When it comes to business at the holidays, it’s easy to have tunnel vision: Marketers just want to get through the busy time of year unscathed. But as economic uncertainty looms, the success of your marketing efforts this holiday season will be critical not just for short-term sales, but for customer insights to propel success in 2023. To best serve your customers through difficult financial times, you have to know who they are and what they want — and your loyalty program is your key to collecting this data.

Loyalty programs are optimal vehicles for compiling zero-party data (ZPD) — personal data that a consumer will proactively share, often in exchange for some type of value. Why? Loyalty members are more willing than nonmembers to share information with your brand: 51% of US online adults who don’t belong to any loyalty programs said nothing will motivate them to share more personal information with companies, vs. 34% of those who do belong to a loyalty program.

This holiday season, use your loyalty program to gather information that enables you to:

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  • Segment buyer personas. Your loyal customers will be shopping for more than themselves and their families this holiday season. Purchases they make for gift giving will add noise to their customer profile, potentially tarnishing your future personalization efforts. Mitigate this risk by simply asking your customers for whom they are shopping (themselves, friends, family members, etc.). This information will be critical to deliver relevant experiences in 2023.
  • Communicate more effectively. A key ingredient of loyal customer relationships is the right cadence of communication, but that cadence will look different for every customer. Use the holidays to check in on the frequency and types of communication that your customers will want to receive in the new year.
  • Identify advocates. Brand interest in customer referral programs is hotter than ever, as brands leverage their devotees to bring in more high-spending, loyal customers. But your existing loyal customers don’t have an equal propensity to advocate, which means you need to identify those who will actively do so. To assemble an army of advocates next year, ask your loyal customers how likely they are to refer your brand as they shop with you this holiday season.
  • Accelerate emotional understanding. Loyalty programs are no longer focused on a rote exchange of program points, but on developing an emotional connection between the brand and its customers. To leverage these relationships, you must first understand how your customers feel about your brand. This holiday season, collect emotional data through customer satisfaction surveys, sentiment analysis, or even voice or facial analysis. Emotions drive behaviors, so use this data to inform your customer engagement strategy and identify segments of your most emotionally connected customers.

The holiday season brings unique opportunities and challenges for businesses. Read more insights to end the year on a high note here.

This post was written by VP, Principal Analyst Mary Pilecki and it originally appeared here.

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