In today’s mobile-first environment, marketers have a choice: they can send messages to customers that contain rewards, or they can send messages to customers that are rewarding. And ideally, they should do both.
The goal of each type of mobile message is the same: more engagement, more spending, more customer loyalty — even if the approach or context for each is a bit different.
- Rewards-based: Messages that contain rewards are just that: messages sent to consumers’ mobile devices with something of immediate value, such as a department-specific offer as the consumer walks through the door of a brick-and-mortar store. Rewards-based messages can be redeemed, accepted, applied or engaged with at that moment in time.
- Rewarding: Messages that are rewarding can be more nuanced, able to deliver value that is both immediate (as in a coupon) and long-term (as in a feeling that the customer’s needs, interests and preferences are understood and being acted upon by the marketer). Rewarding mobile messages resemble brand-to-customer conversations: richer in detail and context than rewards-based messages while focused on cultivating a meaningful long-term relationship. A rewarding message might be a reminder that an item remains in a customer’s mobile shopping cart, or a message acknowledging a customer’s preference for specials on shoes, hardware or children’s books.
Why are rewards-based and rewarding messages so important in the mobile environment?
Studies we’ve conducted show that well-targeted, personalized and timely mobile messages result in significantly greater engagement. The 2015 Retail Mobile Messaging Study we conducted with retail marketers in late 2014 found that sending more mobile messages actually yielded better results, including increased frequency, recency of app use, and, most importantly, more desired activities completed within the app. All summarized, increasing meaningful communication resulted in a 22% lift in engagement among app users.
For mobile marketing success, focus on sending rewards-based, rewarding messages
In the mobile environment, marketers can send messages based on a variety of factors and data points, including:
Activity: Studies show that customers who use an app more frequently or recently than others have higher levels of key engagement metrics and purchasing. Marketers can use customer activity levels as baselines for sending mobile rewards: welcome-back coupons, IAP boosts, instant-win promotions, opportunities to provide feedback, or take advantage of time-limited offers. The goal is to reward customers for their activity and interest, deepening their engagement with the brand.
Habits and preferences: What kinds of app activities have customers carried out in the past? Do they buy items in the same category (women’s apparel, home furnishings, sporting goods, cosmetics)? If so, marketers can craft messages tailored to their purchase histories and activities. “Rewarding” means the marketer sending the message understands who the consumer is based on expressed preferences, interests, purchase history, CRM data, language, location, loyalty status and dozens of other metrics.
Loyalty: Is the customer a member of the brand’s loyalty program? If so, marketers can create opportunities to reinforce and deepen loyalty. Offer members-only incentives. Congratulate customers who achieve a new loyalty program tier. Offer incentives that invite members to move from one level to the next, or remind them of activities that will help them achieve the next tier or status level. And, if possible, send messages that are personalized, based on data about a shopper’s favorite store location, shopping cart status, or recently researched or purchased products.
As marketing morphs from traditional venues and formats into the mobile environment, marketers themselves must keep testing what works to deliver messages that spark “conversations” with consumers and create value on more than one front.
Messages must deliver direct rewards to consumers as they browse and shop. And messages must be contextual, timely, and meaningful so that they’re perceived as rewarding and worth the customer’s time and further engagement. Solid testing for both requires data about who your customers are.
The question for marketers: are you delivering the mobile rewards that your customers want to engage with? And do you have the data you need to create rewarding mobile conversations that foster engagement, activity and loyalty?
Troy Morris has been in the mobile industry for over a decade, working with local companies, start-ups, and large multi-national corporations to grow their businesses with the power of mobile. Currently, Troy works at OtherLevels: a mobile marketing automation service, and advises on the strategy for some of the biggest names in mobile. Originally from Seattle, Troy now resides in Philadelphia.