5 Loyalty Programme Trends to Watch

loyalty-trends-2016

5 Loyalty Programme Trends to Watch

The loyalty programme landscape is continually changing, with trends coming and going as quickly as Chipotle’s catastrophic ‘Chiptopia’ scheme. For brands and businesses, the secret is to gain insight on what’s got staying power, and what’s simply destined to crash and burn, Chipotle style [to read more about where Chipotle went wrong - check our post here]

So what’s caught our attention this year? Here are five bona fide loyalty programme trends to watch, and our commentary on what makes them such a success.

An experiential focus 

Millennials crave experiences, which has led to the development of loyalty programmes that offer customers tangible rewards. Marriott Hotels is blazing a trail in this department, with its recently launched Experiences Marketplace that went live in April 2016. Not only can guests redeem points on hotel rooms, but they can also use them to book unique experiences like culinary tours, sporting match seats, concert tickets and more. Starwood Preferred Guest Moments offers a similar service, as does the Wyndham Rewards programme.

Mobile friendly platforms

The UK is now a nation of smartphone loyalists, and rewards programmes are beginning to reflect this trend. Going beyond outdated plastic membership cards, an increasing number of brands are starting to offer their customers mobile-friendly platforms where they can manage their points balances, explore rewards and engage with the loyalty programme, at their fingertips.

Engaging the Centennial

Aka Digital Natives and bona fide Gen Z-ers, Centennials are turning 19 which means they’re perfectly positioned to start flexing their buying power. Analysts estimate that in the US alone this demographic is worth a huge US$44 billion in spending power, which makes them impossible to ignore. As a result, loyalty programmes are refocussing on capturing the attention of Centennials, with the spotlight shining firmly on relevance, immediacy and digital allure.

A focus on philanthropy

Despite their selfish reputation, the latest statistics from Nielsen reveal that modern consumers value companies with a social conscience. As a result, we’re seeing an increasing number of companies weave philanthropy into their rewards programmes, with brands like TOMS offering consumers the option of donating to causes close to their heart in lieu of redeeming their own benefits.

Internal analytics

As new technologies emerge, brands are starting to leverage the power of customer data. O2 is at the forefront of the internal analytics movement, and relies heavily on predictive analytics to better understand the needs and wants of its customers.

“With Priority, for example, we use our internal analytics to understand which customers will be interested in music-related offers. At the end of last year, we saw a tenfold uplift in conversion through better use of customer data. This is an area where we are evolving our capabilities,” comments marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby.

O2 complements its insight with broad rewards, with some customers choosing to cash in on its Monday £1 lunch deal, while others prefer to use points to access music gigs.

It’s fascinating to see how trends play out, and how brands make them their own. Our guess is that this batch will stay strong in 2017, but no doubt they’ll be challenged by a brand new flood as the new year unfolds.

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Chipotle Wraps Up a Catastrophic Rewards Program, and Dishes Out a Lesson in What NOT to Do…

chipotle-mexican-grill

Chipotle Wraps Up a Catastrophic Rewards Program, and Dishes Out a Lesson in What NOT to Do…

For the most part, globally recognised brands serve as inspiration for small businesses. But sometimes, instead of learning positive lessons from observing the big guns at work, small fries can clue themselves up on what NOT to do…

Cue Chipotle’s disastrous ‘Chiptopia’ rewards program that launched earlier this year. The cult Mexican fast food chain may know a thing or two about how to whip up a mean burrito, but when it comes to loyalty programmes the company’s efforts were lacking serious flavour.

In-house customer relations experts spent millions developing and launching a fresh new summer rewards program, which was hailed as one of the best in the restaurant business. It was tied to the frequency of visits, and offered customers the chance to score a smorgasbord of free food. Basically, if a customer guzzled 12 burritos in three months, they were rewarded with four free burritos. This gave the program a returns rate of around 33%.

But despite this, Chipotle’s Mexican loving clientele couldn’t seem to care less about the three-month seasonal offer. So where did Chipotle’s ‘Chiptopia’ campaign go wrong? And what lessons can brands learn from its disastrous attempt to mix refried beans with rewards?

  • Failure to understand customer perception

One of the biggest factors Chipotle failed to address was that in order to launch a deliciously successful rewards program, customer perception needs to be high. Even the most tantalising of rewards programs will crash and burn if customers simply don’t want the product in the first place. The company’s main downfall was the fact that it launched ‘Chiptopia’ right after it was hit with its catastrophic E. coli outbreak scandal that saw sales drop by 30% in the first quarter of 2016. It hadn’t quite recovered, and was still struggling to earn back the trust of its customers. So, despite the fact that it spent millions on developing a stellar rewards program, customers just weren’t all that excited about cashing in on potentially contaminated burritos. YouGov BrandIndex data confirms that consumer perception was suffering on Chiptopia’s July 1 launch date, with brand quality sitting at a dismal 9.4 on a scale of -100 to 100.

  • A backwards approach

In September Chipotle launched a new campaign focussing on addressing the E. coli scandal, and convincing customers that its food is safe. Ideally, the chain should’ve launched this campaign first, and followed up with Chiptopia.

  • Confused customers

Chiptopia was clearly aimed at diehard Chipotle fans, as its three-tiered system was overwhelmingly confusing. While the program did help to increase loyalty from regular customers, it failed to appeal to the 75% of consumers that make up its customer base.

Unsustainable and unappealing

With a returns rate of 33%, Chiptopia simply wasn’t sustainable in the long run. It’s three month run period was clear about the fact that it was a seasonal promotion, so unless customers started scoffing burritos in July, it wasn’t worth their while to get involved. The company has since realised its mistake, and has confirmed that it’s now working on a new, more permanent program.

So, while the concept of a rewards program is intriguing, even the most established of brands can still get it oh so wrong.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.

How rewardStyle Turned Instagram into an Affiliate Marketing Wonderland

rewardstyle

How rewardStyle Turned Instagram into an Affiliate Marketing Wonderland

From the vision of a 23-year-old fashion blogger to a critically acclaimed content monetisation platform, rewardStyle has completely revolutionised the way top tier style influencers and brands connect with consumers. Today, the platform is used by more than 9000 global style setters, who leverage rewardStyle’s turnkey ecosystem of services to maximise their presence, and their profits. Alongside easy to use tech products, strategic consulting and education services, rewardStyle offers its members access to its avant-garde mobile publishing and distribution platform. Cue the LIKEtoKNOW.it insurgency…

LIKEtoKNOW.it – How it works

Like all social media platforms, LIKEtoKNOW.it is an absolute dream to use. Simply like a photo featuring a liketk.com tag, and LIKEtoKNOW.it will send a curated list of ready-to-shop products straight to your inbox. From fashion and homewares to beauty and lifestyle, Instagram users are able to recreate their favourite looks, in just a few clicks of the mouse. The customised, image centric ‘wish lists’ include direct links to retailers where showcased items can be purchased.

For Instagrammers, it eliminates the whole “where can I find this?” drama and replaces it with instant access to featured products, at their fingertips. Now that’s something everyone would like to know. For digital style influencers, LIKEtoKNOW.it represents a chance to earn meaningful revenue on their content, and monetise their accounts into thriving small businesses. Basically, it’s a consumer facing, ready-to-shop, mobile friendly platform that empowers millions of socially inspired shoppers, across the globe. To date, it’s drummed up more than $100 million in sales to retail partners, and scored more than 1.9 million Instagram followers that can’t get enough of its content.

Where did rewardStyle go right?

Not all businesses get it right, especially when it comes to navigating the complex and multifaceted social media arena. So where did rewardStyle go right?

  1. Influencers are the new ‘brands’. LIKEtoKNOW.it was the first platform to leverage the fact that Instagram fashion influencers are now just as powerful as the brands they wear. The latest research proves this point, with MuseFind revealing that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than a traditional advertisement or celebrity endorsement.
  2. A sense of elitism. What really defines rewardStyle is its invitation only model. This underpins it with a sense of exclusivity, and ensures that members feel honoured to receive an invitation, as opposed to hassled.
  3. Instagram exclusive. Social media has reinvented the way brands communicate with customers, and Instagram is at the forefront of the movement. Today, research shows that a huge 96% of US fashion brands are on Instagram, which really comes as no surprise given that fashion is such an aesthetically dominated market. For brands, Instagram unlocks opportunities to entice followers with stylised lifestyle snapshots of their collections, and tap into the intrinsic human infatuation with imagery.
  4. What Instagrammers want. Following the fierce success of LIKEtoKNOW.it, rewardStyle went on to launch LIKEtoKNOW.it.HOME. Amber Box, rewardStyle co-founder explains, “As a company, we started in fashion, but as our influencers grew up, and they and their followers started to care about dressing their homes, and brands and retailers in other verticals began to recognize the retail demand generated by our Influencers, home became an obvious extension.”

When it comes to case studies that make our hearts flutter, rewardStyle’s LIKEtoKNOW.it launch is definitely up there.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.

 

 

The Times They Are a Changin’: How to Earn Loyalty in a Millennial Dominated Market

loyalty-programmes

The Times They Are a Changin’: How to Earn Loyalty in a Millennial Dominated Market

Bob Dylan’s poetic lyrics may be timeless, but when it comes to earning customer loyalty, the times are consistently changing. While in the past baby boomers may have been thrilled to collect stamps on a paper business card, millennials demand a new kind of TLC. In America alone, the country’s eight million millennials represent a quarter of the entire population, and a huge £160 billion in annual buying power. For retailers this means one thing. Winning over millennials should be at the top of the priority list.

One of the biggest myths surrounding millennials is the fact that by definition, they’re incapable of being brand loyal. Research proves otherwise, with study after revered study indicating that with the right approach, millennials can be turned into high value, repeat customers. In fact, in a recent Bond Brand Loyalty study millennials were pinpointed as a key demographic for brand loyalty programs, with 68% confirming they’d change their shopping behaviours in order to score more rewards. Furthermore, one-third admitted to buying a product they didn’t need or want, simply to earn points or boost membership status. So, despite their negative reputation, millennials can be a hugely valuable market.

Here’s how:

Smartphone savvy

Millennials single handily pioneered the smartphone takeover, so it comes as no surprise that this generation responds well to handheld devices. Thrive Analytics reports that of all millennial respondents sharing their location with businesses, 71% did so in order to receive offers and deals. This means that in order to stay relevant, businesses need to be developing loyalty programmes with a mobile-first focus.

Social media

To millennials, social media is now a primary platform to source information on brands, products and deals. For brands, this means that a dynamic social media presence is a must.

The value of rebates

Fuelled by fast-paced lifestyles and an ‘instant gratification’ mindset, millennials prefer to cash in on high-value rebates over discounts and vouchers that can be used at a later date.

Transparency is key

With smartphones at their fingertips, millennials have become fiercely savvy shoppers. For brands, this means there’s no room for ambiguity when it comes to loyalty programmes, price promises and other big claims.

Giving back

A huge 87% of millennials donate to non-profit organisations, which means that earning loyalty has a lot to do with brand philosophies. Millennials have fallen hard for the concept of a ‘participation economy’ that allows them not just to consume, but contribute to, create and influence the behaviours of brands they love. There’s a reason TOMS Shoes emerged as a cult brand, and it’s not just because its canvas shoes are comfortable.

So, while millennials may seem like a tough and somewhat erratic market to crack, earning customer loyalty is not impossible. In fact, with the right tactics, rewards programmes and communication mediums in place, Gen Y is more than happy to stay faithful.

Synced.io is a service that lets you easily connect with multiple Affiliate Networks. To request a demo click here.

 

Are customer loyalty programs too expensive?

Low-margin retailers often argue they can’t afford customer loyalty programs, but is that true? Two business professors make the case that such programs are profit-enhancing differentiators.

When location, location, location is the only means of differentiating and all is left to low margin and high prize, what to do then? Creating a non prize differentiation in this position is hard, takes time and costs money. Maybe this is why many retailers have adopted loyalty programs as a convenient mechanism of meaningful differentiation. At the end loyalty programs should offer incentives for customers to stay put with their store by offering them better value. Also loyalty programs have the added advantage of rapid establishment and making the threat of price wars from competing retailers less credible.

According to Forbes there are a number of myths over whether loyalty programs offer a sustainable and profitable business model. Dig in to the full article on Forbes.

Redemption or not?

Getting customers to redeem points and cash back

So you created a loyalty program, you are getting your customers to join. You are even collecting valuable insights from from the data you have on your members. Your loyal members are more loyal than ever. But are they actually using all their points? When participating in a loyalty program, earning points or some other form of currency is only part of the equation. Studies say that one third of rewards points and fly miles go unredeemed every year. Providing a variety of ways to redeem points, cash back and offers keeps your customers satisfied.

From the consumer perspective rewards are the most valuable aspect of a loyalty program. So how do you help customers redeem loyalty points and keep in control of your own financial costs?

Sweepstake entries are a fun way for customers to redeem points, if used with a high amount of times a customer can enter to increase their chances to win, it also captures a gaming element that makes it more fun.

Catalogue rewards or the gift of choice is a good way to give back to your customers who work hard earn their points. You might call this the Ultimate in loyalty.

Donations to charitable causes lets consumers emotionally connect with a brand and satisfy their need of interacting with socially responsible brands. A well chosen cause or multiple causes lets people run points and benefit a good cause at the same time.

Coupon/Discount rewards that helps your customer to save money on the products they love is a favorite amongst customers. You can even offer coupons in exchange for loyalty points. Reward a customer´s next purchase and drive incremental sales.

Free Product rewards about three-quarter of consumers say discounted or free items are one of the most valuable loyalty programs benefits. In this case to allow easy redemption and encourage repeat acton in accordance to a fair value is key.

Partner rewards or perks across brands can let you gain new customers and entrench loyalty from an exciting customer base. According to a study by American express, 72 percent of Americans would prefer multi-brand loyalty programs over a single brand.

Cash is king, especially with consumers. So offering a percentage back of a sale can be a hard thing to pass up. Consumers understand the value of cash back rewards or store credit, and such programs act as an additional incentive to spend with a brand to earn a higher reward return. While it may take some time, consumers who hold on to their cash back rewards can realize a nice payout.

A healthy variety of redemption offers is likely to create more loyalty to your member groups and with your customers. Also creating options for redemption is the way to go in building your loyalty program.

source: Crowdtwist

Changes to our SOAP API

In line with our name change you as a customer will be asked to make some changes in your connection with our API.

We will continue to support the old APIurls until May 30th. In fact, we have applied a redirect from the old domain to the new one so for most of the application clients it should still work as normal.

However is up to the application clients you use, if they accept the redirect or not. It will be best if you could replace the old url with the new one, sooner rather than later. We’re asking our subscribers to make the changes ahead of this deadline in any event.

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Cashback-what next?

In the fight for the online shopping pie merchants are willing to pay commissions that range from 1% to 50% to attract shoppers.  What does this mean for your own company when noticing that this can be a profit for you and a added benefit to your members.

According to comScore, consumers spent more than $160 billion online in 2011, and that number is only expected to increase. E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe. Sales in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain are expected to grow from £132.05 bn [€156.28 bn] in 2014 to £156.67 bn [(€185.39 bn] in 2015 (+18.4%), reaching £185.44 bn (€219.44 bn) in 2016. In 2015, overall online sales are expected to grow by 18.4% (same as 2014), but 13.8% in the U.S. on a much larger total.

Regular and Unceasing Growth

The recession has induced many shoppers to buy online rather from traditional stores, whilst above-average growth in countries with smaller ecommerce sectors shows there has been an element of catch up. Retail focus on the growing use of mobile technology is an additional factor in making online retailing attractive and convenient.

The European online market is dominated by the UK, Germany and France which together are responsible for 81.3% of European sales in these eight countries.

Online retail sales graph

Mobile ecommerce

Many retailers already report that up to one-half of website browsing occurs through customers using mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets. However a much small proportion actually uses their mobile device to make the final purchase. In 2014, total ecommerce via mobiles in Europe was £20.09 bn [€23.77 bn], which is expected to grow by 88.7% to £37.91 bn [€44.87 bn] in 2015. The UK figures are £8.41 bn in 2014 rising to £14.95 bn in 2015.

The U.S. mobile share is predicted to grow from 18.7% of all online retail spending to 26.8%, or the equivalent of £30.39 bn ($57.38 bn) to £57.72 bn ($93.58 bn).

Online Spending by Device 2014-2015

Graph - Online Spending by Device 2014-2015

Since you have the ability to share your commission with your members in the form of points or cashback suddenly increasing member benefits without increasing costs became more simple. Merchant funded cashback can be a source to reckon with when trying to find ancillary revenue to your company. With the amount of money being spent online everyday all over the world it is not hard to see that sharing that money with your members and earning some for your company can be a win-win situation.

Consumers continue to use digital coupons to stretch their budget

Mobile-coupons

eMarketer forecasts that digital coupon users, which include internet users ages 18 and older who redeem a digital coupon or code via any device for online or offline shopping at least once per year, will account for 55.0% all US internet users in 2014.

The digital coupon audience is a relatively mature group, but there’s still room for modest growth over the next few years. Mobile coupon users are making up a growing portion of the larger digital coupon audience as more consumers make in-home purchases via smartphone and tablet and as more shoppers use a mobile device to enhance their instore experiences. eMarketer expects the number of adults who redeem coupons via mobile device for either online or offline shopping to rise from 78.69 million to 104.11 million between 2014 and 2016, or from 70.0% to 82.0% of all digital couponers. Younger deal-savvy shoppers who are heavy smartphone users have especially embraced mobile couponing in recent years. eMarketer estimates that only 36.5% of marketers will offer mobile coupons in 2014. By 2016, 44.5% of marketers will do so.

Next wave technology is changing the playing field for customer loyalty

Technology

Most businesses find themselves at an important paradigm shift between the next wave of technology and a new era of customer engagement.  Now is the time to redefine the way your business interacts with customers through digital engagement. Customer loyalty programs such as travel miles and cash back are not created by chance. The programs are fueled by an increased understanding of what motivates customers and what can maintain loyalty.

If your company has not taken a long look at its customer engagement strategy in recent months, it does not realize the race has started, and it is still at the starting line. Technology is upending preconceived notions about customer loyalty every day. The winners in this race will be the ones that unbundle their services to create a unique experience for every single customer who clicks on their website or walks through their doors.