Your Competitors Are Working on Relevance. Are You?


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A friend tells me about her cleaning service’s clumsy attempt at social media marketing. They sent her a $25 discount coupon (she’s already a customer), the expiration date on the coupon was 12/31/11, and when she emailed the company to alert them to the mistakes, her note was bounced back with a “no-reply” error message. A marketing FAIL trifecta!

Of course, she immediately posted this on Facebook (and named the cleaning service), which unleashed a pack of similarly sharp-toothed complaints about generic, boring, or just plain wrong marketing attempts.

Attention, loyalty marketers: This is not your father’s direct-mail game. This isn’t even a direct email game. Today’s customers expect all communications and offers to be personalized, accurate and absolutely relevant. If you don’t give that to them, the fallout could earn you an embarrassing mention on Tosh.0, or a business-damaging blowup on Facebook or Twitter.

If you aren’t getting it right, one of your competitors either is already, or is well on its way to perfecting its mix of targeted communications. You can study a few examples in our current cover story, The Relevance Resolution…Finally? But for every company we profiled, there are several more who declined to go on the record. Here’s what we learned but didn’t include in the cover story:

1. Many companies out ahead of this trend aren’t sharing their experience. Why? Because they admit that it’s a powerful competitive advantage. And the more personalized the communications and offers are, the less likely their competitors are to know about them. In other words, assume that your biggest competitor is already quietly on this path.

2. Those who are seeing success with relevance-based campaigns are cagey about revealing ROI numbers. Off-the-record results are impressive, indicating just how profitable relevance can be. In other words, your competitors are delighted if you still think that personalized communications are “just too expensive and not worth it.”

3. Relevance has many forms. It can be based on demographic information, purchase history, or something trendier like location or time of day. Be open-minded about the options, and do a little data crunching to identify which are the most promising for your high-value, high-potential customers.

4. The organizational challenge is the biggest. Data is a solvable problem, even figuring out how to use it or combine it with other sources of information. But loyalty program managers tear their hair out over the silos and turf wars that block efforts at company-wide relevance in customer communications. Start there – sharing insights and encouraging buy-in throughout the organization.

Fortunately, my friend is happy with her cleaning service, so this snafu won’t cost them her business. Yet. Tempted though I am, I’m not going to tell you who the clueless cleaning service is. But I am going to send them a link to the cover story.

Phaedra Hise
As Senior Editor, COLLOQUY, Phaedra leads the creation of new editorial pieces for multiple distinct content platforms in the COLLOQUY media enterprise: COLLOQUY magazine, the Enterprise Loyalty in Practice journal, COLLOQUY web site, COLLOQUY social media blog, COLLOQUY Network Partner content commitments as well as other LoyaltyOne vehicles.


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