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Playing “The Zone”: a new way to look at loyalty marketing

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Playing “The Zone”: a new way to look at loyalty marketing
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Have you read the 2013 Loyalty Manifesto? I recently gave it a second look and there was one term that popped out to me because I hadn’t seen it before: “contextual loyalty”. It was coined by Loyalty Truth to describe the current loyalty landscape where, due to the emergence of mobile and social media, there are now a number of ways that your company or brand can engage with customers—and customers can engage with you.

The manifesto cited several key components of this new contextual loyalty, but for me this aspect stood out:

(Contextual loyalty) shifts the focus of customer engagement from channels and networks, the implied emphasis of Social Loyalty, to flexibly meet the customer wherever they are.

Flexibly” meet the customer wherever they are? It’s a far cry from loyalty marketing of just a decade ago, where the points of contact between customer and company were few and far between—and usually limited to me sending you a piece of snail mail or e-mail and you connecting with me at my place of business, be it online or at a bricks-and-mortar establishment.

Today, of course, we have the ability to engage with customers virtually around the clock, via a number of different devices and in a number of different ways. It got me thinking of a sports analogy: these days, effective loyalty marketing is really about playing “zone defense”, making sure your customer is covered at all times.

Not familiar with “zone defense”? It’s a phrase used in sports, most commonly football and basketball. It means that each player on your team covers a specific area of the field or court, and guards his or her opponent whenever they venture into their ‘zone”.

In this case, think of each zone as a different potential customer touch point or engagement opportunity. These zones exist anywhere your customers might encounter your company or brand, and could include:

  • your company’s locations, both in-store and online
  • social media venues, like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter
  • location-based apps like Foursquare and Google Places
  • push vehicles like snail mail and e-mail

Wherever your customer ventures into a zone (and in most cases, you should have a presence in all the places mentioned above), you need to be sure that customer is “covered”—and have the right messaging and response mechanisms in place to both recognize and engage that customer. It amounts to a 360-degree approach to loyalty that makes the most out of every company/customer encounter.

I was reminded recently of a company that makes the most of every customer touch point: Disney World. In discussing the theme park’s merits, a noted architect suggested that it was “a perfect experience”, one that “surrounds you at every possible moment”. And isn’t that what we should also be aiming for in loyalty marketing, “a perfect experience that surrounds you at every moment”?

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