Featured Insight

How next-generation capabilities are delivering winning results in the world of personalization

Today’s customers are dissatisfied with the relevance of communications, while retailers are still struggling to show demonstrably improved campaign performance. Is Big Data to blame? Sure, the increased information flow can improve marketing ROI, but it also presents the rather significant challenge of how to build the capabilities to make sense of all that data.

Fortunately, with the power of emerging technologies, neither customers nor marketers have to feel helplessly resigned to the current situation. Today, better analytical approaches and improved technologies are easing the strategic journey toward true one-to-one personalization, helping marketers move past obstacles and seize opportunities for generating sustainable growth and earning customer loyalty.

Download this whitepaper to learn more about an approach that’s more profitable than traditional campaign-based marketing. 

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In all likelihood, the rush of new iPhone 6 owners is likely to represent a tipping point for mobile payments, bringing it quickly into the mainstream, with several device manufacturers, retailers and credit card issuers having already adopted NFC technology. You may be expecting a gradual transition, but with 45% of smartphone owners replacing their device every year, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Apple is already being lauded by industry observers for developing a system that manages to keep customer’s credit card data hidden from everyone but their bank and payment company. Even Apple isn’t collecting it. This anonymous-customer payment model should address most consumers’ privacy concerns and make a seamless payment experience feel comparatively worry-free. This fact also isn’t lost on Apple Pay partners Visa and MasterCard, who are already looking to extend this ‘tokenization’ technology to their broader card networks.

For retailers, this is a positive in some ways: without the card data, they become less desirable targets for hackers and gain consumer trust by virtue of collecting less sensitive information. Unfortunately, what retailers gain in trust they may lose in insight. Credit and debit card data is a major tool for many retailers who don’t have loyalty programs or memberships to identify customers. Without it, in-store spend data looks more like a series of random transactions and less like customer-level behaviour.The rush of new iPhone 6 owners is likely to represent a tipping point for mobile payments

While it’s unclear today exactly what information retailers will receive once card data is masked by Apple Pay, I think it is clear that the process of determining who’s buying what is about to get more difficult, and this puts the loyalty relationship center stage. It may soon be one of the only reliable ways to tell customers apart, if it isn’t already, and for those retailers who’ve chosen not to pursue these relationships, it may be time to take a second look.

For now, retailers like Walgreens and Starbucks should be solidly positioned with Passbook-enabled loyalty cards to ensure they keep rewarding customers during mobile transactions, but most retailers aren’t there yet. Just having a program isn’t enough. The loyalty card in wallet will be forgotten more, and even clumsy mobile solutions will put your customer data collection at risk. It’s clear to me that a seamless mobile checkout experience will soon be table stakes if you hope to participate in a world where payments happen in an instant.

All this said, the opportunity here is for mobile loyalty engagement with a much larger slice of your customers, and that’s something retailers need to capitalize on. Apple has focused millions of consumer eyes onto their phones (and don’t forget watches) during the in-store experience and they’ll be eager to experiment not just with Apple Pay, but with how you manage to complement it.  

Luckily, the Canadian market has been given a free preview, but I reckon it will only be a short one. It would befit us all to recognize the tipping point in advance and get moving accordingly.

Square, the maker of portable transaction devices, is planning to provide its small business customers a service that can translate to a triangle of loyalty.

The tech company, which produces small credit card readers that attach to iPhones or tablets, will offer its business-to-business clients access to their own detailed customer sales trends. Pieces of information can include which items sell out the fastest, the number of customers who are new or returning, average spending per customer and customer visits, according to a story in the Washington Post.

“If hot drinks are more popular during a certain hour, owners might know when to prepare them,” the story states.

To the practiced marketer, the sales insights Square can offer are typical customer value metrics that all customer relationship managers appreciate – those of recency, frequency and monetary value. But boy could these metrics help a small- or micro-business operator. Imagine how the  information on these sales trends can help a sandwich shop operator order the right amount of perishable inventory, not to mention manage staffing.

Square owner Jack Dorsey apparently recognizes this. In a 2013 interview, he told the Post: “The original focus was around running your business, specifically participating in commerce, (but) more and more it’s about growing your business, and growing your business through analytics.”

And analytics are of the greatest value when the owner of those insights links them back to the customer, which is a practice Square should easily master. By sharing its data with its small business clients, Square is using its own resources to empower them in multiple ways: to better serve their customers, to plan special events that will generate greater affinity and to tweak inventory to ensure no one leaves empty handed.

All of this aligns with the value-add model required to engage business customers in meaningful ways, as detailed in my book The Loyalty Leap for B2B. In a chapter that explains how to build relationships in the small-business channel, the book provides six steps on how to use loyalty to extend the value opportunity beyond just the service offering.

It is a model based on delivering a service or benefit that is relevant to all parties involved. In the case of Square, those parties also include business customers and end-use consumers. It brings to mind my earlier writing about the virtuous cycle of loyalty, when consumer trust leads to stronger relationships, which in turn lead to greater profitability.

What Square is offering to do, similarly, is create a virtuous triangle.

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The Big Deal About Big Data
Economic Club of Canada Panel, Toronto, ON
Bryan Pearson
The Art and Science of Loyalty Marketing
2014 COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit, Scottsdale, Arizona
Bryan Pearson
The Gamification of Loyalty
2014 COLLOQUY Loyalty Summit, Scottsdale, AZ
Jeff Berry