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    Customer Loyalty Depends on Deeper Engagement

    Retailers need to shift focus from winning new customers to winning the loyalty of their existing customers, according to Loyalty 360.

    CINCINATTI -- Retailers everywhere know one thing is for certain: customer loyalty is the key to any successful business model. According to Loyalty 360 -- The Loyalty Marketer's Association, however, businesses still struggle with winning that loyalty.

    This morning, Loyalty 360 released its "Top 12 Customer Loyalty Trends for 2012" to help businesses develop more effective loyalty strategies. One common theme is that customer loyalty, vs. customer acquisition, is critical for driving sustainable growth. For starters, Loyalty 360 said businesses need to realize customer engagement is the journey, but customer loyalty is the destination. Loyalty has moved beyond points, discounts, miles and rewards, the association stated in its news release.

    In 2012, the focus will shift from attracting new customers to keeping the ones a retailer already has. One way to build that loyalty, the association said, is to recognize customers at all touchpoints, especially the call center, to deliver a quality customer experience. A recent Loyalty 360 poll found that 78 percent of respondents believe having a great customer experience makes them loyal.

    The association also predicted that marketers will work more in 2012 to learn from social media feedback, and there will be a focus on social media return on investment. Marketers will also look at a mix of location-based behavioral data and attitudinal and preference data.

    Moving forward, mobile coupons will go mainstream; social personalization will increase; and mobile digital wallets will mark a big shift in retail payments, according to Loyalty 360.

    The association said brands will increasingly use information about customer buying patterns generated from loyalty programs to create more targeted marketing and messaging. In addition, a recent study by Cone Communications found that consumers are more likely to choose a brand based on the charities or causes that brand supports.

    Loyalty 360 also stressed that loyalty programs are a critical element of lifecycle management. Engagement over a lifecycle is the new model for success, according to the association.


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