Marketing Without Borders: Why Loyalty Programs Need to be Seamless


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It’s the modern day story of a consumer, just like you, shopping on a site on which they regularly browse and occasionally purchase. Tap the icon on your mobile and immediately the game begins – a strategic quest to make you feel important, engaged and make it impossibly easy for you to purchase and feel like you got a great deal in the process. Your preferences are realized and personalized suggestions are made. Remember that tablet you bought in our store last month? Here are some trendy cases you might like to go with it. Or better yet, upgrade to a newer model! They’re flying off the shelves but, don’t worry, you’re nearest retail location still has three in stock. Don’t forget that camera in your digital shopping cart from your last visit – that purchase alone will almost qualify you for free shipping. You sip your coffee and switch from your mobile to your tablet. Your data has already synced and your pending purchases are waiting on your new device – better act now if you want that free shipping. More and more, this is how people shop, or at least wish to. Consumers are demanding the transition to an omni-channel marketplace and as we all know, the customer is always right.

Driven by advances in data analytics programs, the so-called “multi device path to purchase” is upon us and marketers are struggling to keep up. 90 percent of consumers start their shopping experience on one device but finish it on another. They expect an all access, fluid shopping experience where they’re appreciated for their patronage. These users are also willing to spend the time and money to get what they want. “Multi-channel customers often spend three to four times more on retail purchases than their single-channel counterparts,” according to a Deloitte study.

Astonishingly, only one third of retailers are reacting to the consumer demand for omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel describes the transition from segmented marketing channels to one cohesive brand experience, often with the help of marketing automation software solutions, and it’s a proven differentiator in the eyes of consumers. Forrester Consulting’s recent report revealed that many companies exhibit a “false sense of comfort” by responding to customer’s demands, but are failing to be proactive or innovative in their approach.

Retailers such as home décor giant Crate & Barrel are taking a cultural approach to the transition. Crate & Barrel started by converting their development environment to an in-house agile team that can pivot quickly and focus more on the customer experience than the product. They also employ cross-channel marketing attribution software from Visual IQ, which allows them to analyze each touch-point within the customer’s journey by embedding analytics throughout a conversion. They can allocate media spend more accurately because they are no longer segmenting customers, i.e. analyzing ecommerce versus in-store shoppers. As a result, Crate & Barrel is able to maintain strong sales across the board while juggling over 80 stores, direct mail and catalog, and ecommerce sales.

The travel industry, known for their popular loyalty programs, is tackling omni-channel by forging partnerships that enhance existing programs and give consumers more opportunities to earn rewards. Members of Mlife, MGM Resort’s loyalty program, saw their membership benefits balloon when MGM joined forces with Visa. The partnership enables members to tie their account to their Visa card and location so they receive more personalized mobile offers in real time. The mobile app recognizes Visa purchases made with the perimeter of a resort and offers members the opportunity to easily use their rewards by giving recommendations based on user activity and preferences.

Of course, this allows MGM to gently redirect members back to their property as well. For instance, a member who purchases tickets to a show at a different resort may receive an offer for a preshow dinner at an MGM restaurant.

Partnerships like this enable brands to present an all-inclusive program to their members and gain additional data without the expense of expanding their own business into new territories. Hyatt joined in and also partnered with MGM to grant Hyatt Gold Passport members opportunities to earn and redeem points at the MGM Resorts while vacationing in Las Vegas. Hyatt realized that by identifying engaged members there was an opportunity to keep members connected to the Hyatt brand even when they were staying at an MGM Resort. Members enjoy the ease of using their existing loyalty program, and appreciate the added benefits granted to them because of the partnership.

The future of omni-channel marketing is now. Has your organization embraced it yet? What do you think companies should focus on when making the transition to an omni-channel marketing approach? Let us know in the comments section below.

Charlotte Ritter
Charlotte Ritter is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice . She covers a variety of business technology topics, including business intelligence, gamification, and project management software.


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