Driving Brand Loyalty

Along the Consumer Path to Purchase

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Customer Loyalty

It's one of the most difficult things for a brand to achieve in a world where consumers are in control of how they access media and have countless choices and options at their fingertips. Consumers can compare products, services and prices with a click and have seemingly infinite ways to connect and consume. The digital economy has long been focused on ROI and counting conversions, rather than building relationships. But you can engage the consumer and build loyalty—all along the path to purchase. In fact, think of it instead as the path to brand loyalty.

Five Key Points About Brand Loyalty

The amount of choice available to consumers has increased dramatically—and there are lots of voices surrounding buyers on the path to purchase, whether that’s on social media or through online reviews and ratings. That’s made the loyalty piece difficult.


While the consumer path to purchase we are about to explore is the most linear, we want to make it clear that the usual path is actually nonlinear and disjointed. Our goal is to help you learn the best ways to build loyalty and strong relationships at all stages so you’re prepared for anything.

Let's get started on the path to loyalty:






The first step on the path to building consumer loyalty is to make sure people know your brand exists. To do this, marketers must start with a clear idea of what their brand represents and then require all of their data vendors to understand their brand position. That way, marketers can integrate all of the data needed to maintain and grow the customer loyalty path, starting with awareness.

So how do you accomplish this?

By getting the most out of your data management platform, or DMP.

In the digital age we walk a fine line between being able to form a strong bond with the customer and completely alienating him.


Tapping Into the DMP

The goal of the DMP? To create one source of truth where all of a brand’s data lives, including online and offline data. To do this, you need to compile as much data as possible about potential and existing customers.

Data Categories Feeding Into the DMP

Search data patterns
Third-party audience-buying data
Available proprietary data
Intelligence on how customers move online
Industry best practices
Social listening
Historical performance data from similar campaigns

Using Your Data to Connect With Travelers

iProspect has extensively researched a target group it calls International Business Travelers. These travelers are well-educated, adventurous, financially able, hyperconnected and highly receptive to digital advertising. A third of them travel weekly.

The agency’s recommendations for reaching this group while they are traveling provide insights about how to use customer data to optimize brand awareness among all travelers and ensure loyalty among existing customers—in the moment they are visiting a city or in an airport:


Target travelers with display ads on airline flight check-in websites and apps.

Provide local content—local store or restaurant information, city guides, travel videos—in all your messaging: Search ads should contain links to local information. Banner ads should be location-specific. Use location-related hashtags on Twitter.

To reach travelers in the moment, bid aggressively to land your search ads in the top two positions for specific keyword search terms.

Make sure your platforms adapt to the traveler’s language preferences. It makes all the difference in that traveler’s perception of your brand’s ability to add value to his life.

Because travelers are using their mobile devices as their primary computers, it’s imperative that your brand experience is optimized for mobile.

Hilton Worldwide’s Home Run

In the digital era, where consumers are in control, building awareness goes beyond brand recognition. To start building loyalty, it’s also about understanding the need of each individual and answering that need with relevant content.


Hilton Worldwide wanted to reach people stuck in the airport because of flight cancellations—after all, who needs a hotel room more than that group of people? With two critical pieces of data—knowing these people were in the airport and when the airport had a lot of flight cancellations—Hilton Worldwide could be proactive and instantly increase its search ad buy in those markets, says Dustin Bomar, VP, digital acquisition and brand marketing, Hilton Worldwide. “We want to be there when they are ready for us.”


Hilton Worldwide began targeting people with information specific to them when they needed it. Stranded travelers who searched for “Philadelphia airport hotels,” for instance, were served an ad for the nearby Hilton Worldwide hotel.


Website traffic increased
19% to 27%
in four markets where the strategy was deployed.

Hilton Worldwide has experienced substantial revenue growth directly attributable to the campaign—but also improved relationships and brand perception with new and existing customers.


Now that a potential customer is evaluating your brand, it’s time to lean into the conversation.

Remember, any positive engagement with your brand is just as valuable as an actual purchase. Whether it’s a visit to your website, a click on a search ad or a share on social media, each engagement is another step toward building a long-term customer relationship. According to eMarketer, 70% of people expect a personalized experience.

Brands need to think about how to customize the message for each channel and each touch point in the customer’s journey. For instance, a second-screen ad might be complementary to the original TV ad rather than just the same exact ad.


Building Loyalty at the Consideration Stage

The Customer Conversation

The secret to a two-way conversation? Treat customers the way you’d treat your friends. “It’s so important to treat the customer’s data the way you would treat a neighborhood secret: Use it thoughtfully and be mindful,” says Kim Sivillo, SVP, managing director, East, of iProspect.

Be sure to make it easy for customers to unsubscribe from your email list. Pay attention to signals telling you that you are overcommunicating or undercommunicating.

It’s difficult to do effectively; you will have a subset of customers who expect to hear from you every day. But there will also be a subset of people who are annoyed at the first email you send them. That’s why you need to look at the data and take a one-to-one communication approach.

Customer Consideration:
How Mobile Is Changing Search

Mobile paid search grew at an impressive pace in 2015, with a 44% year-over-year increase in both impressions and clicks, with mobile click volume matching that of desktop in fourth quarter 2015 for the first time ever across iProspect’s client set.

On mobile, it’s critical to provide value and information in a small window of time. Optimizing mobile experiences means answering someone’s question right away without adding steps. We call that reducing friction.

Maintaining the Retail Conversation

The holy grail in digital marketing today is connecting in-store sales to digital activity, Ms. Sivillo says. “We’d like to be able to recognize our customers—who have been on our website or seen our emails and ads—when they walk into the store. What is the trigger for that? How do we set up a unique ID for each customer? In a few years, we hope to have ways to do that.”

In building consumer loyalty at retail, iProspect has identified three non-negotiable principles:


iProspect has extensively researched a target group it calls International Business Travelers. These travelers are well-educated, adventurous, financially able, hyperconnected and highly receptive to digital advertising. A third of them travel weekly.

Make your customer’s retail experience personal.
To succeed, brands must leverage all their available data to build even more personalized retail experiences—where every customer easily finds answers to his unique questions.

Make your customer’s retail experience adaptive.
Today, brands must be able to shift digital tools, strategies and in-store experiences in real time based on consumer input to provide the most adaptive experience.

Make your customer’s retail experience valuable.
Consumers will flock to brands that add value to their experience. A price break or discount offers value, but the majority of consumers evaluate more than cost.

Because travelers are using their mobile devices as their primary computers, it’s imperative that your brand experience is optimized for mobile.

These three principles, the result of proprietary research of mass affluent and upper-class consumers ages 21 to 74, are based on one key finding: Consumers want to shop on their own terms, and they all use digital connectivity to find information, enhance convenience and gain choice. For marketers wanting to build loyalty, this means really listening to what customers want, where and when they want it.





Our consumer has finally reached the purchase stage of his journey. While this may look like a success, it’s actually the next potential stumbling block for marketers if they aren’t paying attention and listening to their customers. What brands do now is especially critical to establishing long-term loyalty.

Point of Purchase: What to Do Now

For consumers, the fear of making a wrong choice is higher than ever. Even if you love a product and buy it, you’ll go online and see that someone else picked on it. Even though that didn’t happen to you—even though it had nothing to do with you—as a buyer it can make you feel that you made the wrong choice.


Bonding With All of Your Customers

Many marketers are losing out on the opportunity to use their data in a way that can build brand and corporate loyalty. Too often a company with multiple brands keeps the data for each brand separate—treating the brands almost as distinct companies, which leads to missed opportunities.

For example, the company's Brand A customer is older or more affluent and can afford a higher price, while the Brand B customer is younger and on a budget. But often there is surprising overlap in the customer lists.

The marketer could be missing out on the chance to develop a relationship with the Brand B customer, who may eventually “graduate” to the premium brand. Or worse, Brand A and Brand B could both be sending messages to that same customer, treating her like two different people.

Intel Inside—
and in Front of


Intel chips are found inside many high-tech consumer products, from personal computers to wearable technology. But consumers don’t directly buy the Intel brand—they buy Apple, or Microsoft, or Dell, with “Intel inside,” as the company’s brand messaging says. “It’s a unique challenge for us,” says Corey Carrillo, senior global SEM and performance media manager for Intel Corp. “We don’t own the relationship with the consumer. And that means sometimes we don’t own the data, either.”


To build awareness and purchase preference, Intel is working to make sure its quality-inside message is in front of key consumers while they’re shopping for information about technology products. For instance, when Intel’s advertising featuring “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons runs on TV, Intel syncs that advertising with refreshed digital messaging that picks up within 10 minutes online.

Intel and iProspect also have worked with HookLogic to buy ad placements against certain products and SKUs on various retailer websites. If a shopper searches for those products, SKUs or keywords at BestBuy.com or Staples.com, for example, he will be served an Intel ad. This auction-based merchandising integrates the search ad directly into the research and buying experience.

But Intel also builds awareness with big tent-pole campaigns splashed across traditional media and digital platforms. Its recent Grammy Awards effort with Lady Gaga allowed the singer to use cutting-edge Intel technology in a tribute to the late David Bowie. The performance was a featured part of CBS’ Grammy telecast, while a long-form commercial and video told the behind-the-scenes story of the technology—and the entire effort was teased and replayed on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as Intel’s own websites.

“We are always pushing ourselves to find a new way to be relevant in the marketplace,” Mr. Carrillo says. “These types of experiences generate excitement and a lot of buzz about Intel.”



Great—you have a new customer! Don’t stop paying attention to her. If a consumer has bought your product or engaged with your brand, don’t just spit that person out of the funnel and back with all the other prospective customers. You need to talk to these customers differently, since now your brand has a relationship with them. Here’s where we circle back to integrating CRM data with purchase data to evolve the personal conversation.

Consider it this way: A purchase means that your “first date” with the customer was a success. Now how do you strengthen that relationship? You can’t talk to her like a stranger anymore.

Keeping the Conversation Alive

The Growing Power of Apps

Brand apps have become one of the most popular and potentially powerful tools to continue engaging with customers—potentially powerful because you have to get your app right to make it really work.







Google data shows that one in four apps downloaded by consumers is never used. Nielsen has found that the number of apps accessed by U.S. smartphone users is staying relatively flat, and more than two-thirds of the usage is coming from the top 200 apps. So if you are going to invest the time and money to create an app, there must be a good reason to do it.

Source: App Annie 2016 forecast

Hilton Worldwide: Removing
About Its App


Although everyone likes their frequent-flier points, loyalty in the travel category is not just about rewards programs any more. Hilton Worldwide is evolving its HHonors loyalty program, relaunched in summer 2014, into more of “a club for everyone,” says Dustin Bomar, VP, digital acquisition and brand marketing, Hilton Worldwide.


Travelers can become a member of the HHonors program while booking their first room reservation at a Hilton Worldwide hotel. Being a member, especially a member using the HHonors app, gives customers access to upgrades such as free Wi-Fi as well as the ability to customize their Hilton Worldwide stays. By the end of 2016, a guest using the Hilton Worldwide app will be able to get a digital key downloaded to his smartphone, allowing him to check into his room and skip the front desk entirely.

“What we’ve learned with our app is that it can’t just be something that’s neat to do, that customers will only do once,” Mr. Bomar says. “You have to make sure there is truly a consumer value to the app.”


6.2 million
new HHonors members in 2015

5 million
Downloads of the new HHonors app

Moving Forward: Beyond the Path to Purchase

Building loyalty along the path to purchase and beyond takes time and work. If you’re struggling with the complexity—as most brands are—try to step back and look at the big picture. Says Sam Huston, chief strategy officer for iProspect, “The marketing world is so much more complex today, and the number of touch points greater and greater. It’s not really a linear journey from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyalty—because the channels and touch points are different for every consumer group, and there are differences from person to person.”

To reach the end goal—creating an ongoing, lasting two-way relationship with your customers—make sure you stay focused. Use the available data to help map the customer’s journey because ultimately the journey ends at the same place, even if the touch points are different.

And most importantly, focus on the conversation. As Mr. Huston says, “The most important thing for us to do is to really understand who we are trying to talk to and build that understanding. That’s the path to loyalty.”

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About iProspect

At iProspect, we transform our clients’ businesses by connecting brands to their consumers. Leveraging our suite of services, smart technology, extensive global footprint and the industry’s best specialists, we provide best-in-class performance strategies to get you the results your business needs.

iProspect is the first truly global digital marketing agency, with 3,000-plus employees in 82 offices across 52 countries. A trusted partner with an in-depth understanding of consumer behavior, iProspect reshapes brand strategies to meet the fast-paced demands of the convergent world with a focus on exceeding the client’s business objectives. iProspect delivers digital performance, utilizing proprietary solutions including: paid and natural search, content generation, attribution, paid and earned social media management, structured data and feeds, performance display, conversion optimization and affiliates.

Our global reach, in-depth knowledge of diverse local markets and expertise produce award-winning, performance-based marketing strategies for leading brands such as General Motors, adidas, T-Mobile, Hilton Worldwide, Sunglass Hut, Lenovo and many others. iProspect has been named the Best Agency for Performance Marketing by iMedia for three years in a row, the 2015 MediaPost Search Agency of the Year and iMedia’s Best Agency for Search. For more information, visit iProspect.com or follow us on Twitter @iProspect.


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