Today consumers rely on their mobile phones and tablets as information, entertainment, shopping, and life companions. Forrester forecasts U.S. smartphone adoption to reach 94 percent of the total population by the end of 2016, and the average smartphone owner already spends over an hour per day interacting with apps.
One result of this mobile mind shift is that consumers expect that they can get what they want when and where they want it. By extension, they have increased expectations of how and when companies serve and retain them. Loyalty marketers who view mobile as just another communication channel squander a massive opportunity to reach, engage, and enhance experiences for their loyal customers.
We see a lot of loyalty marketers creating mobile versions of existing loyalty program features. For example, allowing customers to upload a digital loyalty card to Apple Wallet, view their points balances on a mobile-enabled website, or generate a mobile redemption certificate. And while this blocking and tackling is certainly important for elevating and enhancing program utility, even richer opportunities lie in creating an integrated mobile experience that engages loyal customers at each stage of the customer life cycle, whether or not they are interacting with the program directly.
For brands to make the most of their own customers’ mobile loyalty moments and take their mobile loyalty strategies to the next level, they must:
1. Build a repeatable process for identifying and capitalizing their mobile loyalty moments: There are dozens of potential moments where brands can engage their loyal customers, and the moments that matter most will vary based on unique business goals and customer behaviors. Marketers will need to identify situations and scenarios where they can serve a customer on a mobile device, design the engagement to win in that moment, engineer all of the systems, people, and processes required for execution, and finally analyze and examine the performance. Using a systematic approach allows companies to iterate in an environment where customer expectations are rapidly evolving.
2. Sync up mobile and loyalty strategies. Loyalty and mobile aren't mutually exclusive. Loyal customers play a critical role in the success or failure of a company's mobile strategy—after all, they are likely the most active and engaged mobile consumers. To bridge the organizational silos that currently divide mobile developers, e-commerce teams, and loyalty marketers should build processes to encourage alignment and collaboration. Yes, it can be done, and the synergy pays off. Regal Cinemas recently relaunched its mobile application with a loyalty-focused interface and has seen a 200 percent increase in mobile app sessions and a double digits uptick in program registrations.
3. Optimize mobile engagement by merging customer insights. As they interact on mobile, consumers generate all kinds of behavioral and environmental data, such as biometrics, speed, temperature, weather, and location. To fully realize the immediacy and context mobile brings to customer relationships, marketers must push beyond personalization based on static insight. This starts with instrumenting mobile Web and apps by collecting data that is relevant to understanding the customer and can be linked back to non-mobile customer insights. Next, businesses can use that base of insights to target segments with personalized experiences and content. Then leverage real-time behavioral and contextual insights to optimize customer engagement with mobile moments.
Mobile isn't just a “nice-to-have” anymore, it's critical to meeting customer expectations and earning their loyalty. It’s a lever brands can pull to influence customer loyalty across brand engagement, customer experience, loyalty marketing, and structured loyalty programs. Enabling a mobile loyalty strategy literally puts your brand and loyalty program into the hands of your best customers and creates the potential for more interactions.
If mobile not already on your priority list, it’s time to put it at the top.