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The Full Picture On Loyalty

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A former colleague of mine at Cineplex Entertainment, Canada, used to refer to our loyalty programme as the “white lines on a Checkers board”. Most people think of a Checkers board as a sequential pattern of black and red squares; but if you look more closely, there are fine white lines connecting each square together.

I’ve always liked this analogy, as loyalty programmes are a way of connecting the dots within an organisation. They are more a means to an end, not an end unto themselves. Some organisations launch a loyalty programme with the idea that it is primarily a marketing tactic used to communicate with customers more effectively; it is a promotional vehicle for launching new products and promotions, and for incentivising customers to spend more or visit more frequently. A loyalty programme is all of these things, but it can be much more.

What most companies neglect to see is that loyalty can be an important tool across their entire organisation. In order to be most effective, a loyalty programme needs to fit holistically into a company’s overall business strategy; to expand beyond a marketing plan and into the plans and thinking of each and every division of your organisation.

An integrated strategy

A loyalty programme should be integrated across all lines of business in order to maximise its value.

Movie exhibitors are now challenged with managing and operating complex, multi-faceted businesses. Running a cinema chain is no longer just about putting films on screen, and selling popcorn and soda pop. Today it’s about delivering a complete entertainment experience: premium large-format screens, new audio-visual technologies, in-seat service, lounges and bars, mobile apps, e-commerce platforms and subscription programmes. Loyalty programmes can help to unify these strategies, and drive bottom-line benefits for an organisation, while in turn delivering more value to your consumers.

Where do you begin?

No matter what stage your loyalty programme is in currently, it is not too late to re-evaluate your efforts and begin looking at your programme more holistically.

It all starts with the data. Data capture should go beyond ticket transactions in order to maximise the value of the information for your organisation. Look across your entire business and consider the opportunities to capture customer behavior each and every time they interact with your brand.

This might include:

  • Using a web API to track member behavior on your website, mobile app or via social media. What trailers are members viewing? What star-ratings have they given movies on your site? This will help you to better identify and anticipate a member’s level of interest in an upcoming feature.
  • Providing an incentive for members to spend at the bar, lounge or snack bar. Are members getting anything extra for spending on food and beverage? Are there special combos or menu items that are only accessible to them?
  • Integrating member benefits into digital commerce platforms. Do members have a reduced booking fee for online or mobile tickets?  What are you doing to ensure that your members are booking online for every visit, not just for big event films?

Keep in mind that in today’s more stringent data protection landscape, it is important that you are transparent with your customers about what data you are collecting and how it will be used. For European cinema chains, it is critical that you comply with the pending GDPR legislation which regulates how companies protect EU citizens’ personal data.

That being said, once you have captured data, your organisation can begin to capitalise on the insights gleaned from consumer behavior. The more quality data you can capture from your various customer touchpoints, the more you can ultimately funnel it to help both validate and improve business strategies. For example:

  • How are members’ food and beverage purchases helping to shape menu design on a location-based or regional basis?
  • Do members who visit on discount days of the week, come on any other fully-priced occasion or are they exclusively value seekers?
  • Are there any regional differences in the theatre amenities that members are engaging in? How does this help to shape the amenities included in new theatres being built in similar areas?

By having a rich data set to access for answers, the questions that you can begin to ask are endless.

Silos belong on farms

In most organisations, the loyalty programme is managed from one department, most likely a marketing team. However, tapping into the power of a loyalty programme only happens when loyalty is incorporated into every division in some way, shape or form. How is each division of your company able to access the information to benefit their unique business strategies?

A loyalty programme needs to break out of its silo in order to have the opportunity to realise its full potential.

Tips for toppling the silos

  • Agree to the key programme metrics that are important for your organisation, factoring in the requirements of each division. Report on these metrics on a monthly or quarterly basis to all stakeholders.
  • Integrate programme metrics into company-wide business review meetings, planning sessions or even additional Business Intelligence tools. Consider how cinema-specific metrics might help to identify challenges or opportunities at the unit-level.
  • Provide access to the Movio Analytics module to a representative in each department so that data can be referenced or mined on an ad hoc basis.

The benefit to members

Movie exhibitors with loyalty programmes are no longer just competing for share of the entertainment dollar, they are competing for share of card-space in the wallet. Depending on what part of the world you are in, consumers are on average active in between 4 to 10 different loyalty schemes. For a consumer to choose to keep your card in their wallet, on their phone, or even top-of-mind, means it needs to deliver a far-reaching set of relevant benefits.

The more benefits you can offer your members across all of the touch-points they have with your brand the better. If a programme is therefore integrated into the planning and operation of each of your various business units, the more opportunity there is for a member to see benefit each time they interact with you.

It’s a win-win opportunity for both your organisation in terms of the data being collected, and for your members due to the benefits they are receiving.

Taking your loyalty programme from beyond marketing campaigns and member promotions, to rich data-driven insights that are leveraged across your organisation can be transformative. Your loyalty programme has the ability to provide a complete perspective of your customer’s cinema-going behavior. It can provide the full picture.

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