Here we are — already in October, and the snowy weather is right around the corner. The problem with winter – aside from the bitter cold, early sunsets, and the extra 5 or 10 pounds – is potholes. I know potholes naturally occur, but the additional stress of snow, cold, and roadway salt can really wreak havoc. Regardless of how careful I drive, I always seem to hit one or two holes that completely knock my tires out of alignment.
While I’m unenthused about the onset of winter, businesses have been dealing with the cold for quite a while now. Bumps in the road are a natural occurrence, but the added strain of an uncertain economy along with apprehensive spending and fluctuating customer attitudes have created an abundance of massive potholes. It is nearly impossible to avoid damage – especially for loyalty programs. Hitting just one or two can easily knock your program right out of alignment. And a misaligned loyalty program is a bumpy ride indeed.
Ensuring a Smoother Ride
Your program will be much easier to handle and the ride will be smoother if you align in three areas:
I worked with a retailer that identified the expansion of private brands as a key growth strategy yet its loyalty program offered nothing in support. Had the program kept up, it would have integrated awareness initiatives and purchase motivators for this profitable category. But it missed this prime opportunity because it was out of alignment with the needs of the business.
You’ll want to ensure that your loyalty program is aligned with your company’s objectives and vision for the future. There are scores of dynamic factors that cause objectives and plans to shift, and if your program isn’t shifting along with them, it’s time to realign.
Aligning the Front-end
Your customers are front and center, so don’t forget about them as their needs have changed as well. Moreover, the adoption of diverse channels and the embrace of social media have accelerated a shift in customer preferences and expectations. The impact your program has on customer behavior can quickly deteriorate if you are not aligned with those expectations. Listen to your customers through periodic surveys and focus groups. They will let you know how they feel and what they expect from you.
Often, marketing initiatives are planned and executed in individual silos, but hitting the road in separate directions means each program has to work harder to get to where it needs to go. To maximize impact, marketing programs need to work together – completely balanced and in unison. They can still retain their own identity but to drive ROI, they should overlap in planning and roll-out.
Proper alignment prolongs the life of your program and makes for better handling and easier steering. Ask yourself the following questions to determine where you need to realign.
1. What components of my program support the business goals and vision of my company?
2. When was the last time I gathered and applied customer feedback?
3. How integrated is my program with my other marketing initiatives?
So, how is your loyalty program handling?