What marketers are missing when it comes to building loyalty

Take a 'whole wallet view' of your customers says one B2B CMO

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If marketing is defined by a balance between art and science, then we may need a new name for our profession. The opportunity to use data to make more informed decisions, to churn out hyper-relevant messages via highly accessible platforms is getting to be old news. It is little wonder then that the data aggregators are getting a greater share of ad dollars and outpacing more creative-driven media channels.

One such company is Cardlytics, which gathers data from bank loyalty programs and offers precision messaging opportunities to other brands. In our interview below, Chief Marketing Officer Dani Cushion shares how she is marketing her brand and how marketers are capitalizing on the channel Cardlytics has created. Cushion does not see this as replacement for "beautiful creative" which "builds brand love" but instead as a place for "driving incrementality, driving sales." The result: scales tipped, science wins.

What are you doing to tell your brand story?

Since we're able to see purchase data across the board, we can use that to help our clients gain stickiness in their own companies too. But the thing that actually really helps us from a marketing perspective is just telling stories and using the data that we have. We also do a one-on-one with our clients to help them understand their space and how customers are thinking about spending their money. It's really beautiful to be able to see trends of where customers are going.

How do you get insight into customers' overall behavior?

I am a big believer in the insights of aggregated purchase data. I say that with the gravity and the privacy in mind that needs to come with it. We never see individuals. It's always aggregated and anonymized. Aggregated data actually allows us to serve more relevant ads to customers. From a marketer's perspective, we can help our clients understand where there's headroom and how to act upon that information.

Where are marketers missing out when it comes to loyalty building?

Where I see people getting tripped up is when they're defining loyalty on too narrow a view of what their customers are doing. It's important to get to know your customers and try to make sure that you're providing them something that they want. A lot of CMOs only know when their customers are shopping with them. You've got to take a more macro, whole wallet view of what else are they doing when they're not shopping with you. Where else are they going?

Are there some ways that marketers can better engage with existing customers?

They can segment customers very quickly and easily based on their past purchase history. Whether its ads, promotions, paid channels, or emails, the key point of this is to get a better view of how you actually define your "loyals". That is the first place to start. Before you even get into the tactics of what you're going to do with it, you've got to know as much as you can about them. Even with already loyal customers, there's always something new to learn that could completely change how you engage with them.

Is there any creativity in your channel?

I can tell you that most of the time, it ain't sexy. These are just little logos. I think where we're seeing creativity and the folks that are doing very well and are very smart is not in the creative application itself. It's not in the wiggle of the logo or what the copy says. It's actually more about creativity in the targeting. It's thinking, "How do I actually target who I want to reach based on their past purchase history?" It's more creativity behind the scenes that the customer will never see. The creativity is really in the data.

Tell me why the use of data is not the death of idea.

Our channel is not meant to replace other beautiful creative that occurs on TV and that builds brand love. Every bit of marketing has its place in what you're trying to get customers to do. Our channel is very good at driving incrementality, driving sales, and being able to connect what is happening in a digital ad to in-store sales. As much as online has grown and will continue to grow, the majority of purchases are still in-store. So every marketing has its place.

Where are marketers finding the budget dollars for your channel?

I think as you've seen a shift to more measurable media, we have the ability to be able to show that campaigns are actually driving sales. We're pulling from other places that cannot show the ROI. It's sometimes hard to gauge, but there are ways to measure whether media is working. It often pulls from low funnel things, like SEM, Google, and other digital display.

Are you doing anything for your customers to build loyalty?

We're actually pretty surgical in our marketing approach. We spend a lot of time with our clients just to truly listen to them. It's so imperative to understand what's driving their business and where they're getting stuck. From a loyalty perspective, we obviously run programs, deliver, run programs, deliver. Truly, the proof is in the pudding.

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