Just when many brands thought they had customer loyalty figured out with new technology and the ability to capture data, Dave Andreadakis, Kobie’s Chief Innovation Officer, suggests there may be something just as important that marketers need to do. Kobie is a recognized industry leader in customer loyalty strategy, platform development and program management, serving brands across travel, hospitality, retail, and financial services verticals.
“They need to relearn the customer,” says Andreadakis, the Chief Innovation Officer at Kobie Marketing. His organization has a lot of clients right now that are looking at their data models that they. have used for years and realizing they do not quite work anymore.
“They need to add more information — or go get new data points or kind of reset the baseline — because of covid,” he says. “In an industry like airlines, you know they’ve got customers who’ve been absent for a while, and it’s causing those customers to rethink a little bit.”
It is the same for a customer who is paying an annual fee on a credit card they have not used in a while. He says many consumers are questioning why they have the card and why it is attached to that specific airline.
Dipping a Toe Back in the Water
“You’ve got customers who are dipping their toe back in the water, and they’re trying to ask themselves, ‘Is now the time to switch airlines and go somewhere else and maybe start a new life under a new path to executive platinum or whatever,’” Andreadakis says. “Everyone is quickly trying to figure out who their customers are, who are the loyal ones, and what does it take to bring them back in.”
Contrary to what some in the loyalty industry may say, Andreadakis says, “points do matter, and discounts do matter,” because we are all motivated in our “consumeristic society to accumulate things and create piles of good things that we’re earning towards.” But he says the emotional loyalty component is a concept that creates long-term loyalty and is more meaningful for a consumer relationship.
“What we like to do is we take a very balanced approach to understand what motivates customers in both of those spheres to understand what behaviorally drives them, but also thinking about the emotions,” he says.
Triple Play of Data
Kobie Marketing’s approach is to break it down into what they call a “triple play of data.” While the emotional data is used by the company to score a customer’s loyalty through purchases, Andreadakis also says behavioral data is essential. This type of data helps the brand understand what is happening between customer transactions, and more importantly, what can be derived about the customer. The third set of data — transactional data — gives brands a good baseline read and lets them draw insights. The three components are vital.
“No matter what’s happening — whether you’re applying that to loyalty, CRM, or if you’re just trying to create a better experience — that stuff tells you more about what’s happening with the customer,” Andreadakis says. “And it shows the changes they’re going through more than most of the segmentations that end up being hard to recreate over time. Ongoing, continuous harvesting of those three different types of data will help set brands up for success.”
The biggest change that Andreadakis says Kobie has seen over the last few years is the notion that membership was for a brand’s best customers and simply a retention tool to keep those ‘best customers’ from going somewhere else. In order to deliver the best possible customer lifetime value, he says a brand’s loyalty program should address all customer needs and be available to everyone at a brand.
Customers Want to be Rewarded for Actions
“If it is not, then the program isn’t designed right,” Andreadakis says. “Every customer wants to be true to you. Every customer wants to be rewarded for their action. Every customer wants to give you information to make their experience better. And there’s nothing better in a company’s entire portfolio than a loyalty program to do that.”
The key is capturing the consumer data and then activating it. Andreadakis points out that some brands face difficulties when collecting data and turning it into useful first-party data. He says these issues may stem from the traditional view on loyalty programs, which suggests they are just a way to string customers together from transaction to transaction. However, nearly everyone has a digital presence now, so loyalty is doing more than merely serving a narrow purpose.
“The onus is not just that we have access to the data, but that we’ve captured it and activated it and turned it into something that’s unique and interesting,” Andreadakis says. “It’s about optimizing engagement between the transactions, which might happen infrequently.”
Impression, Impression, Impression
Case-in-point: with so many younger adults online and using apps like Tik-Tok and Snapchat, they are often bombarded with information, or as Andreadakis says, “impression, impression, impression, impression, impression.”
“Brands are burning images into the head so quickly that a weekly shopping trip seems like a lifetime in between,” he says. “You have to get at those customers and engage with them in meaningful ways that are not intrusive to their lives. Brands need to apply the drivers, which are all the things they know about the customer, back to the customer and amplify and impact the marketing performance throughout the entire organization with that data.”
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