.

The social media age has greatly shifted the customer's power. In the past, word-of-mouth "customer ratings" and critics in the newspapers were standard resources for consumers when it came to decision-making. Now, with Yelp, Zagat and Google Reviews, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube reviews, amongst others, the customer has the power to determine what businesses succeed and fail in unprecedented ways.

76 percent of Americans think loyalty programs are part of their relationship with brands, and 46 percent of shoppers consider them to be an important factor in their purchasing process.

Accepting these advancements in social technology is a key component of success. According to Forrester Research, the most urgent place to apply digital thinking is through mobile devices. One billion smartphones have trained customers to turn to mobile first for all needs, including consumer needs, from researching products to finding the best deals. Both customers and business leaders have experienced a mobile mind shift: They expect that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need.

Keep customers loyal in 2016 and beyond by building a mobile-friendly loyalty program, in addition to marketing where they're already engaged.

Customer incentivization is now considered an industry standard in practically every market. Industry research recently found that 76 percent of Americans think loyalty programs are part of their relationship with brands, and 46 percent of shoppers consider them to be an important factor in their purchasing process.

Customer loyalty programs are highly valuable in engaging current clientele and attracting new and lucrative sales leads. This type of program incentivizes customers' involvement with a brand and encourages more transactions. For the customers, it creates a meaningful platform for them to connect with an organization on a more personal level. As a majority of these programs award points for both participation and purchases, customers feel that they are getting more for their dollar and that they are valued by the brand itself.

Additionally, if the customer can see their loyalty program at work through mobile interactions with the ability to share their loyalty success socially, it gives the customer more power and builds excitement. Not only are they interacting as a brand-loyal customer, but positive experiences transform casual consumers into fiercely loyal brand ambassadors.

As for marketing, harnessing the most relevant interests of consumers and transmitting the messages in a meaningful, mobile-capable way also makes a difference.

Video marketing to customers will provide a window into the business's capabilities and offerings, as well as offering a behind-the-scenes look into their favorite brands. This type of marketing provides consumers with a "VIP experience" that will keep them interested and faithful.

According to a study measured by digital marketing firm, Syndacast, video marketing trends indicate that 74 percent of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video.

Syndacast also reported that:

  • 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
  • Video is the preferred communication style for customers. Start converting text-based information into video-based.
  • 65 percent of video viewers watch more than three-quarters of a video.
  • 33 percent of tablet owners watch one hour of video per day on their devices.

Video is not created equally and is available on several platforms. Options range from 15-second Instagram videos and live broadcasting on Periscope to six seconds of content on Vine and the unlimited flexibility of YouTube. Video is among the most effective marketing platforms available to companies.

The potential usage of this marketing tactic not only has the ability to display the company's strong suits, but can help attract and maintain consumers, as the messages would have a farther reach to multigenerational patrons.

Content captured through video delivers an interactive message that generates a higher degree of engagement. What's more, video content can easily be shared digitally among fans' personal pages. Already, loyal customers have the capability to express excitement and instantly become brand ambassadors with the click of a link. Through this sharing, those potential customers not previously exposed to the property gain meaningful exposure. Videos are powerful and instant.

A mobile-friendly experience through a comprehensive loyalty program and a far-reaching marketing plan will attract and maintain customers for 2016, and beyond.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Gordon is Senior Vice President of Sales at Rymax Marketing Services, a full-service loyalty marketing provider in the incentive industry solely focused on creating programs and events to drive ROI through brand name rewards. For 20 years organizations partnered with Rymax have seen an increase in employee performance and retention, customer loyalty and overall revenue. For more information, visitt www.rymaxinc.com.