Best ways to engage consumers in loyalty programs
July 10, 2013

Companies with loyalty and gift card programs have seen an increase in the number of consumers subscribing to the initiatives, yet engagement levels remain low. Trying to boost customer participation can help small and medium-sized businesses keep loyalty programs strong, but smaller enterprises need to choose their marketing platforms carefully. Focusing on only a few channels instead of a multitude can increase consumer engagement while still generating sales. Frequently connecting with customers is an important strategy for SMBs - they just need to know which marketing channels to utilize.

Benefits decrease when SMBs overstretch
In an interview with Biz Report, Joe Easley, director of global product strategy for Kobie Marketing, said SMBs may see consumer participation in loyalty programs decline if they focus on too many advertising channels. Understanding which platforms customers to utilize is one way for SMBs to adjust their marketing strategy. With more consumers owning smartphones and tablets, localized mobile marketing can be a great method for smaller enterprises to reach loyalty program subscribers.  

Easley also recommended SMBs align their advertising initiatives with the brand. 

"The loyalty program must be omnichannel, but focus on which channels are most preferred (and most effective) by the consumers in question," Easley said. "The consumer-focused channel experiences must be seamless and efficient, rewards must be rewarding and genuine experiences must go hand in hand with traditional rewards."

With so many digital communication channels emerging, SMBs should keep the brand in mind before creating a new marketing strategy. Loyalty programs can suffer if SMBs invest too many resources into the latest advertising channel if it isn't the one its target audience is using. Making an informed decision relies on SMBs not overextending themselves among too many marketing platforms. For example, it's a good idea to employ a digital marketing campaign with a mobile-friendly focus when providing mobile payments

Easley suggested SMBs use their marketing connection with customers as a way to encourage consumers to use the chosen advertising channels more frequently. However, issues with loyalty programs can arise when SMBs are slow to adapt to changing consumer needs or when new participants are unable to choose what types of communication they would like to receive. Marketing should be employed to pull customers in to use the loyalty program by giving them an incentive to do so. SMBs should think of the initiatives as a means to regularly connect with consumers. 

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