Technology has made it easier than ever for businesses to communicate with their customers on a personal level. Mobile capabilities, in particular, provide an unprecedented opportunity to connect with customers and prospects on an individual level, giving them the incentives they need to become loyal customers.
But loyalty comes in varying degrees, and waiting for loyal customers to come to you is unlikely to present a reliable stream of income. The real value lies with those customers you build relationships with, and mobile capabilities provide the perfect vehicle to do just that. So how do you use mobile to build these relationships and enhance customer loyalty?
Here are five tips:
1. Emphasize Convenience
According to a recent RSR Research survey on mobile and payments, 44 percent of merchants’ primary payment method accepted is credit cards. However, 20 percent of respondents expect that in the next three years, some form of digital payment, including mobile, will be their primary form of payment. Now is the time to get on board and make sure you never miss a sale.
Mobile wallets make it so that people have one less thing to carry around. Say one of your regular customers is out walking her dog and realizes she’s really thirsty. Lo and behold, your convenience store is right around the corner! The only problem? She doesn’t have her wallet. But she does have her smartphone… When businesses make mobile payments easy for their customers, they’ll be able to accept payment at any time, from anyone who wants to buy. That’s what we mean when we say you’ll never miss a sale.
2. Get on Their Schedule
Mobile capabilities offer merchants the opportunity to track an interesting data point that has, until now, been very difficult to track: time. Smart marketers already decide when to share content like email newsletters or daily deals based on what time of day people are most engaged. However, it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to make these decisions based on the average of a group, which is all marketers have been able to do up until now.
With mobile data points, however, you can pinpoint what time each individual customer will be the most responsive. For example, if you know a particular customer usually stops at your dry cleaner shop at 7 p.m. on their way home from work, why not push out a coupon at 6:30 p.m. offering to launder three shirts for the price of four? This type of personalized offer helps build customer loyalty. Why would your customer go elsewhere when he knows he’ll get the best deal — timed for his unique routine — by doing business with you? This is just one illustration of how automated mobile loyalty programs that track variables like time can take the “guesstimation” out of your marketing efforts.
3. Make Deals Relevant
In addition to a variable like time, mobile gives business owners access to more data about customers than ever before. As new technologies emerge that track customer data, new opportunities arise to build loyalty with customers. For example, if you know a certain customer usually buys two bottles of Coke each time they come into your grocery store, why not offer them half off a new flavor when they buy two bottles of regular Coke? This helps make the decision between your store and the one down the road that much easier and, as a result, builds loyalty. This is a great example of how an offer can be personalized to provide each individual with discounts and deals that demonstrate a real understanding of their unique preferences and buying habits. Stores will also find that many brands are happy to partially or completely fund these types of offers, since it helps to build brand loyalty as well as store loyalty.
4. Build Loyalty with Loyalty
Analog loyalty programs like punch cards have worked fine for decades, but they have plenty of drawbacks. The biggest problem is that they’re hard to track and easy to lose. They also don’t provide you with any insight into your customers. Basic electronic loyalty programs, like a Petco rewards card, are a bit better, but mobile loyalty programs take it to a whole new level. Mobile offers the ability to track purchase data and individual behaviors down to a very granular level. Like the Coke example, when you have greater insight into individual behaviors, you can offer targeted loyalty programs that provide mutual benefit and reward your best customers for their loyalty. For example, if a yoga studio has a customer who comes in for a class once a week, they could offer a free class on each tenth visit. On the other hand, if a new customer comes in for the first time and doesn’t return, they could reach out to offer 25 percent off a 10-pack of classes. This is a simple example of how better tracking can help you provide more targeted loyalty and reward programs.
5. Location, Location, Location
Similarly, mobile data points can help businesses reach customers when they are nearby. According to a joint national survey by Sybase 365 and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), 61 percent of consumers would be more willing to make mobile payments if they received search results and targeted offers that are more relevant to their shopping habits and exact location. Technologies like geofencing, when enabled, make it possible to push out coupons and relevant in-store offers when people are near your business — taking relevance to a whole new level. This can give brick-and-mortar businesses a real edge in a world that is increasingly focused on e-commerce.
Are you using any of these tactics yet? Which ones do you think will have the biggest impact?
Henry Helgeson is the CEO of Merchant Warehouse. He is responsible for driving the future vision of the company and leading day-to-day operational activity. Visit Merchant Warehouses Buyer’s Guide entry on PaymentsJournal here.