It happens way more than I care to admit: the college football season starts with such promise and hope, but, a couple games in, and it becomes clear that we’re not on track to for a major bowl game. Such is the life of a Wake Forest fan. (Go Deacs!)A more rational soul might give up on the team. But a real fan like me does it all over again, game after game, season after season.

Why would anyone follow a losing team? It’s about the emotional connection. Win or lose, those childhood memories, the family tradition, and the pride in the hometown team hold strong.

This is just one example of how an emotional connection can drive human behavior. Successful retailers understand this connection, and how to utilize it to keep their customers loyal.

It’s in a retailer’s DNA to use all sorts of loyalty programs to maintain that connection with their customers — from email marketing and shopper cards to coupons and VIP perks. But whether using traditional tactics or new technology, the best way to create loyalty is with fun, memorable, and enjoyable experiences that foster an emotional response.

How does a retailer know how to provide an experience that creates that loyal attachment? By using data to unlock insights about shoppers’ preferences and expectations. After all, how can you create highly personalized experiences if you lack insight into who your customers really are?

With that in mind, here are three data-driven recommendations to help build customer loyalty:

1. Track the Player Stats.

Sports fans love tracking how their favorite players perform, and, similarly, retailers should be following the performance metrics of their biggest customers.

Just like die-hard fans want the most in-depth stats, retailers want more than basic profile information. They want next-level insights, like current purchase intent, other retailers visited, long-term interest, and even purchase history. This deeper, more segmented view of store visitors is useful to

For example, a retailer might assume that shoppers who are college football fans may be looking for tailgating items. But if they uncover a connection these fans have with something unexpected — an in interest in eco-friendly cleaning, for example — there’s a new marketing opportunity to explore.

Connections like this only come with a full view of the customer. When shoppers are listened and responded to in unexpected ways, they feel grateful for the recognition, and are likely to return.

2. Do a Post-Game Analysis.

When the game is over, the analysis begins. In the retail business, that “Monday morning quarterbacking” is really necessary, as it helps you better understand the buyer’s journey.

Reeling back the tape to observe when shoppers convert or fail to in store, where they dwell for a while or breeze on by, or what path big spenders take compared to quick trippers, offers the opportunity to continuously improve the store experience — and increase the odds of customers coming back time after time.

3. Run Through All of the Plays.

To improve customer loyalty, retailers should think about how shoppers interact with the physical environment during store visits. You could use surveys, or observe certain behaviors, but the sample sizes are usually pretty small, and the results can be biased. To get an accurate read, you’ll want to scale up measurement to observe all activity in the store.

Then you can get really accurate answers to specific questions like: What is each store’s busiest day and time? How are our endcaps performing? How did our marketing affect store traffic? Which customers stay on the perimeter of the store versus going down every aisle? Truly knowing how each segment of customers behave in store will allow you to create great experiences across every store without guesswork.

While customer loyalty is the holy grail, getting there is a bit of a science. You need insights to help you to forge that bond. Be sure to upgrade your practices with data about the customer, their in-store behaviors, and how they purchase. If you build it, they will surely come back.