by Evan Neufeld
Since the inception of loyalty programs more than century ago, much has changed in the way
consumers interact with companies and how companies work to foster consumer loyalty. In an
increasingly cross-platform world, the fight for customer loyalty has exploded into a 24/7 endeavor.
Many would suggest that customer relationships and loyalty are now the primary source of
competitive advantage for all brands entering what Forrester Research calls “Age of The Customer.”
The good news is that the majority of organizations seem well aware of the primacy of fostering
loyalty. According to Forrester Research, improving customer loyalty is likely to be a top marketing priority for 80 percent of decision-makers at large organizations and 82 percent of decision-makers at mid-size organizations in the next twelve months. According to a new survey from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, 61 percent of CMOs believe that loyalty program participants represent their best and most profitable customers, and they view investment in customer loyalty programs as an essential part of their marketing strategy.
Focus is one matter, successful execution, however, is another. That is why CrowdTwist and Brand Innovators surveyed 234 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands to study how leading brands are evolving the way they interact with consumers and how loyalty intertwines those efforts.
In our just released report, The Loyalty Evolution, we found that just over 50 percent of respondents believe their current customer loyalty programs are successful.
In addition, 88 percent of respondents with Multichannel programs—loyalty programs that ensure harmony across channels and data sets—rate themselves as successful.
Despite current successes by some, most still feel there is a lot more work to be done
as they look to navigate several hurdles, from technological deployment and data management to budget allocations, to make loyalty programs as successful as possible.
For brands that are not executing loyalty programs—or are executing them poorly—the
heat in the kitchen will get hotter in the future: While many brands are daunted by the roadblocks ahead, they are increasingly committed to making loyalty a priority by putting their money where their mouths are, with the majority predicting that their customer loyalty budgets will increase in 2017.
Although many have a tough road ahead in 2017, we believe that the loyalty efforts of major brands are well placed (and increasingly well funded) to succeed into what may emerge as a watershed moment in loyalty marketing.