Cheetah Digital, a cross-channel customer engagement solution, works with clients across a wide range of industries to deliver end-to-end marketing solutions via four technology solutions. Jon Siegel, Cheetah’s VP of Global Loyalty and Sales, recently spoke to ClickZ about how their client, Donatos Pizza, leverages its loyalty technology, Cheetah Loyalty.
Siegel is part of a team that built the Cheetah Loyalty Platform, what they call their Engagement Data Platform—the underlying data foundation for Cheetah Digital’s product suite.
Siegel was one of the early employees at Siebel CRM Systems in the late 90s which was later acquired by Oracle. He, along with his some of the early employees from Siebel, got together in 2014 to launch the Stellar Loyalty platform, which was acquired by Cheetah Digital in 2018.
“The idea was to reimagine how consumers and brands work together,” explains Siegel. “We started with the loyalty space as our entry point because we looked at what other solutions were in the marketplace and thought it was an area that was ready for some innovation.”
Cheetah Digital provides marketers with a solution they call their Customer Engagement Suite which helps businesses capture and enrich data about their consumers.
Says Siegel, “We do this in a permissioned way, so marketers can create relevant experiences for those same consumers that should help them drive sales, purchase frequency and stronger relationships.
The majority of Cheetah’s business is focused on consumer industries including retail, travel, financial services, and restaurants. Essentially, any business that deals directly with consumers is a big segment for them.
“We also have consumer goods clients who have traditionally sold through retail or other channels,” says Siegel. “And we’re starting to see some more business in the B2B space.”
Donatos is a pizza chain that originated in Columbus, Ohio in the 1960s and has since expanded to nearly 200 sites across ten states. They were looking for a partner who could help them launch their new loyalty program and take over some of their other key marketing and technology domain areas. They began working with Cheetah Digital in 2018.
“We helped launch their new loyalty program in about eleven weeks,” says Siegel. “We migrated their email messaging and SMS text platforms to our solution and integrated our technology into their mobile apps, websites, and restaurants.”
Siegel continued, “The loyalty program is one approach to gathering information and knowledge about a customer and their past behavior. But it also enables communication with that same customer through email, text, the app, or the website.”
Cheetah’s system also handles people who haven’t joined the loyalty program, but may be part of one aspect of Donatos’ customer outreach (e.g., signing up to receive text notifications.) Donatos’ goal is to move as many customers into the loyalty program which is the means to building stronger relationships with them.
Onboarding with Cheetah varies depending on the client’s needs. Some companies have existing loyalty programs with a prior provider which needs to be migrated to Cheetah’s system.
In Donatos’ case, Cheetah kicked off the program during an upfront discovery period that helped them understand the specific needs of the company—in this case, migrating their email and SMS systems to the Cheetah platform.
Says Siegel, “The discovery process is where we understand if the client has an existing program, what the rules are for that program, how we can support an existing program in our system, make changes, or figure out what a new program’s mechanics are.
Cheetah configured its system for the Donatos loyalty program and supported every customer touchpoint that Donatos used to reach out to customers including their mobile app, website and in each restaurant at the point of sale.
“We manage these things in partnership with the client to get from point A to point B,” explains Siegel. “The technical tasks and various business decisions around how each program works and the messaging and communication to the customer varies from client to client.”
Donatos’ marketing team interacts with the Cheetah Loyalty system to configure email communication and review the reporting. The company also put operational procedures in place for training restaurant staff which focuses on how to capture information about the guests and explain how the program works.
Says Siegel, “Frontline staff and employees are key to any successful loyalty program launch. Employees need to understand the program and they need to be ambassadors of the program to their customers.”
Donatos’ loyalty program is called Pizza Love. Guests who sign up for the program earn points and rewards based on events such as their birthday or achieving certain milestones.
Donatos uses their loyalty program information to better understand different segments of their customers, so they can customize promotions, offers, and incentives based past customer behavior.
“They’re helping with what we call a value exchange by providing incentives and rewards in exchange for their customers’ willingness to share more information about themselves,” explains Siegel.
Cheetah Digital’s platform provides real-time dashboards that continually look at the performance of the program and the behaviors of Donatos’ guests, allowing them to understand where they need to optimize and take action, what’s working, and what needs improvement.
Thanks to the loyalty program which is, again, less than two years old, Donatos is on its way to reaching one million loyalty members. Using data that didn’t exist before launching the program, Donatos has successfully driven increases in sales frequency and average ticket size.
Siegel emphasized that loyalty programs play a critical role for businesses during times of crisis. In the current environment, with many businesses closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, a company’s loyalty program is often the only means by which a brand has the right to communicate with the customer.
“At this point in time, being able to communicate with a customer that’s not calling you on the phone or walking into your establishment is crucial,” explains Siegel. “For many brands, loyalty permissions have proven to be invaluable in a time where they need to communicate and empathize with their customers and the situations that they’re experiencing.”
To companies who would like to get started with a loyalty program, Siegel’s key piece of advice was to make sure you choose the right partner. There are many decisions to be made when you implement a loyalty program and there’s no real repeatable, predictable set of things that happen in every case.
“Every business has its own unique decisions, much which are driven by what’s going on with that brand and what they want to accomplish,” says Siegel. “Having a partner who can help you navigate that journey, be flexible, and have the depth and breadth of capability to help you be successful is tremendously important. In today’s environment, now is a good time to get the work done in preparation for resuming our lives and opening our businesses.”
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