Insights from Jeff Rohrs, VP of marketing research and education for ExactTarget, on smart phones and loyalty programs:
“There are some interesting challenges for the travel industry around loyalty programs and the smart phone.
As we look at our loyalty programs, we have to be careful that we are building loyalty to our brands and our experience as opposed to building loyalty to the points themselves, and what they can be redeemed for. Loyalty in my mind means I don’t have to give you any incentive — you want to come back because of the product or service I provide. And yet, because of the growth of the loyalty points industry over the last 30 years, we now confuse incentives with loyalty.
With the mobile device — and the way we can serve our customers on that device — I hope we can see experimentation around loyalty programs. Because that kind of high-touch leveraging of technology could go a long way to build true loyalty, to build the feeling that I want to come to this place even if I don’t get triple points for my stay.
We are in the midst of the great mobile migration from dumb phones to smart phones, and it’s like the difference between being on a typewriter and being on a super computer. We literally have folks who have devices in their pockets that make them potentially more capable and more knowledgeable about a region or product than some of your own staff. And get ready because that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That shift is still happening, and it’s going to make consumers even more empowered.
There is an opportunity to invest in the services and products you provide, and then layer in technology in a way that helps make the overall experience far more satisfactory for customers. The brands that are able to do that will be able to differentiate themselves in a way that gives them a better margin than their competitors who always have to compete on price and discount points.”
For an in-depth discussion with Jeff Rohrs, see DATAPOINTS: Email (Still) Rules the Online Marketing Roost