Some of Australia’s leading online marketers have uncovered the strategies and tactics they use to build sustainable, lifetime loyalty among their customers at the recent Seamless Australia event.

As a sponsor of Australia’s largest virtual gathering of payments, ecommerce and fintech leaders, Seamless Australia, Blackhawk Network hosted a virtual roundtable, ‘Building Loyalty Online’.

The roundtable, chaired by Yvette Costi (Blooms The Chemist), featured Darren Gunton (Total Tools), Christian McKelvie ( and Will Feutrill (Blackhawk Network) who discussed how brands can navigate an ever-changing consumer landscape, and the importance of building lifetime loyalty.

The key takeaways from the roundtable were as follows:

Keeping customers loyal (outside of discounting) in a price competitive environment

1.It’s important to emotionally connect to customers and understand what is important to them. Once factors such as price, distribution and speed of delivery are taken out, businesses must create hooks that keep consumers coming back – those emotional hooks and symbols that elevate above competitors.

2. Loyalty is built off the bedrock of a consistent brand experience, so that consumers “know” what they are going to receive. These are the minimum thresholds expected to be reached each time to have a positive brand engagement. Going above and beyond that will grow the consumer’s attachment to the brand.

3. Loyalty programs can become powerful tools and strong operating entities in their own right, which can be seen from the success of airlines like Qantas and Cathay Pacific. However, for other businesses, loyalty programs are often launched because they think they need one; they are often hygiene factors and tickets to entry in the competitive field. And as they are often seen as an expense, very little is invested in them to make them truly something that keeps customers loyal; they are often seen as channels to sell discounted products to drive volume. They can easily become a one size fits all approach, and don’t make the customer feel special; rather just another transaction channel.

The role of data and expectations in exchange of information

4. Be respectful of any data collected and ensure its being used in the right way. The “bargain” made with customers is that you will use these insights to create a better proposition for them, ultimately creating value through an optimised experience.

5. Data collection is a double-edged sword – it is needed but transparency about why and how the information is collected, builds a reciprocal relationship with customers. When discussing data collection and usage with customers, brands are focusing on the importance of transparency, and how it can complete the cycle and optimise the customer experience.