Consumer Brand Loyalty Investments Rising

More than 50% of marketers that took place in a Forrester Research study saw their loyalty budgets rise during the past two years, and only 10% saw a reduction in budget. This reflects the increase of loyalty programs attracting frequent buyers for everything from food to clothing to entertainment.

The Forrester study, "The State Of Loyalty Programs 2013," reveals that on average only 45% of customers enroll in loyalty programs, and 35% redeem rewards. The most popular channels for reaching consumers are email, 92%; Web site, 82%; call center, 64%; and social media, 54%. 

The study surveyed 50 loyalty program marketers about their strategies in an effort to understand the size, structure and performance of their programs. This report benchmarks customer insights from executives working to drive customer loyalty. Some 30% of respondents are from retail; 14%, travel; 12%, financial services; and 12%, media and entertainment.

The top three business objectives for customer loyalty programs are customer retention, 70%; customer engagement, 64%; and revenue, 34%. Only 14% cite customer experience as an objective. For nearly 60% of firms, loyalty is considered a top three strategic priority and 56% of marketers agree that loyalty has support from all parts of the organization.

The Forrester study suggests marketers focus on benchmarking loyalty campaigns, reassessing how consumers mature and expand their use of the cards, and invest in analysis technology to analyze customer data, trends and behavior.

Demonstrating growth in loyalty numbers, Microsoft introduced a Bing Offer loyalty and discount program Monday. The service aggregates offers from favorite deal sites, such as Groupon, Living Social and Yelp that allows users to see them all in one place. The company is testing a service in the Seattle area that allows consumers to link their credit cards to their search engine account to redeem discounts and coupons.

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