November 13, 2014

The Most Important Voices in Customer Loyalty

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Customer loyalty programs have been around for decades – and with good reason. Our recent customer loyalty survey revealed consumers are over 80 percent more likely to shop at stores that offer some type of loyalty program. However, as consumers embrace digital and mobile payments, the nature of  incentive programs is changing.

Technology has transformed the way businesses think about (and reward) loyalty. Customer loyalty isn’t just a punch card tucked away in someone’s wallet. It means fostering community and engagement, building stronger relationships, and raising the customer lifetime value.

As the industry grows and changes, emerging thought leaders are guiding the customer loyalty dialogue into new territory. You may recognize some influential experts below, but this list also details some of the newcomers paving the way for the next developments in loyalty.

Colin Shaw @ColinShaw_CX

Colin Shaw



Must-read post: Five Ways to Gain Customers’ Trust in Data Security

Colin Shaw is the founder behind the customer experience consultancy, Beyond Philosophy, and the author of The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value. Colin is also a keynote speaker and shares his expertise regularly on Linkedin.

Sarah Robinson @SarahRobinson




Must-listen podcast: Entrepreneur on Fire Interview with Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson is the president and CEO of Sarah Robinson Co, a branding and engagement consultancy.  She is a keynote speaker, as well as the Amazon Best-Selling Author behind Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities. Her expertise is helping clients build thriving communities and foster employee engagement.

Barry Kirk @BarryKirk

Barry Kirk



Must read post: Keep Them Guessing: Loyalty Programs Need Randomness

Barry Kirkl is the VP of Loyalty Strategy at Maritz. His experience as the Senior Director of Digital Strategy at Bunchball brings unique and valuable insight to those interested in loyalty marketing. Barry is a co-host of the new podcast, The Customer Loyalty Space where he shares his expertise weekly.

Ashley Tate @ashtate /@bigdoor

Ashley Tate


Must read post: Top 10 Retail Loyalty Programs

Ashley Tate is the Director of Marketing at BigDoor, where she shares insights on the company blog. Her Loyalty Leaders series provides refreshing interviews with industry excperts and she also co-hosts the new podcast, The Customer Loyalty Space.

Don Peppers @DonPeppers

Don Peppers



Must read post: Turn Customer Frustration Into an Opportunity

Don Peppers is a founding partner at Peppers & Rogers Group and the author of 11 books on customer strategy, including Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage. He is a global authority on marketing and business competition and was listed by The Times of London as one of the “Top 50 Business Brains.” He shares thought-provoking articles on his influential Linkedin account.

Mark Johnson @MJohnsonLoyalty

Mark Johnson



Must-read post: Interview with Solutions to Fuel Your Bottom Line: Part 1 and Part 2

What customer loyalty conversation would be complete without mentioning President and CEO of Loyalty360, Mark Johnson? Loyalty360 is a resource for loyalty, customer experience, and brand/customer engagement strategy. The company offers research, reports, webinars, conferences, expert articles, and more.

Erin Raese @erinraese

Erin Raese



Must-read post: Loyalty Strategy Should Come With a KIS — Keep it Simple, That Is

Erin Rease is the Co-Founder of aforementioned Loyalty 360, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Loyalty Management magazine. Known as the “voice of the customer,” Loyalty Management is a one of a kind, customer driven quarterly-publication that focuses on loyalty, incentive/reward, and engagement marketing opportunities, and responses.

Celia Brown @celiabrown

Celia Brown



Must read post:  Top 30 Customer Engagement Influencers on Twitter

Celia Brown is the Senior Director of Content Marketing and Customer Engagement at SAP. She is also the Editor of The Customer Edge, a website focused on the future of customer engagement. The Customer Edge features both original and curated digital content from thought leaders and publications across the globe. 

Thomas Knoll @thomasknoll

Thomas Knoll



Must read post:  An Interview with Thomas Knoll

Thomas Knoll is the founder and CEO of Primeloop, as well as an online community advisor and consultant. Thomas has been building online communities for brands and organizations for over 17 years and regularly shares valuable resources on Twitter.

Evan Hamilton @evanhamilton 

Evan Hamilton



Must read post: Loyalty Leader Series: Interview with Evan Hamilton from ZOZI

Evan Hamilton is the Director of Community & Customer Loyalty at ZOZI. His blog is a goldmine of information on how to build value through customer retention, brand awareness, and loyalty.


What customer loyalty thought leaders or experts do you follow online to stay informed of industry trends? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Barry

    Hey, thanks for including me on this list — I appreciate seeing names that are already well-known to me and others that I need to get to know. Let me suggest that a list of loyalty thought leaders is not complete without the addition of @billhanifin, one of the smartest independent consultants in the loyalty space and the author of the excellent “Loyalty Truth” blog. Bill was the first person in the loyalty space, more than five years ago, to identify Millennials as an emerging customer segment that marketers needed to start taking seriously.

    • Joshua

      I might be slightly biased since I work with Bill Hanifin at

      But I fully agree with you Barry Kirk!

      Jenna Puckett I am sure it is not an easy task to decide who to put on this list of “The Most Important Voices in Customer Loyalty”. But I believe what Barry Kirk said is very accurate. I only say this because I work along side of Bill Hanifin everyday and I know that without having him on this list only limits the potential value of your readers.

      Bill has been a consistent voice in the Loyalty Marketing industry for many years and has been delivering value to all of the Clients of Hanifin Loyalty and has freely given much of his time and valuable thoughts on the Independent and unbiased insight on customer loyalty and data-driven marketing

      Jenna. Thanks for putting this together!

  2. Bill

    Thanks for the kind words @BarryKirk and @JoshuaReeder. Jenna, we should connect. Please reach out to me via bill at hanifin loyalty dot com when you have some time. Thanks.