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Loyalty Live: Baesman Talks Personalization and Customer Loyalty


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Baesman is a customer loyalty technology provider and agency that helps brands better understand their customers and offers support as they build more personalized relationships with them. Baesman has a diverse portfolio of clients, several of which are leaders in the retail and healthcare industries.

With retail brands searching for innovative ways to differentiate themselves, understanding customer preferences and delivering the right message “in the moment” is critical. By leveraging customer data and developing targeted campaigns, brands can deliver communications, offers, and rewards that truly resonate with customers.

Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Kim Welther, Vice President of CRM & Loyalty at Baesman, about customer loyalty and how personalization leads to a better customer experience. Welther worked for various customer loyalty agencies before arriving at Baesman and now oversees Baesman’s CRM and Loyalty Agency Division.

Personalization at Scale
As brands seek to build the right personalization strategy into their customer loyalty programs, it’s imperative that they evaluate the resources available to them as well as the ability to implement initiatives at scale. A planful approach allows brands to target when, through what channel, and with what tailored communications they want to send to their customers.

“Right now, we’re focused on personalization at scale for brands and trying to unlock the right message at the right time,” says Welther. “Every brand we work with is in a different stage of that journey, and we’ve been working on building out the best strategy for them to reach that next step.”

With a focus on the individual customer experience, brands can zero in on personalized rewards and benefits that enhance the customer journey at each and every touchpoint. This level of personalization requires proactively listening to customers and giving them a voice in how they want to receive communications from the brand.

“If we're emailing a customer all the time, and if that customer hasn't opened those emails, we need to stop talking to them in that channel. We need to prioritize the channel of engagement for that customer,” explains Welther. “We’re assisting brands as they build that customer journey at that individual customer level, which can drive customer savings, build a deeper connection and ultimately drive more sales for that brand.”

Staying Ahead of the Curve on Loyalty Trends
Customer loyalty is a rapidly evolving industry with new technology and strategies being tested by brands with varying degrees of success. Welther has two takeaways from her experience in the loyalty industry that can give brands an edge over the competition while building a strong foundation for further loyalty success.

First, she notes that there has been a shift in organizational structure, as brands place a greater emphasis on the parts and pieces that help build a cohesive customer loyalty strategy.

“I’m seeing that the structure of the organizations handling loyalty and marketing has been divided by channels,” explains Welther. “So, you have more leadership roles for heads of Ecommerce or Digital and new titles like Chief Customer Officer, which allow brands to make the move to putting the customer first.”

This division of labor allows teams to prioritize customer needs while having dedicated resources focus on specific channels and customer touchpoints, each of which may require nuanced expertise, such as email, mobile, web, and in-store experience. This organizational evolution can be tied back to the need for a greater focus on personalization, which in turn will enhance brand trust and reputation.

Welther notes another significant loyalty trend — the pivotal role of personalized marketing versus mass communications. A one-size-fits-all approach sacrifices the data collected from individuals to appeal to the masses, making the loyalty program less attractive when that technology could be otherwise leveraged to make a more tailored experience.

"There are a lot of points within the customer journey that the more personalized marketing approach is critical,” says Welther. “Some of those moments might be influencing their next purchase, so how do we incentivize that second purchase? Or it could be focusing on those storytelling moments around loyalty programs and informing members of those benefits.”

Balancing these aspects within a loyalty program is imperative for organizations to improve customer engagement and brand trust, especially in highly competitive verticals such as retail.



Recognizing and Addressing Multiple Challenges
While some brands are adjusting their organizational structures to allow for a unified loyalty team and cohesive strategy, many still suffer from "brand silos." These silos can result in disconnected messaging and lack of consistency across channels, causing confusion among customers and ultimately leading to a subpar customer experience.

“There needs to be a brand shift that moves to customer-centric marketing,” explains Welther. “Brands need to deliver on that true personalization that puts customers first, above the marketing plan.”

The next challenge is personalization at scale. If a brand is targeting and communicating with consumers through various channels, such as email, social, web, in-app, etc., managing the logistics and operations of delivering a consistent message can suddenly create a lot of work for a company’s branding, creative, and marketing teams. Welther advises brands to understand this process is a challenge, so start simple, focus on execution, and work to scale at a gradual pace.    

Preference Centers & Data Collection
When it comes to loyalty, gathering the right customer data is critical as it allows brands to develop a personal touch for each loyalty member. Preference centers embedded within a brand’s website or mobile app can be an easy way to allow customers to add more information about themselves, select their relevant interests, and indicate preferred communication channels and cadence.

"Preference centers are amazing ways to learn more about loyalty customers,” says Welther. “The challenge with preference centers is that we're asking customers to take action, and there is just a large portion of customers that won't. Every marketer wants people to use the preference center. A best practice strategy is to always leverage the preference center first, then the data, and then the rest is testing other methods to see what works.”

Brands also must work on leveraging different channels to communicate effectively with customers, even though they may not indicate they prefer a particular method of communication.

“For example, let’s say the challenge is in email engagement, and we know if they haven’t purchased any items through email campaigns, we have to quickly pivot to digital SMS and direct mail to drive customer engagement,” says Welther.

Benefits of Zero-Party Data
Collecting data is critical to any brand’s loyalty program success. However, when it comes to collecting data, customers may not be as forthcoming as companies would like.

“It’s important to set expectations,” explains Welther. “We won’t ever see 80% of customers going and filling out a preference center. Any level of collection from a preference center is a success.”

Loyalty programs are great ways for brands to learn more about their customers, but there must be a value exchange, or reason for customers to share more about themselves. Offering points, giveaways, or adding gamification into the app can draw more engagement and data collection. Transparency — explaining to customers how the data will be used to benefit them — can help entice customers to fill out profile details, surveys, and share more about their interests with a brand.

Furthermore, brands that circle back to reconfirm the information customers have provided throughout their journey will better ensure they are still delivering relevant messages. Brands that understand all this and rely on other forms of information outside of the preference center will find more success in data collection.

Gamification & Customer Engagement
Every brand is looking for new ways to engage customers and keep them involved between and beyond transactions. Gamification elements such as trivia games, spin to wins, or scratch-offs can be fun for members to earn points or other rewards.

“I think gamification should be considered,” says Welther. “I think the quick win is to start the journey and start testing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so rolling out without testing can be very dangerous. Start simple, start small, and then you can grow into it.”

All these tools and strategies are important to consider before making large-scale changes to a loyalty program. However, being cautious about leveraging new technology can leave brands behind.

"In the hunt for personalization, your strategy has to involve a more one-on-one journey. Automation is critical. If a brand is faced with data, creative, or execution challenges, you can't let that be the reason to stay behind.”


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