Businesses will decrease their chances for customer loyalty and repeat business if they don’t act with more self-control in digital marketing, according to a study.

Consumers have become more and more discerning.

“The possibilities for the future of customer loyalty are profound.” said Martin Hayward, vice president of global digital strategy at Aimia and the author of the study. “The real challenge for the marketing and loyalty industries is to embrace the digital transition with both hands while showing enough restraint and respect for consumers’ permissions and preferences.”

Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, released the study, “The Four Futures,” in June 2013.

Results indicate “offer anarchy” is a very real threat to relationships with half of consumers feeling overwhelmed.

Mr. Hayward said the 86 percent of consumers who receive marketing emails, only 12 percent look forward to receiving them and 46 percent think they receive too many.

Ironically, targeted marketing communications are acceptable. Of those surveyed, 70 percent are happy to receive voucher offers for products purchased regularly.

Fifty-five percent are happy to receive product recommendations based on their lifestyle data.

Marketing desperation

But the study warns marketers to avoid the temptation to adopt a short-term approach and overload consumers with communications.

“Building ‘real relationships’ with consumers provides the key to success and enlightened companies that understand how to effectively and responsibly use new data and new channels in the right way will have a significant competitive advantage in the future,” added Mr. Hayward.

To help marketers navigate the digital transition, Aimia has assessed the possible outcomes that lie ahead and developed four futures:

Future 1: Offer anarchy
The increasing volume of customer data created by digitalization remains freely available and loosely controlled. Customers tend to be over-exploited by many vendors, leading to highly transactional, deal-based behaviors, limited loyalty and frustrated, over-messaged consumers.

Future 2: Pay to play
A market where data is increasingly acknowledged to be valuable and powerful – data begins to be controlled and traded as a valued commodity, requiring businesses to pay to access customers through increased rewards.

Future 3: The hunt for affinity
An environment where consumers and brands realize that it is possible to locate meaningful relationships that offer more relevance, value and affinity, which ultimately allows for long-term relationships to be built.

Future 4: Real relationships
Winning companies build deep, trusting, long-term relationships with customers – a truly virtuous partnership to help consumers manage a complex environment and achieve value and satisfaction from their commercial relationships.

Mr. Hayward says the ultimate future requires marketers to leverage data and build long-term customer loyalty while giving customers control over how, when and where their data is used.

It is a future of “real relationships” and one where everyone wins.

From the Coach’s Corner, see these related articles:

Marketing – Have You Considered the Potential of e-Newsletters? — There are several benefits if you include e-Newsletters in your marketing mix. The most salient is that they’re a great way to achieve top-of-mind awareness with your customers. Further, as a form of content marketing, they’re a favorite of B2B marketers.

14 Steps to Profit from Online Customer Reviews — For competitiveness and profits, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of online reviews. They’re a factor in revolutionizing commerce. Reviews are important because they influence prospective customers to buy from you. They’re also beneficial in improving your Internet presence because search-engine crawlers consider them to be relevant.

“What happens when you combine blogs, Google and millions of dissatisfied customers? An e-mob.

-Bob Garfield


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.