How Digital Rewards Can Bring Your Customers Online


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Retail marketers can encourage shoppers to engage with brands online using omnichannel rewards and rebates.

Consumers are more connected to their devices now than ever, yet more than the majority—85 percent—still prefer to shop in physical stores according to a 2015 TimeTrade® study. Retail marketers face a conundrum trying to maintain foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores while encouraging customers to visit their online, mobile and social channels where shoppers can more deeply engage with the brand and increase frequency of purchase. Fortunately, a 2015 Pew Research study found the use of smartphones and other mobile devices is steadily on the rise, and with the right promotional strategy, you can convert traditional foot traffic into valuable omnichannel shopping.

A 2016 study by Blackhawk Engagement Solutions revealed consumers are already using technology to seek out deals, rewards and promotions, and retail marketers can offer simple redemption and smart digital rewards that will motivate in-store shoppers to engage with brands online. Tips for using digital rewards and promotions to make this happen include:

  • Use egifts as a promotional strategy to invite shoppers online. eGifts are gift cards just like plastic ones, and are delivered via email or text instead of being made of plastic. These rewards can be redeemed in different ways, including in-store, but shoppers may be more likely to avoid the hassle and redeem online thanks to reward claim sites that make the customer experience simple with a quick reward issuance. By providing egift rewards from their own stores, retailers are nearly guaranteeing another visit from participating shoppers. And as an added bonus, you get valuable customer data while consumers claim their egift reward.
  • Offer online or mobile rebate redemption to improve customer experience. Instead of the traditional rebate redemption process of cutting out UPC codes, filling out paperwork and mailing it all in, modernized rebates allow shoppers to redeem easily with a few thumb swipes on a smartphone. Additionally, retail marketers should consider dynamic rebates, which offer shoppers add-on deals or discounts upon completion of the rebate submission, or single sign-on rebates, which use a customer’s login to the retailer’s website to transfer a consumer seamlessly to the rebate redemption page. All of these can add up to a faster, more rewarding digital rebate experience, which may increase the odds of a shopper staying on the retailer’s website or mobile app.
  • Leverage digital rewards that attract customers to your website for redemption or spendback. Once shoppers are on your website, you can surprise and delight them with ease of use and add-on deals. Consumers have an appetite for digital rewards; our recent study found that 62 percent of shoppers regularly seek out and sign up for digitally delivered special promotions (27 percent via phone, 10 percent via tablet).
  • Offer virtual prepaid rewards. Virtual prepaid rewards are different from egifts in that they can only be spent online—unlike an egift, which can be redeemed in different ways. By offering a network branded prepaid reward that can only be redeemed online, you can drive spendback by attaching an additional promotion to them—like 10 percent off when the reward is spent on the sponsoring retailer’s website.

In the constant quest for loyalty, retailers that foster multilayered, omnichannel relationships with their customers are better equipped to come out on top. Encouraging shopper engagement with a brand’s online channels can help retailers forge these deeper relationships, increase sales and build loyalty. Utilizing smart digital rewards can be the impetus for directing traditional, brick-and-mortar customers into these valuable online relationships.

Theresa McEndree is the Regional Vice President, Business Development at Blackhawk Engagement Solutions.

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