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A New Approach to Online Customer Loyalty

Two companies are joining forces and changing they way that most of us thing about online customer loyalty. If you are like me, you have not heard about Bazaarvoice or Badgville, but the firms that these two companies serve are nothing short of everyday recognizable brands – Samsung, NBC, Interscope Records, Deloitte Digital, Best Buy, Blue Shield of California, Costco, Dell, Macy’s, P&G, Panasonic, QVC, and the list goes on.

Traditional customer loyalty programs reward customers for buying by offering a future discount. Bazaarvoice and Badgville are collaborating to change this notion in a way that is more valuable for customers, as well as businesses. Bazaraavoice, with a network of more than 260 billion customer conversations across the world is working with Badgeville to implement “game mechanics” to provide reputation and social loyalty programs in an effort to increase contribution of customer-generated content and online social sharing. This is the new form of online customer loyalty – increase consumer interaction with the brand (on a times per customer and total number of customer basis), and create brand advocates in a new and innovative way who will create content and advertise for you using arguably the most powerful form of advertising- word of mouth.

The collaboration seeks to accomplish this in three main ways:

1) Increase onsite engagement with gaming campaigns. This gets customers to interact with a company’s site, and results in new products and service discoveries, finding helpful articles and reviews, and encouraging people to share recommendations with friends.

2) Create additional brand advocates by enabling customers to establish an on-site reputation. This drives loyal behaviors and reinforces trust and credibility. Using game mechanics, firms provide incentives for customers to interact, rating products, writing reviews, and blog.

3) Reward loyal customers by recognizing the most “loyal” customers (not necessarily those that buy, but those that spread the word) with achievements and reputation rewards, such as badges and placement on leaderboards. Ultimately this ties game campaign metrics to loyalty programs, and loyal customers are rewarded for creating content about product purchases and social product sharing.

Early results show up to a 200% increase in business objectives such as online content creation and social sharing of brands. As for businesses and marketers, they can tap it to this by hiring these companies, but more importantly gain a new perspective on loyalty programs, and exactly what a “loyal customer” looks like, and how they act. From a financial perspective, this makes a lot of sense – firms create more value without discounting, engage more people and engage them in a deeper way than what traditional loyalty programs aim for.