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Each year, mobile marketing solutions company 3Cinteractive publishes its Mobile Loyalty Report. These reports offer important insights for brands looking to improve loyalty through mobile channels. Over the past four years, the mobile reports have revealed that loyalty program growth is steady and that brands are making progress in meeting customer expectations.
Recently, Loyalty360 sat down with Margie Kupfer, Vice President of Marketing at 3Cinteractive, to discuss the 2019 report. Our conversation revealed some key data. Overall, we discussed mobile technology, personalization, and communications. Kupfer also offered improvement advice for brands.
On the genesis of the report, Kupfer said, “We have seen a lot of research about how consumers are interacting with technology, but we hadn’t seen a lot of research around how brands were trying to keep pace. As consumers ourselves, we had this hypothesis that there was a really wide gap between what customers wanted from mobile and what brands were really able to provide. That was the lens through which we put the first survey together.”
Looking back to the 2016 report, Kupfer found two pieces of good news. She said, “Back in 2016, 52 percent of the customers surveyed said that a mobile-enabled loyalty program made them visit or purchase more often. In the years since, it has gone up to 61 percent.” Even though, according to Kupfer, 52 percent was a large number, 61 percent is even better.
The second piece of good news is that more brands are mobile-enabled. Kupfer said, “For brands who are not mobile-enabled, the biggest blocker was lack of IT resources and the know-how to get started. That was 65 percent in 2016. That number has come down to 49 percent this year.”
Kupfer did say, however, that the report encouraged 3Cinteractive to take a step back and re-strategize. She said she feels that, as a sales and marketing team, her company needs to help brands take the necessary baby steps as they expand their capabilities. “It’s almost like a crawl-walk-run roadmap we need to put together for brands,” she said.
This crawl-walk-run roadmap is especially important when it comes to personalization. Kupfer noted that respondents to the 2018 Mobile Loyalty report said that personalization was a high priority, something they really want from the brands with whom they shop. So, Kupfer had some advice.
“Start small,” she said. “Don’t try to boil the ocean. Start at broader segments. Start at a preference level and get it into chunks. Then, continue to have a roadmap to work your way down the funnel until you can really get at that one-to-one relationship.”
Another piece of advice Kupfer had involves communication. She explained the issue, saying, “One of the other things we’ve started to see is the consumer appetite to want to chat with a brand. We know that today’s phones are actually used more for texting than for phone calls. People are very used to texting with their friends and their family, and we’re seeing a growing trend toward wanting to do that with a business. We’re seeing it start in customer-care functions: where’s my order, track my shipment, how much data do I have left, when is my bill due. As technology gets better, this is going to continue to grow.”
She continued, “Consumers don’t necessarily feel well-informed from their favorite brands about where their status is. They can’t always remember their login number, that sort of thing. They really want easy access. They want to be able to text into a brand and say, ‘How many points do I have that I can use?’ They want to be able to get an easy answer back, rather than having to login into an app or login to a website.”
This state of affairs has reinforced the need for brands to become omnichannel. “There’s not one channel that all customers are going to, so you have to be everywhere,” she said. “It may change throughout the day. An email might be fine in the morning as the customer is online and getting ready for her day, but if she has a change in status, or she has points that are going to expire, that’s probably better as a text message.”
She continued, “We’re all about testing and learning, understanding where customers are and starting small. So, messaging is really key. We see a lot of brands still not using messaging, but the brands that do use it are seeing incredible results. The read rate is much higher than email.”
In addition, she said, “You have to tailor the message to the channel. It can’t just be one message that goes across five channels. The same message you put in email might be slightly different in a 160-character text message. You also don’t want them to get the same message across three or four channels.”
Her final recommendation was that brands become early adopters. “We’ve noticed, particularly in retail, that D2C brands are pretty nimble, and they’re absolutely willing to try new things. They seem to adopt new technologies much faster than traditional retailers, and that hurts [the traditional retailers]. They’re not as quick to move. They’re not as quick to adapt. The early adopters are faster moving and they’re outpacing the competition. Technology is fueling that.”
From our own Loyalty360 research, we’ve seen that technology is a hurdle in meeting customer expectations. However, it’s good to see that we’re not the only ones who recognize the pulse of the industry.
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