The squeeze is on. Consumer spending has been slow to recover with the economy, and, as a result, the size of the retail pie isn’t getting any bigger. To stay competitive, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to focus more on gaining and maintaining customer loyalty as an imperative to business success. Not only is it cheaper to keep current customers than to acquire news ones, but happy customers can be an amazing recruitment tool, if they are incentivized to advocate for their favorite brands. As a result, social loyalty is becoming the newest trend in retail marketing’s tool belt.

Social loyalty, according to Forrester Research, is “brand affinity built on the connection of consumers to the brand as well as to each other.” It provides an opportunity for brands to engage with members beyond the transaction — encouraging awareness, advocacy and emotional loyalty.

Here’s how front-line retailers are using social loyalty to obtain these benefits — and how you can, too:

Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Turning loyal customers into advocates on social media gives brands a powerful way to increase awareness and reach among connected consumers. (read more…)

Social media, the ever-elusive but never exclusive opportunity, allows brands to establish a direct channel to engage and interact with their key audiences (e.g., customers, partners and employees). Yet, according to CEO.com’s 2014 Social CEO Report, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no identifiable presence on the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram). The opportunities here are endless, yet only a small group of top CEOs truly leverage these networks to their full potentials.

CEOs looking to take that plunge into social media, or ramp up their efforts, need to determine the best approach. Your activity on social media can generate a bigger impact than anything else in your marketing arsenal when properly managed and leveraged. To get started, here are the top three things you need to consider:

  1. Take stock. First, figure out where you are in the social media landscape. What social assets do you have?
  2. (read more…)

As marketers, we gather an abundance of data from digital interactions every day. A “like” on Facebook, a “retweet” on Twitter, a click-through on an e-mail — all of these interactions offer insight into our customers’ preferences. Oftentimes, the data we gather is siloed into an individual network, unable to communicate with the other data sets we collect. Additionally, since there is an immense amount of data to sort through for even just a single customer, the amount of noise a marketer has to experience can be overwhelming. To effectively make sense of all this data and be successful at their jobs, marketers need to break through these social silos and have access to a holistic customer profile, created through thoughtful connections between multiple data sets.

This level of insight across channels is an invaluable asset for marketers. When we draw smart connections between individual networks, we can begin to produce multi-dimensional affinity models. (read more…)

“Do what you love, and the money will follow” is seductive advice, especially when wealth is scarce and jobs are few. The millennial generation has clung to this credo since the Great Recession, hoping the pursuit of passion would offer a roadmap to success in an uncertain economy. It helps explain why many juggle careers instead of vying for a corner office. After all, when your job is a moving target, it’s harder to downsize.

This line of thinking is why millennials may one day find themselves working for Generation Z. This is humbling to admit, because I am one of the former.

While my generation was busy making meaning, the parents of today’s teens were quietly raising a cohort more concerned with making money. The oldest among them will soon be entering adulthood, and new research from The Cassandra Report suggests they possess key traits that will help them thrive in the business world. (read more…)

You’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got great ideas, and business is booming. So why not be recognized as a thought leader in your industry? After all, your competition is doing it. With blogs and social sharing platforms at everyone’s fingertips, establishing a strong presence in the sea of voices is almost as important as your product or service. The big question is, how do you get your voice heard, and how do you know what to say and who to say it to?

Here are four tips on excelling in the school of thought leadership.

Articulate what makes you special

Spend some time deciphering exactly what makes your business stand out from the crowd. How are you innovative? How is your company playing the game differently? Nothing says leader more than spearheading a shift in industry thinking. It’s not as intimidating as it might sound — we don’t all have to be Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh transforming the call center into a model of corporate culture. (read more…)