How you can build a mobile customer loyalty strategy

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As technology becomes more ubiquitous and brands become more sophisticated in the ways they leverage digital marketing, companies are finding themselves entering a “bidding war” for attention.

The root of this massive shift in how consumers interact with the world is the smartphone—where push notifications, social networking apps, and everyday use applications are in the hands of a whopping 68% of adults.

Millennials make up part of that percentage, particularly because mobile devices and social media play a major role with this group when making a purchase decision.

In the mobile-rich world, brands are likely to struggle if they don't have a strategy to remain top of mind. Brands don’t necessarily need to build a dedicated app to spark customers to engage. Companies with loyalty programmes, however, are in a better position to deal with this shift.

The real winners know the best way to stand out and form long-term relationships with customers is to leverage the power of a loyalty program and a device with which that many spend most of their time—their smartphones.

Today, millennials are less interested in carrying loyalty cards compared to their generational predecessors. Loyalty cards are easy to lose and cumbersome compared to the digital wallets made available by Apple and other developers onmobile devices.

For example, in the food and beverage industry, 52% of millennials want to be able to take advantage of loyalty programs by using their smartphones in bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Some good examples

The case for using mobile to engage and retain customers is strong. For example, McDonald’s is piloting a mobile app designed to educate customers about nearby restaurants, offer coupons to promote food products, and occasionally (based on proximity) surprise customers with rewards like free food and beverages through push notifications.

In addition to breed goodwill, the app will create data touchpoints that inform what is working (and what isn't) based on customer interaction.

When it comes to success with mobile and loyalty program integration, Starbucks offers a great example. The brand’s mobile app is integrated into the Starbucks Rewards program.

Mobile engagement is a rapidly growing trend that brands with loyalty programs can easily begin to incorporate

The app allows customers to monitor loyalty points, reap rewards, save and order items, and take advantage of promotions. Starbucks takes its mobile-focused approach further by providing recommendations (and coupon codes) for new phone apps and music associated favorably with the Starbucks brands, creating a positive impression that lasts. This sets Starbucks apart from competitors because it supports a model beyond a “spend and get” mindset.

Meanwhile, Pepsi is leveraging mobile technology to stay top of mind with consumers via its Pepsi Pass program. This branded experience, delivered through an app, encourages customers to interact with Pepsi at regular intervals by offering incentives for engaging in a range of activities.

In addition to recognising users for making Pepsi purchases, the brand rewards members for handing out with friends who have the app, connecting to their Facebook accounts, and even taking selfies. A multichannel approach like Pepsi Pass pivots away from a spending-based rewards model and integrates into customer lifestyles and everyday mobile use.

Consumers want it 

Is there a demand to combine mobile with loyalty? Nearly half of consumers would like to engage with the loyalty programs they’re subscribed to through theirmobile device.

However, only 12% have downloaded loyalty management apps, and 60% of loyalty members don’t know whether or not the programsthey subscribe to have a mobile app.

This is problematic, and can lead to missed opportunities for those loyalty programs that have made the step to mobile. The addition of loyalty programs to branded apps are gaining ground as a popular feature, as are the discounts and offers that frequently populate them.

After all, 40% of consumers participate in loyalty programs linked to a payment option—a number that’s likely to increase as brands catch on to the trend of mobile wallet inclusion.

The mobile loyalty outlook

As mobile become more of a routine part of everyday life for most adults, a stark contrast will emerge between brands that successfully engage their customers and those that don’t. This will ultimately depend on whether brands pay attention to changing customer expectations and take advantage of the popular mobileplatform.

Mobile engagement is a rapidly growing trend that brands with loyalty programs can easily begin to incorporate. A marriage of social, mobile, and loyalty is a winning combination that puts brands top-of-mind, creates new customer-facing experiences, and allows companies to learn more about their fans.

In an environment where customer attention is increasingly hard to come by and even more difficult to retain, these are the keys to building experiences that lead to long-lasting engagement—and long term success.

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