Like all marketing strategies, customer loyalty programs need to adapt. Businesses look to the past for what not to do, but they look to the future for possibilities and the pace has never seemed faster.

Part of the reason for this speedy progression is the awareness of the customer. No longer do people believe the claims in magazine advertisements without a quick Google to check its legitimacy. With such easy access to information, your brand doesn’t just have to look like it knows what its doing. It has to be one step ahead.

As we look to loyalty trends coming up in 2018, we need to remember that the customer is a brand in and of themselves. For success, we need to ensure our brands are complimentary to theirs.

 

Improving Talent

In the time it takes most full time MBA students to complete their degree (two years), the course material they are given at the beginning of the year will look different come graduation. This is because the competitive worlds of internet marketing has moved so many steps ahead.

We’re not saying traditional marketing knowledge is no longer useful. However, the means by which marketers engage with their customers is changing rapidly.

Social media networks and search engines change their algorithms, often leaving a guessing game as to how best to plough on. This is why marketing talent not only needs to catch up, but they have to have the tools to know how to deal with left field strategies.

2018 will see marketers stepping up their game, getting to grips with technologies and seeing how their customer loyalty programs can leave no stone unturned with the new options opening up all the time.

This will also lead to a redressing of roles for marketing loyalty. We will still need to investigate more traditional methods of getting the word out, but loyalty trends will see more specialists as well. When roles become better defined, workers will be better placed to know where to focus resources. Much of this will come from optimally using data analytics from your customer loyalty program.

 

Becoming More Visual

With Facebook going headstrong into their own streaming services, video is going to be a very important loyalty trend in the foreseeable future. Facebook may be investing in longer form programming, but the competition for scrolling content is getting fierce.

This is why 2018 is going to see more examples of video content which is as disposable as many of the products it is selling. With ads popping up across networks, especially those which use more traditional outlets for advertising like billboards and TV, advertisers run the risk of inducing ad fatigue.

This is why shorter videos which don’t hassle the customer are going to be more commonplace. Perhaps it is an indictment of our lessening attention spans, but platforms like Snapchat have proven that there is appeal in these short form promotions.

 

Live Streaming

Another ‘adaptation’ of Facebook was incorporating live streaming which had already become popular on platforms like Periscope. In 2018, we are going to see how companies can really use this to their advantage and connect with customers.

In the past, company events needed to be recorded and then disseminated among customers. Now we can bring customers right to the event. While it is a good idea to promote them as much as possible, even casual customers can get pop up notifications of an interesting live stream and watch immediately.

It is a good way to encourage virability as well as providing cheaper content for your business. If you are a food and beverage company, you can have live cook offs with celebrity chefs (their fee may not be as cheap as the broadcast). Interviews and press conferences can now be streamed live and then viral videos created from the highlights. It is a great example of how creative loyalty trends are continuing to be.

 

Hyper-personalization

As customers are now able to ‘close X’ on ads, have easier access to your competitors and will tire easily with that which is not relevant, customer loyalty in 2018 and beyond will be much more customer focused.

Using analytics and strategies from your customer loyalty program, you will be able to find ways to appeal to a customer’s wants and needs which has the maximum chance of resonating. Analyzing the data from promotions, surveys from referral programs as well as other established channels, you will be able to build up customer profiles which are water tight.

Millennials are only getting older and earning more money as we go into this coming year, so their loyalty is increasingly important. Making sure your brand promotes a lifestyle which is appealing to support might get trickier, but at least you’ll be better equipped to make decisions.

 

Building Yourself as a Secure Brand

The increased instances of identity theft is a rising topic in 2017 and concern is only growing. With high profile security breaches from giant companies like Deloitte, Equifax and Yahoo!, customers will only stay loyal if they know it is safe to do so.

First you will have to make sure you are a secure company, so you will want to ensure you have a customer loyalty program which values online security as one of its highest priorities. From there, we will see companies using their reliability even more so as a means for promotion.

 

AI in Customer Loyalty Platforms

Another recent feature of Facebook (despite an embarrassing slip up involving Puerto Rico) is their use of VR for Facebook Spaces. This is where avatars of users can hang out and speak as if they were in the same conference room, despite being continents apart.

What is going to be an increasing worry/opportunity in upcoming customer loyalty trends is knowing whether these avatars are indeed real. Artificial Intelligence technologies are receiving heavy investment and this means we are going to have customers being sold to by bots.

While this is no new technology, savvy customers are becoming more aware of how chatbots are targeting them. The change we will see is that companies can now be more open with their use of chatbots. They will be used to save both the customer and the company time by providing the necessary information they need to make purchases in a more intuitive way.

This is not the only way AI will change customer relations. With image searching starting to be as important as keyword targeting, AI will help brands find out what customers are looking for before they even know themselves.

Customer loyalty in 2018 will have a strange dichotomy where the marketing becomes more personal to the individual, but interacting will be increasingly automated. Making sure you strike this balance will be important for your brand’s success in the coming year.

If you want to learn how your brand can use social media to build the best loyalty platform, schedule a call with our experts here! 

Johnny Reyes
PM & UX/UI Specialist
Product management

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