Loyalty Marketing: Understanding it and Getting it Right

Published by: Meredith Thornton    |   Category: Blog, Communications, Email Marketing, Metrics    

Loyalty Marketing

What the Dallas Cowboys & Chef Boyardee Both Prove About Loyalty Marketing

I read a quote the other day posted by Seth Godin that really opened my eyes to the true meaning of loyalty:

“Loyalty is what we call it when someone refuses a momentarily better option”  – Seth Godin

We equate this type of loyalty to our own personal relationships, sports teams, television shows, or even our personal favorite brand of canned ravioli.

When you acknowledge what you’re loyal to in your daily life, I bet you’ll realize (deep down) that there’s always something better out there. For instance, are you a football fan? I personally know a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan who acknowledges that they certainly aren’t the best team in the NFL today. But because he grew up in Dallas during their glory days, the Cowboys remain his team of choice regardless of the fact that 1) he’s now moved out of Texas and 2) he truly despises Tony Romo.

Let me throw a personal example out there for kicks to really drive this point home. As a child, I grew up on Chef Boyardee Canned Ravioli, as it was a staple in my household and the “go-to” meal of choice when my parents were too lazy or too rushed to supply a more nutritious alternative. As the story goes, it has become somewhat of a comfort food as I’ve gotten older and a brand that I associate that “warm, fuzzy feeling” with. The truth is, I know there are probably hundreds of other brands of canned ravioli out on the market that are perhaps cheaper or healthier, but to be frank, I could care less. Chef Boyardee will always be #1 in my eyes (and stomach).

I can go on and on with countless examples of how loyalty plays a role in our personal lives, but we all already understand this type of loyalty. It just makes sense to us. Why is it then, that the minute we walk into our office and close the door to the outside world, our perception of loyalty seemingly changes? As business executives, have we distorted the meaning of loyalty marketing when we try to put a dollar sign on its value? Where have we gone wrong?

Manufacturing Loyalty through Quantitative Metrics

Businesses are often misguided into thinking they can “manufacture” loyalty through the creation of loyalty programs that are analyzed solely on quantitative metrics. We spend countless hours devising incentivized reward offers and crunching numbers that we are quickly losing sight of the big picture. As a result, there are too many cookie-cutter solutions that the market has become immune to. Let’s be honest here – who really keeps track of how many bonus points he or she has accrued? Who has time to read through the intricate details and legal disclaimers that accompany each loyalty program? Don’t get me wrong – these programs do in fact play an important role, but they are only a piece of the pie.

Let’s take “program” out of the equation for a minute and set our focus primarily on the word “loyalty.” Rather than perceiving it as something you should measure, it should be perceived as something you earn through constant relationship building and follow-up. Simply put, the only way you will reap the benefits of loyalty marketing is to redirect your focus from cost cutting and reward points to customer engagement and results. People are not loyal to special cards, cash discounts, or points. They are loyal to brands.

Think about it. Do you want customers who are looking to nickel and dime you and turn to you only when you’re the best deal around? Or do you want customers who value you for you, and will shop with you regardless of what other hot deal comes around?

So stop discounting your products and services to such a degree that you discredit your brand and spoil its reputation. Rather, focus your energy on communicating with users. Invest more time into delivering a good product or service with exceptional service to repeat customers and referrals that drive the majority of your sales. Launch your Ongoing Search for the Vital Few, Not the Trivial Many.

Loyalty is based on customer experience. Customers who choose you because they are happy with your services are 100 times more valuable than customers who choose you because you are the least expensive option at the present moment. Who do you think is coming back?

Once you’ve got your customers hooked and you continue delivering beyond their expectations, they’re in it for the long haul. Reward these individuals with your utmost respect to ensure that they stand by you regardless of wavering market conditions. This might mean picking up the phone a little more often than you’re used to, or sending a periodic personalized email thanking them for their continued business.

Read More: Your Customers Called…They’re Lonely

There are certainly going to be those lone stragglers that have seemingly fallen off the face of the earth. They used to be your biggest fan, but for some odd reason or another, they’ve become apathetic. The question is, how do you treat these disengaged users? Consider launching a re-engagement email marketing campaign to revitalize those who have been inactive and strive to re-connect with them using interesting, relevant and personalized content. This process begins with a custom-designed email creative that re-instates your consumer-centric focus and your goal of continually delivering on the needs of your loyal customer base.

Before I continue on the topic of a large-scale re-engagement email campaign, it is important to first address the benefits of cleaning and validating your email list prior to launch. Because a large segment of your customer database may consist of dead, invalid, or abandoned email addresses, you risk generating a high bounce rate from your deployment and subsequently damaging your sender reputation.

The benefits of a re-engagement campaign are twofold:

1) You will convert previously inactive users to loyal, engaged customers

2) You will identify and purge uninterested users who have become indifferent to your service offerings and unsubscribe them from your list.

You might realize that you won’t always have the most attractive or cost-efficient solution to fulfill your customers needs. What you might not realize is that your devoted customers know this. However, their loyalty to your brand will dissuade them from chasing that “momentarily better option” and choose you time and time again.

 

Email Marketing – Competing for Attention

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Communications, Email Ad Design, Email Marketing    

What is Great Email MarektingJust as with anything in life, there is the good and the bad. Interestingly enough, sometimes the bad garners more attention than the good. Just look at all the train wrecks on reality TV. The only reason people watch is for the controversy, conflict, idiocracy and plain old stupidity that seems to be delivered hand in hand with each new show that hits the airwaves. Fortunately, email marketing is looked at very differently.  If you send an email marketing campaign or promotional email and it seems spammy, questionable, isn’t a great deal or is uninteresting, the delete button usually follows relatively quickly, if you’re lucky enough to make it to the inbox in the first place. Think about the email marketing you receive on a daily basis and how you deal with each one. What makes you decide to delete it, without even looking at it or taking the time to see what its all about?

What makes an email interesting?

Email marketing doesn’t need to be nor should it be complicated. On a daily basis, people are bombarded with all sorts of different promotions and advertising to try and sell them something. To grab someone’s attention your advertisement needs to stand out and be interesting. Take the time and effort to fine tune your offering and make sure the message is on target and to the point.  Be clear and concise in your message and don’t overload it with too many unimportant details.

3 simple steps to ensure your email campaigns are effective.

Below are some very important items to understand and build in to your email campaign deployment strategy.

1. Make your subject line short and sweet. Don’t try and overload or sell in the subject line. All you’re trying to accomplish is to peak the persons interest in what you are promoting or selling. Give them a reason to open your email and see what it is you are offering.

2. Take the time to design a well-crafted HTML email creative and make sure it looks professional and the message is on target. Obviously, check your spelling, grammar and ensure that all of your links work within the creative itself. Again, give the viewer enough information to make them want to click through to your website and see the full details of what your offer is all about.

3. Once they make it to your website, you need to make sure your website explains the details of your offering in simple to understand, plain terms without getting over-complicated – unless you are selling a technical service, and then make sure you explain every detail of the service itself.  Make sure your landing page is simple to understand and allows them to interact easily to either fill out your lead form or make a purchase without having to jump through hoops.

Email marketing isn’t as complicated as most people think. As long as you keep it simple and follow a basic rule set, you’ll be fine. Just make sure your message is clear, concise and keep it interesting.

Using Gmail Hacks Effectively

Published by: Erica Sanford    |   Category: Blog, Communications, Email Hacks    

 

Email Verification - Gmail Hacks

Gmail has a few hidden email hacks or features you should understand and use to your benefit. Dots (periods) and capitalization don’t mean anything to Gmail. Yup, all these email addresses below are the EXACT same email address!

j.smith@gmail.com

jsmith@gmail.com

Jsm.ith@gmail.com

j.s.m.i.t.h@gmail.com

J.s.MiTH@gmail.com

These email addresses below are also the exact same email address.

Jsmith+banking@gmail.com

Jsmith+ebay@gmail.com

JSMITH+work@gmail.com

Wait – The email addresses above have an additional word and symbol connected to it! Yes, Gmail now allows you to add a plus sign (+) to your original address and add a key word to it and it will STILL get delivered. This aligns with Gmail’s release of tabs in your inbox which sorts your emails into categories like “Social” and “Updates”. This way users can sign up for certain accounts such as twitter with the email address jsmith+twitter@gmail.com and automatically sort any messages from twitter into these tabs.

To target that address for automatic filtering:

-Go into Settings: Filters.

-Click on Create a new filter.

-In the “To:” field, type in the email address plus tag, such as jsmith+jobs@gmail.com.

-You could do anything to your message through the filter, but I’d suggest checking the box next to “Apply the label:”

-Choose an appropriate label.

-If you already have messages at this address, you can have the filter apply to all previous messages as well.

Another way Gmail users are using this update is to see what companies use their email address. For example, if John Smith signed up for updates from one of his favorite restaurants using the email address jsmith+burgerqueen@gmail.com and then starts receiving emails to that address from other senders, John would know exactly which company,  Burger Queen in this case, had sold, shared or distributed his email address.

Many sites still count addresses with a (+) as an invalid character in an email address but this is slowly shifting, as we are seeing more and more records that are processed through our email list cleaning and validation service containing different variations of the same addresses and the addition of keywords to an address.

Note: These rules don’t apply to Google Apps accounts. If your organization is using Google Apps, your email address is your email address, the dots count.