Summary: As consumers turn to mobile to solve their everyday needs, it’s important for loyalty program managers to understand the concept of micro-moments and how the same philosophies should be guiding their loyalty program growth.
Last month, as my in-laws were visiting for a weekend, I embarked on an important journey. Our two-year-old terrier, Lucy, decided that it was a great time for a bath in the mud and I needed to get her cleaned up before the family arrived. Though I had seen dozens (maybe hundreds) of ads for pet care services near me over the last year, like many of us, I instead turned to my phone and searched “dog grooming”.
Within just a couple of seconds I found a mobile service that was able to come directly to the house and take care of the dirty work (pun intended), all while I was checking emails comfortably in front of the fireplace. Problem solved. The company did an amazing job and we had a great, if not substantially cleaner, visit with the family.
As a marketer, that was just the beginning of my story, though. The experience highlighted a trend that’s been changing the face of brick and mortar for better than ten years now. The path customers take to your front door has changed. Where we once understood the buyer’s journey to consist primarily of a series of touch points that created brand familiarity leading up to a ‘zero moment of truth’, customers now pay less attention to the familiar and more to the immediate.
Where we may have once simply Googled our favorite brand (whose website offered a wealth of expertise on our needs, and in turn, products to solve those needs), we now turn to our favorite mobile devices for contextual answers to these questions. In fact, over 50% of all searches in the last year were conducted on mobile devices, and that number is growing quickly.
What are Micro-Moments?
In 2015, Google laid out the case for this phenomenon and how we can better understand it in a white paper entitled “Micromoments – Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile”. Inside, the company described four critical instances in which consumers turned to their mobile devices in order to make a purchasing decision, and where merchants had a chance to extend their influence about those choices.
- I want to know
- I want to go
- I want to do
- I want to buy
These are the moments in which customers want to be marketed to. They are actively looking for a product or a service and, more importantly, are looking to hear how you can best fulfill their needs.
The Loyalty Connection
If a customer’s loyalty now rests solely on which company can most quickly, easily, or inexpensively fill a customer’s need, how do loyalty programs fit in?” “How does my loyalty program work to disrupt the buying process and help me earn and retain new customers.”
To start, mobile has created a seismic shift in what we think of as brand loyalty. Recognition is still a very important aspect to building trust but has ceded its relevance to the immediate – the now. Customers may not be visiting brick and mortar stores as much as they used to, but when they do, they are buying more, in less time. They come informed and know exactly what they’re looking for.
In addition, they may use your brick and mortar store, simply as a showroom and proceed to order products directly off their mobile device. Alternatively, they may order online and pick up their goods directly at your store. In turn, the latest strategies have begun to evolve past the notion of multiple store fronts into the seamless integration of the mobile and application based online and instore experiences as one brand experience.
This is where your loyalty software will help you get the jump on how and where customers engage with your brand.
Optimizing Your Loyalty Program with Micro-Moments
The first thing you should know about micro-moments and customer loyalty, are that opportunities abound. There are many great posts, from very high-level SEO’s about how you can optimize your web presence for micro-moments, but few to none of them address how we can leverage these same insights to drive membership and engagement in our loyalty programs with mobile devices.
In the same Google white paper, the author establishes three rules of thumb for optimizing the mobile marketing experience: Be there. Be Useful. Be Quick. The same rules can (and should) guide your loyalty marketing strategy program.
The intrinsic value of a loyalty program is that you get a jump start on your customer’s buying process. You get to cut the line in your customer’s mind about the best options for accomplishing any given task. They know that they’re going to benefit from their relationship with your business, and that preempts the search process. Micro-moments and customer loyalty isn’t merely a theoretical discussion, however.
It’s incredibly important that when customers turn to your loyalty program, it be optimized for the mobile experience. This includes everything from the shopping experience to account access. It should be easy for the customer to understand how your program benefits them, over any device.
The Loyalty Funnel
Loyalty shouldn’t be an afterthought on your website. Introduce your loyalty program early in the customer’s journey and leverage the customer immediate interest in your products to add them to your program data base. This means that customers who find your site over mobile will often first add themselves to your loyalty program and then make a purchase.
The idea of being useful is key to a successful loyalty marketing strategy. By definition, the efficacy of your program will only be as strong as it is easy for and relevant to the person you’re talking to.
Customers shopping your program over mobile will be particularly sensitive to getting passed from site to site. Your loyalty program UI should come up directly in-flow of each transaction. Each transaction should pass from your site or application, directly into your database, quickly. Customers should resolve to a single record and benefits should be applied to all loyalty program channels, automatically.
Product Level Segmentation
Don’t spam your customers with irrelevant offers on products that they don’t need and won’t engage with. This is where product level segmentation really comes into focus. Rion Haber, of the integrated marketing agency 1205 Marketing says, “By understanding which products your customers are buying you can more effectively target them with products that are useful to them.”
We live in an increasingly time-sensitive world and our tolerance for not getting the information we want, went we want it, is extremely low. One of the most important aspects of applying the micro-moments ethos to your loyalty campaigns is speed. In a recent survey, Google found that Customer’s would only wait about three seconds for a website to load. The same goes for interacting with your loyalty program.
Customers should be able to see, earn, and utilize their benefits in real time, over any channel. This goes beyond benefits though. Dynamic customer resolution ensures that shoppers who create an account in one place can access your program in another, by resolving customer records automatically.
For potential customers who do engage your funnel, instant rewards can be one of the most powerful tools in converting shoppers to buyers. bLoyal’s data shows that customer’s who receive instant rewards churn up to 60% less often and make an immediate purchase up to 50% more often.
The shift to the online ecosystem isn’t new. Neither is our understanding of its importance. The move to mobile however, is a gamechanger, even within the eCommerce ecosystem, itself. Furthermore, our ability to grasp exactly how the increase in mobile traffic impacts the customer’s path to purchase is just beginning to come into focus.
Applying the marketing strategy that micro-moments are built on can help make sure that your loyalty program is ready for the new mobile shopping experience as it grows larger. For more information on any of the strategies in this post, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help get you there.