Truly, Madly, Deeply – Embracing Emotional Loyalty
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” – Carl W. Buehner
In our industry, we are introduced to new technologies & innovations regularly. Most of these stick around as ongoing components within our strategic arsenal. We continue to curate, gamify, predict, and more. These aren’t going away anytime soon. And it’s not difficult to see what’s likely next on this list of “things to stay” – Emotional Loyalty.
The interest by brands around emotional loyalty has continued to grow for several years now. What is it? Why should I care about it? Can I even measure it? What can I do with it?
While we probably don’t need to explain what emotional loyalty is, we may need to explain further about understanding the difference between emotional and rational loyalty. Emotional loyalty drives a deeper connection with a member, injecting emotions into what used to be a merchant/customer transaction.
It’s the difference between picking a brand because they’re convenient, have a better value, or you know you earn reward points, and picking a brand because it makes you feel good, and you can’t imagine making that transaction elsewhere.
Brands should care about emotional loyalty – it’s a key component within the member lifecycle & one of the 3 pillars of our program design. A program should be more than points, rewards, and the addition of soft benefits. It should aim to forge deeper ties to the brand and help enhance & cultivate the relationship you’ve created with your members.
We know the best programs evolve over time. They update, change, and continually evaluate what's best to keep the brand and the program moving forward. These changes are typically driven by business metrics and the desire to consistently improve upon them. And typically, these changes are designed via rational building blocks of a program.
The key to the future is understanding how to evolve in ways that drive the business metrics forward while embracing & improving the emotional aspect of your member relationships. And we can do that by adding the measurement of emotional loyalty to our existing metrics, for a greater total understanding.
“That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” — Karl Pearson
We look at a lot of metrics in our day-to-day business activities – and we slice them by even more segments. We split them by gender, household income, program tier, annual spend, and countless others. We leverage these pieces of data to help inform what we do next that really matters – both to the individual member and to our business.
So why not have a metric for emotional loyalty, too? Wouldn't it be nice to understand how your members react to your brand in ways you can’t spot from your transactional or 3rd party overlay data? And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to slice that by tier, spend level, gender, age group, and more?
We thought so, too, and created the BLQ – the Brierley Loyalty Quotient.
The Brierley Loyalty Quotient leverages a short, non-burdensome customer survey with just 14 questions – 7 rational & 7 emotional. We then process the responses through our scoring algorithm which can distill the results into a single index score to show how customers feel about a brand – rational, emotional, and combined.
What we and our clients have found most useful about these metrics are that we can measure the same information from competitive brands without needing access to their customer database, sales data, or other metrics. The BLQ shows the performance of your brand in the context of the competitive set.
Leveraging additional technologies such as Tableau, we’re able to analyze, evaluate, and act upon additional insights within the BLQ results more deeply. Several clients of ours have already incorporated the BLQ into regular business reviews & trackers, with re-fielding of results every 6-12 months to ensure we stay as informed on emotional loyalty as we do every other important metric.
“Data doesn’t create meaning. We do.” – Martin Lindstrom
Now that such a measurement method for emotional loyalty exists, we can do exactly as we do with any other data – evaluate how we turn that data into actionable insights.
With BLQ now enabling us to get a deeper look into the emotional loyalty aspects of our members, we’re able to build stronger recommendations. We are no longer limited by the usual business metrics to understand what’s important to our members and how to best grow the relationship with them.
A recent client engagement with the BLQ helped develop what was to be the next big thing within their program. Through the BLQ results, we saw the emotional & rational scores for the client as well as those same scores for eleven of their closest competitors. With this extra data, we were better able to understand the brand’s strengths & opportunities on a per-competitor basis. Combining this information with the usual business metrics resulted in a final recommendation that would have been significantly different without.
Our recommendation was a quick & easy sign-off and deemed a logical next step for the brand & program. Through the presentation, it was clear the recommendation wasn’t based on assumptions or guessing. We didn’t need to know if the members would care – we already knew. The next program features would cover the bases for both rational aspects of the program as well as the emotional ones. And this combination would be key in evolving a top-rated program, keeping this client the leader in their industry.
“You give loyalty, you’ll get it back. You give love, you’ll get it back” – Tommy Lasorda
The loyalty landscape has evolved. What began with simple punch-cards has evolved into a competitive environment of brands with creative methods of fighting to ensure they win the most customer business. Harnessing the power of emotional loyalty might be the biggest arrow in your quiver in 2021 and beyond.
About Christopher Kopenec, Sr. Director Strategy
Christopher joined the Strategy team at Brierley in 2015 after successfully designing and building an award-winning loyalty program for a top nationwide restaurant chain. The program was the first of its kind to extend the program across all channels – mobile, web, and even tabletop touchscreen kiosks. Christopher has nearly two decades of digital marketing experience across numerous verticals. Inspired by the ever-evolving world of business & technology, he gets excited about opportunities to lead brands with new ways to grow & advance through innovative solutions. His passion for data & analytics is the key to driving business performance for clients, resulting in both strong strategic development & tactical execution. Christopher attended the University of North Texas and has a BS in Business Administration and Marketing.