How do you build an enduring brand with loyal followers? As marketers, how do we focus on mastering loyalty marketing initiatives, and stay relevant and consistent with an amplified global competitive landscape?
One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is gaining and retaining customers. According to Mark Di Somma, what customers need at first is awareness, authenticity and excitement over the brand in order for a brand to gain top-of-mind. But once customers are passionate about a brand, they need different things. They don’t need to be sold to, according to Di Somma, nor do they need to be reminded that they’re making the right choice every time they buy. They need to feel rewarded in order to make the decision to lock-in and stay loyal to a brand. Often at times, marketers offer no real sense of reward and ignore their loyal customers. So how do you sustain the appeal for those who believe in your brand – establish brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is built on the foundation of every interaction your customer has with your service. The key to brand loyalty is to always meet or exceed expectations with every customer encounter. When customers become loyal, they not only buy your product/service, they become emotionally attached to your brand. They may recommend your brand to their friends and family, develop an emotional connection, and act as a brand evangelist. These recommendations known as “word-of-mouth” marketing, continue to be most effective, as they can articulate the value proposition of your brand, and address an emotional connection that resonates well with others.
At Couch & Associates we build a loyal customer base which we hope results in brand advocacy, by continuing to engage and deliver consistent brand experiences to our customers. To deliver compelling value across the customer lifecycle, we developed FIREFLY, a loyalty marketing initiative that defines a clear strategy for how to engage with customers along different stages of the buying cycle.
To help ensure your customers will remember your brand, we’ve outlined six (6) steps to build brand loyalty:
1) Establish brand storytelling – Create stories that communicate the personality, values and experiences of your brand. Genone Murrary, Course Director in Internet Marketing at Sail University, argues that companies should base these stories by analyzing and understanding the personality, values and experiences of your customers. Create a brand story that connects with your product/service and target demographics. Don’t equate your brand story with a list of products, services or prices. Build your brand story by determining what sets your company apart from your competitors and what establishes a unique identity for you (unique selling proposition – USP). Create brand storytelling and experiences both in-person and online.
2) Connect with your customers – Be present at touch points which matter most to your customers and provide an emotional connection. As brands are battling for higher affinity, connect and engage with your customers on a regular basis. Increase awareness amongst your customers. Provide your customers with value and motivation and create a community that builds buzz around your brand.
3) Anticipate their needs – Don’t start selling to your customers, listen to their needs and focus on what your customers want. Your customers are looking for the next experience, so offer them additional value or incentives (i.e. loyalty cards or programs), as these customers are typically more profitable and will most likely reciprocate by staying loyal to your brand.
4) Deliver on promise – Make it a habit to deliver happiness every step of the way. Show your customers that you truly care by surpassing their expectations. Offer something new or exciting and stay true to your brand mission and promise.
5) Be consistent – Consistently delivering the same message and performance through all lines of business is reassuring and helps keep your brand top-of-mind. Being consistent helps re-affirm your customers’ trust and credibility in your brand, and helps provide clarity of distinction from competitors.
6) Deliver personalized experiences – Digital marketing enables us to connect with customers in different ways. Drive a strategy of conversational marketing that orchestrates one-to-one seamless messaging across all channels. Profile, segment and analyze your customer base and past buying patterns and create personalized, two-way interactions with your customers that are relevant and customized. Don’t group your customers as stats. Keep your focus on building customer relationships.
To establish brand loyalty you must live by your company’s core principles and go above and beyond customer expectations. Go the extra mile to set your brand apart from anyone else. Determine your company’s inside advantage. Find something uncommon about your offering, and find a way to become well-known to your core customer base by offering a differentiation. Kevin Roberts from Saatchi & Saatchi describes the goal of marketing as the creation of “loyalty beyond reason.” Marketers should focus on creating more brand loyalists and “brands that create an intimate emotional connection that you simply can’t do without. Ever” Your existing customers are the most valuable to your business, so start to create an emotional connection and reward them.
As a marketer, how much effort should you invest in growing brand loyalty? Do you believe that if you attain brand loyalty, everything else will naturally follow?
Click here to find out more on how Couch & Associates brand loyalty marketing initiatives can help keep your brand top-of-mind with your existing customers.
Know the goal of the campaign.
Creating a successful loyalty marketing campaign starts with knowing the goal of the campaign. Do you want more unique customers? Do you want to reward repeat visitors? This is the most important thing – without knowing what you want out of a campaign before you begin, it’s virtually impossible for that campaign to be successful.
Sometimes, even the most successful merchant will have great customers or regulars who suddenly stop coming in. This is particularly relevant in salons and the automotive industry, although it’s a concept that can (and should) be applied to most loyalty brand marketing campaigns.
Utilize automated engagement messages.
Automated engagement messages are sent to consumers who have stopped checking in at the merchant’s kiosk for a certain period of time. These customers are then specifically targeted by the system for a special offer the merchant sets up.
For example, think of a hair salon. Clients are recommended to come back every five to six weeks for a trim, and by the seventh or eighth week, if the client fails to come in, the system will automatically send them a specific, targeted offer – think “$5 off your next haircut” or “we miss u! come in and receive free shampoo w/ trim”.
Use unique tiered rewards.
The key word here is unique. This reward system is based on the idea that at specific intervals of check-ins, a customer will get a different reward, leading up to better and better rewards each time. For instance, at the first check-in, a customer will receive a 10% off coupon, at 5 check-ins, they’ll receive 25% off, and at 10 check-ins, receive a free item or service.
Know the success targets.
The redemption rate for these offers is what we look at to decide if the campaign was successful. Around 40 percent of automated engagement offers redeemed is considered very successful; that means of the number of inactive customers that received this message and would have otherwise stopped coming back to the salon for whatever reason, 40 percent came back and redeemed the offer. Those are customers that could potentially have been lost had the message not been sent.
Knowing what your particular success targets are can help you to update your plan as you go through your campaign and evaluate success during or at the end of the campaign.
Know what to avoid.
One of the most frequent issues merchants see in getting higher redemption rates is unrealistic expiration dates. Expiration dates on rewards are necessary; you don’t particularly want someone to stack up offers indefinitely. However, if someone spends a year getting their reward, you don’t want to give them a three-day window to redeem it.
Using these proven keys to success, you should be able to formulate a plan for loyalty marketing that is successful and will work for your business.
New York City baker Eileen Avezzano says she has a better way than Groupon Inc. (GRPN)’s online deals to entice customers to buy her cheesecakes again: She doles out loyalty cards that reward buyers for return visits.
The cards, designed by Cartera Commerce Inc., are digital instead of physical, and are linked to credit cards consumers already use. They let merchants provide a discount, or a reward such as airline miles, every time consumers buy. A shopper may swipe a card, and a retailer will automatically deduct some money off the bill.
Groupon is seeking to raise as much as $540 million selling 30 million shares for $16 to $18 apiece, according to regulatory filings. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg
Businesses like Avezzano’s can use the programs to collect data on when customers shop, how often they return and how much they spend — way beyond the scope of old-fashioned paper punch cards. That can make them even more valuable than coupons from Groupon and LivingSocial. About 900 million transactions will be conducted with cards connected to merchant loyalty programs in 2015, generating $1.7 billion in revenue for the providers, Aite Group LLC estimates. That’s up from $300 million in 2011.
“I see them going head-to-head,” said Peter Krasilovsky, a vice president at researcher BIA/Kelsey. “It’s an evolution of the deals space. The goal is to go beyond new customer acquisitions and become part of the integrated business of merchants.”
The digital loyalty program market began exploding around 2010, when startups and venture capitalists starting thinking about how to bring loyalty punch cards into the digital age, Krasilovsky said in an interview. Makers of loyalty-card software have attracted more than $155 million in venture capital, he said.
Cartera raised $12.2 million this month in a round of funding led by Venture Capital Fund of New England. Along with Cartera, startups such as Plink LLC, CardSpring and Mirth Inc. are gaining attention in the world of merchant deals.
“We think it’s a massive opportunity,” said Jeffrey Bussgang, a general partner at Cartera investor Flybridge Capital Partners. “Card-linked marketing benefits card issuers and consumers equally.”
These loyalty programs, which reward buyers on top of any airline miles or points their credit cards already offer, are often cheaper than coupon providers, too. LivingSocial and Groupon, the biggest provider of daily discounts, typically take a 30 percent cut of a transaction, versus 5 percent to 15 percent when a loyalty-linked card is used. The competition adds to concerns facing Groupon, whose shares have tumbled 51 percent since its initial public offering in November.
Some loyalty programs let consumers get rewards of their choice such as cash back, discounts or virtual currency for games like Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)’s FarmVille. American Express Co. (AXP)’s Zynga Serve Rewards card allows fans to amass the currency when they shop and use it for the online game.
Virtual currencies are seen as a way to attract people in their 20s, said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite.
“Zynga has a large portion of players who are highly engaged in their games,” said David Messenger, executive vice president of online and mobile for American Express. “We can connect that online engagement with offline behavior.”
Plink, a Denver, Colorado-based startup, has designed a loyalty program that lets users earnFacebook Inc. (FB)’s virtual currency by dining at more than 25,000 restaurants such as Burger King Corp. and Outback Steakhouse. CardSpring allows clients to build their own Web-based and mobile applications for cards that can deliver coupons, digital receipts and loyalty programs.
Mirth, whose program is currently in trials in New York, rewards frequent customers with a 3 percent discount on purchases whenever they swipe their cards at participating restaurants.
“A lot of merchants have voiced their frustration with deep discounts and deals,” Jeremy Galen, Mirth’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “With us, you don’t have to lower your price.”
On June 19, online-payments startup Square Inc. also introduced a loyalty program, letting small businesses offer rewards to customers who swipe credit cards through its handheld readers.
Increased competition may further damp analysts’ expectations for Groupon. The Chicago-based company in March reported a “material weakness” in its financial controls and said fourth-quarter results were worse than previously stated because of higher refunds to merchants.
A survey earlier this year by Susquehanna Financial Group and daily-deal aggregator Yipit showed that about half of businesses that had offered an online deal-of-the-day weren’t planning to do so again in the following six months. Merchants were concerned about a low rate of repeat business from new customers gained through such offers, the survey found.
“We continue to question whether Groupon can sustain its high growth and begin to generate sizable profits while scaling back marketing costs,” Edward Woo, an analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets LLC, wrote in a May 15 note.
As a result, Groupon’s IPO has been among the worst market debuts for a Web company since the dot-com crash. Closely held LivingSocial, whose backers include Amazon.com Inc., Lightspeed Venture Partners and AOL Inc. founder Steve Case, doesn’t disclose sales or earnings figures.
Both LivingSocial and Groupon have started their own loyalty programs. LivingSocial introducedits first co-branded credit card with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in May. Cardholders can earn points that can be converted into DealBucks and used toward LivingSocial deals.
Groupon’s Rewards program, which gives consumers points for shopping at participating companies with a registered credit card, was rolled out nationwide at the end of the first quarter.
“We are signing up hundreds of merchants every week, and have hundreds of thousands of customers on this platform,” said Jay Hoffman, vice president and general manager of the Rewards program. “The adoption has been incredible.”
Still, some business owners view rival loyalty programs as a better investment than daily deals.
“With Groupon, it’s a one-time offer — it doesn’t last,” New York baker Avezzano said. Customer numbers at Eileen’s Special Cheesecake have jumped 18 percent since the shop started using Cartera’s loyalty technology a year ago, she said.
Article Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-26/groupon-challenged-by-startups-in-doling-loyalty-cards.html
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.
It has been said that where Google goes these days, people follow. So when Ian Carrington, Google’s director of mobile marketing, told an audience during the Changing Media Summit in London last year, “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy,” marketers paid attention.
Fast-forward the clock to 2012 and a Marketing Magazine interview and it is clear his opinion has not wavered: “Advertisers … have to grow up and realize the mobile Web is just as important to their business [as apps] and should very much be a consideration for what their mobile strategy should be.”
Mr. Carrington’s recent comments come at a time where mobile, specifically smartphones and tablets, are enjoying high adoption rates and even higher popularity.
Media research firm Nielsen may have called 2011 “The Year of the Mobile,” but in only a few short months, it is amazing how antiquated that label seems.
Considering that the company’s latest research shows that smarphones made up nearly half of all United States mobile phones in February 2012 suggests that going forward, christening years with tech titles might be a bit premature.
Like no other marketing tool before it mobile is the ideal medium to improve customer service and, through heightened customer feedback and shopper metrics, instill greater loyalty.
Today’s North American Internet-using population stands at 273,067,546 and smartphones already comprise around 30 percent of worldwide mobile phone subscribers and is rising daily.
More than half of the U.S. mobile market is already dominated by customers relying on 3G access, while globally one in five mobile subscribers are running on 3G speeds and faster.
With data indicating that today’s Web-accessible mobile phone users spend nearly three hours per day on their wireless devices, there is a continuing incentive for companies to ramp up their mobile customer services.
In other words: relying solely on traditional short message services (SMS – or what has long been considered the backbone of mobile strategy) will shortchange both you and your customer.
Instead, expanding into new wireless channels such as QR codes, advanced augmented reality apps or multichannel techniques, for instance, is another way to make the rest of 2012 and beyond more mobile still while improving customer service and driving loyalty.
And speaking of multichannel techniques, there is also the burgeoning arena of digital signage and its mobile phone importance.
Unlike static standalone signs, digital signs are increasingly linked to mobile devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity and can deliver a wealth of customer-specific promotions, coupons and redemptions, and all of it based in real-time and location-aware.
When it comes to driving loyalty, nothing is more valuable than delivering to customers relevant and timely messages and information that they can act on immediately.
For the marketer, instant feedback helps paint a metrics picture that can be used to create an even more tailored experience during the next engagement.
Room for improvement
To be sure, for all the excitement and “mobile has reached a tipping point” chatter in the first quarter of 2012, it is important to remember that 2011 was already very mobile. And so was 2012.
After essentially putting the power of mobile on the map, companies continue expanding their mobile efforts and have taken them far beyond a basic SMS blitz incorporating location-aware campaigns and engaging rich media experiences.
Despite that momentum, many companies have yet to jump on board the mobile bandwagon or have yet to use it to its full potential.
In a 2011 survey from King Fish Media for instance we learned that 62 percent of survey respondents planned to launch a mobile marketing campaign within the next year, while only a third of companies already had a mobile communications strategy in place.
And since 2012 still has a long way to go, it is likely that many marketers still have not gotten the mobile message. And like any New Year’s resolution, they are easy to make and even easier to break – either by not following through on their mobile campaign plans or by launching those plans incorrectly.
But many of the ones that succeed will do so in part because they established loyalty using great customer service.
Think of loyalty and mobile customer service like an equation. Improved customer service, plus improved customer feedback equals greater loyalty.
Focusing on the positive, what follows is a look at ways in which businesses can build brand loyalty through the fusion of mobile and customer service.
Streamlining customer experience with mobile
Think that your customer service practices and your mobile customer service programs are fully integrated with one another? You might be mistaken.
Last year, a TeaLeaf study called mobile “the worst channel for customer experience,” stated that 83 percent of customers surveyed in Britain reported that they have encountered a problem when using mobile checkout.
While no comparable study was completed in the U.S., the results are telling.
Mobile has far to go in providing high quality customer service, particularly with many company mobile initiatives struggling to take shape in such a fast-paced environment.
Marketers responding to rising consumer smartphone adoption, however, have an opportunity to deliver tailored programs and technology that ultimately drive loyalty.
What makes up the ideal customer experience?
The best mobile experiences are the ones that use best practice and keep important demographics in mind. These are the areas most important to fine-tuning an agreeable customer experience via mobile, the type that builds loyalty through ease of use and intelligent design.
Letting the customer guide the experience. Before making changes, ask yourself how each change affects customer interaction with your company. How will the changes you make to your customer service affect the customer experience?
Maximize the multichannel map. Customer service levels should be consistent across all channels, with the ability for customers to easily interact with representatives as needed. The customer should be able to transition between channels without difficulty.
In an SMS or mobile app message, for instance, include a link to your company Web site and phone number for customers to speak with live help.
Nothing speaks like the voice of authenticity, so the saying goes, and sometimes even the most mobile-savvy customers welcome the opportunity to sort out a problem with a real person.
Even if a consumer is left dissatisfied by a specific experience, quality customer service, both traditional and mobile, increase the odds of loyalty purchases at a later date.
Offering valuable mobile additions. Listening to customer response is a vital part in the creation or revamping of the mobile medium.
Since reviews and feedback shape the customer and repeat customer experience, this data can be used to formulate mobile strategy. This is particularly important in healthcare and service providers’ cases, as they often provide lower-rated customer service experiences.
Making service a priority. Quality customer service benefits companies greatly, and as its importance is realized more widely, this should become a top priority.
In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace it is hard enough finding customers, let alone keeping them. All it takes is one ill-timed message before a potential buyer tunes your message out and goes elsewhere.
But once you have gained that loyalty, the strategies above can be used to boost your competitive advantage.
Loyal customers buy more and shop more often, making them more profitable than new ones.
If we can simply use appropriate customer service strategies to attract and retain the customers we want – the ones who are most valuable to us – then we will soon see retention numbers rise accordingly.
THE BOTTOM LINE: be aware of your customers’ needs. By understanding what they want, you can arm new mobile services with plans for top support and consistency.
As we continue through the rest of 2012 there is no doubt that many companies – even the majority – are at least in some formative stage of building and expanding their mobile outreach.
Others have gone well beyond their beta versions.
Mary Meeker, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, told us back in October 2011 that the number of Fortune 1000 companies that are launching mobile ad campaigns grew from 203 in July 2011 to 250 this past September, a 23 percent increase – and the trend is upward.
Regardless of what stage they are in, however, there is always some aspect of mobile marketing and customer service that can be improved upon to attract and retain customers.
Loyalty boosted by mobile is an ideal way to forge ahead, because with mobile use growing and changing, we can expect grand returns – and soon.
If Nielsen termed 2011 “The Year of the Mobile,” and a Google Guru continued to hammer home the importance of mobile this year, it is clear that any business without a mobile strategy, and certainly one that integrates with building customer loyalty, is going to be left behind.
Just as loyal coffee enthusiasts can’t get enough Starbucks, the folks at Starbucks can’t seem to get enough of anything related to mobile.
From mobile apps to mobile payment platforms, Starbucks is on the vanguard of mCommerce advancements that may soon be far more pervasive throughout the retail space than they presently are.
According to new details that have come to light this week, Starbucks has already processed more than 42 million mobile payments. That’s not bad considering that the program just began last year.
In December 2011, Starbucks revealed that it had processed 26 million mobile payments. Adoption continues to grow exponentially, the company said.
“You’re going to see us as a company that will push the envelope around mobile pay,” Starbucks chief digital officer Adam Brotman told VentureBeat. “We want to innovate in that area before others catch up.”
This blog article featured by TextEdge touches on the important elements of a mobile coupon, including a call-to-action, incentive, loyalty and the match.
1). A CALL-TO-ACTION
For those that watched the video in an earlier blog, hopefully you caught the definition of a mobile coupon from Juniper Research Senior Analyst, David Snow.
The first important element of a mobile coupon, is simply a call to action (from a customer’s perspective).
Businesses are working to connect to their customers with Facebook postings, Twitter and for some text blasting. And if you posted, tweeted and blasted for your customers to come in between 5-9pm Thursday night for a super special. You would be correct in assuming that is a call to action, but if you sent it out on Monday and you think I’ll remember that by Thursday. You need to think again.
Facebook post – “Come to Bill’s Restaurant and Fun Shop tonight for the dinner special.” I like it, it’s a call to action. But wait, did I “Like” your page so that I’ll receive updates from you? And if I “Like” you and receive your feeds on my wall, when did you post it? If I’m not looking at my Facebook until later this evening, will other posts bury it by the time I log in to check? That’s right, logging in to Facebook every 5 minutes to make sure I stay up-to-date on your posts is not something I’m willing to invest my time and energy in. But if your post comes in at precisely the time that I’m checking my Facebook, I’ll love that deal and come on down!
The Tweeter – Excellent, you’ve tweeted about some really awesome seasonal clearance items, you’ve mentioned that you have limited quantity and I should get to your store to get in on the bargain. Another great call to action. But if I’m not following you on twitter, will I know? Nope. If I am following you on Twitter, with 1,000+ other folks and I don’t look at the message until 2 hours after you posted it, do I think that those items have already been picked through? You told all your followers about it, so it all must be gone now. If I were an optimist, and most of the time I am, I would run down there as soon as I could. What would I find and would I have wasted my time, gas and money for nothing?
Text Blasts and Email Blasts – Yes, instead of taking them on one at a time, I’m doing both. It’s a blast. (accentuate the period) I do like you, and you know it because I gave you my contact information. So you reach out to me and thousands of others like me, to tell us to come on in. That’s a call to action, maybe once a week or twice a month, because if you do it more than that you have now started spamming me and everyone else and we don’t like that. So I’ll come in when I have the time and money to do so. Maybe the next time I’m in the area, we’ll see.
My perfect call to action might be a text or email from you letting me know that for the next 3 hours you have discounted my favorite soaps. I don’t have to find you, follow you or search you out, you come to me when I can get to you.
So, now you know that your mobile coupon needs to have a call to action. So we can move on to Part 2 – the incentive.
Incentives can be anything from discounts, freebies and/or limited specials. You have to use these incentives to engage with me and bring me in. In today’s economy me and everyone else is trying to find discounts or specials more than ever before. Why? Because the price of a gallon of milk is almost the same price as a gallon of gas. And because of this, motivating me to part with my money is getting harder and harder.
If you want to engage with me and others like me, you have to make your incentives relevant. Does sending out one text blast message a week telling me the happy hour specials engage me? Maybe, if I’ve had a long day at work or if I remember you sent it. But, do this too many times and I will no longer engage in the mobile coupon conversation. I need to know that when I’m receiving a mobile coupon from you it is geared towards me and what I want. I need an incentive that makes me want to get off the couch. A blanket message that you send out to everyone on Facebook, Twitter, text or email doesn’t engage me, it just tells me you need business.
If you send me a relevant incentive and combine it with a call to action, you will get me and others to move.
My perfect combination would be a short-term deal, from a business I like, on my terms. I want to be able to tell you when to reach out to me. There’s nothing worse than getting a great incentive with a clear call to action at the wrong time.
Seriously, if some researcher in England said you have the ability to increase customer loyalty, would you do it? Do you believe in customer loyalty? Let me ask that a different way…do you have or are you planning to roll-out, a customer loyalty program? If you answered yes to this question…then we have something to talk about.
Loyalty is built on trust, good experiences and a feelings of importance, and not the stuffy importance, more of the – you know my name importance. So how do you build loyalty these days with customers searching for the next great discount? I was asked this question by a friend of mine who owns her own business. To me, this is a trick question. You see I don’t believe loyalty is built on discounts alone…I believe loyalty is built on trust, experience and a feeling of importance. When you “appreciate” me for being your customer and give me a discount on an item now and again, I’m thankful for that, but even more than that, did I receive great service from you?
If you first get me in the door with a discount, great! Even better, send me occasional discounts through your loyalty program. Then continue providing excellent service – including, knowing my name and build that relationship. That’s when you know, loyalty is not only possible but something you can grow, just like the guy from England says.
All of these sound like great things. I want all of them to happen, however I still see a gap. A place that I as the consumer may fall through the cracks. It’s been alluded to in all the earlier posts: what if I don’t see the Facebook post, what if I forgot about the tweet and what if I didn’t read the text message soon enough?
I have a busy life just like everyone else. I want the great call to action, so I know what I need to do and when and I want an incentive that shakes me up a little bit. Now what if I could get the call to action and the incentive only when I wanted it, on my terms. I want to get a deal that is about me and for me. Not a deal that has been broadcasted to thousands of other people – we don’t all like the same things or have the same schedules. What works for one person that likes you doesn’t work for all of us that do.
What would be great for me is the ability to have one place where I could choose businesses I like, choose the times and days I want to hear from them and on top of that how I want to hear from them. What would be even better, because I’m a busy person, is if I could change this as my life changes. I have the week off so I have much more free time to enjoy my local area. What if I could tell all these businesses that I’m available and if given an incentive from them, I would be happy to pay them a visit?
This is where the match comes in. I want you to match your incentives to me, my availability, my location and my likes.
All of this together in one package is great customer service. That great customer service and knowing my name will get me and others back in the door!
What does the future hold for digital couponing? This article takes a look at the growth of coupons in the past decade, touching on daily deal sites, mobile couponing and social sharing.
Couponing had seen unprecedented growth in the past decade due to a combination of factors — one of which was the economic recession in the U.S., combined with an increased consumer interest in mobile technology and devices.
Because of this, marketers began to heavily fund digital platforms. The coupon industry, specifically, saw record growth within the digital realm, and by 2010, SavingStar estimated that “49 million people used printable or digital coupons.”
The benefits digital interactions offer coupon companies are vast. For starters, online couponing allows for great promotion and wider distribution for brands. It also provides companies with better reach and the ability to track consumer preferences and patterns. Data from Leo J. Shapiro and Associates determined that the digital coupon consumer base was primarily comprised of young married couples with disposable income. Groupon has targeted this demographic, lending digital couponing a social reputation.
Daily deal couponing continues to be a popular tool among consumers and marketers, and many major companies have implemented their own version of the trend.
What Business Owners Need to Know About Daily Deal Couponing
Although intriguing for consumers, daily deal platforms like Groupon have not always been beneficial for business owners, who often see a spike in business but little customer retention.
A Rice University study found that 66% of the 150 businesses surveyed reported that Groupon promotions were profitable. However, more than 40% of the organizations said that they wouldn’t run a Groupon offer again.
Daily deal platforms have revealed the social nature of contemporary couponing. For example, Cornell University reported that many Groupon users see themselves as “marketing mavens,” and “on the front edge of market trends and price information.”
Additionally, users claimed in the survey that they would not have tried a restaurant or store without a coupon offer. Contemporary couponing has highly influenced social branding, greatly increasing the popularity of daily deals.
1. Social Leads to Social Sharing
The social, daily deal strategies made popular by sites such as Groupon and Living Social have certainly spawned many copycat initiatives within the digital couponing realm.
One such example is SocialTwist, a platform that states it “allows users to share in order to receive a better bargain.” Basically, consumers can turn a $1 coupon into a $4 coupon simply by sharing it with four other people.
This method will likely continue to increase in popularity in 2012 — we already saw evidence late November 2011, when Foursquare announced it would incorporate a new “social sharing” button on its site.
2. Getting Mobile-Ready
Given these newer strategies, companies are mobilizing their virtual and physical platforms to better reach and retain these social, mobile customers. Most companies are aware that their mobile presences have to be dynamic and user friendly. With roughly 91% of the population using mobile devices and 26.3% accessing the Internet, it is important to have a mobile site for on-the-go reading and utilization.
Additionally Google reported that 95% of smartphone users have searched for local information, proving that location-based, deal searching is vital to digital couponing.
The same study found 38% would use a mobile device to find a store location, 34% to compare prices, 28% to research deals and coupons, and 27% to find a product review.
3. Resolving Mobile Couponing’s Redemption Pitfalls
Mobile couponing, an obvious extension and result of digital distribution, has been popular despite its “mechanical” issues. With the rise of digital coupons, there was also a surge in consumers who used their mobile devices to reference coupons visually on their smartphones. Unprepared for this development, the redemption process, such as the scanning of digital coupons on mobile devices, has proven difficult until recently.
“Mobile coupon redemption has always struggled with ensuring a seamless experience at the point of sale,” says reporter Steve Smith. So, business giants like Walgreens are “retraining salespeople to handle the process and equipping stores with hardware that can recognize 2D codes on LCD displays.” This nationwide initiative was just launched and underwent testing during the 2011 holiday season.
Walgreens released an app for iOS, BlackBerry and Android, which includes a new coupons section that issues up two to three new exclusive weekly deals for customers using the mobile apps.
Rich Lesperance, head of digital marketing and merging media for Walgreens, told Media Post that “the program is the largest deployment of in-store mobile coupon scanning of which he is aware.”
Looking Ahead to the SoLoMo Strategy
In short, the “social-local-mobile” trend is the next cutting edge move for digital businesses, and a necessary consideration for coupon brands. SoLoMo gets specific when it comes to targeting your ideal market and allows your ideal consumer to find you. The combination is a win for both parties, as well as the logical next step for consumer activity based on current digital engagement.
If you own a small business, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the new emerging ways to connect to customers and promote the growth of your business. You may be wondering how you can leverage the power of mobile, social and online marketing to be successful.
I recently came across an infographic about small business marketing and discovered some facts:
27% of small businesses have a current SEO plan
52% plan to increase their SEO budget
40% of marketers are using mobile marketing tactics
63% of small businesses think social media is a good way to increase loyalty
27% plan to increase their investment in social media
If your small business is looking to revamp its marketing strategy, consider the following suggestions:
With the economy still in recovery-mode, consumers are still searching for those deep discounts. Use mobile marketing to target those shoppers who are looking for affordable deals by sending coupons and loyalty rewards directly to their mobile devices, or creating a mobile call-to-action through a QR code. Mobile marketing has proven to promote loyalty among customers and encourage repeat visits, plus, what better way to reach consumers than on a device they’re carrying around with them all the time?
Be Socially Active
Social media can facilitate communication between businesses and their customers or clientele, but businesses need to be aware that simply creating a presence on social media sites is not enough. Businesses must be active on these sites, engaging with customers to get feedback, posting content that holds value for customers, and creating an identity for your brand that will make others want to engage with you.
Businesses should also be aware of social media analytic tools such as Google Alerts to find out what people are saying about your business and then join the conversation.
Another important element in a marketing plan is implementing an SEO plan. Looking for the elements that will get you to the top of a search is very important for a business’ online presence. A big part of SEO is being conscious of keywords—adding keywords to the hidden meta data (the code of information on the backend of your website that helps search engines recognize data) includes the keyword field, page titles, descriptions, site maps, and heading tags.
Links are also very important to a company’s online presence. If you have reputable websites link to your content, you’ll have good SEO. Adding a blog or posting videos, podcasts and other types of content are some other easy ways to optimize your business’ site for search.
New marketing tools don’t have to seem so foreign. Check out this infographic below that shows how small businesses are allocating their marketing budgets and using these tools to grow.