Chapter 2: Build a data strategy for retail loyalty programs

Create personalized, meaningful experiences that build trust and long-term loyalty.
The foundational element of an effective data strategy is the ability to connect all data and disseminate it across an organization. Connecting data enables brands to create a complete profile of each customer and gain a 360-degree view into every action they take across the organization. Loyalty programs bolster these profiles with the critical zero- and first-party data needed to power customer interactions and experiences across a multitude of touchpoints. The insights gained from these interactions then can be deployed to further personalize every moment of interaction, better customize offers or create unique customer journeys.

Unify data in real-time to operationalize loyalty

We know that more consistent, personalized journeys create happier, more loyal customers. People have come to expect tailored, personally relevant experiences, customized offers and enhanced service capabilities. A customer data platform (CDP) can help deliver on these expectations.

“Everything we know about a guest is unified in CDP, and now we’re enriching that by calculating attributes,” said Casey’s Sebastian. For example, if Casey’s marketing team sees groups of customers who shop in the morning, they tag them as “breakfast shoppers,” enabling them to create a value proposition on the fly for coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

A CDP connects the entirety of a company's customer data in one place, providing a unified vision. It reaches across an organization and ties together databases that don’t traditionally share data (marketing clouds, service software, ecommerce engines, and more). It also reconciles data for known customers (such as email and phone numbers) with data like anonymous cookies and mobile device IDs to paint a complete picture of the customer journey. And, it does this in real-time.


Create in-the-moment experiences

Building unified customer identity profiles and then making that data available in real time allows every department to act based on in-the-moment customer behavior. It means that things like loyalty points update immediately, and frontline staff know at the point of sale when a purchase initiates a jump in tiers or loyalty status. This allows for a much richer, more intimate experience.

These tools also streamline behind-the-scenes activities. For example, systems like email-send engines, demand-side platforms, and content management systems can utilize real-time data to refine customer segmentation, execute better targeting and suppression efforts, and create personalized customer experiences within your loyalty department, and beyond.


Integrate loyalty and data strategies on a unified platform

Building a data strategy does not require an entire overhaul of existing technology systems. End-to-end loyalty lifecycle marketing platforms with application programming interfaces (APIs) connect with existing systems of record across digital and physical touchpoints, so you can collect first-party data. Hooking your loyalty system into a larger data platform enables loyalty teams to access rich customer segments and insights like customer lifetime value, RFM scores and status tiers. This allows them to provide differentiated experiences, address service recovery situations and ensure offers and promotions are personally resonant with loyalty members.

Use first-party data to create specific, personalized experiences

Real-time, data-driven insights are the foundation to your loyalty strategy. When you understand your customers, you can offer personalized offers that make them feel like they are one of a kind. Centralized data is scalable and readily available to everyone in the organization. Whether an employee is in the back office or on the sales floor, they are empowered with the tools and information needed to enhance each and every engagement, which drives loyalty.
65% of customers expect companies to adapt to their changing needs and preferences.
- State of the Connected Customer Report, Sixth Edition, Salesforce Research, 2023

Boost loyalty and trust through transparency

Loyalty hinges on trust and transparency. Companies need to be vigilant in keeping data secure and straightforward with how they intend to use it. Brands that are able to establish credibility and win trust in this area will benefit. Customers are not only more likely to give their data to companies they trust, they are more likely to remain loyal, make additional purchases, and recommend that company to friends and family. A strong, transparent data strategy turns loyalty into a key principle running throughout the organization.

Drive long-term business value from loyal customers

When loyalty is done right, it not only solidifies customer relationships, it also improves the bottom line. This is especially important in today’s economic climate. A well-designed loyalty program can provide non-dividend-based, low-cost experiential rewards that improve customer satisfaction without actually costing the organization. This can help alleviate margin pressures that might result from discounts and cashbacks.

Creating meaningful experiences that keep the customer coming back for more is incredibly valuable when you consider that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one you already have. In fact, just a 5% increase in customer retention produces a profit increase of anywhere from 25 to 95%. And how do you quantify the impact that happy customers’ word-of-mouth referrals have on your business?

“In order to modernize our brand, we’re using data and technology to build out the right experiences.”
–Art Sebastian, VP, Digital Experiences, Casey’s

Next: Chapter 3: Bring new experiences to market quickly

Discover how you can create agile, cost-effective programs that allow you to easily evolve as needed:
  • Use automation to power flexibility
  • Leverage customer insights
  • Measure emotional loyalty and point-in-time satisfaction
  • Forecast program viability

More Resources


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