As a child, we have all heard the Mother Goose nursery rhyme ad nauseam. I never imagined I would be correlating day-to-day business challenges in the mobile marketing and loyalty space with a child nursery rhyme. However, given our current business environment and the rapidly expanding number of channels a brand marketer must choose between to promote a company’s brand, product, or service, it could not be more fitting.
Brand marketers who understand how consumers are engaging in mobile shopping behaviors and design their strategies accordingly are best positioned for success.
Regardless of industry, there has proven to be no better way to grow a business than by maintaining your current customers you already have through a properly executed loyalty program. Loyalty programs are an effective way to retain and recognize valuable consumers, and provide them with more value and greater benefits for shopping in your store.
Loyalty programs have evolved over time, from the early tokens given away by merchants in the 1700s to today's mobile technology. However, the goal has always remained the same: to retain existing customers and incentivize them to return.
The proliferation of mobile smartphones has opened the door for the “new” types of rewards program, which do more than simply reward customers for purchases. Most big brands have existing reward programs that are purchased-based or reward for purchases. Now brands are beginning to recognize that they need a digital layer that sits on top of these programs to reward customers for all of the actions that are taking place, whether it’s when they’re on social media, a “conduit” loyalty application or on a brand’s site.
One doesn’t need to search too hard to find success stories of companies that have implemented some of the above principles. At the onset of their mobile loyalty program, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz revealed on an early analyst call that the “Starbucks loyalty card” had record-breaking quarters -- they were adding over 150,000 users per day and generating an increase of 38% in dollars loaded onto their cards with the primary driver of growth being the usage of consumers using their smartphones, which they not only attributed to increasing store traffic, but a more efficient consumer experience with “increased speed of service.”
The marriage of analytics, marketing and loyalty through the use of smartphones has enabled Starbucks to better understand its consumer -- and the result of this dictates how they promote the program, its uses and benefits has and have realized significant revenue growth.
This concept is not endemic to Starbucks alone. This year’s NRF (Big Show), which houses the who’s who of retail, echoed a constant theme, “personalizing the consumer experience.” Marc Giroux -- chief marketing and communications officer of Metro, Inc., operator of 830 retail locations across Ontario and Quebec -- may have put his finger on the crux of the issue at hand. In a recent January article written by Jennifer Overstreet of the NRF, Mr. Giroux states:
“To put it simply, consumers have the power! In 2013, the focus needs to be on truly delivering a connected, channel-less experience. It’s no longer enough to have a mobile app, a Facebook page or digital coupons – those tactics need to be tied to the same data, strategy and metrics within a system that allows you to learn what works and what doesn’t across the business.”
A truly integrated loyalty program with sound analytics may very well be a brand marketer’s “Mo.” It can give a company that may have fallen behind a competitor the ability to make up lost market share, or it could be one of the primary contributing factors some market leaders have the strong hold they currently control. It provides a company with an opportunity and ability to grow and evolve with its customer.