Top 5 Ways to Build Lifelong Customer Loyalty with Data and AI

Produced by


Blake Miller

Sr. Director, Product Marketing

Kent Zimmerma

VP, eCommerce & Marketing Technology
Shoe Carnival

In this dynamic session focused on the evolution of customer loyalty in the digital age, Blake Miller, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce, and Kent Zimmerman, VP of eCommerce & Marketing Technology at Shoe Carnival, delved into the intricate ways their companies are harnessing data and AI to revolutionize customer engagement and loyalty.

The Intersection of AI and Customer Loyalty
At the heart of the conversation was the acknowledgment of the shifting paradigms in customer loyalty. Blake Miller outlined the journey from the inception of loyalty programs to their current state, emphasizing, "It's about personalizing those experiences because individual customers want different experiences. They want different rewards." This evolution marks a departure from generic rewards to tailored experiences that resonate on a personal level with customers.

Kent Zimmerman shared a vivid picture of Shoe Carnival's approach, highlighting the gamified shopping experience that distinguishes their stores. Kent's role encompasses a broad spectrum, from eCommerce and CRM to digital marketing, all pivoting around leveraging technology to enhance customer engagement. "We're leveraging customer data to personalize experiences and build loyalty programs," Kent noted, illustrating the company's commitment to creating a seamless, immersive shopping journey.

Challenges and Innovations in Loyalty Programs
Kent candidly shared the challenges of managing a large-scale loyalty program, where 70% to 80% of transactions stem from loyalty members. The simplicity of Shoe Carnival's loyalty program—earning points with every purchase, which translate into discounts—belies the complexity of maintaining engagement in a competitive retail environment. Kent stressed the importance of constantly evolving the program to keep customers engaged and loyal.

The deployment of AI has been pivotal in Shoe Carnival's strategy. Kent shared examples of AI's application, from generating product descriptions to optimizing email delivery times. These efforts not only enhance marketing efficiency but also significantly improve customer engagement. Kent's narrative underscored AI's role in segmenting customers more effectively, moving beyond basic metrics to understand and target customer behaviors and preferences deeply.

Top 5 Ways to Build Lifelong Customer Loyalty

1. Personalization with AI: Utilize AI to understand customer preferences and tailor experiences. As Blake pointed out, "Leveraging data and AI across the entire customer lifecycle" is key to creating personalized, engaging customer experiences.

2. Seamless Integration Across Channels: Ensure that loyalty programs offer a consistent experience across all touchpoints. Kent highlighted the importance of connecting data across channels to deliver immersive experiences.

3. Engage and Innovate: Regularly introduce new ways for customers to earn and redeem points. Kent discussed the potential for innovations such as geo-locating and referrals to keep the loyalty program fresh and engaging.

4. Leverage Data for a Single Customer View: Use first-party data to gain insights into customer behavior, enabling a holistic view of the customer journey. Both speakers emphasized the importance of this comprehensive understanding in personalizing interactions.

5. Turn Customers into Brand Advocates: Encourage loyal customers to become brand advocates through referral marketing. Blake and Kent both advocated for leveraging satisfied customers to attract new ones, creating a self-sustaining cycle of loyalty and advocacy.

In wrapping up their insightful discussion, Blake and Kent invited the audience to explore further connections with Salesforce, highlighting the continuous journey towards enhancing customer loyalty through data and AI. Their conversation not only shed light on current trends and challenges but also paved the way for innovative strategies in building lifelong customer loyalty.

APRIL 2024