Loyalty is interesting, with new media it is increasingly difficult to achieve. In most cases almost impossible except for the most powerful of brands and products. Do loyalty programs work? Do they they provide enough incentive for you to to become and stay loyal to a product?

I think it requires a superior product, a superior service level and a very deft touch in relationship management. Most companies don't and won't get it, it simply requires too much effort to implement a smart retention strategy and I would guess that money spent on acquiring new customers exceeds retaining current customers easily by 4 to 1 in most organizations.

So what does it take? Embracing the Internet as the primary channel for marketing and information. I still don't see that occurring in mass, although it is shifting. And investing in the time and resources to establish the right processes, technology and business rules to understand your customers and provide the right information at the right time and only when the customer wants to receive it.

It's the simple things like putting their name in the email, it's talking to them in a familiar voice, it's understanding how they want to be contacted, it's providing value and recognizing the customer regardless of the channel they contact you in. It's getting better, but in my business I still see very little investment in marketing through the channel where it is the easiest to target, segment and deliver measurable value--the Internet.

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