Tuesday, 29 December 2009

2010 Loyalty Marketing Predictions

janus Technology moves ever quicker with a new set of doors opening at an increasing pace.

It would make sense then as we enter January - named after Janus, the Roman god of gates and doors - to look forward to the new year and consider the possible trends which might make it into our marketing programmes.

There is a theme in these predictions (which wasn’t intentional) and it all ties to this first one…

#1 - A stitch in time…

The web is moving real-time. As more and more people get immersed in social networks like Twitter and Facebook they are getting used to information having a best before date. Witness the latest deals that both Google and Bing have done to bring real time search to the masses. Now typing in “snow UK” in Google brings up results which are actually useful – a weather report (and twitter reports from seconds ago) of the current snow conditions.

What does this mean for marketing programmes? Well it means that monthly emails or quarterly newsletters are going to be perceived as quaint at best. In 2010 you’ll need to make sure you have something to say and say it fast. Better still get someone else to say it for you…

#2 – Many hands make [profitable] work

Loyalty programmes still see individuals when in fact individuals actually see groups. Whether that group is you and your partner or your family, your friends or co-workers, we are all part of many different groups which we interact with in different ways.

Opening up the programmes to allow interaction within these groups will provide additional word of mouth opportunities as well as increased loyalty. Indeed, a recent white paper by Colloquy entitled The New Champion Customers found that heavy users of loyalty programmes are over 50% more likely to be word of mouth champions (meaning they are both willing and able to recommend).

What was also interesting from the research was that 2 of the top 5 reasons for WOM participation were “to be first” and “to share my opinion” – both of which become more empowered by real-time communications – whether this is the brand sharing the latest information with the member or the member sharing it with friends.

Expect to see this utilised more in programmes in 2010 as brands truly look to unlock the social value within their loyalty membership.

#3 – What goes around, comes around

I find it interesting that everyone is now talking about real-time information and the “push” based services to deliver them. I’ve been around a while so I remember back in the heady days of the “information super high-way” companies like PointCast were going to deliver this dream – but then ultimately failed due to the technology of the time not being quite as good as the idea.

The same was true of net computers (NCs). Essentially a device for doing not much more than browsing – they were much feted when the idea was first announced by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison back in 1995 – only to disappear in 2000 and then reappear as the popular gadget of 2009 in the form of the Net Book. We’re likely to see further interest in these in 2010 with the (possible) launch of the much hyped Apple Tablet.

From a marketers perspective you could say the same thing about 1 to 1 marketing. Much hyped when it was first published back in 1993, both technology and available data didn’t really allow it to be fully supported. This has changed though and personalised one to one communications are possible – not just in terms of content but also delivery channel and frequency with providers like Silverpop gaining increasing accolades.

Might be time to take the book back off the shelf - expect to see more programmes bringing this onboard in 2010.

#4 – It’s the taking part that counts

I’ve blogged about it for most of this year and was writing about it back in 2006 - but interaction is the new transaction in loyalty. Wrapping it up under “Engagement” with the 4i’s of involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence – Forrester consider this the new Marketing Metric. As they say in their white paper:-

“Companies also need to track individuals who influence
others to buy. For example, a customer who buys very little from you but always rates and reviews what she buys can be just as valuable as someone who buys a lot — her reviews might influence 100 other people to buy your product. Tracking only transactions and loyalty at the end of the funnel misses this significant element of influence”.

I know this is only going to get bigger in 2010 and don’t be surprised to see reward programmes giving out points and miles just for the taking part.

#5 – Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

In loyalty marketing it is well known that redeemers are the most active, loyal and generally profitable customers – so getting people to redeem is always key.

Digital redemptions can really help in this respect as an e-voucher for example can be despatched immediately, letting points in an account be translated into a reward in their hand within seconds. More and more merchants are beginning to see the value of these with many allowing e-voucher codes to be used both on and offline.

These are popular reward items not only because of the immediacy of them but also because of the cost effective fulfilment – no postage, no handling, no security storage. Loyalty programmes are clamouring for these and in 2010 I bet more merchants will be clamouring to provide them.

Agree, disagree – if you want to add more feel free to comment.

Ghost of Christmas Past… To see what I thought would be happening in 2009 – and whether I got any of them right, check out last years post.

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