A customer loyalty guide to Web 3: the future of brand engagement
The world is changing.
We are in the early stages of a massive shift in technology. New innovations collectively known as “web 3” will shape the future of brand engagement.
At White Label Loyalty, we’re starting to explore what loyalty programs could look like in Web 3.
Ready to get up to speed on the next generation of loyalty? Keep reading…
What is Web 3?
Web 3 is the next evolution of the internet. Using technologies such as blockchain, the metaverse, and cryptocurrency, this new world is set to revolutionize the way we use the web.
Here’s what you need to know.
- In web 3, users are owners.
Almost everything a user does on the current version of the web is facilitated by and profited by 5 technology giants: Facebook (Meta), Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. This ‘digital monopoly’ means users can’t easily own, hold or monetise their own data. Web 3 will give people full ownership of their data. This is made possible with blockchain technology.
- Web 3 uses decentralised blockchain technology.
Web 3 will ‘decentralise’ the internet - have it run on its own network instead of being managed by the tech giants. This means users will have more control over who can access their information.
For example, we (internet users) currently store files on services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. We have no option but to trust them with our personal information. But with blockchain, users can safely store data without relying on external platforms. No need to worry about your information being stolen or used without your knowledge.
- Web 3 will be built by community and collaboration.
Community is one of the more important aspects of the web 3 ecosystem, as it will be built by the people who participate in it. We have seen this model work in other industries like gaming, where players create their own unique experiences. The same thing can happen with web 3—it's all about giving people the tools they need to build their own communities. Brands can also use this opportunity to create communities revolved around brand products, values, and customers.
The first iteration of the internet was simply used to access information. Only a few people knew how to edit or share content.
Web 2 (our current internet) introduced the notion of user-generated content, sharing, and interactivity. However, this led to fears over data privacy. Content creators are also increasingly concerned about how much value tech giants take from their own content.
Tech giants currently benefit from customer data and content. But Web 3 will redirect this value to the user. Users will be able to control who accesses their digital profiles. This is because Web 3 facilitates individual ownership of data via a blockchain wallet.
Web 3 marketing in the post-cookie world
Today, most brands collect customer data and feed it into their CRM. There are laws in place that mean customers can ask for their information to be deleted. Sometimes customers must jump through hoops to unsubscribe from marketing subscriptions or delete their online profiles. In this system, the customer is not in a position of power.
In Web 3, brands will ask customers for access to their digital wallets. Rather than holding data in a CRM, customers will share a ‘key’ with brands that unlocks their data. The customer has full control of the key - if they no longer want to share their data, they can simply turn off access to their wallet.
So, what does this mean in the world of loyalty programs?
Loyalty programs have come a long way.
Traditional loyalty programs only reward transactions. These programs often use stamp cards or points-based systems.
Successful modern loyalty programs reward both transactional and behavioural activity. These programs are data-driven and usually operate on apps. Customers benefit from personalised rewards. Brands benefit from first-party data collection, influencing customer behaviour, and creating emotional loyalty.
The problem we face today is that some customers don’t see the value of loyalty programs. This can be due to unreachable tier levels, one-size-fits-all rewards, points that expire, and an overall suspicion about data privacy.
But we know that loyalty programs are hugely important for brands and customers. 75% of consumers will favour a brand if they offer a loyalty program. And customers who are engaged with a loyalty program make more purchases and spend more per transaction.
It’s clear that loyalty matters.
So what does the future of loyalty look like? What can brands do to create engaging loyalty programs in a web 3 world?
The loyalty marketing opportunities awaiting brands in web 3
Web 3 offers brands 3 new capabilities: authenticity, engagement, and community.
- Authenticity and verification
Using blockchain technology, brands and customers will be able to verify ownership of digital tokens. NFTs can replace traditional rewards and be used in the same way as membership tiers. A rare NFT, gifted only to your most valuable customers, will be like owning a platinum membership card. Thanks to the blockchain, brands will be able to easily identify who holds the NFT and deliver exclusive rewards to them.
- Brand engagement and building relationships
Web 3 provides opportunities to create more engaging experiences. In the metaverse, for example, brands can “create customer experiences unaffected by physical barriers”. Customer journeys can be made more accessible, memorable and social. A virtual platform also opens up new possibilities for gamified experiences.
- Building a community by rewarding web 3 ‘brand valuable’ behaviour
Customer attention is a scarce commodity - people only have so much of it. Brands need to think of new ways to connect with customers. And most of the time, customers are not looking for ads, but instead want to engage with brands directly. Web 3 will allow for direct interaction between companies and customers.
One way of doing this is for brands to reward any customer activity they deem “brand valuable”. For example, reward users who spend time in your virtual store. Or, reward users who talk about your brand in online communities. There is also a huge opportunity to co-create user-generated content that will help you grow in the virtual world. Brands will be able to reward a new type of customer - one who can help them reach and engage their desired audience.
At White Label Loyalty, we’re exploring what loyalty programs could look like in Web 3 alongside pioneering clients…
- Rewards won’t be limited to transactions. Brands could reward customers for their time and engagement
- Customers could be incentivized to share their ‘digital wallet’
- Brands could offer high-value rewards to influencers or ‘superfans’. Loyal customers are drawn to the scarcity and power of NFTs - to access exclusive events, unlock exclusive rewards, and own a part of brand history
- Users can be incentivized to create user-generated content to help brands reach new audiences
- Points and rewards could be decentralised to avoid fraud
Why is web 3 important for my business?
Not convinced about web 3 yet? Let’s look at what’s happening in the world right now…
- 100 countries around the world are already exploring digital currencies:
- The Bahamas have had ‘the Sand Dollar’ in circulation for over a year already.
- Sweden’s central bank Riksbank has completed a proof of concept and is exploring policy implications of digitised currency.
- China has more than 100 million users of digital currency, with billions of yuan worth of transactions.
- The Federal Reserve issued a report earlier this year suggesting a centralised banking digital currency could “fundamentally change the structure of the U.S. financial system”.
- Virtual worlds such as Minecraft and Roblox are extremely popular with younger generations. The ‘Metaverse’ already has over 1 billion active users. Brands will need to reach customers where they are at (or, where they’ll soon be…).
- Nike and Coca-Cola already have their own spaces in the metaverse. Gucci and Adidas are experimenting with web 3 marketing campaigns. The NBA has brought out NFT assets to engage their audiences. It’s only a matter of time until brands from all industries acquire their web3 position and begin to work out a business model.
- Digital goods sales are overtaking physical goods sales. Take Opensea, for example - an online NFT marketplace that has an average daily trading volume of over $260 million. Compare this with leading e-commerce platform Etsy, which has an average daily trading volume of $4.9 million.
So, more than half of the governments on the planet are already experimenting with digital currency in some way. When governments issue digital currencies, a new mass consumer base is created. And what do customers with access to digital currency want to do? Spend it!
Brands need to be ready and accepting of crypto so that users can easily spend money with them when the time comes. We are also seeing a high uptake in users of virtual platforms in the Metaverse, as well as skyrocketing purchases of digital assets. Observing the above trends exposes how much opportunity there is awaiting brands in web 3.
But don’t panic. It’s still very early.
How can brands get started with web 3 marketing?
- Start to think about potential use cases for your brand.
- Understand your customers today. Use data to derive insights into your customer's current activity. Brands that have the right data and insights will be best prepared to move into new markets.
- Do the groundwork. There are lots of legal implications of web3 applications. If you are interested in cryptocurrencies and NFTs, do as much research as possible.
- Create a community. You will need an audience to be successful in web 3. Build engagement around your brand today so that you can take this audience with you into the future.
Web 3 will ultimately provide brands with new marketing touchpoints. But we are very early in these developments. We are only just learning about the potential use cases of brand engagement. Anything brands are doing now is experimental. But developments move fast.
Forbes notes that Web 3 will take virtual communities to the next level. Marketers and brands will need to participate “to remain relevant and connect with their consumers”. What should you be doing now? Do the groundwork so you’re better prepared when more consumers move into the next generation of the web.
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Creative & Content Marketing Executive
Helen is our Creative & Content Marketing Executive. She shares valuable information about the Future of Loyalty and will keep you up to date on the latest industry insights...