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December 2016

Total Wine is using an arsenal of marketing tools, including a customer database

In Houston we have a great wine retailer, Spec's, and I'm certainly not going to jump to a national chain, but I'm really impressed by the marketing prowess of Total Wine.

Wall Street Journal: The Man Behind 'America's Wine Superstore,' 2016-Dec 14 by Lettie Teague

“Total Wine bills itself as America’s Wine Superstore, and Mr. Trone believes its reach is greater than even large grocery-store chains … With a considerable customer database, Total Wine executives target specific wines to specific markets. For example, in New Jersey, Total Wine offers a larger selection of Italian wines than it does in other states.… The company is also increasing its focus on education, with more in-store seminars and tastings. It’s a wise business move; educated buyers tend to spend more on wine and buy more often.”

via brandxventures.com

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Observation: Customer conversation should power SEO

If we allow the way customers themselves describe their challenges to inform our keywords and content strategy, then our digital communications will be more attractive to our target audience. 

Business 2 Community: How to use Your CRM for SEO, 2016-Dec-13 by John Jantsch

Your CRM is also a data goldmine. Think about all the information it compiles from your marketing and sales efforts into its database — data from phone calls and in-person meetings, information collected from direct mail response and other marketing materials, and now all the digital tracking from everything you do online, from your website, chats, and even social media.

  1. Reputation Management
  2. Content Guidance
  3. Blogger Outreach
  4. Keyword Optimization
  5. Social Media

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Loyalty programs have evolved from bonuses to favors

Observation: The most sophisticated loyalty programs no longer confer a bonus based on what the company wants to promote. Instead, they offer an item the customer desires, preferably perfectly customized.

Loyalty360: The Fascinating Evolution of Loyalty Programs, 2016

Experiential loyalty taps into the emotional subconscious of the consumer and rewards them with an experience rather than just offering coupons or discounts. And it’s a raging trend because trick of loyalty is giving away that what customers want. It’s not about what you want to reward! These are the rewards which become personal and thus highly aspirational. Believe it or not, but it helps in creating a durable personal bond between you and your customers!

A few examples include:

  • Ouidad: This hair care company offers complimentary salon visits to its top loyalty members. 
  • The Wall Street Journal: The WSJ offers its subscription members invitations to fun events, like parties at Valentino’s flagship store.
  • Sephora: Top customers get free makeovers from Sephora’s team of experts.

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For Starbucks, the path to loyalty is grounded in technology

Observation: The next CEO of Starbucks is committed to see the business as a technology platform. In the future, consumers who use Starbuck's mobile and other IT platforms will have access to the most rewarding experiences. 

Heavy.com: New Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, 2016

As the COO of Starbucks, Johnson led the company’s global operating business. In addition to managing locations in more than 70 countries, Johnson was responsible for monitoring Starbuck’s supply chain, information technology, and mobile and digital platforms. In March, Johnson announced Starbucks prepaid debit cards as part of its rewards program. Under his tenure, Starbucks has developed its loyalty program and mobile app into an significant source of revenue.

Retailers are increasingly turning online for sources of new growth. Schultz said that Starbuck’s rewards program and mobile ordering app has helped sales even as growth has slowed according to the Chicago Tribune. About a quarter of transactions now come from mobile devices, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports. Johnson’s former colleague Steven Sinofsky told Geek Wire that Johnson’s tech experience dovetails with Starbucks’ growth strategy.

“Starbucks is a platform as much as we think of the food products,” Sinofsky said. “From the early days of free WiFi to the current world class app, tech is central to the full experience.”

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Any friend of the brand... Hyatt widens the gate to loyalty

Observation: Some analysts expect the new Hyatt loyalty program to do very well. Living in a city where the Hyatt restaurants are major venues for local business meetings, I can see how this might work. 

Nasdaq: Why Hyatt Introduced Its New Loyalty Program?, 2016-Nov-30 by Trefis Team

The new loyalty program will let customers earn points through the dollars they spend at Hyatt brands. In turn, they can use them with a number of eligible nights to qualify for loyalty membership, which is not done by other major hotel chains. Earlier, customers had to stay for a certain number of nights or stays in order to qualify for loyalty membership. Additionally, Hyatt will also reward customers who visit 5 or more Hyatt brands by awarding them with free stay for 1 night. We believe that by doing this, Hyatt has made its services more attractive and is likely to gain new customers in the coming quarters. This is a long-term strategy in order to lure premium hotel customers, as this strategy is designed to reward customers with longer stays without paying extra for upgrades and premium services.

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Gamestop Follows Its Customer Further into Loyalty Games

Observation: GameStop evolves WITH its core customer, integrating gaming and loyalty mechanics.

Loyalty360: GameStop Positively Evolves Brand Loyalty, 2016-Nov-30 by Jim Tierney 

...[CEO] Raines said the foundation for all the [GameStop] company’s businesses is its PowerUp Rewards program.

“At roughly 50 million members worldwide, the CRM program brings us many advantages,” he said. “First, it brings us deep consumer insights as we execute weekly and monthly consumer survey panel to understand their behavior in gaming, collectibles, mobile, and other products. As an example, we discovered through our PowerUp Rewards catalog that our gaming consumers really like the ThinkGeek items for the use of their points, which led us, ultimately, to the acquisition of that innovative website called ThinkGeek.com.”

Another advantage, he added, is that company officials can pinpoint specific collectible items consumers want. “PowerUp also allows us to have tailored communication directly with members via email or their PowerUp phone app,” Raines added.

Doug Sutherland, loyalty specialist, Dynamics, told Loyalty360 that he is very impressed by GameStop’s ability to layer loyalty over its superior brand experience.

“GameStop continues to lead its industry and the brand continues to evolve positively, appealing to a demographic that ages with the company,” Sutherland explained. “Many of today’s more successful loyalty mechanics have evolved from the original game mechanics, including achievements, tiers, points, and community. It makes perfect sense then that by combining the ideals of loyalty with its knowledge of game mechanics, the PowerUp Rewards program has grown to 50 million members, with both a basic program and a pro membership (where a nominal $15 annual cost more than doubles a member’s reward potential).”