Clutch is a customer data and marketing platform created to help businesses identify customers, analyze data, and recommend actions that benefit their brand. Since their start in 2012, Clutch has grown to a global business with over 800 customers across 19 countries. They manage over 100 million unique customer profiles and process millions of unique events and transactions each day. To date, they have completed over 450 integrations with key technology partners including POS, eCommerce, CRM, and ERP systems.
Chris Jones, EVP of Business Development at Clutch, answered our top questions about the marketing CRM solution.
What drove the founder to create Clutch and how has it evolved since its inception?
In 2012, Ned Moore, Andy O’Dell, and Dan Guy conceived Clutch as an add-on service to help companies segment and analyze customer data in their CRM. But after many conversations with leading retail executives, they learned that the bigger problem—or the bigger opportunity, rather—was in creating a unified customer data management platform specifically for the B2C space.
At the time, many B2C companies were (and still are) storing their online, social, and in-store data in different silos, making it impossible to get a full view of their customers. And they were using different analytics and segmentation tools for each silo. At the same time, customers were beginning to engage with brands on multiple channels, switching back and forth and generating a tidal wave of data in their wake.
Realizing this, the team pivoted to build a system that integrated these environments and could deliver significant customer engagement results with personalized marketing. Initially, Clutch partnered with loyalty and gift card providers because of the similarity between those customer data models and Clutch’s own model, but after realizing that most operators did not have the scale to reach Clutch’s consumers, Clutch brought those operations in house. In 2013, Clutch purchased ProfitPoint, a supplier of loyalty and gift programs.
In 2017, Clutch completed the acquisition of Persio, an innovative provider of SMS and MMS marketing solutions. This expansion into the mobile channel helped them address the increasing demand from customers and brands to engage on the go.
Today, Clutch is a robust, unified customer data and marketing platform. The platform gives B2C companies a 360 view of their customer data and the tools to analyze, automate and optimize communications for loyalty, stored value, mobile, email, direct mail, and digital channels.
What kind of feedback have you heard from your clients?
Customers love the ability to create and manage customized programs that are based on actual trends in their data. For those new to loyalty, they appreciate the experience and support from our Customer Success team. We have a dedicated team that works with clients from start to finish, onboarding data to the Clutch platform, building programs and optimizing them to deliver optimal value over time.
What are the most common questions that you hear from potential and current clients?
We hear lots of questions from customers on many topics! Some common inquiries include the following in the areas of customer data, loyalty, communication, and data security.
- How do I identify my best customers? What do they do? What do they buy?
- How do you provide a single customer view from multiple sources?
- What percent of customers will enroll in my loyalty program?
- What lift can I expect? Do customers really respond to rewards like points or cash-back? What currency is the best and why?
- How do I make sure the program won’t just dilute my margins?
- How good does a reward need to be in order to incentivize consumer behavior
- What type of testing can we do to determine if our loyalty program is working and what needs to be changed?
- How frequently should I communicate with my customers? We don’t want to be forgotten but don’t want to lose trust or engagement either.
- How frequently should we revisit our strategy around triggered communications and segmentation?
- Do you have any resources or support documentation around email/SMS compliance for CAN-SPAM & GDPR?
- Can you provide us with a detailed overview of how you store and protect our data?
What is Clutch’s approach to creating a loyalty program?
When creating a loyalty program, the first and most important consideration is that it must be a reflection of each unique brand and its customers. This involves some analysis of a brand’s historical data. As a first step, we typically ask for three years of available data and look for key trends that will ultimately inform the design of the loyalty program. We seek answers to questions like the following:
Who are the brand’s top customers? What do their journeys look like? What types of activities do they take? What is the purchase frequency, average order value and what is the average time between purchases? If the brand is using segmentation in their marketing, who are they targeting? What are the milestones or key activities that indicate a positive or negative shift in customer attitude?
From here, we work to design a program that works to promote those positive behaviors shown from a brand’s most valuable customers. For example, if getting to the third purchase is an important milestone that is directly correlated with a higher customer lifetime value, we’ll design part of the program around that objective. Ultimately, for a loyalty program to succeed, it must be mutually beneficial for the customer and the brand.
What does an ideal client look like?
We serve a variety of customer-focused industries including Retail, Grocery, Automotive, Healthcare, and more. Our ideal customer wants to know more about their customers and is interested in taking a data-driven approach to marketing. They must also appreciate that loyalty is more than a program; it’s a holistic strategy that must be applied throughout their marketing for it to work. While our solutions are well suited for B2B, we typically work with businesses in the B2C space that have both a physical store and online presence and are using multiple channels to engage customers.
How are you unique among your competitors?
Our competitive advantage lies in three fundamental aspects of our platform. Together, these enable us to make the following promise to anyone who works with us:
You will know more about your customers than ever before, and you will have the resources to increase the lifetime value of those customers.
- Technology Stack: The Clutch Platform is powered by a flexible, non-relational database that was built to manage customer data – not sales data. This structure enables superior flexibility, speed, and scalability. This also provides an advantage in future-proofing the platform for data collection requirements.
- Adaptive Customer Attribute Model: New Data formats are available for use anywhere in the Clutch platform as soon as they are ingested, without the need for configuration. Many platforms are able to add new data types to the customer profile, but customers cannot enable it for use in campaigns without writing new code, limiting personalization capabilities and the breadth of customer attributes that can be used in marketing.
- Unified Analytics + Execution: There is no lag time between insights and execution. Through automation, we greatly reduce the need to manage data and delivery across disconnected systems. Instead, we support programs that are driven by business rules, machine learning and insights as they occur, enabling an unparalleled level of personalization at scale.
What’s the biggest myth about Loyalty Programs?
One of the most prevalent myths about Loyalty Programs is that they are all about rewards! The reality is that loyalty programs are really about getting to know the customer. Loyalty is, at the core, a data capture strategy. We use loyalty as a means to identify and understand customer behavior in order to better inform all marketing efforts. It can, of course, involve incentives and rewards, but it does not have to rely on them as the sole means of engagement and success.
What are examples of how brands and retailers are leveraging Clutch?
To Identify Customers
In the grocery industry, product recalls are an unavoidable reality. Customer loyalty programs have historically relied on tokenized IDs tied to payment info, or phone number to recognize customers. But promoting loyalty enrollment and identification using an email address has proven to be an important asset in recall communications, product notices and other information that can protect public health. We can use purchase history combined with SKU data to communicate critical information in the event of a recall.
To Understand Customers
Even before a customer enrolls in a loyalty program, a lot can be done to start learning about their behaviors by integrating data from various systems and looking at it holistically. We help our clients build profiles for both loyalty and non-loyalty customers, tracking any and all mechanisms that could contribute to the overall strategy for loyalty or other marketing programs. We can help brands learn things like channel preference. How do customers engage via email, SMS, direct mail and social? And which channels drive the most impact to the bottom line?
To motivate customers to the next best action, we help clients see what has worked and what has not. What is the right time to send a communication, and what is the offer that will generate a conversion? These offers do not necessarily need to be a discount—so we can help find out ways to motivate behaviors that don’t erode margin.
Across the board, we see that Loyalty Program members are more valuable over time than non-members. Below are a few metrics on the success we’ve seen:
– For a global sporting goods company, we saw that 82K enrolled loyalty members had nearly double the AOV of non-members. Furthermore, those members now account for 28% of purchases and 40% of revenue.
– For a national automotive repair shop with over 900 franchise locations, we helped optimize their marketing spend and improve open and conversion rates. On average, direct mail can be 100 times more expensive than email. In capturing emails for their loyalty program, we helped them reduce direct mail spend by 20%. Data-driven, triggered communications also drove a 4X increase in email open rates and a 2X conversion on offers.
– For an ecommerce outdoor retailer, we launched a loyalty program that enrolled 7% of the entire customer base in just three months. Those members had a 38% higher AOV, 17% greater shopping frequency and accounted for 48% of all non-guest checkouts.
Clutch and Blue Acorn officially began their partnership in May 2018. Since then, they’ve worked on several projects together, including Peter Thomas Roth. If you’d like to learn more about Clutch, click here. To chat with someone on the Blue Acorn team, feel free to visit our Contact Us page.