Every company knows we’re in the midst of a digital transformation that goes beyond a few social media accounts. Digital platforms have become one of the most important ways to not only attract new customers but to inspire loyalty in those customers.

The influencers

Mobile and digital platforms are rivaled only by television for influence. Four out of 5 consumers regard their digital experience as the most important factor in their purchasing decisions, and 93 percent turn to social media if they are unhappy. Most importantly, one-third of consumers would “walk away” from a brand after an unsatisfactory mobile experience.

“That emotional connection is a big part of what loyalty is,” says Wayne Townsend, President, Technology Practice at Epsilon, a global marketing company and loyalty marketing leader. “It isn't just about the points program or the rewards offers, it's how you build that relationship to get the customer to behave in a loyal way.”

“That emotional connection tends to actually persist even through negative experiences ...”

Benefits and mistakes

Rewards are wrapped into the overall customer experience. Selling through a mobile app, for example, combines commerce, loyalty, and promotion for businesses, and convenience, rewards, and information for customers. The result is something stronger than mere economic bonds.

“That emotional connection tends to actually persist even through negative experiences,” Townsend points out. “And it also tends to breed more loyal relationships.”

It’s easy for companies to make mistakes, like focusing on channels instead of the consumer experience. The key is to start with the consumer experience and use digital platforms to move seamlessly across all channels.

One thing is clear: This is not a simple, 90-day transformation for most companies — but increasingly it’s an essential one.