Today shoppers, credit card users, andvirtually everyone else making a payment is bombarded by offers totempt them into another purchase. Electronic forms of communicationincluding the Internet, smartphones, and kiosks can leave anyoneasking themselves “Can I just finish this please?”
While it is great to be able to target offers to likely customersthat are so specific they can be reached based on where they arewalking, marketing and program managers run the risk of becomingthe pushy salesman that causes a customer to go somewhere else.While they sometimes work in the short run, no one likes to be thesubject of high pressure sales tactics. If my smartphone buzzesevery single time I walk past your store, I’m going to cross thestreet in the future.
So how do marketers and program managers avoid this trap? Threefactors need to be combined in program design: the strategic goal,the customer experience, and the feedback from the program.
The strategic goal in most programs is to drive increased sales.It seems obvious enough, but not all sales are equal. Also, thetime and place of those sales matters. The goal then should bespecific enough that the program can be designed to meet that. Forinstance, if you want to increase sales in a particular coffee shopin the mid-afternoon on Tuesdays, then you want to send out offersfor that location at that time, not just a generic coupon that popsup every time someone goes to an ATM of a partner bank.
Second, think about the design of an offer from the customer’sperspective. People often want to get offers and discounts, but weall have times when we have more mental bandwidth to consider theseoffers. In looking at the traffic at a financial institution’sATMs, for example, speeding customers through at busy times maytake precedence over presenting them with an offer for a freedoughnut. By the same token, if our coffee shop above is mobbed,then it may want to avoid sending out more offers when its staffand inventory are on the verge of being overwhelmed. Overallcustomer satisfaction should be taken into account in programdesign. So timing the offer from an internal perspective can bejust as important as timing it to reach a customer as they walkpast the door.
Third, programs should be tested, tweaked and monitored based onthe feedback that comes in from both customers and sales numbers.Customers may say they really like a particular offer, but if thesales figures show few or no redemptions, then it is time to trysomething else. Alternately, customers may say they hate theirphones going off every time they walk past the door, but if theyalways walk in and buy something, then maybe the idea is moreirksome than the reality. If offers sent at 9:30 a.m. Monday leadto more sales on Tuesday at 2 p.m. than offers sent at 1:30 p.m. onTuesday, then a program manager can stop randomly tossing ads ontothe networks and inside time them.
The technology that enables targeted and real time offers shouldbe pushed to its very limits to make sure that what looks’targeted’ is not merely a random flyer in a new channel.