Jeebster is presenting at TiECon SouthWest -
Jeebster has been invited as one of only 4 presenters at the upcoming TiEcon Southwest 2012 on Saturday, October 6th(Track III). If you are interested to learn more about this event, please check out this link.
By Roger L. Brooks
Exclusively for Jeebster (This article originally appeared in NACS Magazine)
In any industry, top performers typically put great pressure on themselves to stay ahead or just keep pace with the competition. In recent years, bigger and better was the way to stay on top, but unless your pockets were bottomless, many found it exceptionally difficult to succeed on size.
Take loyalty programs, for example. Retailers that can’t compete on size alone are now able to contend with the bigger chains by gathering historical data and intelligence about their customers. This practice enables the smaller operators to compete in a more calculated and tactical fashion.
More recently, a need to perform smarter, faster and “in-the-now” has taken hold in the loyalty community. This new trend — “smart loyalty”— is flourishing in small pockets around the globe in convenience stores of all brands and sizes.
Smart loyalty’s focus is on mining customer data across all segments while providing a tool to level the playing field for all.
If you’re uncertain about initiating a customer loyalty strategy, you are not alone. Many companies struggle with the decision as they navigate through uncharted waters trying to grasp the intricacies of such programs.
Loyalty programs can be intimidating for those with little experience or knowledge on how to implement campaigns to motivate customer behavior. Besides, you’re already working your darnedest to pump more gallons and sell more snacks. So how can you find the time to gather information about your customers and their spending habits?
As you mull that over, also consider your critical advantage: Convenience stores are the lucky recipients of a steady flow of traffic — a critical element in any successful loyalty program. Many businesses struggle to get foot traffic in the door. You already have that foot traffic, so now your challenge is identifying who exactly fills those shoes — on an ongoing basis.
Capturing relevant data when customers enroll in your program is essential in keeping open a direct line of communication with them. This will also provide you with the ability to promote integrated loyalty campaigns to an unlimited number of customer segments.
The primary method for initially identifying customers is to assign a unique loyalty card or phone number to each person when they first sign up.
As time passes and your loyalty customers begin to identify themselves, you’ll be able to track what they buy, how often they buy and how much they spend on an average transaction. You’ll also get to know your top-tier, bottom-tier and every customer tier in between.
As you build your customer database — typically 1,500 to 5,000 customers per store in a mature program — you can weave together all your information into new and existing touch points: pump displays, POS readers, receipt messaging, texting and e-mail to name a few. When you deliver communications from multiple sources, the probability that your campaigns will succeed becomes greater.
Below are eight ways to execute smart-loyalty campaigns — implemented with help from multiple touch points and customer data:
1. Fuel-Only Campaign
It’s a constant game of tug-a-war to get the customer inside your store. So here’s a helpful hint: If you repeatedly incentivize fuel-only customers to step inside for a compelling offer, you will move the needle. Offer a high-margin product, such as a free cup of coffee or fountain drink, through a pump display message, and you can count on converting a decent percentage (10 to 20 percent) per campaign to becoming combination customers (fuel and in-store). The better the offer, the greater the conversion.
Keep in mind, the campaign is not one-and-done; it’s never done — meaning you need to run the campaign to fuel-only customers on a recurring basis.
2. Idle Customer Campaign
After you accumulate adequate historical data (three to six months minimum), you can begin to identify those customers who pulled a Houdini. Because you captured the elusive customer’s e-mail address and cell phone number at the time of enrollment (through an opt-in process), you can communicate with them directly in an attempt to bring them back.
The magic lies in the creativity of your offer and being unassuming in the process. You’ll likely test a variety of promotions until you find one or multiple campaigns that successfully promote their return.
3. Frequent Customer Campaign
You all have those customers with tunnel vision — they come in every day and buy no more than a newspaper and coffee. Although they are the frequenters, the challenge is to shake them out of their routine. They are buying milk, water and bread somewhere other than your store. Talk to them at the associate level and through receipt messaging, and open their eyes to your entire store.
In addition, provide customer service training so your employees are prompted by the point-of-sale device to identify opportunities to engage with customers. Also, set your POS systems up to trigger receipt messaging when the campaign speaks to the target segment. For example, receipt message could read, “Receive $1.00 off any 8.5 oz. bag of chips.” Assign a short-term expiration date, such as one week, and this campaign will prompt a portion of those customers to take action on the promotion.
4. Top-Tier Customer Campaign
If you think your top customers are maxed-out, think again. Top-tier customers are highly probable candidates to respond to promotions, as they statistically buy more frequently, spend more per visit and select more items per transaction. They typically have more disposable income available and will likely buy a pack of gum, bottle of water or even windshield washer fluid — if they’re asked. Furthermore, top customers are aiming to reach their rewards thresholds quicker, and/or take pride in seeing their points reward options grow. The effect of loyalty runs deep at the top-tier level, so extra attention should be given to these customers.
5. Cross Product Campaign
Start with the basics. Create an e-mail campaign to motivate customers to purchase a product outside of a category, but complementary to the basket. If the customer only buys a fountain drink, provide an incentive to add a bag of chips, hot dog or candy bar. Work with your margins, but also make the campaign worth their while.
6. Text Message Campaign
This tool can be used in a variety of ways. Get creative and start a promotion such as “2:00 Text Tuesdays” to drive traffic during slower dayparts (i.e., 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm). Choose a different product or different location each week to run a targeted fuel or foodservice promotion to your entire opt-in database. This will create excitement and customers will begin to look forward to receiving your text each week.
7. E-Statement Campaign
On the first of each month, send an e-statement to your loyalty customers with a summary of their purchases and reward earnings from the previous month. Work with your vendors, and provide one or multiple promotions within the statement to attract new business. In addition, offer a refer-a-friend perk in the statement itself.
8. Social Network Campaign
If you haven’t jumped into social networking (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) yet, consider it a priority and a perfect tiein to your loyalty strategy. Social networks are one of those new touch points where many companies are seeing staggering results. This type of campaign will allow you to connect to an audience you may not typically reach. Be sure to send consistent and relative posts that your customers can respond to with their own comments. Inspiring their engagement is key.
So many loyalty campaign best practices take place behind the scenes, in a one-to-one fashion and in real-time. Customers have come to expect these more personal conversations and connections with retailers.
The customer data you collect can be advantageous if you truly uncover the identity of the people who really fill those shoes. It can also be your first chance to grow your business in a strategic and discreet way, without putting every offer or incentive out on the street.
Think of the venture as your company’s powerful little secret, and your secret is safe with me.
Roger L. Brooks is the author of The Power of Loyalty: 10 Essential Steps to Build a Successful Customer Loyalty Strategy. He can be reached at (607) 584-5109 or at email@example.com.
Download The New Jeebster App -
**Important Update Regarding Jeebster Mobile App(Android)**
If you previously downloaded the Jeebster App, we ask that you uninstall and download the new version to receive all the important App updates. Visit Jeebster.com from your phone or click on the link here.
By Roger L. Brooks
Exclusively for Jeebster
You are a small business owner. Your day-to-day agenda probably looks something like this: maintain ample supply of your product or service, attend to employees, put out fires, pay bills, field sales calls, collect on open invoices, and last but not least—offer high quality customer service.
But, how close attention are you paying to the customer service aspect, and what are you actually doing to earn your customer’s loyalty? Pause, reflect, think. Now, what are you really doing? If your answer is notta, don’t feel bad. Nine out of ten small businesses are in the same boat as you.
If you are doing something, kudos to you—you’re in that the top ten-percentile. And, if you are doing something, chances are your customer loyalty strategy lacks full attention, leadership and organization—it’s hard enough to staff for your core business, let alone have someone in charge of, or dedicated to loyalty. You may be doing your best to try to keep your customers coming back through your Facebook fan page, direct mail pieces, newspaper ads, friendly service, and a clean store; however, you know you can do more. The reason you can do more is that other businesses of your size and color are finding a way to do more, but they are doing more with less—less effort that is. You see, they implemented systems to help them do the dirty work for them, in a savvy, efficient, and next-generation manner. Ladies and gentlemen it’s 2012.
The big question is this. Are you doing anything systematically to identify your customers, track their spending, motivate their behavior, reward their performance, and measure the results?
You may want to think of it this way. The Holy Grail for any customer loyalty program is to gather as much information about as many customers as you can. You know the companies that do this best. They are grocers, pharmacies and airlines. Their goal is for everyone to carry a loyalty card… not solely to provide discounts to those who use it (which the manufacturers likely fund), rather to be able to understand their customer’s behavior so they can talk to them in a one-to-one fashion. This is customer loyalty in its purest form, and this is the new era we live in. It’s time to take the guessing away. Your customers should be guessing what’s to be offered next.
Clearly e-tailers have an advantage when it comes to collecting data. All online businesses can identify their customers, and are able to track every single purchase because each customer has to provide their e-mail address, full name, address, phone number and payment type in order to make a purchase. This critical information provides online businesses everything they could possibly need to administer, market and promote a customer loyalty strategy. Your goal for launching a loyalty strategy should be to obtain that same information in a seamless fashion so it doesn’t become intrusive for your customer, yet they’ll look forward to providing you with their information.
Here are FIVE+1 tips to help get you on your way:
1. Do your research, and planning. Take the time to research your potential partners and plan for your rollout strategy. Allow a minimum of 2-3 months. Talk to your point of sale provider, credit card processor and your IT professional to see if there are any features available at your fingertips to aid you in the process.
2. Find a solid engine to keep your customer’s information organized. The system should allow you to create custom e-mails, newsletters, postcards, promotional pieces, etc. I prefer Ace of Sales, but there are many companies that offer this type of service to keep you organized. Your business will look like a million bucks.
3. Decide the direction of your customer loyalty strategy. You know what you can handle and what your business is capable of. Initiate a basic program, and grow the effort over time. Crawl, walk, run! Whatever strategy you decide, be sure to select the most attractive redemption items you can afford (with high perceived value).
4. Select your champion. Choose an individual with innovative characteristics who can lead the charge, and take control of your strategy from day one. Your buy-in is extremely important, but their daily effort will make or break the program.
5. Social Loyalty. The world is now viral. Tie in your social media campaigns with your loyalty strategy, as the two should compliment one another.
+1 Your loyalty strategy should become your marketing strategy. Once you buy into loyalty, you’ll see how it becomes your marketing strategy. They are one in the same.
No matter the size of your small business, a loyalty strategy can only build upon the good things you’re doing today. You hard work should be complimented with a customer loyalty strategy that is working hard for you.
Roger L. Brooks is a trusted authority in the area of customer loyalty, and helps his clients of all sizes build successful customer loyalty strategies. He is also the author of The Power of Loyalty: 10 Essential Steps to Build a Successful Customer Loyalty Strategy, and creator of Dose of Loyalty, a free monthly e-Zine. Roger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jump Start Your Loyalty Program Today!
If you are interested in learning more about launching a customer loyalty strategy, contact your Jeebster representative today. Jeebster is offering three packages to choose from in partnership with Roger L. Brooks, a Trusted Authority on Loyalty Marketing:
$149.00 Basic Package: Receive your customer loyalty toolkit, which includes a step-by-step process to help you jump-start and choose the loyalty strategy that best fits your business. The toolkit also includes a subscription to Dose of Loyalty, Roger’s free monthly eZine and one hour free training of Ace of Sales.
$379.00 Silver Package: Receive everything in the toolkit plus five hours of loyalty consulting. This package will put you on track to finalizing the direction of your loyalty strategy. The package also includes three copies of The Power of Loyalty: 10 Essential Steps to Build a Successful Customer Loyalty Strategy.
$997.00 Gold Package: Receive everything in the Basic and Silver packages plus a half-day (4 hours) coaching session with Roger L. Brooks. In addition, you will receive ten copies of The Power of Loyalty: 10 Essential Steps to Build a Successful Customer Loyalty Strategy.
***All packages include a month of complimentary Jeebster Merchant Network services.***
In Gallup Polls between 2007 and 2011, small businesses have consistently ranked three times higher in approval ratings by Americans than big business. In addition, the confidence levels of Americans regarding small businesses has continued to grow during that period. 59% responded in 2007 that they had ‘a great deal’ of confidence in small business, with that percentage rising to 64% providing that answer in 2011.
If you think 66% doesn’t sound like a very high percentage, you’re mistaken. The only agency of the 16 rated in the Gallup poll that ranked higher than small business was the military with a 78% confidence rating. Small business is number two on the list, outranking law enforcement, the President, churches, the medical system, the Supreme Court and public schools, among others. Big business came in with a 19% rating with only HMO’s and Congress rated lower.
So, what does this tell us? It tells us that movements like Small Business Saturday, which encouraged shoppers to spend their money at small, locally owned establishments were not simply a marketing ploy used during the holiday season to boost traffic to smaller stores. Shoppers truly do trust and prefer the service and products offered by smaller businesses. They proved it with their over 2.8 million ‘Likes’ on facebook and the 100 million shoppers who turned out to back it with their dollars on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2011.
Small, locally owned businesses are organizing and networking together in many locations across the country to encourage and support one another during these tough economic times. Consumers who understand the large economic impact that small businesses make on the local economy are also rallying to their support.
Figures have indicated that dollars spent in locally owned businesses have 3 times the economic impact on a community than dollars spent on large, nationally owned chains. Small businesses actually create and sustain more jobs than big businesses in a community. Every small business needs a local accountant, delivery services and local marketing services. Big business, on the other hand, will have their accounting done at their corporate offices, hire national marketing services and use their own national delivery services. The jobs that locally owned small businesses create aren’t just the ones within the walls of their establishment; they are much more far-reaching.
Of course, this is part of what Jeebster.com is all about, supporting independently owned small businesses in our local area. Just like the majority of Americans, we believe that local small businesses are the best places to shop and are the true foundation for rebuilding the American economy. Sign up for your free membership at Jeebster.com today, and support your favorite small businesses by subscribing to their special deals that will be delivered to your inbox in one weekly email, customized just to include the merchants you select, and nothing more.
Jeebster.com supports ‘shop small, shop local.’ You should too!
Online Shoppers Are Rooting for the Little Guy -
As online giants act more like big-box stores, smaller sites are positioning themselves as mom-and-pop alternatives.
Personalized service and flexible pricing are only two of the many good reasons to patronize your local independent businesses. Jeebster.com is proud to be part of the grassroots movement that is encouraging consumers to shift more of their shopping dollars to the smaller, independent merchants that are the life blood of our communities.
It is the small businesses that operate independently from the big corporations that provide the widest variety of job creation in our communities. Local businesses don’t ship their accounting and graphic design needs off to the corporate office to take care of. They hire these types of services from other local businesses or create positions in their own organizations to meet those needs. When you shop local, you don’t just keep your dollars in the community, you foster economic development and job creation in your own community, without any help from the government at all!
There are plenty of daily-deal type websites popping up on the internet that offer big one-time discounts from local merchants, but consumers who want to keep their dollars supporting independent businesses will find that many of those deals relate to big corporations with big advertising budgets. Local merchants who have utilized these sites have also been disappointed with the limited sales growth gained from these types of one-time promotional tactics.
Jeebster.com was born out of the desire to provide a reward system for consumers who support their local independent businesses and a more affective marketing alternative to those same businesses. The free membership at Jeebster.com for local business patrons means they will receive personalized specials and updates from their favorite Jeebster merchants in one concise weekly email. Jeebster merchants gain an opportunity to foster long-term relationships with a continually growing base of supportive subscribers. It is a win-win for local consumers and small independent businesses who want to make better use of a limited marketing budget.
Happy New Year! -
From all of us at Jeebster, we wish you and yours a happy and healthy New Year! As we expand to Calabasas, Studio City and other nearby Woodland Hills cities, we ask that you invite all your friends and family to join Jeebster.com to support all your favorite neighborhood small businesses. We’ve got some great restaurants, gift shops, boutiques, spas and salons joining our network and we invite you to take advantage of all the great coupons, discounts and offers provided by our merchants.
How many of us have heard the recent horrors of a daily deal offer gone wrong for a business? The most famous one is the story published by Washington Post a few weeks ago about a Groupon deal where a bakery was hit with 102,000 cupcake orders( Groupon horror: Bakery must make 102,000 cupcakes).
To understand how daily deal sites can help businesses, there is no need to have a degree in business or finance but rather it should be understood that it is a great source for bringing deal-hunters and that businesses must limit the number of the vouchers to be sold. It’s not entirely the daily deal site’s fault for a deal gone wrong because the merchants should realize that this method does not focus on customer loyalty or retention. So if the owners realize these key features of such deals and its consequences, then it becomes a matter of a business decision.
In the long run, the businesses that feature a deal will not most likely gain loyal customers. To have someone loyal, the customer must feel rewarded by a steady and constant good service and occasional saving opportunities, even if it’s a small percentage off.