Our 2019 Loyalty Wishlist

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on December 27, 2018

We, like most media outlets at this time of year, have compiled our year-end / year-ahead prognostications for your reading pleasure.  This year’s takes the form of a wish list which, if there were a Loyalty Santa Clause, would have been sent directly to the North Pole.  But belief in Santa Clause is said to be a marginal thing this year so we’ve opted to print it right here in The Wise Marketer. 

Here then, are our top ten wish list items for 2019:

Better Data Transparency

As fascinating as data modeling has become, large data acquirers (or any personal data acquirers for that matter) have an obligation to let their data sources (the humans) know what is being collected and what is happening to it once its been collected.  Our simple admonition is to be proactively transparent – morally, proactively transparent.  The consequences of not doing so are ugly. 

Better Data Security

How many large-scale data breaches did we hear about this year?  And how many occurred that never made the headlines?  The analogy of the tip of the iceberg seems somehow appropriate here.  Beyond potential legislative consequences, can brands really afford to risk customer trust because data hacks just seem to keep happening?  I reiterate the above: The consequences of sloppy data security are ugly. 

AI moves from fantasy to reality (and not just for the mega players)

We’ve seen some truly astonishing AI case studies and heard some truly astonishing AI stories this past year.  We would love to see AI and machine learning gain more universal traction in our industry.  We think 2019 will see AI-powered decision-making made available to companies outside of the Fortune 500.

Blockchain-enabled currency gets some traction

Some of the most interesting developments in customer loyalty are coming from the world of blockchain.  Yet, for all its potential and promise, blockchain technology hasn’t yet found its critical mass.  But some of the smartest people we know are working to solve that very problem.  We think 2019 will mark a historical threshold for blockchain and loyalty.

Finally end the silly debate over coalition or not-coalition

There was a point when that debate had merit but that was eons ago on the customer technology timeline.  Now, not only is that debate futile, its completely irrelevant.  There are simply too many variations on the theme to worry about its categorization.  Let 2019 be the year when the coalition / not-coalition argument gets permanently shelved.

See more brands embracing soft benefits and experiential rewards

There is a growing body of evidence that (strongly) supports the idea of rewarding beyond perks that are immediately redeemable.  What’s more, soft benefits and experiential rewards have a baked-in PR value that is virtually unmatched.

See more brands take a longer view of their loyalty program

Certain CFOs understand the strategic value of loyalty in its ability to affect customer behavior over the long term.  Certain CFO’s simply don’t – and that’s unfortunate.  Maybe 2019 is the year of enlightenment for that latter category.

See more brands take a more holistic view of their program

Customer loyalty is about changing customer behavior.  And that behavior can look like a lot more than the next purchase.  Smart loyalty marketers are creating new views of the customer which lead to better brand ecosystems which lead to deeper brand engagement which lead to … you get the picture. 

Loyalty education becomes a must-have

Customer loyalty is a growing and complex discipline that will challenge even the most accomplished marketer.  The very great news though is that the body of accumulated knowledge surrounding it is growing as well.  And it's available as coursework through the Loyalty Academy, the educational arm of the Wise Marketer.

A real, cross-vertical benchmarking system (hint: we’re working on this one)

This has been an industry phantom for years.  What if there existed a warehouse of data that offered brands, providers and loyalty marketers real-world metrics (anonymized, of course) against which to build and grade their programs?  We’re working to make 2019 the year that project comes to life.

What about you?  What’s on your loyalty wish list?  We’d love to hear from you regarding ours or yours.  Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).