Given that there are over 7 billion global cell phone subscribers and nearly 1.7 billion active social media accounts online, multi-channel marketing has been a natural idea for marketers to reach out to the maximum amount of people. It caused a blurring of lines between various marketing channels. But inconsistency in the experience and lack of singular control over all these touch points has forced marketers to go beyond this haphazard approach. That’s what gave rise to the term omni-channel–an outgrowth of multi-channel marketing. An omni-channel experience is consistent across all marketing channels and delivers an elevated, seamless customer experience. As thoughtfully crafted and executed retention strategies are an indispensable part of modern marketing, omni-channel loyalty programs deserve your attention.
The primary argument in favor of omni-channel loyalty programs is that marketers want to sell products to consumers while loyalty experts wish to engage, retain and grow these new customers and drive them to advocacy. Omni-channel loyalty programs are the only feasible and profitable methodology that can achieve both sales and nurturing advocacy among customers, as they enable marketers to deliver engagement at each and every touchpoint. In short, the omni-channelization of loyalty is presenting marketers with the charm of being omnipresent through print, online, broadcast, mobile, retail point-of-sale, gaming, kiosk, outdoor, direct mail and social media.
It has been observed that 80% of U.S. consumers are using the web at some point in their product research and purchasing, according to consulting firm Cook Profitability Services. It’s a sign that purchasing channels are clearly not limited to in-store/mobile. Clearly, looking at the customer engagement that other channels are gathering, marketing offerings like loyalty programs can’t be devised by ignoring the powerful presence of these channels.
Besides, note that a Forrester survey found that only 37% of respondents defined customer engagement as one of the top-three business objectives for their loyalty campaigns. The reason for such minimal numbers is the lack of vision of those respondents about how an omni-channel loyalty program can catapult customer engagement into a different league.
Remember that the definition of omni-channel is the holistic response to consumer needs, wants, desires and purchasing habits. Unlike multi-channel marketing, which is often erratic and can force customers to tune out and reject marketing communication altogether, omni-channel loyalty programs act as a safeguard against such disengagement. It’s all about optimizing all the possible touchpoints skillfully by giving freedom to customers to enroll in the loyalty program, earn points, and redeem those rewards through whatever channel or device they prefer. And it’s in accordance with the customers’ needs. 42% of customers expects similar experiences regardless of channel used.
The bottom-line here, then, is that omni-channel loyalty programs are a mega-convenience through the mega-convergence of channels. And convenience has always softened the purchase path for customers of any business segment. That’s why IDC data shows that multi-channel customers spend 15% to 30% more than single-channel customers, additional data reveals that omni-channel customers spend 15% to 30% above multi-channel customers. In reality, it’s an outcome of the high engagement that customers maintain through multiple platforms and the loyal behavior mainly due to sending of timely, relevant and individualized content to them.
As the essence of omni-channel loyalty approach is enabling your customers to interact with your loyalty program through all possible avenues, the need is to ensure the omnipresence of your program. The word about your omni-channel loyalty program, thus, should travel through all channels- including stores, website, and phones.
As customers roam around and shop in your stores, you should communicate about your omni-channel loyalty program visible at every possible stage of their journey in the store. Some of the useful ways have been listed down below.
1. At the Entrance: Create signage on all the entry points, like window fronts and wall surfaces which are nearer to the entrance. It should be a proper digital display showcasing all the alluring offers and benefits of your omni-channel loyalty program.
2. In-Store Announcements: Ask your store associates to make timely announcements about your omni-channel loyalty program. It will remind the customers about its benefits. You can also use beacons to send promotional content about your program to your in-store customers. Don’t forget the classic move, either: make sure associates mention the program to customers when they’re checking out.
3. Signups: After making your omni-channel loyalty program as visible as possible in-store, it’s also necessary to create a system where a customer can easily enroll in the program. Ask your store associate to collect the contact information of the customer when he is about to checkout. It will create your customer’s account and he can sign up to your program. You can also have kiosks in place so that customers can enroll on their own. Just like enrolling, shoppers should be able to redeem their rewards in store as well.
Websites are the central hubs of omni-channel loyalty programs for good reason. It’s there that you can provide all the details in an easy-to-access format. Since e-commerce sales growth is far outpacing brick-and-mortar sales, you’d also be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t promote your program heavily on your site.
1. On Product Pages: As buyers tend to spend more time browsing the products, sellers get significant traction for their omni-channel loyalty programs by placing CTAs here. A common format is to show how many loyalty points a browser would earn by purchasing and enrolling.
2. On Your Shopping Cart and Checkout Pages: If a shopper has overlooked the CTA on the product page, they should have a look at it while he is approaching towards the last leg of his journey. Have a clear cut CTA on the cart page.
3. On the Order Confirmation Page: This is the actual phase where the shopper leaves your website. In that sense, this is your last chance to get them registered in your omni-channel loyalty program. Putting a CTA here, thus, is logical.
Additionally, don’t forget about promoting the program on your app, on social, through emails, and even using SMS. For email and social campaigns, try both dedicated promotions and simply including a loyalty CTA somewhere in your messaging.
While we’ve already discussed the importance of letting customers earn and redeem points on your site and in your stores, there are also ways to enable this with through third-party retailers.
The Receipt Data Aggregator is an omni-channel loyalty solution that lets customers earn points in your program by submitting their third-party receipts from purchases of your products. Shoppers can submit e-receipts or scan physical ones, which Annex Cloud processes in order to both grant users points and give you precious data.
For example, let’s say your company manufactures makeup that you sell through your own site, some brick and mortar locations, and through online and physical retailers like Amazon or Sephora. If a shopper in your loyalty program buys a lipstick from you through Amazon, they can earn points by forwarding their receipt to you. You’ll also be able to see the details of their whole purchase, including data like which other products they purchased. If the shopper also bought deodorant, protein bars, mascara, and nail polish in the same order, you’ll know that, including which brands they prefer.
You can also enable customers to redeem loyalty points with third-party sellers through branded app barcode scanning, packaging inserts, QR codes, and more. End-to-end solutions like these for omni-channel loyalty programs enable brands to connect with customers, collect valuable demographic, social graph, and purchase data, and build brand loyalty without hampering retailer relationships.
Taking all these efforts to promote and strengthen the very premise of an omni-channel loyalty program is a worthy outing. The reason is consumers want everything now and in all places in real time, including loyalty benefits. Remember that consumers are loyal to buying experiences nowadays. And when they see a program that is devoid of siloed marketing channels, each with their own goals, product expectations and data tracking, they can hope for a better experience. And the same feel, look, and functionality across all the channels bring their hopes into realization. In a nutshell, it can add the much needed layer of differentiation to your loyalty program.