More Data, Better Tools & Bigger Opportunities: The Power of Partnership Ecosystems
Only dynamic loyalty programs are capable of meeting today’s shifting customer expectations effectively. In other words, it’s the companies that build their consumer loyalty strategies around fluid, value-driven partnerships of products, services, and experiences, that are able to truly deliver on customers’ unmet needs, even beyond their own touchpoints.
In fact, the value of loyalty partners has been documented thanks to research by affiliate management agency Acceleration Partners: From a sample of over 90 industry-leading brands, the agency found that, on average, the 10 largest loyalty partners drove 30% of clients’ total program revenue.
A partnership-based model also means that companies from different sectors can come together and collaborate to build joint loyalty programs. If built correctly – that is, based on shared core values and complementary value propositions – these cross-industry loyalty partnerships are able to create benefits for everyone in the network that far exceed each member’s individual capabilities. So why is that?
A Deeper Understanding of Customer Behavior
First, brands that work with loyalty partners simply end up with a better understanding of their customers’ wants and needs to act on, since behavioural data picked up by different partners on the network pools together to create more comprehensive and more intimate customer profiles. Member companies are then able to leverage these additional parameters to hone in their strategies and reward their customers more effectively.
The effects of intensive use of customer analytics on company performance “are quite extraordinary” according to McKinsey, which had found that companies that heavy users of customer analytics were “nine times more likely to surpass [their competitors] in customer loyalty.”
Tailored, More Holistic Experiences
And it’s not just more data. Loyalty partnerships empower brands with a much larger and much more diverse selection of potential rewards, be it tangible goods, services, or experiences, from partner brands. Combined with the rich data provided by the network, companies can then deliver tailored experiences that far exceed what their own products and services can deliver. This model allows companies to provide consumers with a markedly more holistic and delightful experience, which effectively reinforces their program’s underlying appeal.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, partnerships must be devised strategically in order to be successful. That is to say, your partners must be selected based on their ability to complement your brand’s value and experience. For example, airliners, hotels, cab hailing services, and generally most hospitality services are great matches for each other. Another, more specific, example would be Nike’s partnership with Spotify, through which Nike+ users were given access to Spotify’s music catalogue from within the app. In exchange, Nike+ users were entitled to a free, week-long trial of Spotify’s premium offering.
Cross Marketing Opportunities
Loyalty partnerships also provide companies with new opportunities for customer acquisition and engagement. You’ve probably guessed it already: when brands use your products as rewards, they are effectively promoting your company to their user base, and vice versa. Furthermore, forging the right partnerships is key again: the more complementary your services are, the higher quality leads you will get.
In fact, a 2016 paper by researchers at the Department of Business Economics at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain had sampled purchasing behavior of 12,000 individuals over a 13+ year period to examine the effects multi-vendor programs on behavioral loyalty and concluded that: “(…) this relationship was influenced by the kind of service that the partners in the program offered; the more, that this fit with and complemented the core service, the greater was the cross-purchasing effect.”
Cross marketing through loyalty programs is an inexpensive tool for strategically accessing established communities and spreading your brand’s influence beyond the traditional touch points and into specific desired locations and markets.
The benefits of network-shaped customer journeys were perhaps best summarized by a 2008 paper, which had found that customers felt more affinity towards a brand after having cross-purchased from a partner through a loyalty program.
So, is your brand ready for this growth journey? Drop us a line and we’ll take it from there!