Never take for granted the simple act of a customer's walking through your doors. Each time, it symbolizes the passage across many thresholds to customer intimacy.

Take, for example, Canada's second-largest supermarket chain, Sobeys. The grocery business is brutal. Every broken box of cookies, every spilled milk bottle, and every bruised banana cuts into margins. So, Sobeys wanted to generate not only sales but also long-term emotional loyalty among its customers. And to do that, the grocer needed to connect with its shoppers in ways that resonated with each one.

In short, Sobeys wanted to appeal to customers in several areas—their personal interests, their stages in life, their locations, and their preferences.

So, the supermarket chain turned to our company for help in creating one-to-one direct-mail pieces for its loyalty card members. Each piece was based on a member's specific purchasing behavior. The pieces were highly individualized: of the 1 million pieces created and mailed, 987,000 were unique, containing a dozen customized product offers and coupons.

Then, to make sure that Sobeys reached consumers wherever they were, we sent those offers via direct mail, email, and website landing pages. Soon, the program will expand to mobile as well. The results? To date, promotional recalls have increased 66%, the unique open rate for emails is 37%, and the click-through rate is 26%.

That success demonstrates what we all should never take for granted: The relationship between a company and its customer is a collaborative bond, fostered via meaningful and well-timed communications and recognition. Without reaching the consumer with a well-pitched message at the desired time and in the right place, a company cannot achieve relevance and prosperous interactions. A company cannot get the customer across its threshold.

The path to relevance lies beyond four magic doors that reveal insights that can be used at different times or in the aggregate. I call them the Four Doors to Relevance.

These doors, as Sobeys and others have learned, open to four key behavioral dimensions of the consumer that, collectively, will make your message resonate.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Pearson is president and CEO of LoyaltyOne and author of the The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information Into Customer Intimacy, (May 2012).