FINANCIAL SERVICES. Deepening customer engagement with relevant rewards

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1 FINANCIAL SERVICES Deepening customer engagement with relevant rewards October 2013

2 Contents Introduction 3 Diverging from the me too rewards 4 Why embrace relevant rewards 5 Five steps to developing relevant rewards 6 Epsilon recommendations 9 Conclusion 9 Epsilon solutions 10 Our approach 10 2

3 Introduction What are relevant rewards? Relevant rewards are personalized, analyticallydriven opportunities for members to earn and redeem currency that allow you to realize the true value of your program. As a financial services marketer, you face profound challenges engaging existing customers. Not only are today s customers overwhelmed by messages across diverse channels, but it s becoming increasingly difficult for you to stand apart from your competitors. What s more, you face additional barriers to obtain a positive, emotional connection with customers: commoditized and intangible products, heightened regulation, and overall public distrust lingering from the five-year recession. Loyalty programs: Consumer behavior Of consumers who have a primary credit card: 66 % 28 % A loyalty program, which includes the opportunity for customers to earn rewards currency (points, cash, etc.) and then redeem, is likely part of your approach to build customer engagement. However, this strategy requires more than making a general offer or offering countless redemption options. Customers demand that you know their needs, interests, and lifestyles. To keep customers engaged and capture attention, you must present compelling and relevant rewards that directly speak to those needs, or risk disengaging customers from your brand. say they participate in a loyalty program say they are active in a loyalty program Gallup Business Journal 3

4 Diverging from the me too rewards Like most financial services loyalty marketers, you re facing some dilemmas with your rewards programs. The cost to run a rewards program has grown. What s more, you re delivering less differentiation, connection, and engagement. Adding new features to already-complex programs doesn t help. Too often, you may be tempted to offer programs or services that match your competitive set. However, that s typically counterproductive. Consumers constantly receive irrelevant offers and discounts, Allison Cripps, VP/Strategist, Epsilon, says. Adding yet another commoditized blanket of additional services may seem like a solution to increase profitability, but these initiatives don t improve loyalty and often have the opposite effect. To engage customers and build connections that last, you must break away from me too programs, focus on your customers, and customize both earn offers and redemption opportunities to make them relevant. 4

5 Why embrace relevant rewards 48 % In a me economy, you need to develop personalized rewards that are unique to your customers to engage them with your company. Loyalty efforts must go beyond commoditized rewards to attract customers and build profitable relationships, Stephen Selwood, VP/GM Client Services, Epsilon, says. It s important to build a holistic picture of individual customers, and present meaningful rewards or offers across channels. Offering more relevant rewards gives you a tremendous opportunity to grow. Relevant rewards will lead to stronger customer engagement. That should lead to a higher return on your marketing investment and increased customer activity (spending or redemption), driving overall value of that customer to your enterprise. of consumers report higher expectations for specialized treatment for being a good customer Accenture 2012 Global Consumer Pulse Research Key Findings 5

6 Five steps to developing relevant rewards Developing meaningful rewards based on customers interests and lifestyles will go far in keeping customer attention. The path to relevant rewards can be broken into the following five steps: Step 1 Data capture To understand your customers passion areas and rewards behaviors, you must determine what customer information is available or what you can obtain to make reward offerings more relevant to customers. This may take several forms: Historic redemption activity. Assess a customer s historic interaction (transaction behavior and category) with the rewards program. For example, do customers spend rewards points as soon as they are available, or save for a larger purchase? Also, consider whether redemptions are clustered in broad industries, such as travel or retail, or based on particular merchandise categories. Online interaction with rewards program. Learn about customers based on their interactions with different rewards program communications ( s opened, visited pages of your website, etc.), even if they have not yet been redeemed. Find out what customers click on to tell you what you want to know. Other financial transaction information. Where possible, evaluate if historic spending is predictive of preferred redemption merchants. But proceed carefully when relying on spend data in isolation because this correlation is not as strong as once believed. As your organization moves toward customercentricity where the individual is seen holistically across products, that complete view can inform your understanding. Direct customer feedback. Motivate customers to provide information about their interests at online preference centers. Surveys of customers can capture important insight regarding relevant rewards, in addition to a better understanding of what they generally seek in the loyalty program. The lower the incidence of redemption behavior, the more important this information becomes. Compiled third-party data. Use customer data compiled by third-party vendors to gain insight into passion areas and interests, particularly where direct customer history is not available or conclusive. 6

7 Step 2 Actionable analysis and segmentation The next step is to assess your audience based on their rewards passions and behaviors. A natural first step is to create a segmentation schema for your rewards program to match your rewards offerings. The segmentation should only be as refined as the rewards offer selection and marketing activities can support, and that segmentation can evolve over time. Capabilities do exist to drive toward segments of one, where each customer receives a different array of earn offers and suggested burn opportunities. But less complex segmentation will be easier and less costly to implement, and still deliver significant business impact. Customers whose preferences have not been directly revealed are preliminarily classified based on lookalike analysis. For example, a cluster analysis may highlight large populations such as Everyday Spenders that spend disproportionately in gas and groceries, and redeem frequently in smaller amounts to offset those expenses. Meanwhile, Sports Enthusiasts may use rewards currency to treat themselves to bigger-ticket items like NFL football tickets or collectors memorabilia. Everyday spending rewards for the working mom Reaching the sports enthusiast with category-specific rewards Consumers with different interests and lifestyles have different needs. Rewards should cater to those individual needs and passion points. 7

8 Step 3 Incentive categories Cardholders become loyal through the combination of both rational and emotional benefits of card usage. Capturing their attention means integrating a wide spectrum of product offerings: Matching rewards opportunities to segments Once you identify your segments, you can match offers and redemption options to those segments, highlighting categories of greater relevance, and representative merchants. Based on customer preferences, you might lead with higher point value redemption options or those that customers can more easily reach. For example, you might offer a frequent traveler the choice of a luxury hotel discount or a first-class airline ticket. In contrast, a fitness enthusiast might enjoy cutting-edge sporting equipment or an outdoors vacation package. When you target rewards offerings to customers interests, you are more likely to generate a response and deepen engagement, delivering greater value for the customer and organization. However, here s one bit of caution. Don t over-target. You should lead with earn and burn options that match the segmentation, but also provide access to broader offers and redemption opportunities. By monitoring how customers respond, you can then see when preferences evolve or whether the segmentation requires adjustment. Passion area Customers who have particular interests and identifiable spending habits can get even more of what they want based on their hobbies or entertainment preferences. Universal currency With everyday purchases such as gas and groceries, customers earn points that accumulate overtime. By using a credit card over a bank debit card, points accumulate quickly, no matter where consumers use their card. Rational People like choices. Cash back rewards speak to the masses, creating the opportunity for customers to make a choice where to spend their reward dollars. Step 4 Segment-driven messaging It is critical to follow through with customized communications of earn offers and a consistent presentation of redemption options that align with your segmentation. Your marketing messages should speak to different customer segments with language Step 5 Broader applications If customization of your rewards program yields positive results, it should spread. For example, consider adjusting funding of rewards for different segments to drive deeper engagement with high-value or highpotential customers. This could take the form of either richer spend offers or differentiated burn rates for redemptions. If you engage in differential funding, closely monitor customer response and the ROI of those activities to validate the value of the effort. that relates to customers passions and behaviors. Continue to test the interplay of customer segments and marketing to gauge if your targeted offers seem to resonate, or a different grouping would yield better results. Customer service that anticipates customers passions and preferences is also critical. Servicing agent engagement with customers can easily be accomplished with segment-based insight, such as highlighting relevant offers or redemption opportunities. 8

9 Epsilon recommendations It may be challenging to evolve your rewards program to support relevance. As you proceed through the five steps outlined above, focus on the core activity of each: 1 Define key data points to drive data sourcing. Don t forget to cover both passion areas and redemption transaction behaviors. 2 Create segments to drive rewards marketing action. Resist the tendency to rely on demographics, and keep the number of segments where you can differentiate communications. 3 Target rewards earn offers and redemption options by segment. Lead with the best fit opportunities, but allow a broader selection of rewards to maintain customer interest. 4 Reinforce rewards relevance with segment-oriented communications. This begins with direct communications, but should also extend as possible to the overall rewards portal. 5 Inform the broader loyalty program with customer analysis. This may include differential rewards funding and customer servicing options. Conclusion Now more than ever before, customers have both the desire and the expectation that leading companies will recognize, respect, and reward them for their business. However, while expectations have increased, you have new capabilities, as well, in data about your customers behaviors and passions, and the ability to communicate responsively. The cluttered marketing landscape requires that you take new steps to engage your customer base. If done correctly, rewards relevance, born from data analysis and customized marketing, can help you deliver a differentiated customer experience at reasonable cost, and create more meaningful and engaging customer relationships. 9

10 Epsilon solutions To help you deliver more relevant rewards, Epsilon offers a powerhouse of solutions to drive customer engagement. Agility Loyalty, Epsilon s end-to-end loyalty platform, helps you manage and engage customers, allowing a unique level of targeting and personalization that outpaces the competition. Our experienced analytics team lets you segment customers and develop new consumer opportunities and points of interaction. When combined with Sonar, Epsilon s proprietary Customer Experience Marketing tool and business rules engine, we help you engage your customers in dynamic, intelligent conversations. Our innovative technology platform helps you synchronize data and connect with customers across the Web, social, and mobile platforms to maximize response and achieve your desired outcome. To learn more, please call Jessica Carney, Business Development Manager, Epsilon, at Our approach Creating effective connections that drive tangible business results About Epsilon Epsilon is the global leader in creating customer connections that build brand and business equity. A new breed of agency for a consumer-empowered world, our unique approach harnesses the power of rich data, world-leading technologies, engaging creativity and transformative ideas to ignite connections between brands and customers, delivering dramatic results. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 U.S. Agency from All Disciplines, #1 World CRM/Direct Marketing Network and #2 U.S. Digital Agency Network, we employ over 5,000 associates in 60 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company. For more information, visit follow us on or call By Jeff Reiser, Vice President of Industry Strategy for Financial Services, Epsilon Jeff Reiser is responsible for developing innovative Epsilon marketing and business solutions from the client and end-customer perspectives. Jeff brings 13 years of experience in Financial Services to this role, having led business development and marketing teams at American Express and consulted on digital strategy in the industry at IBM Global Services. 10

11 Copyright Epsilon 2013 Epsilon Data Management, LLC. All Rights Reserved 11

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