Mobile Loyalty Programs – The New Home Run for Marketers

LocalMarketingIsHotby Hugo  Hanselmann, Media Post

Loyalty programs are undeniably an effective way of attracting, retaining,  and turning consumers into a company’s ‘model customer’. Proof of this powerful  concept has never been more prevalent.  Some consumers fly a cross-country  round-trip in a day to receive those extra miles and qualify for ‘super-special-ribbon’ status before their deadlines to do so expire. More than  a few people reading this could be nodding their heads now.

There are currently over 2.1 billion different loyalty programs in the United  States alone. Of these 2.1 billion, each household is enrolled in an average of  18 loyalty programs. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t seem to be the actual  rewards offered that prompts a consumer to sign up. According to an ACI  Worldwide study, 81% of consumers are unsure of the benefits offered by the  reward programs they are enrolled in. And worse, 44% of the respondents reported  having a negative experience with a loyalty program that they were enrolled  in.

In addition to the fact that benefits are being offered, what does a loyalty  program needs to offer to entice consumers? Is it the gloss that your local sub  shop used on their punch card? Is it the exclusive access to content? Looking at  credit cards, programs for top tier consumers are often branded as “Black” or “Platinum” to show exclusivity. Or is it the ability to effectively communicate  with consumers via a loyalty program? According to a Colloquy  Talk study, only 31% of Americans find loyalty program communications “extremely effective” and a mere 17% would describe them as “very  influential”.

Based on this data, marketers need to rethink the way of engaging with participants of their loyalty program to better influence their purchasing  decisions. But there is a silver lining: Mobile.

Mobile phone subscriptions are set to overtake the world population in 2013.  There will be more mobile devices than people.  Here is a closer look at  why mobile marketers can hit a home run with mobile loyalty programs starting  this year:

Mobile is the consumer’s new home turf. As marketers, we  always look at the channels that consumers use the most.  And that channel  is going to be mobile. Gone are the days where the primary reason to own a phone  was to be able to talk to people. It has become a personal news and  entertainment hub.

The 2013  Digital Publishing Report by Adobe shows that the number one activity  consumers do on a smartphone is check their emails, beating making calls by 1%.  Consumer prefer to receive communication efforts over text; an estimated 8.6  trillion text messages are sent worldwide every year, averaging out to roughly  1,433 texts per mobile phone subscription per year. The Adobe report also states  that 58% of the respondents typically use their smartphone for updating  Facebook. Increasingly consumers use apps, not mobile sites, to get information  quickly. A report from Flurry  Analytics shows that the average mobile user spends 94 minutes per day  engaging with apps on their phones.

Every day, we get in more data about the use of social and mobile channels.  Numbers change, but the trend is: usage goes up – rapidly. This means for  marketers, loyalty program must meet modern consumers on their home turf, the  mobile playing field.

Mobile provides excellent feedback. Mobile programs also  allow getting better and faster feedback from consumers. Being designed as a  two-way communication between brands and program participants, the effectiveness  of mobile loyalty programs can be evaluated quickly. Like the app ratings on  iTunes, consumers can instantly message a brand when they see an aspect of the  program that they don’t like. Brands are able to respond and adapt program  elements, and alert program participants about changes.

Mobile loyalty programs will be a game-changer.  And now is the time to  make this change happen. According to an Accenture  study, only 1 in 4 consumers feel “very loyal” to brands they interact with.  Although certain reasons for this trend, such as increased global competition,  low switching costs, and easy access to competing brands via the internet, are out of a brand’s control, that doesn’t mean something can’t be done.

Creating a mobile loyalty program is a step in the right direction. By  meeting consumers’ on their digital home turf, marketers can hit a home run.

Paul Baron notes: adding engagement in loyalty programs on mobile devices at the point of sale, using Media2Go’s WiFi proximity advertising, offers customers free WiFi access, the benefits of immediate promotion at local businesses, and the ongoing loyalty program benefits provided by the merchant or brand. Everyone wins! Contact paul@webtelmarketing to start a WiFi advertising pilot program today. Learn more about WiFi advertising at

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