The recent Loyalty Expo 2009 conference in Florida saw nearly 400 delegates gather to share ideas and innovations, with the overall informal theme being the discussion of new channels of communication that have recently become available to loyalty programme sponsors, and ways of fostering more meaningful dialogue with programme members, according to our US contributing editor Bill Hanifin.
Mobile phone applications and social media were hot topics and the conference sponsor, Loyalty360, put both into action itself during the event. Partnering with Vayulogic and Hanifin Loyalty, the organisers solicited feedback for conference sessions with SMS messaging and shared a live Twitter feed to foster networking and encourage real time discussion of presentations.
The three day event began with a series of workshops, most compelling of which was arguable 'The Gamification of Loyalty', presented by Barry Kirk and Tim Crank of Maritz Loyalty Marketing. The session demonstrated how game playing and competitive scenarios can be introduced in loyalty schemes to drive higher engagement, participation, and activity levels.
The general session keynote presentation featured Timothy Keiningham of IPSOS Loyalty, speaking about the realities and myths surrounding customer loyalty (largely based on Keiningham's recently published book, Why Loyalty Matters). Deborah Eastman of Satmetrix followed with an overview of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and expanded on the basic concept to describe a methodology that could be applied as a planning mechanism for loyalty initiatives.
The conference then featured a range of subjects including sixteen panels on topics ranging from mobile marketing, B2B loyalty strategy, and global approaches to loyalty, grocery specific learnings, and how to translate the voice of the customer into higher programme engagement.
Among the highlights, Matt Howland of Loyalty Lab and Greg Dolan of Campbell's Soup presented a compelling case for extending the relationship between CPGs and consumers beyond traditional channels, while Phil Rubin of rDialogue shared his thoughts on measuring loyalty programme performance.
Jonathan Silver of Affinity Solutions and Nick Medina of ExxonMobil provided insights into on how merchant funded rewards can be made more effective through strong retailer and bank relationships, while Bjorn Larsen of Edhance, Ragy Thomas of Aiti Solutions, and Atle Skalleberg of StudentUniverse joined forces for a lively discussion on how to engage with 'millennials'.
The second day of the conference featured some 15 breakout sessions followed by roundtable discussions that Hanfin described as "the loyalty marketing version of speed dating". Among the highlights, Mike Blyth of Groupe Aeroplan presented an insightful look at how UK grocer Sainsbury's has connected loyalty programme data to SKU-level product information to drive more relevant promotions.
Another key presentation with implications for the future of loyalty was made by Don Hughes, CIO for Kobie Marketing. Speaking from research recently completed by the comany, Hughes talked about leveraging today's mobile technologies to move products, reduce inventory, and increase communication.
Noting that there will be over 140 million smart phones in use by 2013 and that satisfaction ratings for smart phones are more than double that of conventional handsets, Hughes emphasized the importance of incorporating this medium into loyalty programme communications. Kobie's study found that 94% of customers will complete a loyalty profile application through the mobile channel, compared to only 47% on the web.