Get Noticed: Buck a trend

Aug 15, 2012

The logic is simple: Disagree with the flock, do it loudly, do it proudly, and do it often enough and presto: Instant topic authority.

Which reminds me of a blog post I stumbled across on July 20 with a provocative and, at least according to my knowledge of the loyalty landscape, contrarian viewpoint. The CEO of Sweet Tooth, a backend loyalty software designer and provider titled his post, “Mobile Loyalty: It’s Just Not Worth It…Yet.”

From there he notes three bullet points as to why mobile loyalty remains immobilized:

  • Poor customer engagement”
  • “Bad/unknown ROI”
  • “Low/no integration”

And when it comes to engagement the Sweet Tooth CEO says this:

“Do you seriously expect each one of your customers to download an app on their personal phone, register their details with your company, then visit your retail location – all just to be marketed to? Maybe you’ll get some sample people just checking it out to see what it is, but you sure as hell are not going to get that kind of adoption rate with anything beyond your early adopters.”

Considering the popular excitement that mobile technology holds with the public, its breakneck adoption rates and the cross-industry signs that its the connectivity and revenue engine of the future, I was honestly surprised (maybe even shocked) to read this against-the-grain grinding. And then I realized, the CEO of Sweet Tooth was most likely just trying to get noticed.

When it comes to companies doing loyalty well in the mobile space, I think we’re seeing a trend toward success even if certain naysayers disagree. Mobile loyalty can be done well – especially if it’s driven by experience and integrated through an omnichannel approach.

Rather than dismissing a trend, at Kobie, we’re absolutely embracing this one. And clearly others are too. An example we are intimate with is AMC Theatres, North America’s second largest movie theater chain and its AMC Stubs loyalty program. AMC Stubs is strongly wedded to mobile, recognizing an enormous usage and engagement rate through its mobile app. The program allows enrollees to track their movie ticket stubs, earn money toward tickets, concessions and gift cards as well as free upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks in real time. That’s right: by the time you get your tickets, you are already getting your treat upgrades. AMC’s Stubs program has an impressive 2 million plus members. Having the app not only enhances the experience, but delivers loyalty and satisfaction in real time.

Mobile’s might also apply to BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse and its Premier Rewards Program. While not a specific loyalty app as Sweet Tooth’s CEO seems most determined to dismiss, Premier Rewards is nevertheless a multi-faceted, omnichannel loyalty experience in the making. One of Premier Rewards’ best features is its “Get Social” program that works right from the restaurant through your smartphones, of course. Get Social is all about empowering the member to use their social media through mobile means to WOM (word of mouth) the heck out of BJs and earn a few points along the way. BJs encourages participants to enable automatic posting on their Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter accounts in order to earn up to six points a day (three points per visit) when they’re inside any of their more than 120 BJs restaurants across the country.

We realize that these customer engagements require smartphones or tablets and are putting a stake in the ground with AMC and BJs to believe that the wave of the future is now. Kobie fully believes that the number of smartphone and tablet owners is reaching critical mass across many, if not most demographics.

Of course, these are just two examples of mobile’s burgeoning success, but the efforts and results thus far are extremely positive and show: participating members in both above examples of customer loyalty programs are growing exponentially and enjoying an increased frequency of visits as well as higher average spend per visit. I am certain that part of that positive feedback is rooted in the mobile platform and the way in which it seamlessly and effectively integrates social media to extend our omnichannel approach to engagement and loyalty. So getting back to CEO Sweet Tooth:

+ Poor customer engagement? I don’t think so.

+ Bad/unknown ROI? Nope! Return on investment can be determined assuming the metrics are in place to evaluate the intended scope of the mobile program, its duration, its demographics and whether the mobile push is a Twitter or Facebook campaign or if it includes a multilayered app.

+ Low/no integration? That’s exactly what omnichannel loyalty aims to improve. And by every indication savvy businesses are beginning to embrace its tenets – even if they’re still coming to grips with this emerging term.

Mobile loyalty isn’t just about potential. It’s very much happening, evolving and improving in the here and now, in the present. So I’ve decided to buck a trend myself: buck the naysayers, embrace the trendsetters and track and measure the results.