Mobile customer loyalty is the theme of the Sept. 8 Loyalty360 webinar, “The State of Mobile Loyalty: Bridging the Gap Between Consumer Expectations and Current Brand Strategies,” which will be presented by 3C Interactive.

Loyalty360 caught up with one of the webinar’s featured speakers−Margie Kupfer, Vice President, Marketing, 3C Interactive−to find out more about this intriguing topic. 

Mobile is such a massive component now for loyalty marketers. It seems to be moving at a fairly rapid clip now. How would you describe the current state of mobile loyalty and what can we expect in the future?

Kupfer: Loyalty is in a state of disruption brought on by mobile. Consumer appetite to interact with brands is outpacing brands’ abilities to deliver on these expectations. Brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Brands that have been able to crack the code early are outpacing competitors at this point. There is a race going on for the others to catch up in order to not lose their share of wallet. We are only at the beginning of the journey. In the near future, we are expecting brands will look to technologies like mobile wallet, AI, and chatbots as a larger part of their loyalty strategy.

Why do you think launching a mobile loyalty program provides various obstacles for a large majority of brands?

Kupfer: Our research indicates the biggest obstacle continues to be lack of IT resources – with 65% of brand marketers saying they either lack the IT resources for mobile loyalty integration or admit they lack the knowledge on how to launch a mobile loyalty program. Customer data continues to be fragmented in legacy systems where one view of the customer is a challenge. Mobile adds yet another channel to connect.

What do brands need to consider when launching a mobile loyalty program?

Kupfer: Brands need to realize it is not all or nothing. Mobile programs can build over time. It’s better to start small and not disappoint the customer. Mobile loyalty programs can be built on IT-lite integrations and still meet customer expectations. Having some kind of presence on mobile is better than nothing at all.

How much do consumer expectations dictate, or should dictate, a brand’s mobile loyalty program?

Kupfer: You absolutely must listen to the wants and needs of your customer. For example, our research shows 48% of customers prefer to receive loyalty communications via SMS, but only 21% of brands send loyalty SMS communications. This represents a big opportunity for brands to acquire and keep customers in the loyalty funnel if they can deliver on their customer’s expectations.

Is mobile moving too fast for some brands?

Kupfer: There’s no doubt that technology is advancing rapidly in the space. Sometimes, we find that brands are hesitant to invest in new technology until it proves its staying power and often times this puts brands behind their competitors who take the risk of investing early in a technology that takes off. Mobile wallets, chatbots and AI are just a few of the emerging trends that we are seeing some progressive brands take advantage of to stay ahead of their competition in the space, but these need to be thoughtfully integrated into the customer journey in order to be effective.

How can brands best leverage mobile to enhance customer loyalty?
Kupfer: Take advantage of the unique features mobile has to offer. For example, use location data to deliver timely messages as customers are near your locations. Send real time updates on point balances or expiring coupons.  According to TIME Magazine, Americans check their smartphones 8 billion times a day, so be part of the conversation!

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