Everywhere you look, someone is peddling a customer loyalty scheme it seems. The most widespread of the loyalty programs has to be airline miles, where you join and grind it out to a questionable reward with black out dates and undesirable routes. The miles have also become a currency for so many other transactions. You get miles for obtaining a credit card or use can use miles to subscribe to magazines you will never read. So it is not clear airline miles are working to enhance “loyalty” or special feeling towards any specific airline.
Coming to the small business space, business owners are inundated with a variety of new pitches – specialty cards, universal cards, iPad tablets, mobile apps, etc. All intended to make consumers get engaged with their merchants. Sure enough consumers are changing rapidly. They are becoming more mobile and more social. So merchants also need to adapt by deploying new fangled ways to communicate with these “evolved” consumers? The fallacy is in the belief that the consumers have evolved to wanting to do more work on new platforms. For example, you see so many loyalty apps in the iPhone/Android app stores. None of these work because they are requiring consumers to download an app and engage in new behaviors. The early adopter, “I will try anything new” crowd may use some of these apps for short duration of time, then eventually these apps die out. A quick glance of app download statistics on App Annie confirms this trend for almost all apps tied to local commerce. For the broader consumer base, the benefit of new platforms and technologies is to provide greater outcome for less effort. For the small businesses which generally employ low wage, low skilled workers, new training and new hardware are daunting challenges. Over 50% of a typical small businesses customers are one-time visitors. There is a need for a slick solution that allows businesses to appreciate their customers and turn one-time visitors into returning (2x) customers, and then to multi-visit loyal customers. Small businesses are attention starved and resource constrained and do not know how to directly market to their existing customers. This requires investment in technology and people who understand how to market to them. Lacking data, the average business or marketer does not understand who to market to.
The only practical solution in the above scenario is marketing automation. We help retail businesses by tapping into customer purchase data within their point-of-sale systems and payment gateways, and use that information to automatically market to customers who have already made purchases from the business by sending messages, offers and codes to the right customers at the right time. This helps businesses retain more of their valuable customers. Some of the marketing campaigns that are easy to automate are:
- – New Customer welcome (turn 1x to 2x+ visitor)
- – Best Customer rewards (rewards based on spend amount or number of visits)
- – Win Back rewards (reward customers who have been loyal but have stopped coming for a specific period of time)
- – Birthday and Holiday promotions
The above does not require expertise or continual effort from the businesses. Automation has the other nice benefit of lowering costs dramatically with less reliance of human costs. With lower cost and no effort, merchants can get started to engage with their customers with little risk.