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Successful Loyalty Programs vs. New Groupon Rewards Program

The “loyalty” aspect of our service is what has really fueled a lot of the interest we’ve been getting recently. There has been a huge spike in interest in SMS and other mobile marketing services since the beginning of 2012. And, for the past few years, the Groupon model has been relatively popular. The concept of social buying and heavy discounts was very compelling to small businesses that were looking for ways to drive business. However, we saw some backlash with this model.

The deep discounts and one-time buys are not ideal for the goals and needs of certain businesses. I’ve seen about 60-90% of business owners say they will never do another Groupon again. So if you look at the business market and see that most businesses will not use Groupon again, then how does Groupon have any kind of future?

We always knew that the No. 1 fail point of Groupon was that they had no client retention model. We knew they would eventually have to evolve into a loyalty company—and they did when they came out with Groupon Rewards.

Now, the company is distancing itself from small businesses. They realized their model failed to deliver loyalty, so they started offering a lot of other type of products. Now their focus is on “rewards”, which they obviously did out of demand in the marketplace. But, many businesses dislike Groupon because although they can offer great discounts to customers, they aren’t able to get their hands on the list of people who bought the Groupon. That list is important in building loyalty and personal, engaging interactions among customers.

At SMS Masterminds, we have taken the time and energy to build a very campaign-based and service-based program. We understand the concept of loyalty and how it relates to the needs and opportunities of small business marketing.

There are several elements of a loyalty program that absolutely must be included for the program to be successful. And guess what—Groupon has incorporated virtually none of them. Here are some of the must-have components to a successful loyalty program:

Personal Relationship Building

Whatever system you use for your loyalty program should be one that rides the trends of the loyalty marketing industry and the demands of consumers. Consumers are demanding relationships—they want to feel important and buy from people that they like. If a brand can create a personality and get people to like it, that brand will win over customers. It’s about making an effort to make the customer experience personal and engaging.

Engaging Ongoing Messaging

A loyalty program needs to have consistency in its touch points. We are in a very fast-paced industry today and people expect instant gratification. With our loyalty marketing program, consumers are constantly engaged—receiving text message updates and rewards for checking-in on the Loyalty Rewards Kiosk. With Groupon Rewards, there is no engagement. It’s a system that tallies up totals, and who knows when you will receive your reward.

Timely Push Technology

You want to be able to PUSH your message out there. In order to continue that personal relationship with consumers, you must be able to reach them and provide them with something of value. Push technology is so important in marketing—and that’s why mobile is so big right now—because being able to push out your message and almost INSTANTLY reach consumers is unbelievably powerful.

In-House Engagement Element

You need to have something in-house that people can engage with when they walk into your business. There needs to be something they can do, touch, see, feel—whether it’s a table tent or some other form of signage or a Loyalty Rewards Kiosk conveniently located at the point of purchase—so customers can see, in that moment, how many check-ins they have so far, how many rewards they’ve earned, etc.

Habit Forming Consumer Use

A loyalty system needs to teach your customer how to buy. A successful program can help them develop habits that they will continue to act on over time. Consumer buyer habits are one of the most critical elements of any analytics because understanding what your customers are doing and helping them further mold their buying habits will directly affect your bottom line.

Social Media Integration

It’s 2012. If you are still aboard the anti-social media “I don’t see how it will help my business” train, then you should probably get off at the next stop. You can no longer turn a blind eye. Social media is out there, it’s big, and you can’t deny the success that many businesses have using it to promote brand awareness. A system with elements of loyalty, brand building and consumer engagement should absolutely include social media to round off the entire experience.

If you’re in the marketing industry, you’re going to have people ask you about the differences between Groupon and other loyalty marketing programs. Be prepared to answer those kind of questions by being informed.

Anyone can buy a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, but it’s what the ad says and how it looks that makes the difference of whether it works or not. It comes down to service. When we see other companies providing a technology-only solution, it comes up short in terms of what expectations should be. Value is the key, which is why our system has been built the way it has and how it has remained sustainable among all the other variations that are out there.

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