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From increasing brand awareness to accelerating conversions and transaction volume, mobile has become an integral way for brands to guide consumers along the path to purchase.

The rise of mobile is a key factor in the shift from what used to be a linear path to purchase. The days of "here's our ad, see you at the register" are long gone and have been replaced by a broad, multi-faceted discovery and engagement process.

With this evolution, marketers must make effective investments that use mobile as a connective tissue in the increasingly non-linear purchase cycle.

The end goal with connecting digital and in-store touch points is to inspire a desired action from the customer, be it enrolling in a loyalty program, sharing a brand interaction socially or buying an item.

Smart organizations have recognized this and are pouring resources into mobile strategies to increase loyalty and guide the customer along their path to purchase. The stakes are high because getting mobile right will only increase your competitive advantage.

The mobile loyalty opportunity

New data released as part of the 2013 Maritz Loyalty Report demonstrates the urgency for brands to strategically use mobile to build loyalty among customers.

In fact, the study found that 91% of consumers are likely to download a mobile loyalty program app and 73% of smartphone users are interested in interacting with loyalty programs through their mobile devices.

Because mobile enhances the overall loyalty experience for consumers, it’s critical that marketers focus on leveraging mobile to create incremental touch points and added value opportunities for loyalty members.

By doing so, a brand can also help guide consumers along the path to purchase, driving communication streams that add value to the customer experience, and offering compelling reasons for customers to engage. And the more a customer engages, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Here are four ways to drive more effective customer engagement through mobile loyalty: 

1. Get customers enrolled

Thanks to the ubiquity of SMS-enabled phones and growth in smart phone adoption, it has never been easier for shoppers to join a loyalty program.

Loyalty enrollment through both apps and SMS offers marketers an immediate entry point for consumers to opt in to engage with your brand – so show them how easy it is! In the retail environment, for example, brands can use mobile to convert the customer into a member immediately when they’re in store.

Don’t wait until the customer gets home, as this generates lower conversation rates.

To get customers excited about joining your mobile loyalty program in store, utilize displays and other calls to action. Direct consumers to text a dedicated number to receive valuable offers and exclusive brand access.

Or, instead of simply texting to enroll, you can trigger customers to scan a QR code, download an app, or join directly through your mobile site. Good old-fashioned word of mouth works here too.

Make sure your cashiers tell customers that they can receive special offers instantaneously just by becoming a member. These tactics offer a compelling way to build a robust mobile CRM database to foster ongoing communications with the customer.

2. Provide ongoing value

According to Nielsen’s 2012 U.S. Consumer Usage Report, the most common smartphone activities are texting, social networking, and making phone calls. As mobile is primarily used by consumers as a channel for communication, brands must tap into these behaviors to add value by driving consistent interaction.

One way to use mobile to accomplish this is by complementing the existing email communication your members are already enrolled in. Those who have opted in via email are more likely to appreciate app push notifications or SMS alerts such as purchase “thank yous” that include the receipt and point accumulations, or monthly messages that provide an update on the customer’s rewards statement.

To create a sense of urgency and further incentivize consumers to take an immediate action, use mobile location-based information to message members time-sensitive notes like a “deal of the day” or other expiring opportunities -- either through an app or SMS.

Mobile also allows brands to be more responsive to customer needs with opportunities to provide on-the-go assistance. Use the mobile channel to provide consumers with immediate access to product availability, points balance inquiries, as well as customer service inquiries.

Additionally, you can merchandise more effectively by enabling members to text in or click on a link for additional product information, and by sending targeted product recommendations based on recent purchases.

3. In-store engagement 

When your existing loyalty members are in store, you have a highly captive audience, and it’s time to pounce.

There are many opportunities to engage and affect the path to purchase. Allow them to check in to receive personalized offers based on their loyalty profile for increased relevancy and to generate incremental purchases.

Give them a unique code with the chance to win a shopping spree, or direct them through an in-store scavenger hunt using QR codes to provide savings or rewards. Post hashtags in store and invite shoppers to take pictures of products and share on social sites like Instagram or Twitter as a way to continue to spread the word.

Additionally, more and more brands are integrating mobile loyalty programs with their POS system to further streamline the consumer experience and provide the opportunity to build even more intelligent consumer profiles based on unique code coupon redemption.

4. Deliver relevant mobile rewards

Consumers who opt in to mobile programs make a careful decision on which communications they choose to receive. This is a fundamentally different behavior than consumers demonstrate with email campaigns, where they subscribe more generally for brands they might be only temporarily interested in.

So once you know more about your consumers, the content should continue to get more targeted. Rewards such as highly relevant digital gift cards or digital coupons can be stored on the customer's phone so they're conveniently available upon their next shopping trip.

You can also send customized mobile offers based on a consumer’s profile or purchase history to drive in-store visits.

And when the customer is in the store, they are more likely to buy other attractive products based on offers sent via mobile communications. In fact, a customer’s basket size is on average three times larger in the store than online as it relates to offers sent via SMS over email.

Mobile offers get your customers in the store and opens their eyes to additional offerings they might not otherwise have been interested in.

Mobile loyalty drives results

Mobile loyalty practices are not just an efficient way to reach today’s digitally-savvy consumer, but also the most relevant way to engage with them, build brand trust, and track the effectiveness of your marketing messages.

It's an important channel in the purchase cycle, and is proving to be an effective driver in attaining brand loyalty and affinity.

While there are many mobile engagement strategies to choose from, the elements listed above can help form a solid foundation for a strategic mobile program that is right for your business.

Matthew Kates

Published 30 May, 2013 by Matthew Kates

Matt Kates is Vice President, Strategic Services at HelloWorld and is a contributor to Econsultancy.

19 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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James Ray

QR codes are great, with the one impediment being they require phone users to download and run a scanning app. I have watched too many novice phone users take pictures of a QR code and wonder why nothing happens! The scan process is not intuitive for every user. In marketing campaigns like those mentioned in the article retailers should pair NFC encoded tags with the scan able QR code so NFC enabled phone users can instantly tap and go to access discount coupons or check-in to earn loyalty points.

over 3 years ago

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Sarah

The bigger challenge with QR codes is what are they really tracking? A customer would have to download often two apps, one to scan the code and then the actual app. Once the scanning starts individuals can take a photo, and send it to their friends and keep reusing the same scanned photo without even going into the store. A QR code does not tracking purchases, just visits. You can end up giving away free products, with no real built in loyalty with a QR code.

-Sarah

about 3 years ago

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Jason Cross, Marketing Director at Incentivated

Thanks Matthew, useful article (and links).

James

I'd agree with you regarding the need for a QR code reading app. Not sure (yet) that adding an NFC tag is going to help the consumer out - phones with NFC readers are even rarer than customers who know how to scan a QR code.

Better, surely (for now), to initially use pictograms to show exactly how to scan the QR code (inlude links to readers etc).. and to educate your customers over time.

And for those that need a quick fix, give them a simple text in option (as was mentioned in point 1)??

about 3 years ago

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Jack

Another way to improve the customer experience would be to use Stopbox feedback stickers.

The stickers have NFC and QR codes specific to each sticker. When a customer scans a sticker they are taken to web optimised form that can be fully customised.

about 3 years ago

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