#Trending: Omnichannel Loyalty and Leveraging Social Media Channels
Technological advancements in the current digital age allow consumers to browse and buy products on smartphones and tablets, bringing an unlimited number of retail options to their fingertips—literally. Thus, in an effort to distinguish themselves, many brands are adopting omnichannel-based customer loyalty programs in favor of more traditional programs. Omnichannel loyalty is the practice of providing customers with seamless connection to a brand across all possible media, while simultaneously rewarding those customers for purchasing and engaging publically with the brand. These loyalty programs have significant long-term value because they serve to develop customer relationships, which ultimately leads to customer retention.
What constitutes all possible media in 2018? While traditional print, broadcast and online address channels are still important and necessary to an omnichannel approach, an increasing emphasis has been placed on socially driven engagement strategies due to the success of social media platforms and their 24/7 accessibility on our technology devices. Websites and mobile applications like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are helping brands develop a social strategy, which, when implemented effectively, can improve customer experience. These newer channels work to create a digital community where retailers can interact with customers in real-time, allowing them to provide a desirable level of personalization in shopping and rewards programs. Additionally, customers can provide feedback to other customers or the general public, and are often motivated to do so. Posting a “selfie” online used to be a way to show off your newest clothing and accessories, however, through hashtag marketing and loyalty campaigns, the pictures and comments you post on social media channels might actually help you save money or gain access to exclusive offers and discounts in the future.
The effectiveness of strategic omnichannel loyalty is best illustrated by its impact on millennials. That’s right. While they might get a bad rap for their participation trophies and avocado toast, millennials are fiercely loyal, with over half of the generation saying that they are “extremely or quite loyal” to their favorite brands. This emotional loyalty is significant because it translates directly into dollars and cents for retailers. In fact, a recent study suggests that customers are willing to spend money on brands to which they feel an emotional connection, even when there are other similar alternatives available to them. Why? Because a brand’s social influence on its customers, which used to occur almost exclusively in person, can now be developed more quickly and efficiently through digital media on social media.
Thus, in this day and age, it has become essential for brands to engage consumers with the right message at the right time using the right channel, in an authentic and fun way.
So how can retailers ensure that they are keeping up with the trends? Prioritizing customer loyalty through an omnichannel rewards program is a must. Retailers should consider developing social media platforms that can be leveraged to create a digital community of costumers where engagement with the brand is incentivized and feedback is used to create a personalized shopping and rewards experience. At a time when retail options are limitless, consumers want to be engaged, and will develop emotional loyalty to brands that make these efforts.