The concept of “attention economics”—in which an abundance of information creates a shortage of attention”—isn’t new; political scientist Herbert Simon addressed the subject in 1971. But as Mark Sage, loyalty director, EMEA for Carlson Marketing, pointed out during his session at the International Direct Marketing Fair, it’s become a particular challenge for marketers in the 21st century.
Because of the multiplicity of marketing media and messages today, it’s more difficult not only to catch the attention of consumers today but also to engage them and, from there, win their loyalty. To even hope to reach that ultimate goal, Sage said, “you need to say something consumers want to hear, and you need to say it when they want to hear it.”
But while the title of Sage’s session was “Engagement Loyalty”, he admitted that marketers don’t agree on what “engagement” entails when it comes to marketing. But “two things together constitute loyalty and engagement,” he continued: consumer behaviour (what people are actually doing) and consumer attitude (what they are thinking).
Sage gave examples of engaging customers through communications and through benefits. Regarding communications, he stressed the importance of the tried-and-true relevance, frequency and timing. He cited recent Carlson Marketing research that showed making irrelevant communications relevant would increase recipients’ propensity to recommend by 42 percent, their likelihood to shop more by 37 percent and customer retention by 42 percent. What’s more, the return on investment for personalised marketing campaigns can be as much as 65 percent greater than that of a generic mass mailing.
A case in point was a customised mailing that supermarket chain Sainsbury’s sent to 4.5 million of its best customers. Both the creative and the offer—vouchers for the customer’s favourite products—were tailored for the individual. The results: 40 percent of the coupons were redeemed, ROI increased 25.5 percent, and revenue rose by 110 percent.
Engaging customers through benefits is the modus operandi of loyalty and frequent-buyer programmes, though it is not limited to formal, long-term loyalty schemes. When rewarding customers, though, “it’s not about offering thousands of rewards but making sure that the rewards you have are relevant to your customers,” Sage said. Any benefits you offer should also be in keeping with your brand.
You also want to make sure that customers can achieve the rewards—albeit not too easily. “If someone can get a reward with one or two purchases,” Sage warned, “that’s not going to work from a loyalty point of view. You need to make it more difficult to achieve.”
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