For 26 years, CRMC has continued to deliver as the premier CRM event of the year. This year, with loyalty marketing at the forefront, we got to experience once more the resounding impact of this intimate event. As the expo booths begin to come down, we can take a beat before the next stop of the conference season.
CRMC continues to bring innovative tech companies and brands together as we define the future of retail. As I fly off to my next stop, here are some of the key takeaways that resonated across the board.
Augmented reality will soon be ubiquitous
Wired magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson presented a very interesting point of view on the tech trends that retailers need to be mindful of in the coming years. From the effect of the ride-share economy on mall parking lots (and the resulting rise is available real estate) to AI, there are many trends that will impact the way retailers think about business and the consumer economy. As digital natives continue to dominate the market, AR will play a pivotal role in delivering the experiences that this segment requires. And the data that retailers (who get ahead of the pack) will be able to collect through the VR experiences they power will open new competitive advantages that we can only dream of in our current business models.
Loyalty is not copy and paste
Long gone are the days of one-size fits all loyalty programs. Retailers are creating complex rewards economies that personalize the experience for the individual. The messaging, content, and general loyalty program structure are undergoing fundamental changes. Points economies for discounts are evolving into engaging organic touchpoints that deliver immersive experiences – experiences that are reflective of the individual’s personality, wants, and needs.
Be your own Chief Membership Officer
The moment sales are not what the market expects, the focus will be on moving merchandise and the customer focus will fall by the wayside. We all know that we get X return per email deployment, so we’ll be asked to blast more emails. And the moment the bottom line is affected, programs that are not delivering ROI in the moment will be deprioritized. This is just the nature of how retail has been historically wired. But this is a band-aid attempting to stop a titanic sized hole. The long term focus needs to be on the customer, and when it comes to loyalty programs and loyalty marketing someone needs to step up and take ownership and drive the program forward across departments. One key thing to remember: acknowledge all of the departments for their work, and highlight every single data point you can get your hands on. Visibility into the program will make it less likely to be deprecated based on the ever-changing market tides.
It is a given that any data you collect needs to have a reason behind it. Don’t ask for something that you don’t have a plan to use. With that said, you need to be strategic in the way that you ask your customers for data, and the way to go about it is to revamp your progressive profiling efforts. You will always have two customer data sets – inferred based on past purchase and browsing behavior. For progressive profiling, you should focus on validating your inferences with explicit data. If you believe the customer’s browse and buy data makes them Category X, find an engaging way for them to raise their hand and confirm that assumption. This approach will validate your data models.
Be willing to take risks
The only way to move the needle is to take a leap and drive any initiatives you believe will be impactful. Communicate risk and manage expectations, but work as a change management agent – that is the only way that you will be able to drive innovative experiences.
About the author
Prior to joining Movable Ink, Julio worked across multiple SaaS companies whose integrated solutions focused on driving digital innovation for retailers. At Experian CheetahMail (now Cheetah Digital) he worked on strategic email program development and deployment. At RevTrax he worked closely with the executive team to manage the evolution of the product, define go-to-market strategies, and led the Customer Experience organization in delivering ROI targets for the client base. Julio joins Movable Ink from Eversight, where he led strategic engagements that leveraged the software to create and deliver smart, dynamic pricing and targeted promotions. He now leads retail strategy for Movable Ink.