Thursday, October 30, 2014

Playing "The Zone": a new way to look at loyalty marketing.

I was recently rereading the 2013 Loyalty Manifesto from Loyalty Truth and there was one term that popped out to me because I hadn’t seen it before: “contextual loyalty”. It was coined by Loyalty Truth to describe the current loyalty landscape where, due to the emergence of mobile and social media, there are now a number of ways that your company or brand can engage with customers—and customers can engage with you.
The manifesto cited several key components of this new contextual loyalty, but for me this aspect stood out:
(Contextual loyalty) shifts the focus of customer engagement from channels and networks, the implied emphasis of Social Loyalty, to flexibly meet the customer wherever they are.
Flexibly” meet the customer wherever they are? It’s a far cry from loyalty marketing of just a decade ago, where the points of contact between customer and company were few and far between—and usually limited to me sending you a piece of snail mail or e-mail and you connecting with me at my place of business, be it online or at a bricks-and-mortar establishment.
Today, of course, we have the ability to engage with customers virtually around the clock, via a number of different devices and in a number of different ways. It got me thinking of a sports analogy: these days, effective loyalty marketing is really about playing “zone defense”, making sure your customer is covered at all times.
Not familiar with “zone defense”? It’s a phrase used in sports, most commonly football and basketball. It means that each player on your team covers a specific area of the field or court, and guards his or her opponent whenever they venture into their ‘zone”.
In this case, think of each zone as a different potential customer touch point or engagement opportunity. These zones exist anywhere your customers might encounter your company or brand, and could include:
  • your company’s locations, both in-store and online
  • social media venues, like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter
  • location-based apps like Foursquare and Google Places
  • push vehicles like snail mail and e-mail
Wherever your customer ventures into a zone (and in most cases, you should have a presence in all the places mentioned above), you need to be sure that customer is “covered”—and have the right messaging and response mechanisms in place to both recognize and engage that customer. It amounts to a 360-degree approach to loyalty that makes the most out of every company/customer encounter.
I was reminded recently of a company that makes the most of every customer touch point: Disney World. In discussing the theme park’s merits, a noted architect suggested that it was “a perfect experience”, one that “surrounds you at every possible moment”. And isn’t that what we should also be aiming for in loyalty marketing, “a perfect experience that surrounds you at every moment”?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Good Influence: taking word-of-mouth and supercharging it.

As a Loyalty Redefined reader, you may already be aware of the importance of identifying and nurturing “brand advocates”—that core group of customers who are so pleased with your products or services that they tell others about it. What makes brand advocates so valuable? Their ability to boost sales.
It has long been established that word-of-mouth advertising, where I tell friends and acquaintances about your product or service, is more likely to lead to a sale than paid advertising. And today, with the proliferation of social media, there are more ways than ever for your brand advocates to spread the good word, creating social loyalty, if you will.
That’s where Zapitude, a small company out of New Jersey, came up with a simple, but smart idea: What if you used the power of social networking to “amplify” the word-of-mouth of satisfied customers, enabling brand advocates to spread their word further and more powerfully than ever? It’s the concept behind their social media platform Good Influence.
Make a purchase at a site that uses Good Influence and, along with your order confirmation, you’ll see an iframe that invites you to share your purchase with the social media vehicle of your choice—be it Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etcetera. The greater your social reach, the greater your potential value as a brand advocate.
But that’s just part of the Good Influence story. I talked to the company’s founder, Dan Lynn, and he believes there are two key attributes that set the platform apart:
  1. The flexibility to test outgoing messages in real time to see which are pulling the most shares and click-throughs—allowing them to tweak the messaging as they go to maximize effectiveness.
  2. The ability to monitor what Lynn calls the “ripple effect” and measure just how far a customer’s social media posting travels and how their activities result in additional sales downstream.
Additionally, Good Influence has the ability to attach points to social media activities and reward customers for sharing, as well as engagement and conversions that result from that sharing. So marketers can potentially use the platform to create an old-school-style loyalty program with a tier-based reward system based on the total number of points a customer accumulates.
The platform generates a ton of data that helps identify which brand advocates have the highest value. For instance, if a customer named John makes a $10 purchase, Good Influence can tell you his connections bought in say $100 worth of incremental sales, while their connections bought in an additional $85 in sales. So, while John is a $10 customer, in this case he brought in $195-plus in sales through his social currency.
One example of the Good Influence platform in action is a recent campaign for Office Depot’s 2013 “Back to School” effort. Office Depot partnered with the pop group One Direction in a “Together Against Bullying” campaign that asked fans to get out an anti-bullying message via tweets, Instagram messages and Facebook shares. The top 50 fans, based on who drove the most total clicks to a contest Web page, were rewarded with special campaign merchandise.
The results: Over 10 million visits to the campaign Web page and almost 500 million impressions driven across social and digital channels. It also resulted in an increase in Office Depot sales, while potentially creating a large new group of Office Depot customers. (Admittedly, it helps when your campaign features the world’s most popular teen pop band, but the results were impressive nonetheless!)
Stop and think about your brand or the brand you work for. Are you making the most of your brand advocates? Is there a way to make them an even more powerful selling tool than they already are?