It’s no surprise that loyal customers engage with brands more than those who are not loyal.
What may be surprising is that Millennials show more brand fealty than anyone else, and that email is a top channel overall, according to “Customer Engagement And Loyalty,” a study by Blackhawk Network, a provider of gift cards, egifts and other branded products.
Of 1,502 U.S. consumers surveyed, 63% receive emails about the latest deals and products, versus 39% of non-loyal consumers.
This doesn’t mean they belong to loyalty programs. The study found that 55% of Millennials join them, versus 41% of Generation Xers and 36% of Baby Boomers.
The only channel that tops email is websites, which are visited by 76%.
In contrast, 62% of loyal customers watch or take advantage of rebates, compared with 44% of non-loyal individuals. And 56% post positive reviews in social media, while only 29% of non-loyal shoppers do so.
What constitutes loyalty? The consensus, chosen by 94%, is consistently good customer experience: That includes all channels, including email. And 77% cite convenience.
In addition, 76% want an easy payment process, and the same percentage is seeking new and innovative products or services.
Lower prices was one of the lowest choices, selected by 57%.
Overall, 90% will engage with a brand they are loyal to, but 47% say engagement drops when they are not loyal, even if they have often purchased from the brand.
Now for the generation gap. Contrary to myth, Millennials are more engaged than their elders.
For example, 59% use gift cards or egifts, vs. 43% of GenXers and 32% of Boomers. And 52% have responded to targeted offers, compared with 43% of the GenXers and 31% of the Boomer cohort.
They’re also more likely to have used a mobile app, and to have used a prepaid offer.
So how do you go about engaging loyalty? First, you need good customer data, and it starts with what you ask for at the initial point of contact.
Obviously you need an email address — that’s more important than the name or just about anything. So you have to offer content or, as the Blackhawk survey shows, the promise of good deals.
But don’t forget to ask for preference center choices — that shows good faith at the outset.
Experts also suggest that you track behavior, transactions, redemptions and demographics. Machine learning and AI can drive personalized emails at precisely the right moment.
Loyalty and rewards programs work, so it pays to get people signed up for them.
But remember -- digital technologies aren’t all you need. One of the chief reasons for brand loyal, selected by 73%, is customer service by phone, in-person or, yes, online.