Some 71% of marketing decision makers feel that loyalty schemes have become more vital to successful business over the last two years, according to new findings.
Marketing decision makers from utilities and telecoms (97%), banks (82%) and retailers (74%) were especially supportive of loyalty schemes in the economic downturn.
Many businesses that do not operate a loyalty scheme still carry out database marketing activities such as one-to-one communications, targeted direct marketing and customer insight.
According to the study from GI Insight, 27% of 500 marketing decision makers surveyed said their firms had become more reliant on database marketing as the recession progressed. Meanwhile, 37% said communicating with a database of customer had been key to helping them weather the downturn.
However, despite the increase in support for loyalty schemes, only 50% of respondents felt that these programmes were fully integrated with other marketing activities.
“Loyalty has been put to the test during the recession as consumers have sought out the cheapest deals,” said Managing Director, GI Insight, Andy Wood.
“As a result customer retention has been a clear focus for most businesses over the past two years and many have realised the importance of loyalty schemes in helping them to achieve this. Additionally, a significant proportion of marketers have recognised the value of database marketing.”
He added,”The real danger, though, is the lack of commitment to marketing integration. If marketing activities are not integrated, then a business is less able to ensure consistency of message and could waste money on redundant communications – both of which might hurt ROI and cost them competitive advantage over a rival firm.
“With the UK now coming out of recession, many businesses will see the recovery period as an opportunity to prospect for new customers. The risk, though, is that the existing customer base may get neglected in favour of attracting prospects. Management of existing customers should always come first, no matter what level of attention is being given to prospects.”
Wood concluded that businesses which have survived the past two years without seeing the need to invest in loyalty or database marketing would be put to the test now that the UK is exiting recession.
“They are going to have a tough time catching up with those that are better prepared, especially if they haven’t bothered to integrate their marketing activities,” he said.
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