The 4 Pillars of Loyalty Campaigns During COVID-19
It’s no secret, times are changing. The past several months have brought significant anxiety and volatility amidst a full-blown pandemic; many people are forced to adjust to the changes and wondering what the new normal will look like once the dust has settled. Likewise, many brands have experienced similar disruptions and are equally trying to navigate change, all while finding new ways to engage their evolving customer base. With only the guarantee of more change on the horizon, many brands are beginning to sound the same in their approach to customer engagement. Here is a quick guide to creating and delivering proactive, effective communications that will maintain customer loyalty in and after these times of uncertainty.
To accomplish this, Aimia has identified four key pillars of effective loyalty campaigns that not only provide consumers with solutions to cope with pandemic-related challenges, but also account for a communication roadmap to continue building trust with consumers as the economy slowly reopens:
Regardless of whether your business is non-essential with respect to COVID-19, there are still ways to help. Focus on providing meaningful value to your customers rather than trying to generate more business through promotion-heavy campaigns. This can include information detailing how to stay safe and healthy, or innovative social challenges designed to foster a sense of community and bring people together. In fact, 37% of consumers say they have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to COVID-19.
3. Optimism Without Overpromise
From what we’ve seen during the pandemic so far, it’s clear that even expert predictions come with varying degrees of accuracy, as there is still much to learn about this virus. With net optimism regarding a quick economic recovery post-COVID-19 remaining relatively low, brands should avoid overextending on their predictions and promises to customers. 60% of customers are turning to brands that they are absolutely sure they can trust; the last thing you want to do is provide inaccurate information and come across as careless and untrustworthy. What you can promise is your commitment to serve customers as best you can and keep them informed on any key updates as they relate to your brand. Use your loyalty program as a tool to remind and deliver on your brand’s trust.
While all pillars likely have merit with your customers, Aimia suggests prioritizing specific pillars to complement your business objectives.
By incorporating these pillars into your strategy, you will be set up to achieve your business objectives, while also demonstrating you take your customer’s interests to heart and communicate in a compassionate and empathetic manner. Let’s get started:
This next objective is geared toward flexible offers and purchase options that encourage continued member interaction to drive program growth and prevent customer attrition. Remember that your customers may be engaging in different ways; dial up your data analysis to ensure you understand your customer’s behavior and meet them where they are today. For example, knowing that in-store visits are causing some customers anxiety, a retailer could offer BOPIS incentives with additional upsell opportunities once customers arrive at the store; customers could earn an extra bonus on items they buy at the location. Offering additional discounts to healthcare workers and others on the frontlines is another way to help, with 89% of consumers agreeing this reflects positively on a brand. Additionally, special financing, flexible payment terms, and lower interests are appealing to consumers, with 88% interested in these benefits.
3. Re-Engaging Customers
The last objective is centered around long-term re-engagement of your members to prevent customer churn. Since many individuals have stated that COVID-19 has significantly altered their shopping behavior, it is important for brands to pivot their messaging and promotions to meet customers where they will be shopping long-term. For individuals that prefer to shop in store, a welcome back bonus or incentive could be added to their account upon first in-store purchase. While targeted promotions should help mitigate customer churn, it is important to continue and build upon hygienic business practices for physical locations or travel implemented during COVID-19. With 80% of customers still wary to resume regular out-of-home activities and 31% citing cleaning and sanitation as the top criteria when choosing where to visit, it is critical for businesses to continue to reassure and show members tangible safety measures put in place to keep them safe.
To ensure your messaging resonates, optimized delivery with effective targeting is key; a segmented approach rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging allows you to provide relevant content to each one of your unique customers. Aimia has developed key insights that can help businesses in Retail, CPG, Travel & Hospitality and Banking think through what a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy may look like. Regardless of your industry, personalization is critical – with the attributable data from loyalty members, you can analyze how consumer behavior has shifted by the day, week and month. From this holistic data view, you can trigger the Next Best Experience for your customer. Any messages, offers or promotions during this time should feed directly to your customer’s wants and needs. Brands who are able to innovate their customer experience while acting with compassion and empathy will build stronger relationships that last well beyond COVID-19’s passing.