Luke Aulin, Co-founder and Mayor of RTOWN, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Loyalty360, the loyalty marketers association. Luke shared his insights on how loyalty is changing and explains what marketing challenges and opportunities are evolving due to these changes.


How do you define loyalty? How has this definition changed for you and how do you anticipate it changing?

In the early stages of my career, I hastily defined loyalty as repeat business, plain and simple. But just as the state of digital marketing has evolved, Loyalty has become a term that encompasses a community of brand champions hungry for content to share and associate with. Our clients and customers are no longer just passing positive attributes of companies along through word of mouth - They're online and active in social channels, casting a much larger reach than ever before. I'm finding that as marketers, business owners and sales professionals, we in turn have to pivot our approach to fostering loyalty and incentivize our customers/clients through their most coveted and connected daily device: the smartphone.

Engaging experiences are the baseline for creating loyal customers. How should brands create the culture by which engaging experiences (even though they may be more expensive to put in place and more difficult to measure) are table stakes for brands?

There is tremendous value in leaving a lasting impression on your customers and clients. Although there is a cost associated with building loyal customers, think of it as a standard marketing expense. Positive experiences with brands, especially ones that build personality around a company, will blossom in the long run. Happy customers tend to tell other potential customers - It's the strongest form of word of mouth anyone could hope for.

How can we influence the employees in the channel / process to make sure they are bought in and engaged in the loyalty methodology for the consumer?

In an ideal world, a company would place a strong emphasis on corporate culture, facilitating engagement and comradery so that staff members feel a compelling urge to drive a loyalty program for the health of the company. Yes, it's ideal - But may not always be possible. A secondary suggestion would be building an internal loyalty program. You incentivize your customers to repeat purchase, why not incentivize your staff to spread the word about your loyalty program.


What is the state of marketing today?

Marketing is experiencing a strong shift for the better. We're finding that no longer simply generating content is a strong enough tactic for increasing sales and building brand awareness. Companies are finding success in creating authentic content that customers can learn from, engage with and feel compelled enough to share. The power of the consumer is shifting, and as both a marketer and consumer I find it refreshing, to say the least.

What will be the biggest opportunity for marketers in the next 3-5 years?

With the growth of social media influence we have both an excellent challenge and opportunity in the form of tracking ROI. Never before have we been able to see how many people have read an article and found it relevant. Age groups, gender, parents, hockey lovers - We have never had such valuable data. For some consumers this sets off the alarm bells, for others this creates a positive user experience catered specifically to the user.

What will be the biggest challenge for marketing in the next 3-5 years?

To keep the attention of and drive customers to convert will no longer be as simple as having a website. The biggest challenge will be cutting through the noise - In the next 3-5 years companies can expect fierce competition online. Every small, medium and large business will be seeking top search results and large social media fan support. Authentic content, engaging campaigns and nurturing brand communities will trump all else.

Read the original article on Loyalty360 by registering for a free membership account here.

About Loyalty360

Loyalty360 is an unbiased, market driven, voice of the customer focused clearinghouse and think-tank that is committed to bringing loyalty to the forefront as a critical marketing strategy. A trusted source for cutting-edge research, best practices, and networking opportunities, Loyalty360 gives members the expert insights and guidance they need to better understand loyalty and develop programs that effectively engage their customers and employees and build stronger relationships with them.

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