Old Dominion University Professor Yuping Liu-Thompkins, PH.D. Says Stricter Loyalty Programs Means More Loyal Customers

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In an industry as dynamic as digital marketing, it’s important to stay up-to-date with industry tools and trends. As an educator, Dr. Yuping Liu-Thompkins must find ways to prepare students to enter the workforce with skills that will be valuable in 15 to 20 years.

“Technology adoption has been so saturated…a lot of people are using multiple devices,” Liu-Thompkins, a professor of marketing and Director of the Customer Analytics and Strategy Collaboratory at Old Dominion University, said. “There’s an increase in need for marketers to understand that behavior. Adaptability is a really important skillset for students these days.”

In this episode of the Digital Marketing Professor Series, Liu-Thompkins discussed how her research on customer loyalty and branding informs her teaching.

Liu-Thompkins recently co-authored an article on loyalty programs and how changing expiration policies affect consumer behavior. Companies are starting to see a financial liability in unlimited rewards programs where points never expire and are now introducing expiration dates in dramatic fashion. Some companies are even going to a 36-month period or a monthly expiration rate.

Her results of her research were unexpected; consumers were incentivized to focus their purchases at certain brands and stores, and in turn they became more loyal.

“They eventually become the single loyal instead of what we call polygamous loyal customer. They turn it into a single loyal customer to the store in order to make their points work in their favor,” Liu-Thompkins said.

On the podcast, Liu-Thompkins also broke down the power that the influencer is having on marketing. As audiences seek more authenticity in the way brands connect with them, micro-influencers have become an attractive vehicle for advertisers.

“If you can rightly engage your customers in the social media space, you’re doing something good, you’ll make your customer wanting to talk about it, that already creates a level of sharing and re-sharing through their social networks and creating the influencer you are needing,” Liu-Thompkins said.

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