The Time For A US Coalition Loyalty Attempt Is Now

Emily Collins

Coalition loyalty programs that let consumers earn and redeem a single currency across multiple partners have historically failed to gain traction in the US. Why? The fragmented footprint of potential partners, proliferation of single-brand loyalty programs, and reluctance of brands to share customer data hampered hopeful coalition operators' efforts.

We analyzed the market opportunity for these types of programs in 2013, predicting that: "Given the time it takes to amass partners and consumer scale, we expect it to be at least another two years before a large-scale coalition is established in the US market." Well, it looks like we were spot on. Today, American Express announced that they will be launching a US coalition program later this Spring. The program, called Plenti, will debut with seven partners including Macy's, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Rite Aid.

American Express is well positioned for success as it has experience managing both proprietary and coalition loyalty through its own Membership Rewards program and the Payback coalition program (in Germany, Poland, and India). And while it's not clear yet how member data will be managed, the program launch creates an opportunity for participating partners to embrace adaptive intelligence and deepen their customer understanding and business growth. But, announcing and actually executing coalition loyalty at scale are two separate things. The true test for Plenti begins in May when consumers begin to enroll and use the program.

Enterprise Marketing Vendors Raise Their "A" Game

Rusty Warner

A = Analytics (or more precisely, customer analytics).

At its Summit in Salt Lake City this week, Adobe unveiled new analytics functionality for its Marketing Cloud. Taking a granular view of real-time analytics, Adobe is differentiating requirements for live stream (instantaneous) data vs high frequency metrics (10 seconds) vs current data (90 to 180 seconds) and more traditional customer analytics, such as segments (20 minutes), site visits (30 minutes), data feeds to a warehouse (1 hour), and long-term reports (days). The goal is to shift today’s reporting paradigm via more ad hoc analysis, while adding machine learning capabilities for continuous optimization.

One week previously in San Francisco, Salesforce launched Predictive Decisions for its Marketing Cloud. Focused on personalized campaign execution, the enhanced Salesforce functionality promises to empower marketers by harnessing the power of data science.  The primary components are a collect beacon to stream real-time content updates and user behavior to marketing apps, new workflow automation to trigger data-driven campaigns, and predictive decisions to personalize offers based on conversion propensity.

Read more

Chinese Enterprises Should Revamp Their Loyalty Programs

Gene Cao

Firms in China focus on improving customers’ awareness of their brand and increasing their market share. Most of the Chinese marketers I spoke with for my latest customer loyalty research have built frequent-buyer programs that dish out lots of points and coupons but don’t do nearly enough to positively affect customer retention. Such fixed, one-dimensional frequent-buyer programs do not create deep connections between the brand and its target customers. Chinese enterprises must revamp their loyalty programs and use digital to introduce more experimental rewards throughout the customer life cycle. To raise the maturity level of loyalty programs in the digital era, Chinese enterprises should:

  • Integrate customer loyalty into digital strategies. Most Chinese firms lack the ability to analyze digital data and apply it to loyalty programs or campaigns. A top Chinese bank has launched a digital strategy to move frequent users from branch offices to online channels. However, its loyalty programs are not yet able to analyze digital customer data and integrate it into marketing campaigns. Inconsistent campaigns in different channels can confuse regular users.
  • Combine customer data management from digital channels. Chinese social media platforms like Sina Weibo and WeChat are opening more application programming interfaces to allow organizations to access data about customer location and behavior, but firms do not manage this data well. A Chinese airline has created public WeChat accounts to serve customers, but does not integrate the data collected from WeChat into its internal database.
Read more

Decisions, decisions...

Rusty Warner

We all know that empowered customers expect brands to deliver contextually relevant experiences based on their individual preferences for content, timing, location, and channel(s). How do customer insights (CI) professionals decide the appropriate course of action – not just for a single customer, but for all customers? How do they then execute on those decisions and measure the impact? Systems of engagement like Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM) provide answers.

Forrester defines RTIM as: Enterprise marketing technology that delivers contextually relevant experiences, value, and utility at the appropriate moment in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints. In my latest brief “Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management,” I explore evolving RTIM requirements.

The five keys to implementing RTIM as part of your contextual marketing engine are:

1.      Customer recognition - Engagement based on individual identity resolution

2.      Contextual understanding – Persona analysis with real-time behavior and external data

3.      Decision arbitration – Next-best-action based on advanced analytics

Read more

Are you a loyalty company?

Emily Collins

A version of this post originally appeared on AdAge.

It's harder than ever to earn your customers' loyalty. They are "always on," have instant access to myriad choices, and can easily find the cheapest prices from any supplier. Many companies think they've solved this with a loyalty program, but the competition is stiff there, too. On average, consumers belong to eight loyalty programs -- the majority of which are ruled by points, discounts and financial rewards. And let's face it: These transactional benefits are more about increasing frequency and spend than influencing emotional loyalty and devotion to a company.

The bad news? Traditional approaches to loyalty don't cut it anymore.

The good news? I'm not going to tell you to scrap your loyalty program. But, in my new report on customer loyalty, I am going to tell you to reframe how you think about your program. It should be treated as one of several tools -- alongside customer experience, brand and customer service -- that helps foster customer loyalty wherever customers interact.

Be A Loyalty Company, Not Just A Company With A Loyalty Program

Truly great loyalty strategies create a meaningful exchange of value between the company and the customer. This exchange encourages customers to share all kinds of profile, preference and behavioral data. And the insights derived from that customer knowledge have broad applications for all customer-facing strategies, and should radiate out across the enterprise to do the following:

Read more

Can people change markets?

Fatemeh Khatibloo

As many of you know, the customer insights practice at Forrester traditionally focuses on the collection, management, analysis, and use of customer data to business practices. Over the past few years, I've been writing research about the changing face of the "collection" and "use" parts of that equation -- that is, how privacy and personal identity and data management tools will change marketers' access to consumer data, and how they're allowed to use the information they do have. Now I'm taking this research a step further.  

I've just started examining the history and future of consumer-driven market shifts, and would love to interview you if you have a position on this, theoretically or practically.

The hypothesis:

Read more

If you can't beat 'em...

Rusty Warner

Yesterday SAP formally launched its hybris Marketing Solution, hailing it as “the industry’s first contextual marketing platform.” Customers will welcome the new functionality, which SAP has highlighted in roadmap presentations during the past year.  Claims of being first-to-market, however, fall short. First to offer an analytics suite for marketers? SAS Institute may disagree. First to leverage marketing analytics with eCommerce? IBM may challenge the claim. First with an enterprise customer data management platform? Teradata has offered data-driven marketing for years. First to integrate marketing with sales and service? Oracle and Salesforce.com may have differing views. Even marketing vendors that SAP lists as launch partners – Adobe and Marketo – would likely disagree with SAP’s first-mover claims, for both B2C and B2B environments.

Read more

Digital Initiatives Expose Gaps In Customer Analytics Capabilities

Michael Barnes

In my last blog post I outlined Forrester’s key customer insights (CI) predictions for 2015. Now I’d like to drill down into some of the key barriers to CI effectiveness we’re seeing among Asia Pacific-based organizations. This content was pulled from my recently published report, which Forrester clients can access here.

Core competencies of effective CI pros have typically centered on customer segmentation and campaign performance measurement. When extending these capabilities to digital marketing strategies, the goal is typically to enable more effective customer acquisition and onboarding by extending reach. In other words, digital innovation often simply means “better campaigns.”

But what happens once that process is complete? It’s not enough to have a world-class digital capability for acquiring new customers. Empowered customers expect the same type of seamless experience, improved efficiency, and heightened responsiveness in all subsequent interactions with your brand.

So why so many firms struggling to realize the full potential of customer analytics to effectively serve and retain their customers? I’ll give you four reasons:

Read more

Why I Believe That "Listening Technologies Won't Become A Major Marketing Technology In 2015"

Allison Smith

Social listening is really cool. I think about it, talk about it, and care about it full-time. But I'm hyperaware that at most organizations, the impact of social data is...blah. Social  data analyts have the data and the skill to answer some of the toughest questions that the business asks: "What do consumers want?" "How can we aquire more customers?" "Where can we cut costs?"

BUT, because their tools and strategic initatives relegate social to a function of customer service or PR, social analytics limps along, year after year, triaging crises, and pleading for money and influence in the organization, with limited success.

IN TRUTH, 2015 could be the year for listening technologies to become major marketing technologies. IF vendors can truly make legitimate integrations work, and can come up with real business metrics (read: not fan and follower, or even "engagement" counts). AND IF marketers can put serious strategy behind unpacking the insights that come out of social networks. But, nothing I've heard from either side of the aisle makes me think that we're going to see breakthrough in 2015. 

Read "Listening Technologies Won't Become A Major Marketing Technology In 2015" report, tell me what you think in the comments or on Twitter. I'm @allsnsmth. 

Apply Social Listening To The Entire Organization

Gene Cao

Chinese organizations started monitoring social media for purposes of PR crisis management. As I noted in an earlier report, Spring Airlines decided to build social listening functions to identify crises and perform basic brand tracking after struggling with a public relations crisis — the backlash from airline staff blacklisting a passenger for complaining about flight delays — on Sina Weibo in 2012. Like Spring Airlines, most Chinese organizations now hire social media monitoring specialists and leverage insights drawn from social data to support marketing functions like optimizing marketing campaigns in real time, measuring the results of social campaigns, and collecting ratings and reviews from customers.

Moving forward, some early adopters in China have applied social listening to broader business functions in their organizations, including customer service, sales, distribution, and product innovation. In my most recent report, I see that these early birds have achieved benefits including:

  • Optimized customer experience in marketing campaigns. A leading beverage company used a social listening platform to analyze consumer sentiments and shorten response times in China. Its marketing team created an in-house social marketing benchmark system, instantly analyzes customer behavior, and modifies its marketing campaigns based on that analysis.
Read more