Key Benefits of a Unified Platform for Loyalty, Referral Marketing, and UGC

by Sean Ogino |

Key Benefits of a Unified Platform for Loyalty, Referral Marketing, and UGC

In one study, Gartner advised businesses that if they manage customer experience well and meet or exceed their customers’ expectations, they can see increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. The notable thing about this advice is the flow of the important elements that starts with customer satisfaction, moves on to loyalty, and ends with advocacy. A closer look will reveal the inherent interconnection among these important elements, as more or less, their existence depends upon each other. Without memorable customer experience, a stream of loyal customers cannot spring up…and advocacy is the maturation stage of a loyal customer. The interplay of the symbiotic relationship between these three elements, especially between loyalty and advocacy–comprising of referral marketing and user generated content–is indeed palpable. A unified loyalty platform and advocacy has germinated from this basic thought.

Of course, concrete and tangible benefits of a unified platform for loyalty and advocacy provides originate from the nature of a brand advocate, which is to be extremely vocal about the brand that they love and prefer. Naturally, this adds wings to the reach and visibility of a brand among consumers. But if we analyze it closely, advocacy actions like referrals and the contribution of user generated content are actually surpassing the effectiveness of the traditional marketing. Note that traditional marketing is based on understanding customers’ needs and then convincing them to buy products, but advocacy is based on maximizing the customer’s interests and partnering with customers. Clearly, it’s a proactive approach.

With the extended scope of advocacy actions due to increased availability of ratings and reviews, questions and answers, and referrals, advocates can easily become mainstays of that proactive approach. Besides, according to Edelman Trust Barometer, 60% of consumers need to hear something about a specific company three to five times before they actually believe it. As advocates tell twice as many people about their purchases, they are perfectly placed to fulfill this demand of other customers. The more shoppers hear about your brand through advocates, the more trust they will have in it. And this is the juncture where the actual beauty of the relationship between loyalty and advocacy lies.

Once a consumer considers your  brand trustworthy, most (51%) will believe positive information after hearing it just one or two times vs. 15% when the company is distrusted. Knowingly or unknowingly, advocates are carrying out the incredibly valuable task of sowing seeds of loyalty among other customers. It’s like a cycle–loyalty begets advocacy and advocacy, again, in turn, begets loyalty. Clearly, these facts and connotations create a case to provide a tailor-made platform to the loyal customers where they can display their advocacy behavior more constructively and in a well-organized way. Apart from imparting this obvious benefit, our unified platform for loyalty and advocacy gives out technical benefits to the business, which can incrementally uplift its operational efficiency. The following points cover some of the most prominent technical benefits a unified platform.

Less Stress for the Tech Team

When you assemble multiple types of software from multiple vendors, many pain points appear on the surface. The tech team needs to think about compatibility, as it has to integrate data and functionalities between different point solutions. Naturally, more vendors mean more contact people in case of a software failure. It can disrupt the whole flow of a campaign, as the solutions may stop functioning.

But when the solutions are unified, the technical integration moves away from the list of worries. Since it is inherently per-built, it is ready to deliver results from the word go. Also, it’s less expensive in comparison to assemble multiple solutions from multiple vendors. This is especially true when you add up the set-up fees and hours lost to training.

Unified Customer Data

A dashboard is a mirror that tells how your program is performing at all the major performance benchmarks. When you have complete data of behavior regarding customers’ loyalty, referrals, and content contributions in a single view, it surpasses the predicament of data silos. A unified platform gives you data about the following, and more.

  • Loyalty points standing and actions taken on an individual basis
  • Aggregate loyalty information like program growth, points liability, repeat purchase rate, etc.
  • Individual referral insights like number of friends referred, status of referral, etc.
  • Most successful referrers
  • Big-picture referral program information like program growth, conversion rate, ROI, etc.
  • The contributions and stats pertaining to individual UGC contributors
  • Aggregate UGC stats like growth, contributions, conversion rate, ROI, and more
  • Purchase data, like time, frequency, value, etc.
  • Location of purchase or delivery
  • Type of product purchased
  • Interactions with the brand in-store, online, in-app, or on social
  • Any data imported from a client’s CRM, ERP, ESP, or personalization engine, among other third-party data sources

You can then create segments with multiple criteria, for example:

  • Frequent, high-spending customers who live in the Northeast US
  • Frequent customers who’ve reviewed a product in the past 3 months
  • Mid-tier customers who have hashtagged a photo with your brand’s hashtag
  • Even extremely specific purchases and actions, like in-store shoppers who bought fuzzy sweaters in your California locations and then referred friends

Without unification of your loyalty, referral, and UGC programs, it’s almost impossible to know how many loyal customers are actually advocating your products and who they actually are. This situation arises due to disjointed data, as data comes from two different solutions and from two different vendors. Moreover, if the same set of people at your company are managing multiple solutions and different data sources using different platforms, it causes wastage of precious time and training resources.

Flexible Configurations 

A well-designed unified platform simplifies addition, enhancement, and removal of software components. The ability to configure new modules in almost no time allows you to allocate your time to promote your marketing activities. Also, as it comes with per-integrated set ups, connecting it with core applications such as Visual Commerce and Social Login doesn’t need lots of technical efforts. Consequently, it assists you in scaling up the scope of the solution.

Top-Down Design

The general approach of most of the software development is bottom-up. It means that marketers give inputs to the developers regarding their needs. Based on that, developers come up with a data structure along with the user interface to help enter and review this data. It is then followed up by the creation of a reporting system. But to dash away from this old model, there are advantages to building a unified platform for loyalty and advocacy in a top-down fashion.

In Annex Cloud’s case, we first defined the basics that are required for the efficiency of customer loyalty and advocate marketing campaigns. Then we created use cases. The penultimate phase was the creation of data units. The finality was the development of intuitive user interface.

Now, the visible benefit of this approach is that newly added technologies and products in the platform also follow the same top to bottom approach. For example, when some social media network changes its policies or algorithm, its consequences are studied from the point of view of all the applications before they get inserted into this unified platform for loyalty and advocacy. In addition, we cross-enable enhanced business insights across our interconnected applications.

It’s no secret that marketers want a marketing solution which will help them to reach out to more people and thereby hold the largest growth share. A unified platform for loyalty and advocacy is the closest thing to that ideal version of marketing solution due to its ability to touch upon the three most vital aspects of any company: technical, operational, and marketing. As an output, it assists in bringing the measurable alignment between the efforts of sales and marketing teams. And that’s what is at the core to have a marketing program which can be altered by sensing the need of the hour; or as a contingency measure.

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