The secret weapon for capturing customer loyalty with paid membership programs is through an omnichannel marketing strategy with special attention to mobile engagement. This approach offers online retailers and ecommerce businesses more access to valuable information about their customers while providing a more positive experience along with an increased trust in the brand.
However, to fully grasp just how robust the omnichannel approach really is when effectively applied to a paid customer loyalty membership program, it helps to first understand what it truly means to be a retailer or ecommerce business that is consistently leveraging the high-caliber power of omnichannel marketing.
The Power of Omnichannel Marketing
HubSpot, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, defines omnichannel as the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with businesses.
Likewise, Gartner, a highly regarded tech research firm, defines omnichannel as the “synchronization” of channels—mobile, desktop, and store—to support the purchase process from discovery to conversion, along with fulfillment and post-purchase.
Another apt description for omnichannel retail is the practice of having “one connected business” where all physical locations, ecommerce stores, and digital touchpoints operate as one. Essentially, it is the art of flawlessly orchestrating brand-specific touchpoints across all three major marketing channels—offline, online, and mobile.
Omnichannel, a buzzword used in the industry for years, should not be confused or conflated with the term “multichannel.” While a channel generally provides the ways or means into which something is directed, in multichannel marketing, a company may use various, disconnected, unsynchronized, or siloed channels that are managed separately—frequently with a different strategy—to reach its customers. This results in a significant lack of orchestration and synergy.
In comparison, an omnichannel approach provides an integrated, holistic, frictionless experience across multiple channels, devices, and brand touchpoints. It is centered around the customer experience to ensure all customers can easily navigate between each of these company points of contact to make a single purchase in person or on a variety of digital devices—especially mobile, the “Holy Grail” of all device types. To show the enormous impact of mobile devices today, Statista recently reported that in 2021, 72.9% of all retail ecommerce sales worldwide were generated via a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. This number has been on a serious upward trajectory from 52.4% in 2016.
A study released by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) of 46,000 shoppers demonstrated that omnichannel retailing really works. They even went as far to say that an omnichannel strategy focusing on a variety of digital channels—is a “panacea” for a difficult environment in which smaller retailers have faced an existential threat from large organizations such as Amazon. Ultimately, this wide-sweeping study found that among the 46,000 shoppers surveyed, a whopping 73% used multiple channels during their shopping journey. The HBR study also revealed that the more channels customers use, the more valuable they are.
According to the Aberdeen Group, a market research firm owned by SpiceWorks Ziff Davis (SWZD), it pays to consistently communicate with customers across retail or business-to-business channels. In a study, Aberdeen found that companies engaging customers across channels—including web, mobile, social media, and in-store—retain more than twice as many customers as companies without effective cross-channel customer care strategies.
The Aberdeen report—“Omni-Channel Customer Care”—based on a survey of 305 companies specifically found that the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
Based on both the data as well as intuitive marketing sense, it’s not hard to see why taking a serious omnichannel approach to executing a paid customer loyalty program is a great way to parlay an already well-established marketing strategy into retail and ecommerce excellence.
The Omnichannel Paid Membership Loyalty Program
Chip Bell, a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and service innovation, once said: “Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” This is why a strong omnichannel marketing approach goes hand-in-hand with a well-executed paid membership loyalty program. Omnichannel paid membership connects together the most avid fans of a brand, ultimately driving engagement and incremental spend—all of which leads to better customer data, stronger insights, and more personalized experiences.
The omnichannel approach puts the customer, not corporate silos, at the center of a paid loyalty program strategy. It acknowledges that digital channels such as mobile and social have enabled customers to not only quickly switch between channels, but also use them seamlessly and simultaneously.
For a dynamo, best-in-class, paid loyalty program, retailers and ecommerce businesses must step beyond just having their program present on multiple channels (assuming it is even already available to customers through all possible channels). Instead, in a consumer-first world, it must not only be present on all relevant channels, but the dots must be connected between them as well. As one marketer put it, they should be woven into “one, thriving, multichannel approach to inbound marketing.” This approach offers customers a consistent quality of experience no matter which channel they use to engage with a paid loyalty program.
Remember, customers’ experiences with a paid membership loyalty program—no matter which channel they are interacting on—significantly influence the overall perception of a company’s brand. Moreover, this omnichannel approach to paid loyalty also allows a retailer or ecommerce business to cast the widest net possible to expand customer loyalty along with concomitant sales to a national or global scale.
Below are 22 specific ways that omnichannel strategies can be successfully implemented or layered into an efficient and effective paid customer loyalty program:
- Align the omnichannel loyalty program’s framework with the brand identity to help enhance the core message that deeply connects with customers’ preferences, passions, and beliefs
- Focus on providing the best shopping experience across all channels by delivering meaningful engagement through each and every loyalty touchpoint
- Provide a consistent experience and uniform message to customers across all channels engaging with a loyalty program
- Include personalized recommendations and customized offerings—customers always want to feel like they are being offered something personalized and customized to their needs
- Offer a streamlined purchasing process instantly accessible to all digital channels and devices—always be where the customers are by allowing shoppers to make transactions via mobile, collect points, and redeem promotions by implementing the best mobile technologies
- Be ready to adapt and innovate loyalty programs across all channels on a regular basis—flexibility attracts a diverse base of loyal, repeat visitors who come back more often and spend more during each visit
- Always be looking to extend customer loyalty touchpoints by expanding promotions across websites, mobile, and social media so customers can interact with the brand in whichever way is most convenient
- Provide rewards for social engagement and interactions that go beyond just being transactional but rise to the emotional—this is how to engage social influencers into becoming brand ambassadors
- Use technology that promotes seamless customer engagement with a loyalty program by allowing customers to swipe and scan for rewards from various digital touchpoints
- Integrate and link mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and QR codes to all loyalty program touchpoints to increase convenience, improve overall service, and drive greater appreciation for the brand
- Build the loyalty program into the brand’s app—a study by Gartner indicated that 32% of users reported they would be more likely to use an app regularly if it included loyalty program access
- Consistently prioritize convenience to make it easy for loyalty members to be rewarded for spend and engagement activities across all channels of the brand
- Encourage loyalty members to regularly check-in to easily gain rewards or incentives—consumers love to be recognized, especially on social media today
- Reward loyalty customers for social engagement, sharing content, providing reviews, and otherwise interacting positively with a brand
- Remain relevant and always deliver customers the right message in the right channel at the right time
- Use all appropriate channels to incentivize information sharing—give loyalty members extra points for updating the information in their profiles
- Encourage or incentivize members to connect their social accounts to their loyalty program member profiles
- Motivate loyalty members to take surveys for better marketing outreach
- Offer personal and relevant marketing experiences that speak to loyalty customers’ needs and wants through the channels
- Remember loyalty customer milestones and special occasions, such as birthdays, by providing incentives and rewards via every channel possible
- Always provide extra value by offering exclusive/one-of-a-kind rewards, such as limited-edition rewards or VIP access to online sales, offers, and events, that reach across every consumer touchpoint for loyalty program members—remember exclusivity reigns supreme when it comes to customer loyalty
- Ensure immediate reward redemption across all channels by applying discounts in real-time or rewards redeemable instantly at the point of sale
Putting the Customer Data Puzzle Together Through Omnichannel
Before his untimely passing, the legendary Steve Jobs said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” One highly efficient and effective way of doing this is through gathering data about your most enthusiastic customers from an omnichannel paid loyalty program.
With an omnichannel approach to implementing customer loyalty, there are numerous touchpoints and opportunities for valuable data gathering from the most passionate customers. Always reward data gathering by incentivizing information sharing. Also, enable loyalty activities consistently on multiple channels through enrollment, surveys, and follow-up intervals for updating details to keep it as accurate as possible.
Once gathered, the loyalty customer data collected from across all channels can be efficiently mined to identify important data-driven insights such as trends, lifestyles, behaviors, preferences, and segments from which to target customers with personalized communications, promotions, and experiences. With omnichannel, it is possible to collect a wide range of behavioral and demographic data. This can be further enhanced by having loyal customers link their social media accounts to their loyalty memberships.
Brands that maintain an omnichannel focus when it comes to customer loyalty are able to consistently gather data about their consumers across channels and platforms. Once collected, the data can then be analyzed through sophisticated tactics like machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics. With the help of these methodologies, brands are better able to predict future behaviors which enable them to create superlative marketing experiences for their most valued customers.
Along with putting the customer data puzzle together through the omnichannel approach, retailors and ecommerce brands are able to deploy other sophisticated tactics to enhance the quality of the marketing experience. Two of these tactics include push notifications and geotargeting for marketing.
Today, the most popular communication tactic for mobile apps are push notifications and in-app messages. Push notifications are a way to get or nudge users to open an app when it is currently closed. In-app messaging allows a brand to converse with customers directly when the app is open. Working in tandem, these techniques play an outsized role in marketing and user retention efforts.
In fact, many marketers have found that the first 90 days after a customer downloads an app are the most critical when it comes to push notifications. If done correctly, a push strategy of appropriate messaging during this time can significantly increase customer retention rates. The four most important things to remember about push strategy messages are that they should be timely, relevant, actionable, and personal.
Lastly, adding geolocation data to enhance customer loyalty programs has also proven to be very successful. The use of geolocation tracking has many different functions that allows retailers and ecommerce brands to improve customer loyalty program strategy. It also builds stronger customer relationships by providing personalized messaging and experiences based on place and time information typically gathered from geofencing (creating a virtual geographic boundary with GPS), beacons (using blue tooth to detect proximity), and Wi-Fi.
The primary advantage of geolocation data is that it offers an opportunity to gain additional contextual information about a customer. It allows brands to target paid loyalty customers within a specific area, increasing the likelihood that they will respond through a positive interaction or engagement with the company.
At its core, the omnichannel experience is critical to creating a consistent journey across the touchpoints of a paid customer loyalty program. Without the effective use of omnichannel marketing, paid membership programs will suffer from gaps in their organizational silos. This will result in the loss of valuable interaction history and context when customers switch channels or devices.
Because a good customer experience can be chalked up to a frictionless and rewarding interaction with a brand at every touchpoint, it is extremely important for a retailer or ecommerce brand to adopt an omnichannel loyalty approach or risk being left behind. If done right, this cross-channel strategy will result in the exceptional delivery of convenience, relevance, and value for loyal customers across all points of contact with the brand.
You can find parts 1 and 2 of this blog series below:
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