Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My beef with so called loyalty programs

Advertising is like Politics. People tend to stretch terms and lingo to reflect their needs vs reality. And the term 'loyalty program'. It has been thrown around loosely recently specifically for Mobile Marketing and this needs to be clarified and the abuses of the terminology ended once and for all!

Signing up for future offers/contact is not a loyalty program. It is just an agreement to be pitched in the future by a company for their products and services in hopes you will be swayed to buy something down the road. It does not require a purchase of any sort, only that you sign up (opt-in) for these offers. When a business runs a Mobile Campaign to collect phone numbers for their database so they can contact your phone later is not a loyalty program. That just qualifies you to view special offers on your phone. Same as if you sign up for email or direct mail marketing pitches. And these programs are way down on the priority list for people. They might read them but the conversion rate will be lower than true loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs require purchases. They reward you for patronizing a firm with your business, whether personal or professional.

Examples of loyalty programs are supermarket rewards cards, office supply rewards, or as simple as getting a card stamped and after buying 8 coffees you get one on the house. Loyalty programs can be long term or short term. Short term examples are the McDonald's Monopoly Game. The more you buy the higher the chance of winning a prize or free give away. Same with Airline Frequent Flier Miles.

The big reason loyalty programs are so impactful is because you get something back for your patronage beyond the 'deal'. We might be interested to hear from all sort of brands what their current special or promotion is, but if all is even a person chooses the greater reward (kickback). When I search for Airline Flight Pricing I will steer my business to the Airline I have the most frequent flier miles with before choosing a different brand. The simple reason is consolidation brings a faster reward, in this case a free flight.

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