multichannel communications, loyalty communications
Multichannel communications empower loyalty program members.

Retailers understand that they need to reach out to their loyalty program members wherever they are — in the channels they prefer — to keep up the engagement. In return, members are interacting with their programs through digital, mobile and social channels, in addition to instore visits. But if there’s a barrier to retailers’ success in encouraging “bonding” with members, it lies in the difficulty of managing customer communications across multiple channels.

If you’re a chief marketing officer (CMO) or responsible for customer marketing for a retailer, how can you streamline the process for managing marketing communications across different channels? Now that you’ve succeeded in growing your loyalty program membership, how do you sustain that engagement? Is there a way to leverage all the information coming from different marketing channels into meaningful insights your team can act upon?

Multichannel Communications: Common Problems

If your company is like most retailers, you probably have a dedicated website for customers and loyalty program members, plus a place for announcements and helpful posts. Perhaps you also engage your customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and maybe LinkedIn — or at least some of those platforms. That is the essence of communication through multiple channels.

While the concept is simple, the devil is in the details of how you manage all those channels at once on a daily basis. First, it’s not enough to use multiple channels. It’s important to create and deliver the right message to the right segment of your membership (and customers in general) using the correct channel.

For example, a fuel discount for loyalty program members that lasts only 48 hours is best announced through a text and email, supplemented by a Twitter post. You can include a link that will take members to your website for an explanation of the special offer. Instagram, with its emphasis on pictures as opposed to sharing and keeping a live link front and center, may not be the best channel for this type of announcement.

Here are two common problems CMOs can encounter when it comes to multichannel communications:

Disconnected Approach: Many retailers manage different channels manually as separate entities. While practical, it’s inefficient because manually sending out emails and then posting content on individual social channels take a lot of time and effort. And it can be a problem for smaller retailers and operators without dedicated staff to monitor and manage different channels. Over the long haul, scaling the initiative will also be an issue as a retailer’s loyalty membership grows and its social media presence expands, not just in the United States but in other countries.

Not Tracking Key Performance Indicators: Although CMOs understand the importance of KPIs in evaluating their initiatives, the task of tracking them is likely to get buried under a heap of pressing, day-to-day matters. Think of KPI reporting as an essential part of your company’s investment in creating a website and nurturing your presence on social media. Make it a part of your regular schedule, whether it’s quarterly, monthly or weekly. For loyalty programs, here are some basic KPIs to track:

  • Membership: Number of registered members, number of members who leave, referrals from other members, if applicable, how frequently members engage with the program, and customer lifetime value.
  • Sales and Promotions: Number of points or loyalty currency earned, currency redeemed, dollar amount of transactions, number of instore or online visits.
  • Channels: Number of members using a particular channel to interact with the program; number of “likes,” “shares,” “comments” and followers per channel.

Effective Management of Multichannel Communications

Communication through multiple channels empowers your best customers. You’re putting them in the driver’s seat by letting them choose their preferred channels. To sustain an enduring relationship nurtured by regular communication, you need to manage those different channels effectively.

In the digital age, that means leveraging the latest marketing cloud technology. The most common problems we discussed above — disconnected approach and KPI tracking — can be addressed by the right marketing cloud technology. In fact, technology may be the only way to address them. An integrated loyalty and customer marketing platform can help unify, standardize and streamline your process for managing all multichannel customer communications. Look for a holistic software solution with these capabilities:

  • Seamless delivery of messages across channels, such as email, short message service (SMS), mobile apps and social networks.
  • Scheduling to allow timing and frequency planning for message delivery.
  • Segmenting of target audience to help customize messaging.
  • Powerful analytics to facilitate KPI tracking; automated reports so tracking won’t fall through the cracks.
  • Intuitive user interface for your team.

All retailers want sustained connections with their loyal customers. Effective communication is at the heart of that engagement. Equip yourself and your organization with the right tools for seamless and effective loyalty marketing communications. Then, you can truly focus on growing your membership and driving increased spending instead of getting bogged down in managing multiple customer marketing channels.

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