Why It All Ads Up
Let's make something clear right out of the gate – today's consumers hate ads.
They hate it when pop-ups literally pop up uninvited as they scroll through social media walls, when the so-called 'shorts' prevent them from watching new movie trailers on YouTube, when cookie-driven promos suggest buying things they read about by accident the other day… when ads feel like an invasion of privacy – showing that the algorithm has probably translated too much of their needs and thoughts into digital.
Marc Pritchard, the CBO of Procter & Gamble, said: "We tried to change the advertising ecosystem by doing more ads, and all that did was create more noise," and that noise is exactly what customers want to be free of. And so they ignore or boycott commercials by the dozens, or simply install web-browser extensions such as AdBlock, trying to live their lives in an ad-free world. Why?
Because it is not their choice to see/watch/read anyone's ads in the first place. Imagine going about your business and having a madman just walk into your office and start yelling about a new orange-spinach-goat cheese flavored bubble gum for $1.50. This is how most customers feel when they are attacked by ads from all sides.
And there's no way for any company to make their customers WANT to be presented with ads. After all, choosing to watch ads voluntarily would probably feel like asking to be plugged into the Matrix. No superpowers, though.
So, is there something that marketers can do to advertise products and services without worrying about trespassing the border of privacy or super-imposing a given brand on customers? Yes, there is, and it's called loyalty programs.
Loyalty is a Choice
You can't force anyone to become part of your loyalty program. Customers have to make that decision by themselves. The question is – Why would they want to do it? Or, to put it differently, what's in it for them?
It's not a coincidence that we refer to the connection between a brand and a customer by the term "relationship." That's because the principles by which such a connection is created are nearly identical to those by which we form other relationships – like friendships, for example. Both sides have to trust and rely on each other to make it work. There must be benefits for each side – appreciation, at the very least.
Plus, you have to feel good about being someone's friend. But it takes time to become one. And it will never happen unless you get to know them for who they really are. This is precisely what loyalty programs can help you achieve.
If you have a loyalty program, you can use tools such as an AI-powered loyalty marketing platform to find out what your customers buy, what they are interested in, how they like to be approached by a brand… what their needs, hopes, and dreams are. That's because such a platform can identify trends in customer behavior and find out what makes your clients tick. In other words, the system learns from past interactions and all of the finalized (and non-finalized) business transactions to provide you with an answer to the most important question – who are my customers?
Those AI-driven insights can help you create promos and offers that will be considered meaningful by program participants and release that content over the right channel at the right time and place, for example, via a loyalty app. And the thing is – your customers will not be surprised; they will expect that. After all, it was their choice to join your program. And it's not like they get nothing in return – they helped form this relationship, so they can expect to be rewarded for their engagement and be treated with special care. It's a win-win situation.
So, picture this: now you're like a college that recommends excellent products and experiences by word of mouth. In your customers' eyes, you're no longer a stranger that throws promo signs at them. You're someone who cares about their well-being.