Friday, September 30, 2016

How Analytics Is Transforming Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs are crucial.

The goal of loyalty initiatives is to engage, not pander more products to frequent buyers.

But how do you determine if your loyalty program is working well?

Use data to steer your customer loyalty program in the right direction.

McKinsey found that “executive teams that make extensive use of customer data analytics across all business decisions see a 126% profit improvement over companies that don’t.”

“By instituting a loyalty program, you not only improve customer appreciation of your business, but you also increase the chances that existing clients will share this joy with those close to them,” says Steve Olenski, a senior creative content strategist at Oracle Responsys.

Upgrade your loyalty program. Let’s explore how.

Focusing on Retention

One primary mission of loyalty programs is to increase customer retention. You want buyers to remain with your brand after they make a purchase.

For your business, higher retention means a steady flow of revenue. And it cuts down on your costs to constantly acquire new customers.

Therefore, your loyalty programs must be effective. They need to serve a real purpose for the consumer, not just your bottom line.

To provide the best customer experience, fuse data into your retention strategies. It will impact how your team approaches the buyer.

“Influencing customer loyalty in this way doesn’t require magic, it requires data – usually data that you already have but aren’t using to full advantage. Regardless of industry, most organizations today generate mountains of data,” writes Mike Flannagan, vice president and general manager of Cisco.

Uncover the correlation between customer characteristics and purchasing behavior. Assign your team to analyze the current data of your most valuable customers. And learn which characteristics these customers have in common and which traits are dissimilar.

analytics-teams-improve-customer-experienceImage Source

Consider data an ongoing process of observing, acting, and learning. Improve your loyalty programs by taking action on your insights. Measure success by monitoring your customer lifetime value, loyal customer rate, and redemption rate.

Start with retention. And let the data guide you to customer loyalty.

Targeted Product Recommendations

Research shows that “customers that are actively engaged with brands and their loyalty programs make 90% more frequent purchases, spend 60% more in each transaction and are five times more likely to choose the brand in the future.”

Sending targeted product recommendations is one way to keep customers engaged. Because if they are not receptive to certain products, consumers will feel more inclined to take their business elsewhere.

Integrate real-time purchase data with historical purchase data to make specific recommendations. For example, if a small business bought payroll software from you, their team might be interested in purchasing your series of on-demand accounting webinars.

“Consumer data must be analyzed to create highly targeted product recommendation offers. Analyze consumer data such as demographics, lifestyle, products purchased by category and type, frequency of purchase, and purchase value,” states Larisa Bedgood, director of marketing at DataMentors.

It’s key not to draw wild conclusions from one piece of data. Just because a Florida resident buys a winter coat doesn’t mean he wants to be flooded with similar recommendations. The consumer might have bought it as a gift for a friend living in Michigan.

So, gather multiple data points in order to make intelligent recommendations. You don’t want to frustrate loyal customers.

Your brand also can take a different approach. Use social proof to your advantage. If consumers are hesitant about particular products, remind them that other people are buying the product, too.

Home Depot uses this tactic by displaying a list of bestselling inventory. It persuades the customer to join the crowd.

home-depot-shop-bestsellersImage Source

Sift through your analysis reports. Uncover the best product recommendations for your customers.

Timely Promotions

For customers, loyalty takes effort. They receive lots of promotional ads everyday to try products from other brands. Appreciating your consumer’s urge to resist the hype is important.

Mobile phone carriers lead the way in baiting consumers to switch their services. AT&T offers cell phone users up to $650 in credit just to say bye to T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon.


To keep their loyalty, customers will hold your team accountable. They expect timely promotions that not only fit their buying habits but also their lifestyles.

At the end of the day, you want to deliver the right offer at the right time. This will increase the likelihood of the promotion redemption.

Monitor the sales data to learn when promotional codes are redeemed. Do your consumers use promotions more often in the morning? Right after a sales announcement? Or during summer months?

“By creating a time-sensitive sales promotion and having a good grasp on your target customer demographic, you’ll be able to incentivize the right actions, get them to respond, and grow your business in the process,” states Humayun Khan, former content marketer at Shopify.

Moreover, analyze your reports to discover the best product promotions. A timely discount matched with the wrong product won’t be useful for the consumer or your company.

Segment your customers to offer relevant discounts for multiple channels—in-store, online, and mobile. Every loyalty member doesn’t have to receive the same offer.

For instance, Starbucks offers its Gold members the opportunity to earn double stars. The coffee company surprises its loyal consumers on a different day each month. This technique increases the excitement and prepares customers to spend more money on a particular day.


Don’t wait for your competitor to offer your customers a good deal. Start creating your own timely promotions.

Personalized Rewards

Everyone likes to be rewarded. It signifies that you’ve done something commendable. And incentives compel you to continue the rewarded behavior.

Recognize the value of your customer’s actions. Because that’s what you’re rewarding.

You can offer perks based on monetary transactions, shopping frequency, or even survey responses. It’s all about showing appreciation for consumers’ actions.

But it’s your team’s job to appropriately reward customers. Don’t expect people to buy $1000 worth of services in one month if your highest service retails at $10.

In addition, manage your loyalty members’ expectations. They shouldn’t expect your brand to give away free Beyonce tickets every day.

Personalized rewards ensure you’re giving your customers what they desire. It also shows that you are truly invested in the customer experience.

Send a simple email survey asking consumers what type of incentives excite them. Or conduct social media listening to identify useful prizes that can make your customers’ lives better.

Dick’s Sporting Goods sends emails asking customers for their opinions. The company uses the information to improve its inventory and customer service.


Remember to focus on maintaining positive relationships with your consumers. Because that’s the ultimate goal for loyalty initiatives.

You want people to feel comfortable with your brand. Aim to offer rewards that bridge the gap between the consumer-brand relationship.

“A significant aspect of customer loyalty comes down to your likability. People will almost always remain committed to a brand if they believe they’ve developed a genuine and mutually beneficial relationship,” says Entrepreneur contributor Dave Thompson.

Tailor your rewards to satisfy your customers. Offer them something special.

Analyze Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty can lead to retention. That’s why your team must use data to drive your loyalty programs.

Give consumers targeted product recommendations they can’t resist. Send promotions at the right time. And personalize rewards so the customer feels part of the brand.

Look at the data. Improve customer loyalty programs.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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Free download: Weem handwriting font

Serious in intent, legible, playful in style. When designing a font, it can be tough to nail an aesthetic that embodies all three of those things. Well, Gatis Vilaks and Evita Vilaka did it when they created Weem, a free handwriting font for all of your headline and block-of-text needs.

It has that sketchy style you look for in any handwriting font, but is clearly meant to be used in projects with a serious tone. The designers say as much. They also state that it’s intended to be used for titles, headings, and blocks of text.

Despite being free, it’s no “light” version. It comes with all of the characters and punctuation you might expect, in upper and lower case. It also has all of the accent marks, umlauts, and extra lines or squiggles you might need when writing in languages that aren’t English.

Download it here for free, and keep an eye on its creators for whatever they might make next.

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10 creative event websites  

I love designing event websites. They’re ephemeral and almost always simple (no complex user interfaces here). This combination affords us a unique opportunity to test new boundaries of web design, to try a creative navigation pattern, test an unfamiliar layout, play with a interesting animation library or, dare I say, hark back to the days of Flash and ActionScript 3.

Here, I’ve assembled a list of 10 event websites that are creative, inspirational and just downright beautiful. Check them out below.


This website for a 4-day, invite only designer/developer meetup in Moab, Utah (where do I get an invite?) is downright stunning. The graphics are beautiful; the layout is exciting. And special props for making the registration form look good, too–why do we so often create awesome websites but boring forms?

Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown

This BBQ competition might be low tech event, but their website is pretty high tech. Scroll down to explore the event venue three-dimensionally. There’s overlayed text, but you hardly need it. The complex visuals tell you all about the event without reading a word. Great work Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown.

Global Wave Conference

Restraint is often the sign any great creative professional, a philosophy that was embraced warmly by the Global Wave Conference website. Check out the subtly (but cleverly) animated logo (a GIF) and hamburger menu (an SVG), which give the site a high-end feel without distracting from the serene photography and typography.

I also liked the clear, concise event description, a must for any newer event.


Two words: sticky header. This may not be the most cutting-edge site on the list, but the navigation is terrific. And particularly with event websites, a sticky header (with a clear, contrasting call to action button to “register now”) can be a great way to increase your conversion rate and ticket sales. Whatever you do, don’t make this button hard to find.

Note this event occurs twice annually — once in the summer and once in the winter. Navigate to summer (top left) and you’ll see that the designers have done a great job creating different sites for each event. The sites they have very similar interfaces, but are nicely distinguished and appropriately seasonal.


Large type Futura can be tricky to pull off without reminding us of a Volkswagen ad, but the website for Loop pulled it off. Loop is a three-day conference focused on music and technology. The site is inconspicuously simple but downright beautiful.

I loved the body copy gradient too, which is a mask of the homepage background gradients. (For those interested, text gradients can be achieved with CSS using the background webkit clip property.)


Thanks to some very creative designers (and the JQuery UI draggable library), this Norwegian event website is a digital representation of the event’s more analogue concept: shapes juxtaposed in space. My only suggestion: give me something to do after browsing the website. Ask me to register, capture my email, send me directions, and don’t leave me wanting more.

Valio Con 2016

When you’re assembling photos for an event, the speakers will inevitably send you 34 different portrait styles: you’ll get a closeup, one in black and white, and one with the speaker holding their favorite cat. This makes consistency difficult. Fortunately, the designers for ValioCon — an annual conference for designers and makers in San Diego — have answered this challenge with creative photo filters that homogenize the portraits, and make the overall design feel more far consistent (and awesome).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek Design 2016

When I first saw this site, I couldn’t help but thank god for not being color blind. I mean, how the hell are we supposed to know where to click if every link is the same color? This creative site for the Bloomberg BusinessWeek design conference–which features bold typography and a strong, engaging layout–seems to vehemently ignore every user interface guideline in the book, yet it remains easy to use. Kinda.

Elevate Summit

The Elevate Summit, formerly UserConf, is a conference for customer support and community managers and will be held in October this year. Their event website stands out for being exceptionally clean and beautiful. I liked the “5 reasons to attend” listing (which was pretty convincing) and the embedded registration form. I loved the chat button; I don’t see that often on event websites, but I think it’s a great way to engage attendees.

Hashtags Unplugged

This website for a gallery event in New York has a clean design and great typography. But my favorite thing about this site was the navigation. Select “the artists” under a given hashtag and the entire page animates to an artist listing. The transition is subtle and modern, and it doesn’t make you feel like you’ve lost your place in the stack (which is all too important when we introduce new navigation patterns to your users).

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to annoy your freelancer

Being a freelancer means that you’ve chosen a different type of lifestyle. If you work at home, then you’re not rushing to fight traffic every morning. You’re probably not wearing formal attire. Most likely, you don’t consider yourself quite so mainstream. And yes, that does make you very cool (not to mention good-looking)!

The trouble is that clients, family and friends also see you as different. They may actually have a pretty hard time wrapping their heads around your unconventional career. That can lead to some odd requests or just plain crazy situations.

So, how do you annoy a freelancer? Here are some slightly-dramatized versions of situations that I’ve found myself in that were annoying and/or just plain baffling.

Play a game of hurry up and wait

Client: “I need this site to be up in a week!”

Freelancer (reluctantly): “That’s going to be tough, but I’ll give it everything I’ve got to launch on time. Just keep in mind I’ll need all the content within 48 hours.”

Fast-forward to three days later…

Freelancer (proudly): “Great news – I’ve finished the site’s theme! Just send me that content and I can get everything ready for launch.”

Client: *crickets chirping*

Now, six weeks later…

Freelancer (miffed): “Um, do you have that content yet? I thought this was a rush job and now it’s well past your specified launch date. I’ve sent several requests for content and left voice mails.”

Client: “Oh, something came up. We’re putting the site on hold for now. I will get back to you after our committee meets next month.”

Four months after that…

Client: “Hey, attached is all of our content! You may notice that we’ve added some new stuff and changed the functionality around. Can we have this ready by the end of the week?”

Freelancer (opening a bottle of wine): *unintelligible moaning sound*

Does this mean that the client is a horrible, unfeeling monster? Not necessarily.

Isn’t it amazing how everything is rush-rush until the ball is in the client’s court? While delays are understandable, there aren’t many good excuses for disappearing from view and then coming back several months after-the-fact demanding immediate action on your part.

What this really shows is just a lack of respect (even if it’s not intentional or personal in nature) for a freelancer’s time. When a client delays, you have no choice but to move on to other projects that need taken care of. It’s not as if you can then just drop those other projects the minute the M.I.A. client suddenly reappears.

Does this mean that the client is a horrible, unfeeling monster? Not necessarily. Is it annoying? Heck yes.

Assume they have no life because, hey, they work at home

It’s a lovely Saturday evening and you’re at a family gathering…

Client: “Could you please replace the text on the About Us page with the attached copy? Thanks!”

A few hours later, you come home and check your email…

Client: “This is completely unprofessional! I expect you to respond quickly when we need something done. Please get this done ASAP.”

Freelancer (majorly ticked): “I do apologize, but I was away at a family event this evening. I had no idea changes would be coming in. Typically I am not in the office on weekend nights waiting for unexpected work to arrive.”

There’s a fine line between expecting outstanding service (which, as a client, you should expect) and requiring non-stop attention.

One of the biggest misconceptions of freelancers is that somehow we’re just sitting around waiting for a client to send work to be done immediately. Now, to a degree I guess that’s true. We’re here to serve the needs of our clients, right? But sometimes this can be taken to a whole new level of strange.

There’s a fine line between expecting outstanding service (which, as a client, you should expect) and requiring non-stop attention. That being said, it is up to freelancers to make their policy regarding after-hours availability known.

Treating invoices not-so-seriously

Freelancer (hopeful): “Hi! Attached is the invoice for the design. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

Two months after the due date…

Freelancer (quizzically): “Hi! How are things going with the new site? I wanted to reach out and make sure that you received the invoice I sent a couple months ago — did it come through?”

Three months after the due date…

Freelancer (starving): “Here’s another copy of the design invoice. Please confirm receipt ASAP. I have also sent a copy to your mailing address.”

To me, a good comparison to this situation would be receiving your electric bill. How seriously would you treat that bill? Odds are you would probably want to pay it quickly so that the lights don’t get shut off.

Unfortunately, not everyone treats an invoice from a freelancer with quite the same seriousness. You might be seen as someone who is a hobbyist or without the resources to fight for your payment.

The good news here is that you can solve a lot of issues by having a contract that stipulates when and how you’re to be paid for your work. That will at least give you some leverage against someone who is either refusing to pay or is just exceptionally slow to do so. It also sends a message that you are a professional and deserve to be treated as such.

Schedule a pointless meeting

Client: “Can you come by the office tomorrow at 10am?”

Freelancer (frazzled): “Well, tomorrow might be difficult as I have a lot of work to get done. What did you want to discuss?”

Client: “I just wanted to run a couple of ideas by you. See you then!”

While it’s pretty safe to assume that most people don’t enjoy pointless meetings, freelancers may have reason to dread them even more. Why? Well, consider that a solo freelancer is usually working on multiple projects at once. Meetings, while sometimes a necessity of doing business, can take already limited time away from getting things done.

There are situations when meetings make perfect sense. But there are many times when a simple phone call or Skype session will suffice. I’ve taken to suggesting the latter as a time-saving means of communication that will help get things done more quickly. After all, completing a project is in everyone’s best interest.

You have the power to set expectations

As you may have surmised, I am a person who can be easily annoyed! Part of the problem may be that client expectations of freelancers are a little different than that of larger agencies. The other half of that equation is that I haven’t always set the expectations as well as I should have.

While it won’t lead to eternal bliss, I speak from experience when I say that it really can cut down on those annoyances.

That’s just part of the learning experience and it can take time to understand. Once you realize that, you can set policies which clarify what a client can and should expect from your relationship. While it won’t lead to eternal bliss, I speak from experience when I say that it really can cut down on those annoyances.

Speaking of which, what annoys you as a freelancer? Leave a comment and share what pushes your buttons and your solution for dealing with it.

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What’s new for designers, September 2016

In this month’s edition of what’s new for designers, we’ve included productivity apps, email apps, free icon sets, UI galleries, color tools, CSS frameworks, stock image tools, and more. And as always, we’ve also included some awesome new free fonts!

Almost everything on the list this month is free, with a few high-value paid apps and tools also included. They’re sure to be useful to designers, from beginners to experts.

If we’ve missed something that you think should have been on the list, let us know in the comments. And if you know of a new app or resource that should be featured next month, tweet it to @cameron_chapman to be considered! is a task manager for Gmail. It interfaces with tasks, email, documents, calendar, projects, and contacts.

Diverse UI

Diverse UI is a collection of free stock photos of people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds to bring some diversity to your designs.

diverse ui

Designer Emojis

Designer Emojis is a collection of 45 vector emojis you can download for free. They highlight the tricky yet rewarding job of being a designer.

designer emojis

Founder Catalog

Founder Catalog is a collection of what founders of some leading startups are writing about right now.

founder catalog


Stocky is a source of free stock photos, videos, graphics, and music that you can use for both personal and commercial projects.


Startup Pitch Decks

Startup Pitch Decks is a collection of real world fundraising decks from startups like Airbnb, Buffer, YouTube, Mattermark, Buzzfeed, Crew, and more.

startup pitch decks


Adioma is an easy to use infographic generator that lets you create things like timelines, organizational charts, and more.



UIDB is a search engine that lets you find live examples of any UI. You can browse all the examples or check out the most popular tags.



Grid.Guide is a tool to help you create pixel perfect grids in your designs. Just enter your requirements and it will show you all the whole pixel combinations you can use.


Sunsama is a calendar built just for teams. It helps you run focused meetings, prioritize tasks, and more.



Kin is a better calendar experience. It connects with Google, Office365, Trello, Facebook, GitHub, Meetup, Eventbrite, and Wunderlist.



Timely is an automatic time tracking app for freelancers and teams. It works in the background, letting you focus on your work.



Duet is a self-hosted alternative to Trello. It’s completely brandable, so you can make it match your business, and it has a one-time fee rather than a recurring monthly charge.


Checkout Pages

Checkout Pages is a curated directory of the best checkout pages, with additional links to directories of pricing pages, product pages, and store pages.

checkout pages


Hud is a tool for managing and cataloging your UI patterns so you can share them with your team.


Four Hour Book Club

If you’re an avid listener of the Tim Ferriss Show, then you’ll want to check out the Four Hour Book Club, which catalogs all of the books mentioned on the show.

four hour book club


Napkin is a startup idea app for iOS. It lets you capture all of your business ideas in a simple, clean design.


Apply Pixels

Apply Pixels is a set of industry standard design tools and UI templates for supercharging your design workflow.

apply pixels

UI Temple

UI Temple is a curated collection of website designs to inspire you. Sort by industry, page type, color, and more.

ui temple


Kelir is a free color picker app for Mac. It’s also got tools for creating palettes and gradients.



Wing is a minimal CSS framework. It’s perfect for smaller projects that don’t need all the features of a framework like Bootstrap or Foundation.


Word Geeks

Ever need on-demand content written for your design projects? Check out Word Geeks, an exclusive network of on-demand writers.

word geeks


Stockmagic is a tiny app that lives in your menu bar that lets you find the best images on 25 of the biggest free stock photo services.



Rush is a communications app that lets you easily switch between mail and chat. It also includes a group calendar and other tools for teams.



Polymail is a powerful email productivity app that’s now available for iOS. It includes tons of advanced tools for contact management, too.


Open Icons

Open Icons are a set of 119 open source line drawing icons that include everything from sharing and downloading to bananas and ghosts.

open icons


Land is a free ornate display font inspired by whimsical hand-lettering.



Banaue is a free brush font with 104 characters, including all the basic glyphs you could want.



NS-James is a free geometric sans serif typeface that’s versatile and highly legible. The “light” version is free.



Luciano is a fancy handwritten font with upper and lowercase glyphs.



Sadistic is a decorative display font perfect for horror projects. It comes with a complete set of Latin and Greek characters.


Free Brush

Free Brush is a brush style font created for the website and downloadable for free.

free brush


Hydrant is an inline shadow grunge font. It has a vintage style that’s perfect for branding and headers.


Rocket Shadow

Rocket Shadow is a free vintage-style font that’s great for retro headers and branding.



North is a simple, geometric sans-serif typeface that’s great for things like logos and posters.



Noelan is a modern calligraphy typeface that includes swashes for automatically connected initials and terminals.


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