Mobile - the buzz and hot topic for most companies that offer loyalty programs. Our clients are in the same situation. There’s this feeling that “we just need to do something”. But what?
Over the last couple of years, Tecmark began offering mobile options, and has been researching and monitoring the trends around loyalty and mobile. Though, at times, we feel great pressure to build and offer more mobile solutions due to the frenzy of it all; we are staying the course as far as our beliefs regarding loyalty. Keep it simple for our clients and their customers. Also, ensure the programs have the incentives needed to drive customer engagement and make the communication approach consistent with the preference of each member.
Here are some of my observations regarding mobile and mobile apps as it relates to loyalty:
- Mobile and mobile apps are two different things. Text, passbook for card identifiers, location based offers, beacons - to name a few - are tools to deliver loyalty but do not require you to have your own dedicated mobile app.
- Mobile apps are challenging. The big issue is how to create enough value in the app to get your loyalty members to actually download and use the app. In our research, at best we see 10 to 20% of members downloading and using the app. That’s less than the traditional web-based tools we have been using for members to engage in the program.
- For member identification, everyone seems to get all excited about things like “add our card to passbook”; when in reality the simple use of a member’s phone number as the identifier is far more popular with members. Just look at the successful Walgreen’s and Best Buy programs. The phone number is the one that most members prefer to use at the point of sale.
- Businesses with successful apps do frequently deliver loyalty tools in those apps, but that is only a small part of the app. The app is usually a key element of their Omni channel strategy that gives its customers useful tools; they can buy through the app, and there are often “value added” games and info in the app. In all cases, it really isn’t about the loyalty program.
What to do:
- Stop over-focusing on mobile as your key to a successful loyalty strategy. It’s important, but not critical versus things like ensuring your program is easy for members to use, is rewarding and fun, and is built around tools that communicate with your members the way they prefer.
- We like the upside of beacons and other location-based offers to members. The key is for it to not be intrusive and also understand that the likely users of this will be a minority of your members.
- For loyalty program info to members like enrolling, redeeming rewards, and updating info; give your members all options so that they can engage in the program the way they prefer. That ideally means on the web, in the store, and yes, mobile. And who knows what may be the next “big thing”.
As is the case with most things in this fast changing world of technology and marketing options, keep an open mind, don’t rush to the shiny objects, and listen to what your customers want. As always, work hard to continually build and evolve your loyalty program.
Founder & CEO