Toolbox: Where to look first when starting your loyalty program, managing inactive customers and more

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LOYALTY


Are there certain customers on which to focus when starting a loyalty program? 


"Absolutely," says Dana Hayman, SVP of strategy and analysis for ClickSquared. "Some customers are better investments than others, depending on the primary objective of your program."


Hayman says that two pieces of customer-level information are key: Current customer value, or how much customers currently spend on your brand; and opportunity value, or how much your customers currently spend on competitive brands. "Now consider the primary objective of your loyalty program," he says. "If your primary objective is retention, design the loyalty program for your current, high-value customers.  Use rewards and recognition to retain them. If your primary objective is growth, then design the program for customers who are high in opportunity value.  Use incentives to steal purchases from competitive brands."


LEAD NURTURING


What's the best way to handle potential buyers who are not currently ready to buy? 


First, identify when buyers are ready to buy, responds Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua. "This can be done by using lead scoring to look at Web activity and identify buying behavior on your site, such as multiple visitors from one company and frequent activity," he says. "These leads can be flagged and passed to sales. Then you can begin to nurture buyers who are not currently ready."


Education-oriented content can be used to stay top-of-mind with those buyers and educate them on how to think about your industry and why to consider a purchase, Woods adds: "When a buying event occurs at the prospect's business, your nurturing will have kept you top of mind, and your scoring will immediately identify the potential buyer and pass them to your sales team."


TECHNOLOGY


How can I use CRM to speed up the sales cycle?


"A smart way to speed sales and maximize your CRM investment is to use an electronic signature service with your CRM system," answers Tom Gonser, founder and VP of product strategy at DocuSign.


"If you're still using paper contracts, you're introducing unnecessary latency in sales cycle, and this can reduce actual close rates," he explains. "Using a Web-based electronic signature service with your CRM platform means your customers will receive contracts faster, and you can walk them through a deal while on the phone by having them e-sign 'live.' By closing the paper-trail gap, you'll reduce errors, accelerate time-to-close, cut costs, and have real-time visibility into each pending contract."


ENGAGEMENT


Should inactive customers be kept on my list?


"Keeping inactive customers on your lists wastes money; cutting them off means losing them entirely," notes Stephanie Jackson, senior manager, Zinio Strategic Marketing Services. The smart strategy, she suggests, is to split them up and create customized strategies, based on their levels of interaction.


"Use personalized messaging to show the value of setting preferences and opting in, deliver a deal in the category the browser frequently checks out, and get the non-clickers to join in a fun promotion," she suggests. "Segmenting, testing and optimizing will shift these users into actives over time, while conserving spend and allowing separation of those who never will convert from those who still can offer value." l

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