As customers become aware of the digital layer that spreads across our world, companies feel the urge to adapt their strategies for this new, empowered player. The decision balance tilts toward the customer and terms like engagement and loyalty elevate to a new relevance. There are many definitions of loyalty in the digital era, but they all pivot on the customer experience. Here are 5 things we have learned in 2014 about customer loyalty.

Loyalty is not just about products or services; it runs hand in hand with emotion. Customer loyalty is the result of a long process that you should never take for granted. It comes from a consistently positive experience that involves emotions and satisfaction. To build loyalty, your customer journey must blend physical, emotional and value elements into a whole new idea of involvement.

Numbers say this is not just a conceptual matter. One of the most useful statistics about digital customer experience concerns loyalty: it costs 6 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Retaining customers might be cheaper than acquisition, but don’t let this deceive you: it is surely more difficult to gain and hold.

Implementing an innovative loyalty program is the first step to create a long-lasting customer-centric brand, but if you’re planning strategies for the year ahead, take the following five lessons with you to make sure you are always at the top of customers’ minds.

  • Sales pass, loyalty stays: surveys say that people think that customer experience is more important than price when the purchase moment comes. Of course promotions and offers are still an important sales incentive, but you need something more to retain the attention of empowered customers. Remember that in the Age of the Customer sales are temporary, but loyalty is forever.
  • Loyalty is a long term task: because customers of the mobile era ask for compelling and innovative experiences with brands and products, you need to go beyond traditional fidelity cards. Rewarding shoppers for their purchases can boost your sales in the short term, but engaging them within an amazing customer journey is the real key to success in the long term.
  • Loyalty is social driven: how do you create engagement in the digital era? A real innovation process can’t do without an inspiring experience that merges online and offline. Incorporating social media in your marketing mix is the most effective way to get attention. Top brands already know that nurturing social communities often leads to purchases. The key is to deliver compelling brand storytelling, game mechanics and unique content that give customers the feeling of exclusive.
  • Loyalty loves technology: customer loyalty building is a process that evolves with the times. What worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow, because society and technology constantly change the rules of the game. If you want to build a long-lasting bridge between your company and clients, what you need to do is to focus on your customers’ needs, analyzing how priorities change through the years. In the mobile era, your strategy must always comprise new touchpoints and disruptive technologies - smartwatches, iBeacon, activity trackers and the Internet of Things.
  • Loyalty provides data: the ability to retain existing customers will boost sales, allowing you to collect useful information and data regarding their priorities, preferences and user habits. As the flow of data increases, you will need a proper analytics dashboard to make sense of it. Big Data can be overwhelming but they help you to take a more methodical approach to tailored promotions and context-aware content. We can imagine it as a full circle: loyalty provides data provide loyalty.

Loyalty is not carved in stone. It is forever but evolves with the times. If you acknowledge this assumption and learn how to extract reliable strategies from numbers, you will finally connect your online and physical experiences, and bring loyalty to the next level.

As practical advice in personalization, one of the critical practices that enable to customer loyalty, discover Neosperience Engage, the end-to-end mobile marketing solution to turn on smartphones like magic and deliver personalized experiences to your customers close to, or inside the store.