by Deanna Ting | August 19, 2012
A recent webinar hosted by Kobie Marketing, a customer loyalty marketing and retention agency, detailed a new strategy for fostering customer loyalty and retention through loyalty programs and engagement. The webinar, titled “Omnichannel Loyalty: Maximizing Your Customer’s Experience,” was hosted Michael Hemsey, president of Kobie Marketing; Joe Easley, director of global product strategy for Kobie Marketing; and Emily Murphy, customer intelligence analyst for Forrester.  

In their presentation, Hemsey, Easley, and Murphy showed how loyalty programs are losing clout among consumers. Using survey data compiled from 2008 and from 2011, respectively, among online consumers, they found that a growing number of consumers feel that most loyalty programs do not offer any real value (21 percent in 2011 compared to 15 percent in 2008) and that loyalty programs do not influence their purchases (29 percent in 2011 compared to 22 percent in 2008). The panel also cited a statistic that shows that loyalty program members make up 35 percent of a company’s total customer base, but that just under one-third of those members redeem for rewards.

The panel believes that unfocused targeting, lack of engagement, and a failure to differentiate loyalty programs are making loyalty programs less effective than before. To combat that, they suggest organizations utilize social media channels to increase awareness and to, in some cases, even incentivize social interactions. Using social media and mobile technologies as channels for engagement, they argue, will empower consumers and thereby make them “omnichannel” consumers.

Whereas traditional loyalty programs only affected a consumer’s decision to either purchase a service or item, and worked to retain that customer, an omnichannel loyalty strategy converts customers into brand ambassadors who, in turn, increase awareness of  that business and will often prefer that business to any other.

The panel defines ominchannel loyalty as “an enterprise level initiative to drive, track, measure, and reward incremental behavior through the integration of marketing, technology, and customer experience.” The way to build omnichannel loyalty, they believe, it to focus on the customer experience and engagement; get organizational buy-in; to track projection and success metrics; to enable emerging technology; and to execute that strategy.