Forging Brand Loyalty: Data Is The Key

The environment for brands marketing to consumers has never been more complex or challenging. The disruption of online shopping, the proliferation of social networks and the increasing use of mobile phone technology, have created a seismic shift in how consumers shop and how they interact with brands. The ability to compare like-for-like online has put consumers firmly in charge of pricing, so it’s no longer enough to simply wage a price war on your competitors. We’ve seen big name ‘trusted’ brands, who all believed their proposition would stand the test of time, disappear from view, demonstrating that securing brand loyalty is now much harder to achieve.

So, why has relationship building changed so much? Firstly, where we speak to consumers has changed. Multiple channels mean that the buying process has been forever altered. A consumer might begin their journey with online research, check out reviews and opinion on social media, access an app and then visit a physical store. The order of this process is interchangeable, but along the way that customer has provided a wealth of valuable transactional and behavioural data. For this reason, it’s imperative that brands know how to best capture this data and, more importantly, how to act on it.

With so many channels available, it would be easy to assume that all brands need to do is to ensure they have a presence in each one. But if the messaging is wrong, it doesn’t matter if it is being delivered via the right channels. Companies must use data to incentivise action and engage their audiences seamlessly and consistently across every medium — mobile, social, in-store, online, etc. It is this level of engagement which will drive sales and build long term loyalty. Insight gleaned from data in one medium must be used to shape communication and develop activity in others. Getting a handle on customer’s key motivators – such as shopping habits and buying trends – and ensuring they remain engaged after the first purchase or transaction is vital when building long-lasting relationships and loyalty.

So, how do you extrapolate this insight from your data? Initially, it pays to immerse yourself in your data and obtain as much information as you can about your customers. Undergoing a health check in the first instance will highlight the state of your data and whether cleansing can be done to improve its value and usability. Using this data to build a picture – or profile – of your customers will provide invaluable insight into their demographic, geographic and lifestyle characteristics, allowing you to segment your campaigns and target your customers more effectively.

With over 500 key variables to choose from, a strong profile report will generate a precise picture of your customer base. When wanting to target prospects effectively, it makes sense to start with people who have characteristics and interests which match your existing customer base – they’re much more likely to respond positively. As such, profile reports help identify variables to factor in or leave out when purchasing lists for acquisition campaigns to optimise responses.

It can often be useful to visualise your data and pinpoint where your customers and prospects live in relation to your sites, or even your competitors. Tools such as catchment mapping analysis can provide an extra level of insight. For example, it can show areas with strong potential to recruit, areas to avoid cannibalising customers from another site and battlegrounds where competitor areas can be attacked. Clever catchment analysis can help you make informed strategic and tactical marketing decisions quickly.

A key part of building brand loyalty is having an intelligent customer reactivation program and the clever use of data also lies at the heart of this. Lapsed customers are a mine of often untapped potential – they’ve interacted with you in the past, so you know more about them than any acquisition leads. This also means you can bypass the introduction process, and instead, proceed directly to the sales message, safe in the knowledge that these customers are already aware of the brand, and have demonstrated a willingness to make purchases.

In order to convince former customers to re-engage with your brand, you need to make the most of the information you already have on them. Mecca Bingo, for example, is currently running three reactivation campaigns in the UK, each based on customer type (origin – online or “in club”), frequency and value as the key drivers.

Mecca has segmented its data based on playing behaviour and response to previous online offers. In this way, it ensures that any offers included in the direct mail pack focus on ensuring engagement with customers, to persuade them to return. One way to do this is to convince people who primarily play online with free play money to stake their own money in order to claim more free play money in future. Additionally, every pack features an in-club voucher so as to keep Mecca Bingo Halls more populated during quiet months, representing the first time a Mecca mailing had been given cross-channel focus.

The offers and content of the resulting Mecca direct mail campaign are determined by the player’s behaviour – where the player joined, historical spending habits – as well as the status of their local club, including its location and what’s available there. Insight gathered from these lapsed customers allows Mecca to offer their previous players truly valuable offers making them much more likely to reactivate. In the first few months, Mecca has seen reactivation rates of over 25% as a result of this strategy.

Getting to know your customer should go beyond simply knowing their name and location. A brand name is not enough to create loyalty. Instead, we should be focusing on using data to create timely, relevant and personalised offers across all channels.