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2016 Planning: A Focus on Customer Loyalty

As we enter the fourth and final quarter of the year, marketers are looking back at the year’s marketing activities to evaluate results and begin planning for the year to come.

The competition in today’s marketplace is higher than ever before. With technology growing at the rate that it is, your potential customers have the world at their fingertips. As you make plans for 2016, how do you go about securing them as a returning customer for your business?

Power Shift — The Customer is in Control

The marketplace has undergone a major shift over the last 10 years. Whereas companies once held the power to determine what products, and even what industries, customers would gravitate towards, the customers have now stepped into that position of power.
The recession that developed in recent years threw off the balance of supply and demand in the marketplace. Companies used to be able to manufacture and distribute their goods without concern over whether or not their sales numbers would line up. However, the change in the economy caused these numbers to begin fluctuating immensely as customers’ buying habits were influenced by the poor economy.

Multi-Channel-BuyersToday, customers have learned how to use the extensive technology available to shop the world-wide marketplace and make more informed choices. They are no longer restricted by the dominance of suppliers. This has left the marketplace under the control of the customer.

Today’s ease of internet access and the abilities of mobile devices connect customers to a wealth of information. Forresters’ recent research shows:

95% of US online adults used consumer online rating and review sites to research products or services.*

23% of US online adults say they check on their phones in store to compare prices — “showrooming” — and 41% of those consumers ended up buying somewhere else.**

41% of US online adults used smartphones throughout the day — up from 17% just three years earlier.*

* Forrester’s North American Consumer Technographics® Online Benchmark Survey, 2014.

** Forrester’s North American Consumer Technographics® Retail Survey, 2014.

Become Customer Centric in 2016

With this change in marketplace, how can companies adapt in order to remain competitive and continue winning customers? It is imperative for businesses to recognize this shift of power and become completely focused on the customer. As stated in the recent Forrester report, Winning In The Age Of The Customer, Loyalty, “programs can enhance the value of business insights, because they generate data that helps enable making the right offer at just the right moment.”

Engage, Keep and Grow Customer Loyalty

A loyalty program provides you with valuable information on the needs and buying habits of your customers. In addition consumers embrace them.

      • 76% of Americans think that loyalty programs are part of their relationships with brands.
      • 34% of customers say they would not be loyal to the brand if it weren’t for the brand’s loyalty program.
      • 50% of marketers said they routinely apply data to engage consumers.

tumblr_lqyroptAO01qku1t1-300x300 Let’s look of some of the benefits of a loyalty program can help you identify, differentiate, communicate and respond quickly to the changing consumer needs, preferences and buying process.

Loyalty Programs Help You Retain Customers
The success of any business is founded on a faithful customer base. No company can remain stable if they are entirely dependent upon a new customer for every sale. A loyalty program can help to ensure that your customers return to you again and again.

Loyalty Programs Help You Meet More Of Your Customer’s Needs
A loyalty program gives you insight into your customer’s buying habits. This allows you to address their wants and needs more directly, which leads to an increase in cross sell and upsell ratios.

Loyalty Programs Help You Gather Customer Data
The data collected from customer loyalty programs enables you to create targeted, personalized communications. The right email sent to the right customer, at the right time, highlighting a product or service you already know they are interested in will be opened, read and more than likely acted upon. Experian’s email marketing study found that personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates, but 70 percent of the brands failed to personalize their email messages.

Loyalty Programs Enable You To Win Back Lost Customers
It is always easier to regain a lost customer than it is to create a new customer. The information collected through loyalty programs makes this possible by giving you information about your customer’s past purchase history, where and how to reach them, as well as their preferred communication channel. That data gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors.

While so many aspects of business are out of your control, a focus on becoming customer centric is in your power. Implementing a customer loyalty program is one of the strategies you can use to engage, keep and grow customers in today’s highly competitive marketplace.