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Citi's Managing Director, Global Rewards, Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Citi-Managing-Director-Globa- Rewards
As Citi's managing director, benefits, new product development and global rewards, Mary Hines oversees the growth and development of the company's ThankYou Rewards loyalty program, as well as the benefit offerings associated with Citi's Branded Cards portfolio. She is also responsible for leading innovation efforts within the Branded Cards portfolio and bringing new products to market.

Hines recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Nearly every business model on the planet is being impacted by a powerful, disruptive force: digitization. And with more consumers relying on mobile devices to interact with brands--in 2015, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults had a smartphone, up from one-third in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center--brands have no choice but to adapt or die. Adapting to the changing landscape isn't just smart, it's a matter of survival.

2. Why is this so important?
For Citi, leading what's next and digitizing our model is central to our strategy. From 2014 to 2015, we saw a 25% increase in our global customer base interacting with us via mobile, and this trajectory continues. In order to remain relevant and innovate for growth, we need to ensure we're interacting with consumers when they want and where they want, and increasingly, this is via mobile.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
Through Citi's ThankYou Rewards loyalty program, we've been on a journey to transform the offering so that we're providing relevance in a digital world. We are optimizing the program for our mobile-savvy member base and enabling redemption where customers are. Our digital catalog has been mobile-optimized, and, through this, we've seen a twofold increase in digital engagement over the program's analogue counterpart.

What we've found is that when we're engaging customers where they want to be engaged, it's a powerful relationship. In a study we're about to release, nearly 90% of consumers said they are less likely to switch credit-card providers or banks when they use their credit-card rewards. So by interacting with customers where they are, we're not only providing ease and simplicity, we're laying the groundwork for a long-term relationship that will extend far past this mobile moment through technological innovations of the future.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
At the core of marketing, it's being where customers are. However, the "where" has and will continue to shift as technology transforms at a rapid pace. And brands need to stay ahead of the game to stay in it.

Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Being class parent for my son's pre-K class—never a dull moment.


About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

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