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Bridging the Customer Identification Gap to Build Loyalty

By Tad Fordyce, SVP, Loyalty, Epsilon

Tad Fordyce, SVP, Loyalty, Epsilon

Evolving consumer attitudes, desires and technology preferences make it critical for marketers to know how to engage their customers in compelling and authentic ways that drive business growth. Recent research from Epsilon found that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with brands that offer personalized experiences. Brands must know who their customers are, what they desire and be there in the moments that matter most.

For marketers trying to meet the increasing expectations of the always-on consumer (and quickly), the advent of Software-as-a-Service marketing technologies has reduced the time and cost of implementing a customer engagement solution. But technology is only part of the answer. Brands need a strong foundation of data and insights that can be activated across channels to bridge the customer identification gap and build loyalty.

The always-on consumer

The always-on consumer has access to do comparison shopping, buy online and share their purchase decisions with friends. Data and insights are the foundation of being able to reach always-on consumers during these significant moments of the buying process.

Brands can enrich their understanding of customers through robust customer database management that brings together insights from external data sources, online and offline interactions, and customer service inquiries that generate the most complete customer view. With the right strategy and technology foundation, marketers will gain a rich customer file that is a business asset.

“Being able to identify when you need to reach out and engage a consumer can make a difference between maintaining a loyal relationship and attrition”

Establish a data baseline

On the road to building loyalty through customer identification, marketers should start by establishing a data baseline that is continually augmented with new data. (i.e. capture additional data from surveys, apply analytics, modeling, and more). In addition, third-party data can further enhance a brand’s understanding of the customer.

Since meaningful customer engagement is driven by ‘in the moment’ interactions, consider delivering real-time offers and messages while consumers are in proximity of a store and within the store itself. Additionally, incorporating web browsing behavioral data into a consumer file, if available, can be very useful in crafting a message that really resonates with customers.

This increasing sophistication is driving the need for supplemental creative and campaign services to harness the power of the underlying technology to drive optimized results. 

Activate data through machine learning

Once consumers are identified, delivering personalized and relevant content is the next step. Marketers need to deliver messages at the right moment either before or during the shopping experience to reach customers at moments of interest.

With machine learning, marketers can process massive amounts of data, enabling them to better get to know their customers in real-time, and act in milliseconds to provide relevant offers creating a personalized and engaging experience. Leveraging machine learning, data scientists spend time evaluating outcomes and creating strategies, versus compiling data and processing it. The machines are doing the heavy lifting and customer scores are created, which in turn get delivered as profile attributes to the loyalty platform. Then the strategies are created to determine how to best engage customers.

Relationships change over time – being able to identify when you need to reach out and engage a consumer can make a difference between maintaining a loyal relationship and attrition.  Applying these strategies and tactics to customers in your loyalty program is paramount – these are your best customers, who have opted into a relationship with your brand. As with any relationship you want to nurture and grow, focus on understanding the individual and communicate with them in meaningful ways and you’ll have a powerful connection well into the future.

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