Oracle, in partnership with Shaw/Scott and Movable Ink, recently published a three-part whitepaper series titled “Retail Loyalty in the Midst of a Pandemic” that illustrates current conditions and trends that impact consumer behavior and retail loyalty due to COVID-19. The series also introduces measures brands can take right now to foster customer loyalty and maintain customer interaction as consumers continue to explore their new world across digital media.
This blog post takes a close look at the second installment from the series, “Creating Authentic Connections,” with three steps brands should follow when online experiences mean so much.
1. Rethink customer data
Knowing your audience—what’s new about that topic? In a word, “COVID”. The pandemic has changed the way consumers shop and what they now expect from a good shopping experience. A study by Boston Consulting Group finds that consumers are “110% likelier to add additional items to their basket when a shopping experience was highly personalized and 40% likelier to spend more than originally planned.”
To stand out from the competition, brands can benefit from capturing customer data and investing in personalization. Smart organizations continue to adopt new tools and techniques to streamline data flow from multiple digital sources so that a single, fresh view provides more precise customer engagement.
Prioritizing key performance indicator reviews pre- and post-COIVD can uncover shifts in buying behavior, help predict the unexpected sales peaks and troughs, and identify when new markets emerge. Data gathered through activities including email engagement, webinar attendance, and customer-care logs also provide valuable insights into consumer behaviors.
Solutions such as Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement help brands incentivize and collect customer spend and engagement data across all brand touchpoints through loyalty programs. Armed with this rich first-party data, brands can personalize the customer experience with relevant communications, promotions, and product recommendations. This not only drives spend but also demonstrates an understanding of customers’ behaviors and habits. When a customer feels understood, it deepens their connection to the brand.
2. Foster trust without selling
Supply chains went haywire in 2020 and still face challenges with inventory and delivery, making it more difficult for brands to earn trust. But transparency and proactive communication about shortages, availabilities, and shipping information can help.
As noted in the whitepaper, upscale leather retailer Anson Calder circumvented potential dissatisfaction from customers experiencing late deliveries due to supply issues by offering them gift cards in advance. Fittingly, an organization can find additional customer insight and engender more personalization when internal teams operate with the same proactivity and share customer data among sales, marketing, and customer service.
Another opportunity for brands to earn trust is through corporate responsibility, especially under the new light of COVID. TOMS Shoes, for example, leverages its loyalty program to communicate its brand values and community initiatives. As part of the program’s rewards offering, they provide members with the opportunity to redeem 10 points per dollar to donate to organizations helping with COVID-19 response. This gives TOMS Rewards program members the ability to support causes by spending and engaging with the brand, and it demonstrates that TOMS aligns with the values that are important to their customers.
3. Communicate value creatively—the sticking point
Brands earn loyalty (and market share) when they are top-of-mind for consumers, and content can inform and maintain engagement with customers between sales. An effective content strategy requires investment in tracking customer interests and needs, and an understanding of how to promote across programs, campaigns, and channels. Consider interactive media, educational angles, and attention-grabbing data visualization to illustrate value.
Brands such as Sleep Number incentivize their customers to take surveys and polls in their Inner Circle loyalty program. They ask questions such as “How often do you change your pillows?” and share the results with customers. They also use this data to inform content such as blog posts that educate their customers on how to get better sleep. Members can then earn points by reading the content. This approach helps position Sleep Number as sleep health experts and keeps the brand engaged with consumers during a long sales cycle.
5 key customer loyalty takeaways
It’s 2021, not 2001. We have a vital marketplace that’s ready to take better advantage of a surging online economy with frontline technology that can fascinate—not merely accommodate—the digital customer.
Companies that can take advantage of new capabilities are poised to:
- Build trust with customers
- Speak transparently and personally to customer wants and needs
- Adopt existing data and engagement and tools—such as loyalty programs—to personalize customer experiences
- Forge authentic relationships with consumers, so they keep coming back
- Improve the ability to demonstrate authenticity, convenience, stability, and empathy
Read the full second installment from the whitepaper series: “Retail Loyalty in the Midst of a Pandemic Part 2: Creating Authentic Connections.”
In case you missed them, check out the others in this series:
Part 1: “Radical Shifts in Shopping Patterns”
Part 3: “Frictionless and Flexible Approach to Loyalty”