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Loyalty trends and best practices

Mobile Loyalty Programs: 5 Emerging Must-Haves

by Justin Yoshimura
June 10, 2014
Mobile Loyalty Programs: 5 Emerging Must-Haves

(Originally posted on ExactTarget blog)

With Forrester reporting that mobile will account for 29% of online consumer purchases in 2014—up from 21% last year—it's now imperative that your loyalty program be mobile too.

What, exactly, does mobile loyalty look like? When clients ask me that, I usually say the answer depends on what you sell, who your customers are, and what kind of relationship you’re looking to build. But so many loyalty marketers are now extending loyalty programs to mobile environments in ways that create new customer interactions and build brand value, that five mobile loyalty practices are quickly becoming essential:

1. Deliver full mobile access to loyalty benefits.

At a minimum, let customers enroll in your loyalty program, earn/redeem rewards, and see reward balances—all through mobile devices. Remarkably, many retail brands have not yet reached this point, but according to Howard Schneider, partner at loyalty consulting firm Metzner Schneider Associates, they will have to. "Customers today expect a program to deliver customization, value, and relevance everywhere, all the time," Schneider says.

In addition, your loyalty program members should be able to redeem rewards at mobile checkout, and should not be forced to print out a coupon or visit a store. Walgreens goes one step further, allowing Balance Rewards members to clip digital coupons from the chain’s mobile app and link the savings to their loyalty accounts.

2. Tap location data to reward in-store interactions.

Retail brands with physical stores sometimes view mobile phones as the enemy, because phones enable showrooming by linking in-store customers with discounters. But savvy marketers are using loyalty programs to fight back, rewarding customers for interacting with their own mobile apps and websites. For example, loyalty program members at electronics retailer Best Buy receive 10 My Best Buy points just for logging into the Best Buy mobile app when near a store. Sephora, the cosmetics chain, sends alerts and messages to members who are in, or nearby, a Sephora store through an integration with Apple’s Passbook platform.

3. Nurture engagement with mobile promotions.

You want customers to engage with your brand in multiple environments—in-store, at their desks, and on the go. If you’re launching a new mobile app, offer a reward bonus for downloading it. Consider providing special bonuses to members who enroll through mobile channels. You can also send limited-time double points offers for buying through a mobile channel, encouraging customers to try it.

4. Integrate loyalty incentives with mobile experiences.

The most effective loyalty programs reward members beyond purchases. On mobile, this means offering rewards for social posts sent from smartphones, or for liking your page on Facebook’s mobile app. In Sephora’s mobile app, a “beauty board” allows loyalty program members to share photos of Sephora-created looks.

Since mobile customers are more likely to browse before buying, rewarding actions such as “add to wish list” can be especially effective at building valuable relationships. To illustrate just how common mobile loyalty is becoming, loyalty guru Schneider points out that even Sears, traditionally a technology follower, distributes a loyalty-powered app that promotes check-ins, product reviews, Instagram posts, and on-the-go sharing.

5. Leverage mobile loyalty data for a unified customer view.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a compelling mobile loyalty experience is that it gives mobile customers an incentive to identify themselves. That, in turn, makes it possible for marketers to get a clear, unified view of brand interactions across channels. Once you’re enabling and rewarding mobile interactions, make sure to integrate this data at the customer record level, which will power more effective clienteling—your ability to offer customers personalized service based on what you know about them—no matter how they shop with you. According to Steve Dennis, president of retail strategy and marketing firm SageBerry Consulting, mobile loyalty is the crucial bridge between offline and online. “If your loyalty program is not reflecting that all-channel view of consumer behavior,” he says, “you’re missing a big opportunity.”

This post originally appeared on ExactTarget blog here: http://www.exacttarget.com/blog/mobile-loyalty-programs-5-emerging-must-haves/

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