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My Loyalty Holiday Wish List, From Wise Men to Golden Rings

holidayWhen I was a kid, the top items on my holiday wish list included a game called “Operation” and Supertramp’s latest album.

Today, I’d be on my best behavior if it meant getting a smart phone that accurately predicted what today’s shopper will need tomorrow. As a loyalty marketer bent on perfecting the brand-consumer value equation, this is the sort of shiny object that would top my holiday wish list.

Unless I have a time machine (also on my wish list), I do not expect to see one of those any time soon. However, if I were to come up with a more attainable list of the technologies, events andadvancements in loyalty marketing, the following (with a little holiday twist worked in) would be included:

•  Wise men: The loyalty marketing industry is heading toward a critical shortage of talent. I’ve written on this topic before. The data analytics field is expected to fall short of experienced data professionals by 190,000 in 2018, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Yet 97% of companies with revenue of more than $100 million are pursuing expertise in business analytics, Forrester Research has reported. More colleges and universities are adding programs, and I wish for others to follow.

• Stockings: I do not mean the kind hung from the mantel, but those that occur when members stock up on reward redemptions that would otherwise gather dust. The more consumers redeem, the better engaged they are with the brand, and as we pointed out in COLLOQUY a few years ago, there are a lot of points and miles that go by the wayside ($120 per household). I wish for loyalty marketers to understand how consumers using their points drive engagement with their programs and brands.

A gift box: I love to shop online stores like Amazon for their convenience as well as for their targeted suggestions after I make a purchase. I just wish more of them would include a simple check box so I can mark when the product is a gift. That way the merchant would know the purchase does not necessarily reflect my personal preferences, and I would not get “house music” suggestions stemming from a gift I bought last spring.

• Cookie cut-outs: Cookies are a tried-and-true method for better understanding a consumer’s online behavior, but they can lead to pop-up ads that the consumer may find invasive. Also, if the computer is shared, someone may be able to figure out what a spouse or other family member had recently purchased for him or her. I wish for a better way to track and engage the consumer, ideally through opt-in devices that would alert marketers to know exactly who is on the other end of the browsing device.

•  Golden rings: Mobile is not only transforming the loyalty experience, it is becoming essential among program members. But for loyalty marketers trying to get out of the “me-too” mold, mobile also adds many options and therefore complexities regarding how to use the various motivators available in our toolkits. With a device as powerful as mobile, I wish for increased insights to guide us through the complexities of the platform so that we may reach the full potential of this channel. This is something I am sure loyalty marketers will work on in 2015.

I may not be lucky enough to see all these events in the coming year, but my fingers are crossed they eventually will arrive. How about you? Please share what’s on your loyalty marketing wish list.

Who knows? Someone may be watching.

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