Cupid’s big day may have been and gone in a flurry of hearts and flowers but brands the world over know this to be true: every day is Valentine’s Day because at the beating heart of every campaign is a common goal to ‘attract and retain’. The challenge is to demonstrate the kind of brand love that turns a maybe or sometime customer into a loyal one.
Most brands inform their loyal customers of exclusive offers through various channels such as email, social media and SMS. This type of frequent dissemination of information has its merits with reports suggesting discounts and special offers are the primary motivation for consumers to engage via email and Facebook*. Despite these being common tactics, their effectiveness in engaging consumers has never decreased over the years and as such, they remain an enduring fixture of many successful strategies that aim to keep consumers loyal. Furthermore, this tactic helps to increase email subscribers, social media fans and followers as well as drive traffic to a brand’s website when links are included in these exclusive messages. These messages are like tokens of appreciation bestowed on loyal customers. Nevertheless, marketing campaigns must keep pace with the requirements for audience targeting and the latest consumer technologies to remain relevant, so the real question becomes how can brands utilise an innovative approach to make their customers feel loved and special?
Points mean prizes
Loyalty programs where points add up to discounts, gifts or some other desirable added value end goal have stood the test of time in their popularity with regular customers across virtually every industry. The legacy of this success can be seen in the cards we keep in our wallets but these days, brands are just as likely to turn to digital innovations such as mobile apps to give their smartphone enabled customers the kind of instant access, anytime, anywhere rewards that are in demand.
Notable examples leading the way include iPoints, CheckPoints and shopkick. iPoints, for instance, sees users who download songs, albums or videos being granted iPoints that can be redeemed for gift cards and more. The mobile app makes it convenient for the consumers to redeem their rewards, even bypassing the hassle factor of traveling to the store. Back in 2009, Starbucks ran a mobile coupon loyalty program in Mexico. Postcards were handed out to consumers at various places, including universities, malls and retail outlets. In order to download a buy-one-get-one-free 2D bar code mobile coupon, consumers had to send an SMS to a short code. This SMS campaign was successful in rewarding loyal customers and attracting new customers, especially young adults. By tapping into mobile, Starbucks was able to learn more about their customers’ demographic and geographic qualities which put them in a favourable position to utilise this data when planning their next marketing campaign.
Open all hours
An effective brand presence in a digital economy means maintaining accessibility on a 24/7 basis. Brand love can quickly fade in consumers’ eyes (and hearts) if digital barriers hinder their natural instincts to enjoy brand presence. A non-optimised mobile space is a primary example. The best mobile optimised sites offer a simple design and easy navigation with clear calls-to-action. Amazon and ESPN, for instance, did a great job in condensing content to fit the small screen of smartphones. This led to a faster loading time and limited scrolling. Consumers also had quick access to important information. Studies continue to show that a growing proportion of Internet traffic is being driven from smartphones and tablets**. In other words, an increasing number of people surf the net, discover and return to brands via their mobile devices. Visitors are likely to be frustrated when they stumble upon a brand’s mobile site that is poorly optimised, especially if they’re searching for specific information. The lack of a mobile optimised site says a lot about a brand. Most significantly it sends the message that the brand doesn’t care about the comfort of their customers, which not only leaves a poor first impression on new visitors, but also one that could be difficult (and expensive) to recover from. In fact, 55% of respondents said a frustrating experience on a (mobile) website would hurt the perception of the brand and 74% said they’re more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites***.The key lesson for brands then is to offer the best experience for consumers, wherever they may find you.
When used together, exclusive offers, a rewarding loyalty program and a mobile optimised site can be the persuasive combination that not only sees consumers warming to your brand, but also reassures them that your brand is one that is worth spending time with, whether it’s Valentine’s day or not!
* Study conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey, reported by eMarketer, April, 2012
** Study conducted by eMarketer, November, 2012
*** Survey conducted by Google, reported by Marketing Land, September, 2012