By Henry Helgeson CEO, Merchant Warehouse
For many businesses today, customer loyalty is the golden ticket. But achieving that loyalty can be a tricky proposition. For a long time, it was hard to get someone in the door regularly, never mind turning a sale into a long-term relationship with your customer. The reality is that waiting for loyal consumers to come to you just doesn’t present a reliable stream of income.
Today, technology is making it easier than ever to communicate with customers on a personal — and personalized — level. Mobile, in particular, provides unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers and prospects and give them the incentives they need to become loyal customers.
So how exactly can you use mobile to attain the holy grail of loyal customers? Here are five tips:
1. Up The Convenience Factor
One great advantage of the mobile wallet is that it gives people one less thing to carry around. Say one of your regular customers is out for a long run, listening to music on her iPhone. Suddenly she 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. 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. According to a recent RSR Research survey on mobile and payments, 44 percent of merchants’ primary payment accepted is credit cards. However, 20 percent of respondents expect that some form of digital payment, including mobile, will be their primary form of payment in three years’ time. Get on board now, and you’ll never miss a sale.
2. Personalize Discounts And Deals
Mobile gives business owners access to more data about customers than ever before. As new technologies emerge that track customer data (in some cases, even matching it to their social profiles), new opportunities arise to build loyalty with customers. For example, if you know that a certain customer usually buys two bottles of wine each time they come into your store, why not offer them a buy-two-get-one-free coupon? It helps make the decision between your store and the one down the road that much easier and thus 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.
3. Use More Sophisticated Loyalty Programs
Analog loyalty programs like punch cards have worked fine for decades, but they have plenty of drawbacks. They’re hard to track and easy to misplace. They also don’t provide you with any insight into your customers. Basic electronic loyalty programs, like a CVS card, are a bit better, but mobile loyalty programs offer the ability to track purchase data and individual behaviors on a granular level. This enables you to offer targeted loyalty programs that provide mutual benefit and reward your best customers for their loyalty. For example, if a salon has a customer who comes in for a facial once a month, they could offer a free service on each sixth 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 20 percent off the next visit. This is a simple example of how better tracking can help you provide more targeted loyalty and reward programs.
4. Get On Their Schedule
Mobile offers an interesting data point that has, until now, been difficult, if not impossible, to pin down: time. Many marketing programs make decisions about when to push out content or offers based on what time of day tends to draw the most engagement. However, this information is based on the average of a group. With mobile data points, you can instead pinpoint what time each individual customer is primed to be most responsive. For example, if you deduce that someone usually stops into your coffee shop at 8 a.m. on their way to work, why not push out a coupon at 7:30 a.m. offering a pastry at half price? That’s a great example of how automated mobile loyalty programs that track variables like time can take the “guesstimation” out of your marketing efforts.
5. Meet Them Where They Are
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. 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?
CEO of Merchant Warehouse
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.
After attending Marist College, Henry worked as an independent contractor for United Processing Corporation selling terminals and printers door-to-door to merchants. Intrigued by the industry and interested in finding a lower cost solution for merchants, Henry co-founded Merchant Warehouse. In 1998, Merchant Warehouse launched as the industry’s first website offering low-cost merchant credit card processing equipment and software.
Since launching Merchant Warehouse, Henry has remained at the forefront of innovation in the payment solutions industry. Today, the company processes over $8 billion a year in sales and more than 12 million transactions a month. A visionary, Henry has been the driving force behind the company’s recently launched, Genius™ Customer Engagement Platform™. Genius is the first payments industry solution in the marketplace to have the capability of aggregating and integrating every conceivable transaction technology, payment type and customer program – both present and future – in a single platform.
Henry is actively involved in numerous industry associations. He currently serves as chair of the ISO Practices committee for the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and a member of their Mobile Payments Committee. He is also a board member of the Northeast Aquirers Association (NEAA). In 2012, he received the ETA Member of the Year Award, recognizing his contributions to the future success of the industry and the ETA organization and he has been named to the Boston Business Journal’s (BBJ’s) “40 under 40” list.