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Is 2010 the ‘Year of Mobile’ for Loyalty Marketers?

  • In just two years, over 2 billion downloads of more than 100,000 iPhone apps have been completed.
  • The mobile web experiences more than 450 million users worldwide.
  • 40% of all U.S. adults have downloaded as least one mobile application.

A recent report published by COLLOQUY explores how smartphones are transforming the way consumers shop, buy, search, play, and connect with the world. For loyalty marketers, the impacts are significant. Smartphone technologies promise new ways for companies to strengthen the two-way relationship with customers, including loyalty program and rewards integration. Some marketers have begun mobilizing their loyalty efforts with 2D barcodes, iPhone apps, and mobile websites.

“It’s the kind of CRM companies have been looking for, because mobile makes interactions very personal, with methods that have more value for customers.”

For example, Starbucks Coffee Co. is running a loyalty program based on 2D bar-code coupons deployed via SMS. The campaign is currently running in Guadalajara and San Luis Potosi, Mexico, but based on the 60 percent mobile coupon redemption rate, it is likely to be expanded.

“The main strategies of this campaign are to reward loyal Starbucks customers and to get to know new customers and attract them to their stores,” said Rodrigo Rivero Borrell, director/CEO of Codilink Mexico, Mexico City. “On the one hand we’re helping people to get to know the brand and the product and rewarding loyal customers with prizes and discounts.

Mobile technologies are used to support loyalty programs in a number of ways:

  • Loyalty membership ID: a replacement for the traditional loyalty card or keychain tag
  • Points redeemer: the mobile device can serve as an ID to both earn and redeem rewards
  • Instant program update channel: program information, news and rewards announcements for connected members
  • High-impact communication vehicle: location-specific services, on-the-go and on-demand access
  • Delivery channel for rewards and recognition benefits: apps, 2D barcodes, coupons, or members-only games, events, or content

As the report explains, “The idea is to increase customer loyalty by giving customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it—and mobile offers an enticing way to do just that.” Still, the emerging and quickly evolving mobile trends mean marketers must be more dynamic, flexible, and cautious in decision-making than ever before.