3 Ways to Drive Mobile Loyalty
Everything consumers do today seems to start and end with a smartphone, and that behavior includes their interactions with retailers’ loyalty programs and rewards.
Some retailers are still finding their way with loyalty in the mobile environment. The good news is that three key tactics can drive mobile loyalty to help them achieve success: more customer engagement, improved customer communications, and more revenues.
The three tactics include hyperlocal capabilities that take advantage of smartphones’ GPS capabilities, messaging that improves connections and communications with consumers, and card-linking frameworks that turn customers’ payment cards and mobile wallets into de facto loyalty program membership cards. Here's a look at each of the tactics.
1. Go hyperlocal. Many topics come to mind when someone mentions "hyperlocal" marketing, and over time, the term's meaning has blurred. Does hyperlocal refer to marketing by a small business in a specific location? Highly targeted marketing across a broad expanse? The best way of thinking about hyperlocal is to think of contextual relevance, a concept that applies whether the retailer is a big-box outlet or a solo entrepreneur.
The crux of hyperlocal is fairly straightforward: retailers drive offers and awareness that are both relevant and timely for customers at a specific point or place in time. "Doing hyperlocal," however, requires retailers to know who their customers are in detail. That knowledge comes from data and data-driven segmentation schemes that identify customers based on specific behaviors, profiles, activities or preferences. Once identified, targeting can deliver the appropriate content and message.
2. Use messaging to its full advantage. As noted earlier, segmenting customers for targeted communications is a key component of a strong messaging campaign. So is a focus on great copy. You need to have great content to hit your mark. Offers have to be relevant and timely. Headlines and subject lines have to be written in such a way that they prompt the audience — regardless of segment — to engage and follow a call to action.
When my company first started sending CRM communications via email, we didn't have strong expertise in email copywriting. We've evolved, improved and learned the fine art of using compelling copy, strategic copy placement and strong subject lines to improve open rates. In the end, messaging on smartphones, whether email, in-app messaging or SMS, is about knowing your customers and crafting copy in such a way that they want to engage.
3. Do card linking. This is what I call the "silver bullet" of mobile loyalty. Whether you look at card linking from the consumer's or merchant's point of view, the kinds of benefits it delivers can be stunning. For consumers, card linking requires no change in behavior. They pay for things as they always have, and simply by linking a debit or credit card to a mobile wallet, loyalty program or mobile app, every qualified transaction on that card earns rewards. The rewards accrue automatically in the loyalty program. This means no more carrying separate loyalty cards in wallets or on key chains, or remembering program numbers and passwords. The smartphone becomes the de facto membership card for loyalty programs.
For merchants, benefits are equally strong. No more checkout delays while consumers fumble for membership cards or punch a number into a checkout keypad. The payment transaction itself handles everything — the rewards accrual and the data behind it. Furthermore, merchants don't have to invest in loyalty program IT projects and technology resources, which can be time consuming and costly.
Card linking, by its very nature, powers the loyalty program and the data connected to it. Transactional data can then be leveraged to inform segmentation, targeted marketing, geo-location initiatives, promotions and communications. In my mind, it's the fastest loyalty program adoption strategy available today, and it will become even more mainstream and widely used when retailers have access to readily available, easily consumed content in the form of rewards, offers, incentives, coupons, etc., that they can deliver to their card-linked members.
Mobile-powered consumer loyalty is an emerging phenomenon for some retailers, but sticking to basic tactics like hyperlocal initiatives, targeted messaging and card linking can cover a lot of mobile marketing territory and satisfy a lot of customers.
Brandon Logsdon is president and CEO of Excentus Corp., a provider of loyalty marketing programs and services that use cents per gallon fuel savings as the ultimate consumer reward.
Related story: Taking an Omnichannel Approach to Customer Loyalty Programs