So far this has been an incredibly unusual and uncertain year for everyone, from brands to consumers we have all been affected by the Coronavirus in some way or another. The changing environment has put a strain on marketing budgets and marketers are more than ever looking for higher return on investments.
However, challenges foster innovation and opportunity, and one solution that has gained popularity during the pandemic is the digital reward card. Its simplified concept of loyalty has made it a great tool for brands that want to build both customer engagement and grow sales.
As the situation has evolved we have learned more about how digital reward card campaigns can be used to drive opportunities for our advertising partners.
Here are eight ways to use digital reward cards as an effective marketing tool.
Digital reward cards can help brands and retailers:
1. Capture and retain an increasing number of new online customers
One thing that’s been noticeable during this pandemic is how quickly and how many new consumers have switched to online for their purchase needs. Especially during the lockdown period when street stores were closed we saw a significant traffic increase across all domains and most verticals, among them a significant number of new customers.
A digital reward card campaign can for many retailers be a smart solution to first capture the interest of the new and somewhat reluctant online customers, then give the same customers an added reason to return later to the online store, even when street stores open up again.
During the last months of lockdown, we have seen an increased interest from big multi-category retailers in offering reward card incentives as a method of retaining capital and driving future purchases. On average we have seen an average revenue uplift of 24% among multi-category merchants as a result of their reward card campaigns.
2. Use a fast and simple method to retain existing customers
We already spoke in the introduction about how the situation is changing faster than we could ever have imagined. The good news is that a digital reward card campaign can be implemented much faster than a loyalty and rewards scheme based on points and constant purchases. Plus it’s even easier for the customer to join too.
A reward card campaign offers many of the same benefits as a loyalty program but requires close to no effort from the merchant as well as the customer. Yet it still drives second purchases. Digital reward card campaigns also complement existing loyalty programs. A good example is Nike that frequently offers a Nike reward card as an incentive for purchase on their webshop.
3. Appeal to a broader range of generations
Apart from gaining new customers and retaining existing customers a digital reward card campaign bridges longer-term loyalty, popular with ‘Generation X’ and ‘The Baby Boomers’ with instant digital simplicity, popular with the millennials.
A recent research on ‘The truth about customer loyalty’ by KPMG, highlights how 96% of millennials say companies should find new ways to reward loyal customers and how 69% of millennials agree that most schemes are too hard to join and/or earn rewards. It also highlights how in general loyalty is a big driver across generations with 54% millennials enrolled in one to five loyalty rewards programs compared to 57% of Generation X and 60% of Baby Boomers.
4. Drive customers across their offerings with cross-brand and cross-category promotions
Which is especially relevant in our constant state of uncertainty during this pandemic where some product categories are at new high whilst others are at new lows.
A theoretical example of this would be H&M which is most known for its fashion stores, but who also in recent years entered the homeware market with its H&M Home brand.
Leveraging the increased demand for homeware, H&M can benefit from offering a rewards card for H&M fashion, as an incentive to its home shoppers. Knowing that once lockdown measures recede shoppers will look to update their wardrobe and H&M has successfully incentivised a cross-brand purchase.
5. Discover the perfect way to support digital product launches
Traditionally most brands and retailers have used their street stores connected with online communication to launch new products. However this hasn’t been possible during this pandemic, so some brands have delayed or cancelled new releases, whilst others have continued with pure online launches.
One method to help incentivize traffic and sales for any new product launch online would be to add a timed and attractive discount, but many brands avoid this option because it can be seen as cheapening the product. This is where a digital rewards card can be the ideal marketing tool, as it acts like a gift with purchase, an incentive to buy and a special reward for the first buyers creating an even deeper connection with the brand.
6. Build customer engagement by combining digital rewards cards with the right positive messaging
A lot of brands, especially at the moment have realized that in order to retain customers they will need the perfect combination of product quality & innovation, competitive pricing and strong brand values. So as the Coronavirus spread, most brands embraced messaging which encouraged people to take care of themselves by staying at home.
This gives brands linked to ‘Stay at Home’ the opportunity to link their digital reward card discount with a positive message, thus creating a real connection to the customer. For instance ‘All Nike Fans Receive a 5 Euro reward card with any purchase of home exercise gear”.
7. Develop ‘under the radar’ sales advantages in markets where prices are constantly being compared and matched
In the next months as the lockdown measures recede and the summer sales begin, we can probably expect a lot of offers on things that have gone unsold and built up in warehouses. For retailers that sell the same or very similar products, this could mean a lot of discounting as they try to highlight their most attractive prices. As one marks down the next copies and marks down again. Crawling a competitors webshop has become the norm, which only accelerates price matching.
Digital reward cards can be the ideal way to get ahead of the competition. Firstly the reward invisibly acts as a discount and an incentive for the customer to choose the merchant. A discount that is not price matched. Secondly, the merchant has an upper hand for future purchases, as the customer will have an incentive to come back and place another order in the future.
8. Create an emotional advantage by thinking beyond the sale to what comes next in the consumer journey
The coronavirus has hit some segments really hard. Travel in particular, which was down by 85% in the first month of the lockdown. The challenge is not just that people are not travelling, the other underlying challenge is that the sector is so competitively priced with constant price comparison, which makes it difficult for merchants to stand out from the competition.
An opportunity to differentiate from competition could be by appealing to the consumers broader planning of the travel journey.
The purchase of a holiday is only the first step in the customer journey. Most of us actually use a holiday as a reason to make further purchases on things we might want, need for it and experiences during it.
Therefore a reward card that incentivizes the traveler to treat themselves to some holiday fashion, gear or an even excursion could appeal to both their rational and emotional side and seal the deal.
An example of this could be booking.com offering a £20 Amazon Gift Card as an incentive for customers to buy their holiday. It’s a small reward, but it can be the deciding factor for a price conscious customer.
As brands struggle to navigate this new uncertain reality the digital reward card offers a powerful marketing tool while being easy to launch. UK merchants have leveraged the power of the digital reward card for years and the UK customer has grown familiar with the offering.
With the increasing global uncertainty, it is more important than ever for brands to get the most value for their marketing dollars and the digital reward card perfectly combines customer incentive with brand loyalty and second purchase. All with ease.