Get Local with Loyalty

Consumers love their loyalty programs and crave their cellphones, making mobile loyalty programs a win-win for users and marketers.

They're also, with the help of the myriad software solutions available, an easy platform for companies to cash in on all the advantages of local marketing. Just ask Elements Frozen Yogurt in Washington state.

Perka, a loyalty program that lets merchants recognize repeat customers with increasing tiers of "perks," helped this company capture local attention and build a valuable (e.g. local and engaged) customer marketing database by offering a limited-time special to increase initial Perka sign-ups. Elements Frozen Yogurt now has more than 1,000 Perka participants active at every level of its program. Additionally, this company and others can use Perka to level the playing field, because this software empowers businesses to run virtually the same mobile marketing programs as major brands, while standing out from local competition and keeping pace with industry leaders.

Location-based marketing is not dependent on a loyalty program, however. By using a phone's location and messaging abilities, companies can deliver relevant, personalized communication wherever a person is - no such opportunity has ever existed before.

Urban Airship, a mobile marketing solution, has both written extensively on this subject and is a strong advocate of location-based engagement. It offers a location-targeting add-on to its Push Messaging Suite, which enables marketers to target neighborhoods, legislative districts, cities, counties, landmarks, venues, time zones and many more specific local boundaries. Brands can use this information to create detailed user profiles that combine in-app behavior, user preferences, location data and device/ system information to deliver highly targeted push notifications, according to Urban Airship. And, at the end of the day, this highvalue messaging can increase app engagement and loyalty, because it offers an immersive, relevant experience based on who a user is, where they are and what they like.

Loyalty Leaders: See what brands are conquering user engagement through social, local and mobile offerings.

Additionally, Urban Airship offers a Rich Push product that creates opportunities to deliver coupons, movie tickets and more based on the aforementioned user data, with the goal of driving brand loyalty. NextBee, a referral program and loyalty rewards software, can also benefit both SMBs and enterprises by offering localized coupons, sweepstakes and Facebook apps. 

Local is more than a buzzword for NextBee, as it helps companies tap into the reach of local influencers, boost campaign success and ROI that go beyond simple coupon offers to include tiered points rewards, matching charity donations, cash-back rewards, sweepstakes, leaderboards etc. Additionally, NextBee offers specialized, user profilecentered metrics to get insights into user engagement, direct sales impact of promotions and social buzz. After all, in today's metrics-centric world, campaigns that do not have tracking in place are unworkable. Companies need to be able to measure campaign performance to test and tweak variables.

We've just started to scratch the surface of the various local loyalty software solutions available. PunchTab, which powers more than 12,000 sites and reaches 20,000,000-plus users, works as an on-demand engagement platform that enables companies to easily offer rewards and incentives when users "show up," share and shop. Among its many offerings, is its location and event promotion solution, which builds engagement online and off, before and after an event, continues the conversation post-event, and increases attendance and participation.

For example, the popular band Green Day targeted and encouraged social media engagement with an audience that would be receptive to its messaging. Using PunchTab, the band rewarded fans for tweeting, tagging and checking- in (a.k.a. local engagement) with weekly chances to win tickets and band swag. These band-specific rewards discourage participation from people not interested in Green Day beyond incentives, because a band T-shirt is meaningless to a non-fan. As such, the number of entrants (approximately 20,000), actions (181,937) and unique users reached on Twitter (4.1 million) netted $1.7 million in earned media value across social channels.

In today's push toward social-local-mobile (SoLoMo), brands must meet customers where they are and provide a rich experience to encourage long-term engagement. And while the loyalty matrix will continue to evolve, so will the offerings that support them. Companies should look for software solutions that are adapting to consumers, not making consumers adapt to them.