How to Attract, Maintain, and Retain Loyalty Program Members

attract, maintain, and retain loyalty program members

A loyalty program is meant to retain more customers and boost their profitability when they become members. But you still need to optimize your loyalty program just like every other marketing initiative you run. You want to maximize the number of people who join (attract), number of people who participate (maintain), and keep members from leaving (retain).

In this post we will be going over some best practices that will keep your loyalty program running at its best. When you focus on the three pillars (Attract, Maintain, Retain) you are ensuring that your program is top notch!

 

Attract More Loyalty Program Members

We can apply some pretty simple logic here. Give your shoppers what they want from a loyalty program and they will join. Miss the mark, and they will join someone else’s program.

Here are the two biggest drivers for someone to sign up for your loyalty program.

attracting people to your loyalty program

These two criteria are the backbone of almost every loyalty program out there, both in retail and ecommerce. The key take away is that they want to earn “points” for their purchases. They are not looking to earn cash back. Your shoppers prefer the allure of a different currency than what they are used to.

get people to join your loyalty program with an attractive name

Because shoppers prefer a different currency than money, you want to make sure you get their attention with your points. That is why I recommend you don’t call your currency points, you should call them something that matches your brand and what you sell. For example one of our client’s – Denim Industries calls their currency “Denim Dollars”. You can also give your program a name to make it even more enticing. Here is a quick video to help you come up with some creative names.

 

Earning points and giving discounts on purchases can be done with almost every loyalty program software, including a Mass Mobile App. With both of the main reasons to join a program covered it should come as no surprise that getting a customer to join is the easiest pillar to construct.

how many loyalty programs to ppl join

Therefore it should come as no surprise that the average person is joining more and more programs (13.3 on average) but they are actively participating in fewer each year. This is great for attracting members but makes it more difficult to get the benefits of a loyal customer.

 

Maintain Your Member List

Now that you have convinced them to join your program, you now need to convince them to actively participate. The value of a loyalty program comes when shoppers are actively participating and engaging with the program.

According to research by Forrester an active loyalty program member will spend 30% more than a traditional customer and will rate their customer experience as better than non-loyalty members. This is just the beginning of all the benefits you will see when creating loyal customers.

You will not see these benefits when you first attract a member. You need to encourage your customers to earn and more importantly spend points. Your members will begin to become loyal when they experience the pleasant emotions of getting a reward with their points. According to eMarketer there are two main factors that drive program participation. It needs to be easy to understand and offer relevant rewards.

why people participate in loyalty programs

The easiest way to make a program easy to understand is by having a loyalty program explainer page. This is an area of your store that is dedicated to showing members all the ways they will earn points, and what they can redeem those on.

You can make a detailed explainer page like. Gongshow’s explainer page is an example of what you can do to showcase your program. Below is a quick video lesson on how to create an effective explainer page.

 

The second part of maintaining participation is to offer relevant rewards. As stated above the most desired reward is a discount on your product, but there are some variations you can use. If your customers like to save and get big rewards you can offer a reward schedule that makes it advantages to save points, like the example below.

plum-point-reward-schedule

If your shoppers have very short attention spans you may want to make it extremely easy to get the first reward. You can make it so that if they sign up for your program they will immediately get enough points for their first reward. With some programs you can also introduce more exclusive experiential rewards.

Be sure to study your customers to discover what will be the most motivating for them. If you want them to participate they have to be motivated to do so. I would recommend conducting a simple survey to see exactly what your customers are looking for.

 

Retain Your Loyalty Members

When I tell clients that they need to focus on retaining customers in their retention tool, I usually get a funny stare. This is because most people think that you can start a loyalty program, set it, and then forget it. If you take this approach your program will get old fast. When your program seems dated your customers will stop using it.

The two biggest reasons I see people leave or stop using a program is because they are not monitoring the program effectively, or they are making it way to hard to earn/spend points.

reasons for leaving a loyalty program

I know that every time you send out an email campaign you meticulously check your open and click rates. When you run an Adwords campaign you are checking performance daily, and I know you spend a good chunk of time in Google Analytics. So why would you start a loyalty program and then ignore it?

Not paying attention to your programs results is a surefire way to start losing members. If you don’t care then why should they? You should be checking on your program and customers monthly to see what is working and what you can add to retain them.

check your program monthly if not weekly

The second big factor in why your program members leave is because you are making it way to complicated for them. This is usually because you are trying to limit costs which usually limits a program success. You want to put your customers interest in mind before your own.

While only giving points for orders above $50 dollars on your house brand items during the holiday season looks good financially, it is too hard for members to understand. If you want to retain customers you need to make it easy for them to earn and spend points. If they find it to be a chore they will just leave.

 

How to Maintain An Online Loyalty Program

This post has shown you the three pillars of a successful online loyalty program. It is impossible to build a successful loyalty program if you are missing or lacking in any of these areas. You must first attract shoppers to join your loyalty program. They cannot possibly see value if they never join.

Next you must maintain their interest in your program. You need to make your program easy to understand and provide relevant rewards for your customers. Lastly, you need to retain members. Your program is not providing value if more people are leaving your program than are actively using it.

This is meant to act as a framework to cover the basics of loyalty program strategy. If you are looking to truly become a loyalty expert you can check out our resource center. It is full of video lessons, ebooks, and case studies to make you a retention expert. You can also subscribe to the Mass Mobile Apps blog for weekly loyalty articles!

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About the author:  Alex McEachern

Welcome Points Are Vital To Your Loyalty Program

So, you decided to start a loyalty program. Now what? After launch most new programs get caught up in the details. What I mean by this is that they try to do everything at once. They add every feature under the sun, research the sh*t out of what their points should be worth, and just get way too caught in the weeds. Instead you should start simple, and just get started!

The best way to first get started with a loyalty program is to set up basic earning (like 1 point for every dollar spent) and spending rules ($10 off for 1,000 points). This will set a good foundation for your program, and cover the most basic feature… rewarding purchases. Rewarding purchases is the backbone of every program, but there is one other key feature you should include.

If you want your program to succeed right from the get go, you need welcome points! Welcome points are my number one recommendation for almost every store. It allows you to create excitement, create commitment, and accelerate positive feelings. Let me explain further.

 

Why Your Loyalty Program Needs Welcome Points

Welcome points are an effective way to boost enrollment and participation at the same time. It is the first low hanging fruit you should aim to pick. It is easy add, and super effective!

Here are a few reasons you should be giving your members “welcome points” or otherwise know as rewarding for account creation.

1. Provides an Incentive

The most obvious advantage of giving welcome points is to create an incentive to join your program. There is a reason credit card companies offer you all those bonus miles, it is effective! I know you have at least considered one of those offers.

Credit cards usually offer welcome points

You can create that strong desire to join your program as well, with welcome points. Just be sure that you are making it worth their while. If your first reward costs 1,000 points, a welcome bonus of 50 points will not cut it. I usually recommend giving enough points to claim your lowest reward right away (more on that later).

welcome points focus on customer lifetime value

The tactic here is that you give customers value now, and recover that investment over the course of their life. This is known as customer lifetime value. By getting the customer enrolled and engaged in your loyalty program you will turn them into a repeat customer, which are up to 5x more profitable than first time shoppers!

2. Establishes Value

Welcome points not only incent a customer to join, they also increase the likelihood they will stick around. Have you ever noticed that when you start playing a new freemium game they always give you a starting balance of their currency, or that when you get a “buy 10 get one free” card it already has a stamp on it.

Mcdonalds-McCafe-Rewards-Free-Hot-Beverage

This is by design! People love to start things, but that doesn’t mean they will actually use it. That is why you are usually given a starting balance, it invests you into the game, tool, or program. When you already have currency in something you are more inclined to continue using it, I mean you are already on your way.

Welcome points use the same principle. A customer now has some of your currency in their account. If they choose not to come back they are forgoing that currency. As humans it is very difficult for us to walk away from money.

3. Makes Future Actions More Likely

When we are given something we are not only more likely to continue, but actively look to repay it. This is known as the reciprocity principle, which basically states that when something is done for us we feel obligated to repay the favour. It is almost fool proof!

 

This principle is more effective in loyalty if you just give welcome points to a customer without requiring them to sign up for it. You do not want the customer to feel as though they have traded their info for the points. You want them to feel like you have given them something that they should reciprocate. You can get them to reciprocate in profitable ways.

The obvious way they can repay you is with their loyalty, after all a repeat customer is worth way more to your business. There’s another way though. You can ask them to perform other actions to get points (once they have points and see value). You can get them to do things like share on social or refer their friends for points. This essentially turns your loyal customers into marketers as well!

Rewarding points for other profitable actions is easy to add to your program with ecommerce loyalty programs like the custom Apps created by Mass Mobile Apps.

4. Accelerates First Reward

“A member sees value in your program when they spend points, not when they earn them.”

welcome points provide positive attachment

What I mean here is that your loyalty program members like the rewards they get with their points not the points themselves. No one likes saving for retirement, but you like the lifestyle when you get there. The same is true with loyalty programs. That is why you want your members to claim a rewards as early as possible, and welcome points can help.

When you give welcome points, you are putting a loyalty member that much closer to that first reward. I usually recommend giving enough points for a small reward as a welcome reward. This ensures that the customer sees value and gets the emotional high of a reward right away. This makes them more likely to return on their own, but they also registered an email that you can market to them later with.

Welcome points is the best way to establish positive emotions in your customers and establishes a foundation on which you can build a meaningful relationship.

 

Welcome Points Are An Easy Win

I hope this post has illustrated just how effective welcome points can be! They not only are a fantastic motivator to encourage sign ups, they also get your members to actively participate. They are also easy to include in every Mass Mobile App developed.

About the author: Alex McEachern

5 Reasons Retail Brands Need An App To Succeed in The 21st Century

 

Think of the stores and lunch spots you frequent. Odds are, a few of them, if not more, have a corresponding app. And if you’ve ever used their app, you know it makes for a much more seamless in-store experience from start to finish. Retail apps make it easy for people to repeatedly convert, turning the occasional customer into a brand loyal powerhouse and it’s paying off for them in a big way. Need proof? Howard Schultz credits Starbucks’ investment in mobile as a key reason for their all-time high revenue. Starbucks’ app has grown 23% over the past year alone, eclipsing 11 million users.

It’s clear that apps have become the 21st century loyalty card, and when done right, are an explosive revenue driver and cost saver for retail brands. Read on to learn five reasons retail apps have become an essential part of the modern brand’s marketing strategy, and why it’s no longer optional for retailers to have one:

 

1.) Mobile Orders & Payment Drive Repeat Business

While mobile orders and payments are a fairly new retail app feature, they’ve more than proven their value already. By launching order ahead within their app that already accepts mobile payment, Starbucks delivered the one-two-punch necessary to accelerate performance. As of Q1 2016 close, a whopping 21% of Q1 2016’s orders and $6 million in revenue were attributed to mobile order and pay.  Why the success? Starbucks has eliminated the friction from your morning coffee routine. Being able to order and pay for your coffee ahead of time using the app means avoiding long lines and transactional woes, equating to more frequent visits out of sheer convenience.

2.) Modern Day Consumers Value Convenience

Speaking of convenience, marketers everywhere will tell you that the modern day consumer values it over most other factors. The most seamless way to deliver convenience to consumers? Via an app. Hence why startups like Uber and Instacart have found unprecedented success, and now retail brands are following suit.  While Starbucks got a jump on mobile order and payment, other big names from Walmart to Target have plans to capitalize on this trend and ensure they don’t get left behind. Retail apps ensure users have relevant information in real time, from offers to sales, rewards card numbers and even payment information. Basically, retail apps grant consumers the ability to control their entire shopping experience via their phone.

 3.) Apps Enhance The In-Store Experience

Retail giant Walmart’s investment in mobile comes at a time where brick and mortar stores are struggling to stay relevant in an ever dominating ecommerce world. Their app allows customers to access deals, create shopping lists, refill prescriptions, and more. Walmart’s hope is that by enhancing their in-store experience with the help of their mobile app, consumers will opt to shop with them rather than with online competitors such as Amazon.

Proving just how committed they are to the digital transformation, Walmart has even geofenced their stores so that customers can check-in via their app upon arrival to see relevant store information and sales as well as have online orders ready for pickup. In addition, their “Savings Catcher” app feature allows users to scan the product barcode to ensure lowest price guarantees. And with the launch of Walmart Pay on iOs a few weeks back to streamline the checkout process, it’s clear that Walmart is doubling down it’s investments in mobile as a way to win over consumers in the digital age.

4.) The Ability to Personalize Loyalty Programs & Rewards

Another reason retailers should invest in apps? They grant you the ability to reward users and drive repeat conversion through tangible rewards. Consumers are much more inclined to download and use your app if they know they’ll be rewarded, and apps give marketers the power to create a personalized rewards program based on the individual user. For example, Starbucks loads a free coffee coupon for users on their birthday.  Building a rewards program into your retail app based on frequency of purchases is a great way to incentivize consumers to continually convert. Popular salad chain SweetGreen has a rewards section to their app where they showcase your progress and how close you are to your next reward. This tactic is more powerful than a printed coupon or a loyalty card because consumers are able to visualize and understand just how close they are to their next reward.
5.) Retail Apps Increase Efficiency and In-Store Execution

Having all of a shopper’s pertinent information and rewards in one digital place is not only beneficial for the shopper, but the retailer itself. Howard Schultz told analysts that Mobile order and pay has significantly increased line efficiency, minimizing wait and those deterred by long lines. Granting shoppers the ability to order via the app also means less resources are needed in-store. Finally, mobile apps allow for digital receipts, significantly cutting down retail paper cost and waste.

 

The Future of Retail

If  Black Friday 2015 was any indication, mobile is becoming the modern day consumer’s ideal medium for shopping. However, there is a way for brick-and-mortar and the digital world to coexist. A mobile app that enhances the in-store experience is a perfect way to bridge the gap between eCommerce and traditional retail, promoting a highly personalized and efficient store interaction.

Brands like Starbucks and Walmart understood that their business model wasn’t in tune this shift in consumer behavior towards mobile and needed to act fact. Their sense of urgency is validated by a study confirming that 1 in 5 smartphone users will use mobile pay this year. And with that number trending upward, It’s now clearer than ever that if retailers want to remain a priority to consumers tomorrow, they need to make mobile a priority today.

Want to learn everything you need to know about how to transforming your retail brand from digital to mobile? We’ve got you covered. Contact us today and see how we can help you grow your business.

apps4yourbusiness

How to Create an Exclusive Loyalty Program!

Exclusive loyalty programs

Very few retailers will dispute the value of a repeat customer, and many are even familiar with how to create a loyal customer with tactics like personalization and loyalty programs. But many people a have a very narrow minded idea of what a loyalty program looks like.

Traditionally loyalty programs seemed to be all the same. They either gave a customer a percentage back as points, and that customer could redeem that for a discount. Or, they gave shoppers something for free after a certain number of purchases. Like in the following example.

Not an exclusive loyalty program

Example of traditional loyalty program

As you can see these programs are still popular today, but are not the only way to structure a loyalty program. Many retailers today especially those looking at luxury brand loyalty want to construct exclusive loyalty programs. These programs create an aspect of exclusivity and avoid discounts.

 

Tips to Create an Exclusive Loyalty Program

Before I get into some tips, I want to clarify what is meant by an exclusive loyalty program. I do not mean that you should only accept certain people or exclude shoppers from your program. What I mean is that you should make your program feel like it is providing exclusive benefits to your customers. Here is how to do just that!

1. Points Only Products

This is one of my favorite ways to create an exclusive loyalty program! A points only product is a product that is only available for purchase with points. This is a great alternative to providing a discount with your loyalty program.

Points only products work by creating a catalog of products that are not available to be purchased in any currency besides your points. This allows you to provide additional value to your customers in the form of a gift rather than giving them a discount on a purchase. Like this example from Strivectin.

create an exclusie loyalty program with points only products
You can make any product available to be purchased with points, but to create a truly exclusive loyalty program you should make some products only available with points. These exclusive products create desire in your customers that is stronger than the desire to get a discount.

exclusivity through rewards


Theory11 does a fantastic job of this by providing limited edition versions of cards that are not available for purchase anywhere besides as part of their elite program. Limited edition items are great products to offer as part of an exclusive loyalty program.

Another way to get customer engagement is to offer aspirational rewards. These are rewards that cost a lot of points and a customer will have to work very hard towards. An example of this is Juleps’s Mini-Cooper.

Is a loyalty program right for you skinny banner

 2. Experiential Rewards

Another way to create an exclusive loyalty program is with experiential rewards. These rewards are similar to points only products because you are offering something that can only be redeemed with points. However these rewards focus on creating an experience for your customers. A product has a lifetime, but a great experience can last forever.

I have seen experiential rewards offered in many ways, but the important thing is that the experience you provide matches your brand image and your customer demographic. You want to create an experience that will drive your customers to take action.

Some great examples I have seen:

Theory 11

What they sell – Cards for magic tricks and magic accessories

Experiential Rewards – Skype session with the team and one on one training sessions

exclusive rewards
These experiential rewards have all been redeemed but were available in the past. The site even had a meet up with David Blaine as a reward. All these experiences match perfectly with what they sell and stand for.

Sephora

What they sell – Cosmetics and supplies

Experiential rewards – Exclusive shopping events, invites to Sephora parties, and access to the beauty studio

Beauty insider explainer

Sephora does a fantastic job of motivating shoppers to engage with their program. I will discuss them further in the next section, but they are also doing a ton of other things right with their loyalty program.

Other Experiential Reward Ideas:

  • Meet and greet with the CEO or a Celebrity Endorser
  • Tickets to industry events or shows
  • Early access to sales and promotions
  • Vacations
  • One on one consultation (explain which products will work best)

Once again the important thing here is to match your experiential rewards to your brand and customer base. If you want to give your loyalty program an exclusive feel you will need to provide rewards that get your members feeling that way!

 

3. Status Based Tiers

Nothing gets a customer feeling like they are part of an elite club quite like status based tiers. These are tiers that separate your loyalty program members into groups. The purpose of this is to get members competing to be part of an exclusive group.

create an exclusive loyalty program with tiersThese tiers work best for exclusive loyalty programs when the tiers are tied to a status. You can show status with a special card like Sephora’s VIB card or Starbucks’ Gold Card. Or you can show status by providing upper tier members with special benefits unavailable to those in lower tiers.

Just be sure that you are actually creating exclusivity for those in the top group. You should aim to have your best 5% of customers in the top tier of your program. This ensures that those seeking the status will be motivated by the exclusivity.

tiers that create exclusivity
You can read “Tiered Programs, Why They Are Great for Customer Loyalty” for more information about creating tiers in your exclusive loyalty program. I would also recommend looking into Sephora’s program for a great example.

 

An Exclusive Loyalty Program

Creating an exclusive loyalty program that does not focus on discounting is definitely possible! You just need to be sure that you focus on creating rewards and benefits that match your target audience.

Do your customer value having things before the general public? Offer them early access to ne products for their loyalty. Do your customer love being unique? Allow them to redeem points for limited edition items that are not available anywhere else.

There are tons of ways to create a loyalty program that feels exclusive. The important thing is to use tactics that will work for you. Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

Is a Loyalty Program Right For Your Store?

 

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Author:  Alex McEachern

Attracting Local Traffic to Your Store

Attracting local traffic to your store is a reoccurring task on your to-do list. You want a flood of new and existing customers roaming through your shop everyday. So, what’s the best way to encourage more locals to check out your place?

Aside from a customer loyalty program, the answer is a combination of digital and old-fashioned marketing tactics. Here are four ways (two online and two offline) to increase your local awareness and get your register ringing:

 

  1. Try Local Awareness Ads on Facebook

Facebook isn’t just for posting status updates, you can attract local customers through this social channel, too. Facebook has an advertising option called Local Awareness Ads. These ads target customers that are near your business.  You can create ads that have specific calls-to-action that connect with customers. Take a look at the example below. People that live or work near the market see this ad and can click on the call-to-action to get directions.

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Boba Guys, a bubble milk tea bar, had success with Facebook awareness ads. According to a case study on Facebook, the company’s ad reached up to 10 thousand people with each new customer acquisition costing just $1.

Get started with a Local Awareness Ad on Facebook’s Business site.

 

  1. Set up a business profile on Google My Business

Help your customers find your business by setting up a profile page on Google. When customers search for your business, here’s what they’ll see:

It’s a nice display for your business. In a glance, customers see your address, phone number and hours of operation. Customers can also click on pictures, read reviews and get directions right to your shop.

How successful is this at generating local traffic? According to Google, 4 out of 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines. After searching, 32% of customers visited stores and made purchases, and another 19 percent made unplanned visits and made purchases.

Here’s the best part: it’s free. Check out or update your profile on Google My Business.

Screenshot 2015-12-07 18.20.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Host a sale with a community connection

Of course, business owners can’t rely solely on digital options to attract local shoppers.

Hosting a sale is a common way to draw customers, but to really entice local shoppers to come in, give your sale a community connection.

Is the local school headed to a championship football game? Are the local firefighters building a new station? If so, offer game-day promotions during playoff week. A cafe could temporarily rename one of its spicy sandwiches to Fire Burner and donate a portion of the sales to support the new station.

Aligning your business with a local cause provides several benefits. For starters, a recent study shows 41% of Americans say they have bought a product because it was associated with a cause. That same study shows 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause.

In other words, customers reward businesses that support the community.

 

  1. Plan product demo or sample event days

Don’t wait for your customers to come to you, go to them instead. Grab a calendar and call a team meeting. Plan to do at least two events that give customers the chance to see your product in action. Or, go one step further with a non-stop demo.

For example, teashop, Teavana, has a sample station permanently set up for customers to try its products. Cosmetic stores have artists on hand and offer consumers a free makeover to encourage customers to buy specific products. Cosmetic Promotions looked into the success of these on-going demos and found 35 percent of customers planned to buy products immediately, and 56 percent planned to return to buy products.

Of course, you can also take your demonstration digital. Create a video that showcases your product and upload it on your website. Need a little help? Check out this Forbes article that highlights eight of the best product demo videos and explains why each one is effective.

How do you attract local traffic? What works best for your business? Share your knowledge with the business community in the comment section below.

Capitalize on the Love of Mobile Apps

5

A recent study conducted by Oracle found that over 85% of young people “Millennials” (ages 18-34) own a smart phone.  Marketers are rapidly moving in the direction of native mobile applications – or Mobile Apps.  In the process marketers, and business owners in general understand that it is not adds that engage young people, its apps!

This consumer segment cannot be discounted when looking to take advantage of growth opportunities.  That is where Mobile Apps come in,  if you are a small business owner, you can now obtain a completely custom mobile solution, that in the past has been dominated by big budget corporations.  There still exists today a misconception that apps are difficult to maintain, and expensive to produce, that is simply no longer true.  The study shows that this group of people are using their smart phones for a wide range of uses; everything from paying a bill, interacting on social media shopping, and watching video.  Another study conducted by Flurry Mobile Analytics, showed that 88% of time that people in general spend on their smart phones are spent in native mobile apps.

 

Top items millennials prefer to do or have in-app (by percentage):

74% – Purchase a product or service through a company’s app

65% – Flag issues or raise complaint/concerns that are submitted directly to the company

62% – Receive notice of upcoming deals/offers

60% – Advice on how to best use products/services received from the company

Always maintain your brands identity and continuity throughout all marketing channels.  Try to incorporate functionality that would be beneficial to your users, for example: a Realtor may want to include a mortgage calculator, a Salon a calendar to schedule appointments, a boutique a gallery, and everyone should include some form of loyalty  –  its cliché but if you build it they will come. Just give them a reason to keep coming back.

IOS 9: APPLE SHUTS DOWN THE MOBILE-WEB GRAVY TRAIN FORCING PUBLISHERS TO PRIORITIZE APP DEVELOPMENT

Apple’s support of adIOS_9_Logo-blocking technology in the upcoming release of iOS 9 puts the $70 billion global mobile ad market at risk, forcing publishers to rethink their mobile strategies.

Over the past few years, publishers have seen a large chunk of their revenues coming from ads served to users consuming content via the mobile browser. The main strategy concentrated on getting stories widely shared on popular social apps such as Facebook, which in turn drove users to mobile-optimized websites that served up ads.

However, Apple’s latest software update enables the use of content-blocking tools that will let users block ads in the Safari browser. Users who adopt the technology will be able to bypass banners, pop-ups, and pre-rolls, upending the mobile-web strategy that has allowed publishers to make money without charging end users.

With over 1 billion iOS devices out there – what does this mean for publishers?

Ad-Blocking on the Mobile-Web Drives Publishers To Promote Apps

One thing we know for sure is that publishers need to take the threat of ad-blocking on the mobile-web seriously. An August 2015 report from PageFair places the number of ad-blocking users at around 198 million worldwide and draws attention to the significant cost to publishers, estimating up to $22 billion worth of inventory was blocked in 2015.These figures are expected to rise dramatically over the next year when mobile users learn about the value of content-blockers beyond just stopping ads to include faster load time. For example, Crystal, one of the most hyped content-blocking apps, claims its users see pages load nearly 4 times faster with the app installed and use 53% less data.

So, are the days of enjoying free content on mobile gone for good? Not quite.

Apple is only allowing ad-blocking technology to work on the Safari browser, leaving publishers free to reap the benefits from the App Store. With this tactical move, apps will continue to work unhindered by the ad-blockers and, as a result, publishers will start aggressively pushing users to download their apps to bypass the ad-blockers.

Short-Term Pain (Reshuffling Focus) for Long-Term Gain (Better User Insight)

Although this shift requires new effort on the part of publishers, it will likely benefit their core business for the long term. Publishers will gain a much more granular view into their users, because of the richness of data that can be collected through apps. This insight will enable the creation of inventory that targets users based on the types of content they consume, the devices they use, their location, and demographic information – which could sell for a premium.

Balancing Ads with a Smooth App Experience

It is important to note that in an app environment, publishers will need to pay much closer attention to the balance between serving ads and creating a great user experience. App users are generally more valuable than the typical mobile-web visitor because of their expressed loyalty. A user downloads an app if they value the content and intend to consume it on a regular basis. The smartest publishers will work hard to embrace and retain their app users by constantly evaluating the impact that different types of ads have on consumption, social sharing, time spent in app, and user retention.

The Future for Publishers

Apple has once again flexed its muscles to shake up the mobile landscape. With this new policy in place, publishers will likely come out as winners. Publishers will create better experiences for their users through apps that are designed for iOS and create loyal audiences in the process. Furthermore, they stand to benefit from the granular data that can be collected via apps and the premium inventory to be created from it.

7 Stats That Show Mobile Marketing Is The New Leader

Andrew Gazdecki

Mobile marketing has been one of the most explosive technology waves since the internet was invented and shows no signs of slowing down. Mobile-commerce sales are booming and areforecasted to reach $100 billion in 2014. Businesses across a wide range of industries are implementing mobile strategies to grow their companies. Are you planning to join the mobile marketing world and jump on the app trend? There has never been a better time.

Below are some statistics to help you better understand the importance of mobile marketing today!

  1. Mobile is now the leader.
    According to predictions by Google, mobile searches (at 85.9 billion) will soon surpass desktop searches (84 billion) in 2015. Search ad spending grew, and desktop search ads only experienced small growth, supporting this prediction. By 2015, it is predicted that there will be 2 billion smart phone users globally. As of right now, 57% of the United States owns a smart phone. These numbers all add up to show ups that mobile and mobile devices are here to stay.
  2. Mobile is local.
    Currently, 40% of mobile searches are local, and 77% of them take place while the user is at home or at work. Mobile-on-the-go is crucial to everyone, and users are utilizing mobile in local areas, for local businesses.
  3. Mobile has fast conversions.
    81% of conversions from mobile search happen within five hours of the search. Searches are important because they lead to other actions like calls, visits to a business, and ultimately. Sales. Conversion is dependent upon you, the business owner, which means that you need to be available via mobile to snag those customers, and provide them with accessibility and great customer service/products.
  4. Mobile presents new opportunities to connect.
    What are the top five tasks that users need their smart phone for? Making phone calls at 83%, checking email at 74%, searches at 67%, taking pictures at 62%, and accessing social media at 57%. You can use each one of these tasks to help your marketing strategy. Tasks like email, social media, pictures of your products and services, and more, will all help you further your business.
  5. Mobile peak times are growing.
    Knowing when users are active is really smart. Most mobile searches take place during the time frame of 8pm to midnight, and mobile searches double during the holidays. Little facts like these can really help you base your advertising and marketing strategies around user habits, to make the most of your advertising dollars.
  6. Mobile usage growth applies to everyone.
    Mobile isn’t just for kids and teenagers anymore. As of right now, the 55-64 age group is the fastest growing demographic on Twitter, and for Facebook and Google+, the fastest growing demographic is 45-54. So what does that mean? You should find a way to tie your marketing strategy into those demographics, and adjust your social media and email presence to those groups.
  7. Mobile apps are preferred.
    85% of Mobile users are more comfortable with apps than mobile websites. iOS apps currently generate four times the revenue than Android apps do. When it comes to social media, Facebook is downloaded the most, followed by Google+, and Google Search. Using these statistics to help design your mobile strategy is really smart. When used in conjunction with the demographic information, you can customize your advertising and other strategies to bring in the most business.

These are just a few helpful mobile strategies and stats to help you along. Mobile marketing is here to stay and with these powerful stats we encourage every small business to get on board as soon as possible.

2015 Back to School Shopping Insights Every Small Business Owner Should Know

By: Colleen Corkery

2015 Back to School Insights

Are you ready for an influx of Facebook and Instagram pics from life’s next big event? The event that affects parents, kids, businesses, and social feeds everywhere? We’re talking about back to school. Just how big is the back to school shopping season? Here’s a pop quiz for kicks:

Back to school generates more revenue than:
A) Father’s Day
B) Mother’s Day
C) Valentine’s Day
D) All of the Above

If you chose D, you get an A+ for being a top-notch business student. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2015 survey, back to school/college is expected to collectively result in more than $68 billion in revenue this year. That’s more than Father’s Day ($12.7B), Mother’s Day ($21.2B), or Valentine’s Day ($18.9B) combined, making back to school the second highest revenue generating “holiday” after the winter holidays ($616.1B) – Now that deserves a gold star.

What’s motivating people’s back to school spending habits? The NRF says 40.6% of people are shopping for sales more often, 45% of people decide where to shop based on the coupons they receive, and 26.5% of people plan to redeem coupons using their mobile phones. This is why sending mobile-friendly promotions via email or text message (sms) is key.

As a business owner, jumping on the back to school sales bandwagon today will earn you extra credit. While the traditional season starts after Labor Day, August 24th is the new trending school start date. In fact, some kids on the East Coast are already back in school now!

If you’ve already got your sales, offers, and promotions in the (brown) bag, keep spreading the word. NRF’s survey shows that 42.8% of people will shop three weeks to one month before school, and 30% of people don’t plan to shop for back to school until 1-2 weeks before school starts.

Researchers from Eyeview also found that found 66% of students and 74% of parents believe localized messaging is “the most impactful” part of a promotion. This gives local, small businesses an advantage.

What exactly are people spending their money on? The biggest contenders for households with children K-12 include clothing ($8.59B), electronics ($7.78B), shoes ($4.63B), and typical school supplies ($3.85B). Families with college students are spending more on electronics ($9.93B), clothing ($6.56B), dorm furnishings ($6B, up 31%), food ($5.65B), personal care items ($43.73B), gift cards ($2.28B), and more.

What if your business doesn’t sell traditional back to school items like backpacks, supplies, or clothing? Don’t let that discourage you. Appeal to the emotions and actions of a parent or new college student (others will gladly reap the benefits): Provide deals on anti-stress methods like spa and gym services, or outdoor activities. Own a salon? Everyone needs a new back to school picture or ID – Offer a deal on haircuts or color. Parents or college students may be driving back and forth from school soon – Offer deals on auto tuneups, car washes, etc. Who doesn’t appreciate a deal on lunch/snacks, or a fast meal after work/school when making dinner won’t cut it? The options are endless.

As a small business, the back to school shopping season has potential for placing you on the revenue generating honor roll. With that, here are even more insights to consider when planning or managing your back to school sales and marketing strategies:

Top 10 trends for back-to-school and college 2015

Increase Customer Spending: 6 Ways to Encourage Loyal Spenders

Customer spending incentives

For better or worse, I am somewhat of a regular at the local casino. I don’t have TOO many vices, and I’m always extremely responsible – I have a pre-set limit of how much I’ll allow myself to spend per visit and have only exceeded it on a handful of special occasions. Many people I know will spend much more on bar tabs or shopping sprees in a day than I will spend in two weeks at the casino, and none of them will have a chance at striking it rich…but that’s enough of me trying to justifying a bad habit of mine.

Anyway, I am sometimes chagrined at the fact that I don’t see a lot of comps or freebies thrown my way. I’m there fairly often, and I know most of the dealers by name – where’s my free meal every time I sit down?

Then I’ll see someone who comes in maybe three or four times a year, but will plunk down an obscene amount of money on the table – many times over what my limit would ever be – and receive free meals, discounts on rooms, and all sorts of goodies. And I’m reminded that although I come in more frequently, there are a ton of other gamers that spend more money than I do. THOSE are the customers worth wooing in the casino’s eyes. The same principle holds true for small business owners.

What small business owners can do to encourage customers to spend more each visit

While regular customers are undoubtedly a good sign for your business and are absolutely worth your time to cultivate, at the end of the day you’re running a business. You need money to keep your doors open, and the more money somebody spends at your place of business, the more valuable they are to your success. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to consider in order to increase customer spending per visit.

1.    Build Loyalty

If you’re a fan of this blog (and c’mon, who isn’t?), you’ve no doubt heard us bang the drum on the importance of loyalty. That’s no coincidence – it truly is that critical, especially in today’s connected world of e-commerce where there are no shortage of other places your customers can go to buy what you’re selling. You can read other entries on how to gain loyal followers, but our focus with this entry is how to increase customer spending per visit.

Importance of Customer LoyaltyNot only are loyal customers more likely to spend more money at your business because they visit more often, but they are also going to serve as your best test market to unveil new goods, new premium packages or services, and even higher prices on current goods.

You have already earned their trust and loyalty – the hardest part of the battle is over and you are the victor who earns the spoils. Try out a new premium, high-priced item with your most loyal consumers and inform them that they are part of an elite member of people that gets first crack at it before anyone else does. Not only will this make them feel elite and a valued part of your business (which they are), you will also be able to see how successful this new product or service you’re about to debut is. Keep in mind though, that loyal customers are MUCH less sensitive to higher prices than infrequent or completely new customers.

2.    Package Your Goods

“Would you like fries with that?” is synonymous with package deals – burger purveyors from long ago realized the value of bundling their goods together, which is why you would be extremely hard pressed to find a fast food chain that didn’t offer some semblance of a value meal. Burger, fries and a drink may not be what you’re selling, but don’t overlook this tried-and-true mechanism of increasing customer spend amounts.

Increase Customer SpendSome packages just make sense, plain and simple. If your business is in the outdoor and hiking/backpacking trade, you probably sell your fair share of sleeping bags and tents. You also probably sell a decent amount of backpack water purifiers and hiking poles. Many of your customers are probably purchasing an item or two for a backpacking trip – why not combine them and offer a slight discount on both? If your customer buys a winter-rated sleeping bags, why not offer to throw in a set of hiking poles for 25% off? They may very well be in the market for the poles as well, and a small discount certainly won’t break your bank.

Another tactic to consider when it comes to bundling is to offer extreme discounts on items that you’re struggling to move off the shelf. If you have a plethora of mosquito netting that you just can’t seem to offload, try offering it for 75% off with any purchase over a certain dollar amount. You may not be making as much (or any) money off the netting, but at least you’re reducing your inventory and making shelf space for something that will (hopefully) sell better.

3.    Raise Prices

This is often seen as tremendously scary territory for small business owners – after all, consumers can be notoriously sensitive to increased prices and rightly so. But instead of viewing it as simply raising prices without cause, try and think about what kind of value and results you are providing to your customers, in addition to your goods and services. It can be wise to try and match your prices to be in line or under what your competition is offering, but don’t you feel your offerings are superior to theirs?

Try toeing the waters first with small increases – something as little as one to five percent on a basic or entry level item that is purchased often. Give it a few months or at least enough time to gather a large sampling pool. Compare this data to your previous, lower price and compare. Did people run for the hills in disgust at the increase in price? Odds are good they did not, but at least with measurable data you’ll be able to see if the increase was worth it or not. Experiment with different prices – as long as you give them enough time to find a foothold, you’ll find that the market will dictate the sweet spot in terms of pricing.

Valued loyal customersHappy and comfortable customers spend more, use that to your advantage

In addition to some of the more straightforward tactics mentioned above, there are a few seemingly non-sequiturs that are worth mentioning:

4.    Smells Good in Here

If you run a bakery, cologne shop, or potpourri emporium, you can skip right over this – but for other small business owners, do not overlook the importance of a fragrant physical storefront. Studies by marketing services company DMX and the Smell and Taste Research Foundation have both shown that customers are not only more likely to make purchases in a pleasant-smelling environment, but are also willing to spend more money for the same item. The most popular fragrances to open up the ol’ wallet? Coconuts, flowers, and tropical gardens.

5.    Let the Sunshine In

People tend to be happier in sunshine, and when people are in a better mood, they tend to spend more. A study conducted by the University of Alberta found strong empirical evidence that customers who shopped in an area with more natural light were more likely to make a purchase and spent more per visit – in some cases, as much as 56% more. Take advantage of sunny days and consider splurging on one-time upgrades such as skylights or additional windows.

Loyalty is critical6.    Chill Out

The expression “Don’t sweat it” is usually uttered to someone who is worried or stressed about something – that’s because when anxiety or apprehension sinks in, our heart rate tends to increase, which in turn increases or temperature, and thus causes the body to respond by perspiring to cool us down. Whether or not we realize it or not, when we’re warmer, we are perceivably less likely to make complex decisions (such as decide if something is a good deal or not) than we are when we’re cooler.

Translation? People spend less when they are hot, according to a study conducted by Virginia and Houston universities. When the hotter months roll around, don’t be a miser and try to skimp on the AC – your bigger utility bill may very well be offset by bigger purchases from your customers.

If each loyal customer buys just one more item than usual, it will add up

Not everyone that is a patron of your business will turn be a big spender – most just simply aren’t going to frequent your place of business often enough to even qualify, and many that do won’t have the budget or spending habits to fit the bill. Try not to think of the above ways to reel in “big fish” that will bring in half of your month’s revenue each time they stop by. Instead, think of them as ways to turn somebody who usually purchases three items for around $20 into someone who usually purchases four or five items for $25 or $30. It may not seem like much at the time, but it all adds up and more importantly, adds to your bottom line.