How many messages should we send? How do we avoid customers saying “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!” and how do we personalize our mobile campaigns and keep our customers coming back for more? Author/Expert Jeff Hasen walks OMCP through the current best practices for mobile marketing loyalty campaigns in this OMCP article+podcast.
The OMCP Online Marketing Best Practices Podcast is where top authors and industry leaders share authoritative best practices in online marketing which are covered by the OMCP standard, competencies, and exams. This is an OMCP pilot program that may continue based on member interest and support. Stay subscribed to the OMCP newsletter to get new episodes.
Episode #7 covers Mobile Marketing Loyalty Programs with Jeff Hasen in 32 minutes. Recorded February 22, 2017.
Transcript of Episode 7: Mobile Marketing Loyalty Programs
Michael: All right, welcome back to the OMCP studio. With us today is with us today is Jeff Hasen, one of the leading strategists, evangelists and voices in mobile marketing. Among many accomplishments, Jeff has authored two books, The Art of Mobile Persuasion, and Mobilized Marketing: Driving Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices, Jeff is an accredited OMCP certified trainer, an OMCP committee member, a faculty member teaching mobile marketing at Rutgers University and Mobile faculty chair Simplilearn/Market Motive. I’m your host, Michael Stebbins and today we’ll be discussing *Best Practices for Loyalty Programs *. Jeff,
Welcome to the OMCP Best Practices Podcast. Thank you so much for being here.
Jeff: My pleasure. And that intro was so long that we’re about out of time. Thank you for chatting, Michael.
Michael: Yeah, it’s been great. Hopefully, this helps everybody out. Jeff, it’s as long as the list of your credits, so…
Jeff: You read it just the way I wrote it, so thank you so much.
Michael: Perfect. You know, Jeff, you and I, I know that we did a few webinars together over the last few years. I love your podcasts at jeffhasen.com, they’re fantastic. I’ve seen your classes. No question, you’re one of the world’s top thought leaders in mobile and I’m excited to talk about loyalty programs, but before we get started, for those who haven’t read your books or attended your classes or heard you speak, tell our audience, who are you and what it is that you do?
Jeff: Sure, I’m happy to. And first I will chastise those marketers out there who have not read the books on mobile. I certainly haven’t written the only ones, but within a handful of books out there. I’m really somebody who got into mobile by accident, and now as I put in a presentation once I’m riding the winds of changes and adapting, which is what I think a lot of us are doing. I work with brands directly, I work with agencies, and I work with people who are trying to sell stuff to brands and agencies. And it’s all about, as I say in my book, the art of mobile persuasion, and the general promise is that everything and nothing has changed with mobile. We still need to sell more stuff, it’s just “the how” that’s different. In “The Art of Mobile Persuasion,” I talk about the personal relationship that everybody has with their mobile device and raise the question, is there a place for businesses or brands in that conversation? And if so what are the best practices and what are the ways that folks are doing it right and doing it wrong? And hopefully we’re gonna be getting better in 2017 than we have previously.
Michael: You know, I love reading your material. I gotta say it cracked me up reading about your dog and your loyalty to the dog food seller in your neighborhood.
Jeff: Oh yeah.
Michael: How somebody can take a dog’s uncontrolled, yeah, how do we say that…and turn that into a loyalty talk is just, it’s amazing. So look, I know you’ve helped countless businesses set up strategy for mobile marketing, and we’ve already established you as an authority in the process. You know, before we decided to launch today, you shared with me five best practices for loyalty programs that are, of course, part of the OMCP competency standard, because you are our main source for that. For our audience, Jeff, I’ll read them out. So the quick bulleted summary of what we’ll cover today and the best practices for loyalty programs is,
- Provide value before asking for opt-in.
- When communicating, err on the side of less.
- Personalize your message.
- Utilize CRM to have a deeper understanding of the customer.
- For acquisition, ensure that your calls to action are prominent. And that sounds like good business advice across the board.
So Jeff, why don’t we go ahead and jump into the first right now, provide value before asking for an opt-in. Walk us through that.
Provide Value Before Asking for Opt-In
Jeff: Right. Well, I think the best illustration is to tell you how you should not do it. If you were fortunate enough to ask somebody to download your app and the first thing that they saw once they did that was, you’re asking them to consent to push notifications or to rate your app, you really are way, way, way taking this potential relationship for granted. Really, what you want to do is you want to be a source or a resource and prove the value and then make this request. There’s a difference, some of our listeners might know or may not know, that on iOS for Apple devices with apps, you
…ask if they would like to receive similar information and offers in the future, and only then if they respond “yes” have they opted in on SMS.
actually have to ask for permission to send push notifications if somebody has downloaded an app, and in Google and Android devices you do not. I want to quickly say that the latter does not mean, hey, just go ahead and do whatever you want because they’ve given you default permission. I actually think that you should behave and believe that in every instance what you really want to do is to really give them what they’re looking for. If they’re, let’s say, in an app, they might be coming to you, they want to know what product is featured, they want to know what your store hours are, they want to know how to get there. And I think hopefully my point has been made, what you really want to do is to make it a time well spent for them and then ask for something.
Michael: Can you remember a couple of examples or good examples of somebody providing good value ahead of time before even asking for the opt-in?
Jeff: Yeah. I want to draw a distinction here, because, as you and I have talked about it in the past, Michael, there’s a difference between SMS or text message marketing and opt-ins and at marketing, which is what we’re talking about. So in SMS, you absolutely have no freedom. What you…basically, the way it works for SMS marketing is, let’s say that somebody responds to a call to action that says, “For a two for one coffee drink, text the word ‘bean’ to a short code,” which is a five or six digit number. You can send them what would serve as a coupon. It might just be a text message that is something that will arrive in their inbox, they can show it at the point of sale, and they can get their two for one coffee. The following step that you can take only at that point is to ask somebody if they would like to receive similar information and offers in the future, and only then if they respond yes have they opted in on SMS. Now, I don’t want to spend a ton of time on this, but let me tell you the most important thing, that if you violate the rules in SMS, and you do not get an opt in, and you just send marketing messages to people, let’s say you already have mobile numbers or you bought a list, please don’t do that. The violations for that are up to $5,000 per message per person you send it to. So if you have any success or any list or any volume at all, you’re gonna go out of business.
Michael: And Jeff there was…Just because we’re talking about this, weren’t there four things that you have to communicate? One is a method to opt out, correct?
Michael: The other is that there may be some charges for the messages.
Jeff: Correct The third one is how to get out, so to text the word stop. Fortunately for everybody but me, I was one of those who laboriously had to create a 163-page document on all the rules and regulations for the carriers, and they vary by AT&T versus T-Mobile, etc. But there is standard language that you need to follow on SMS, and the best way to do that is to find a competent and long-standing text provider, who you’re gonna need anyway, because you need to have a technology that allows you to send messages that are approved by the carriers.
So just real quickly on the opt-in and the opt-out. So different on apps, like I mentioned earlier, you need to ask, if you’re trying to reach IOS, iPad or iPhone users, you need to ask them if they would like to receive push notifications, and for Google or Android documents you don’t. So, you know, one example of providing value, I’m always joking and I’ll talk about reviews, but I think it’s the same premise. If you’re asking me to do something, what you want to do, and we’ll talk about this a bit more in understanding a customer… I just got upgraded on my trip from New York back home to Seattle last week, and that would be the perfect time for them to ask me to rate the app or ask me to consent for push notifications. Because I couldn’t tell you, Michael, how much I loved the airline at that moment, a six-hour flight and I’m sitting in the front row. If you’ve just canceled my flight and you’ve ruined my plans, that’s the last time that you want to communicate. So we’ll get into that in more specifics, but that’s just kind of an example of providing value and then making an ask.
Michael: Yeah, I like that. I like that. You want to hit them when they’re happy.
Jeff: I learned that…I violate it all the time but I learned that through 26 years of marriage, you know, my wife is like, “Why don’t you follow what you preach?” But, you know, we try.
Michael: Yeah, I remember another of the examples, if I indeed remember it correctly, was “Don’t offer a veggie burger to meat eaters or vice versa.”
Jeff: Yeah, you got it close. It’s actually, the way I tell it is flipped. So I’m a vegetarian but I’m still getting meatball sandwich offers from the Subways of the world, and we’ll get more specific in this when we get down to one of the other points, but the idea is personalization and the expectations of the mobile user are way higher than you might even think they are.
Err on the Side of Less
Michael: All right. Then moving on, I do know that you have taught that when communicating, especially in the mobile stream, we should err on the side of less. Why is that? Walk us through it.
Jeff: Well, I think this concept fits into a lot of what I teach, which is more common sense than revolutionary marketing. Let’s say you got an opt-in, you know, as I just talked about, you follow all the steps and somebody says that they are willing to receive marketing messages from you. That doesn’t mean that they’ve told you that you can come into their house, you can put your feet up on their furniture, you can eat their pizza, and you can stay all night.
When I look at communicating from a marketing perspective, I start with the question of, what are the business objectives, and how can you accomplish those in as least intrusive way as possible? So I have for 10 years been asked the question, “Well, how many messages should I send? I’m a small business owner making sandwiches,” or “I’m a retailer,” or whatever. And the answer is never consistent, because it depends on your business objectives but in one way the answer is always consistent, in that…send as few messages as possible. And I would put the same in e-mail or any other communication that a business wants to have with me. I’m not really interested in having an ongoing daily conversation with you. Communicate to me when it makes sense for me, not for you, and hopefully by doing that it will enable you to do what you need to do on the business end of things.
Michael: Are there methods to set expectations of the frequency of communication?
Set Expectations of the Frequency of Communication
Jeff: Absolutely, Michael, that’s a great point. Often times a good way or a good best practice is to actually lay out what the expectations are, and you might even say, “You will be receiving two messages a month from us.” And, you know, obviously in the SMS world, which is only one aspect of mobile, you’re gonna give them clear opportunities or instructions on how to opt out but you’re hoping they’re not going to take that road. But yeah, you know, providing value has become such a cliché but your point, transparency and expectations, you know, I would argue is just as important.
Michael: Excellent. Okay, and that’s on the exam. I just was going over some of the questions on the exam and that is included in terms of setting expectations. So those of you who are prepping for the exam, all that we’ve covered so far is right out of the questions in the competency standards. Now, let’s talk about personalizing the message and making sure that we know the needs of the customer. What are some of the practices there?
Personalizing the Message
Jeff: So here’s my best example, and I wasn’t involved with this one although I included it in my book and I ended up working with the vendor who helped pull this off. So going back to, I think I mentioned my wife, my wife is a VP of Marketing and I’ve been married to her, as I mentioned, for 26 years, and I have a hard time getting her attention. And it’s not because I try to be that way, but she’s just a very busy person. And she read my first book, and the famous moment was, I looked in the backyard and she was asleep and the book was laid out on her shirt, and she said…she blamed it on the heat.
Well, we fast forward to the second book that I wrote, and the point I’m trying to make here is that it’s all about solving business problems, right? And mobile may or may not be the answer to solving…or part of the answer to solving the business problem. But my wife has a churn problem in her business, she’s in financial services, and she read a story about AT&T, although I didn’t name the carrier in the book, but we’re among friends so I’m now gonna tell you actually who the carrier is. And the way it’s set up that if you were to go and sign up for a business with a mobile operator like T-Mobile or AT&T, you have 30 days to return your device and get out of your contract.
Now, this is a very dangerous period where oftentimes people will say, “Hey, I don’t want this. I don’t remember signing up for this.” And what AT&T does, talk about personalization, is they work with a company actually based in my hometown of Seattle, to provide MMS, which is multimedia messages that are delivered through the phone, through like the messaging channel, and you get a clickable message. And it would work like this, Michael. It would be, “Hi, Michael. Welcome to AT&T, please enjoy your iPhone 7. Your first bill will arrive on the 14th of March and will be for X amount of dollars. Your subsequent bill will arrive on the 20th of every month and you’ll have a one-time activation fee of \$40. And if you have any questions, this is how to get ahold of us.” And the reason why in every single meeting that I have when I talk about mobile, this is my favorite case study. And the reason is that AT&T says that it has saved tens of millions of dollars in business by people not on day 29 going, “I never signed up for this. What are they trying to do? They’re trying to screw me over here.”
So if you look at the elements of this execution, personalization starts with “Hi, Michael.” And it’s also transparency. It tells you what to expect, which is what we were talking about a few minutes ago. It also is very relevant and personal to me. It doesn’t waste my time, and it actually gives me clarity. And this isn’t a vendor who’s counted tens of millions of dollars of saved businesses, this is the brand or the business. And I think that’s a good representation, just one of many ways to personalize, to drive value for both you and for the consumer.
Michael: And then, in terms of customizing messages, sometimes we need to use tools to figure out who we’re working with. So I know that you’ve talked about utilizing the CRM or database to have a deeper understanding of the customer. How does that work?
Utilize CRM to Have a Deeper Understanding of the Customer.
Jeff: Well, as I’m sure you know, Michael, everybody makes the promise that they can deliver on the customer journey, and everybody talks about the holistic view or the single view of the customer. My experience is that that’s very much not the norm, but the expectations now, some businesses are easier than others in tying in CRM and understanding what somebody did on a website, what somebody did in an app, and understanding that this is really one customer. So a couple of points on this. There’s a new technology, or relatively new, called mobile marketing automation, and there are companies who are actually enabling you to tie in your CRM and to bring in this richer history of an individual.
Back to my point of understanding what somebody…what is happening or what action that they’ve taken not taken, if somebody looked at a tire last night on a website, you know, can you send them a message when they’re walking through a store? Which is one scenario that I talked about in my book. And there are obviously lines that you can’t cross, because one of the questions that I asked is, “When does it become creepy?” But more often than not now, we’re seeing the expectation again of the mobile user being higher and more sophisticated than really brands are giving credit for. I’m working with a business now that is creating a new mobile loyalty business model, and their hashtag is #showmeyouknowme, and I think they’re dead on. It wasn’t my idea. I think that in terms of that’s really where we need to be going. We need to know that Jeff goes to Hawaii every fall, and we need to take into account, understand what he’s reacted to in the past, how much money he’s spent, what time of day he is most responsive, and really take all that into play when you are executing not only just your mobile programs but your entire marketing mix.
Michael: And then I know that there are technologies now, as you were alluding to, that can be very reactive across a wide spectrum of behaviors. Just as you said, you know, I was looking at a tie and now I’m in a men’s clothing store. Maybe I didn’t make the transaction, and so I get a follow up offer later on. Those kinds of things, if they’re done with humor, if they’re done with transparency, I think those can be effective and make us smile. “Show me you know me” is better than showing me that you don’t know me.
Jeff: Right. And, you know, for…I don’t know what the percentage is, but for everybody that you talk to about this, there’s also this scary, you know, Big Brother. So I think one of the big fallacies for mobile is that everybody is looking…or people are looking for, you know, 100% of adoption of something. I’ll joke about the mobile wallet, for instance. If you believe all the hype around the mobile wallet, that we won’t be needing our physical wallet, we’ll be using just our devices and cash will be gone by Tuesday, right? That, in my opinion, will never happen.
And to prove that, if you just talk about how people use their money these days, we’ve still got ATMs even though we can take a picture of a check and deposit it that way. And even more so, we still have tellers. Not as many as we used to, but we still have people who physically want to go and hand the check to a human being and get a receipt back. I did that until not that long ago. My wife thought I was nuts. So I’ve actually progressed, and even though I’m a mobile guy, I should’t admit this. I’ve actually progressed to being able to put a check in an ATM and not feel like it’s gonna be eaten and lost and gone. I have not personally done checking by phone or depositing a check by phone, you probably have, Michael, but my point here is that there’s just not gonna be 100% of adoption and there’s gonna be opportunities for us to affect enough of our customers and prospects that we don’t need to wait until something is gonna be 100%, because if we’re waiting we’re never gonna get there, in my opinion.
Michael: That’s true. And I know that at least you don’t order your dog food on subscription from Amazon.
Jeff: Correct, and just to close the loop really quickly on that story you told earlier, the blog post I talked about was, you know, even in these days of changing marketing methods and ways to reach people, this gentleman won my business and my wife’s business by being a small business owner who actually knew me by name, who was willing to carry food out to the car, which I didn’t need him to do, and just some general business practices that have not changed in the mobile era and hopefully will never change. Because I think, sadly, that’s kind of a differentiator when you deliver great customer service. I wish everybody did, but in my opinion, this guy actually had, you know, showed me he knew me when I walked in the store, which was awesome.
Michael: Yap, and made good for things in a personal way, which is good. You know, Jeff, there was a report going around, I don’t know how old it is, it was saying that 81% of customers are more likely to do business with brands that offer loyalty programs, and yet so few people even offer them. Is that statistic still valid?
Jeff: So just, you know, as I mentioned, one of my clients these days is building a new mobile loyalty model, and so I’ve seen a lot of these stats. It’s directionally correct. I think the general understanding is that oftentimes choices are made that people will do business with somebody or a business if they provide a loyalty club. There are still a lot of businesses out there who do not have them, who do not provide for them. It sounds like a great concept, but I spent some time trying to sell mobile marketing into SMBs and I found something that I should have known on the front end. That in some cases an SMB wakes up in the morning and their number one mission is to clean clothes or to make sandwiches, and their mission is really not to build a loyalty club and to figure out what offer to send out that day or that week or whatever. So I think the idea of loyalty is awesome, but you just have to figure out, okay, so how are you gonna execute on that and how are you going to, cliché again, bring this value to somebody who’s opted in to engage with you?
Michael: Fair enough. There’s a balance in there. All right, Jeff, the last one, number five. For acquisition, ensure that your calls to action are prominent. What does that look like?
Ensure That Your “Calls to Action” are Prominent
Jeff: Yeah, this one also has a story. I was fortunate enough to work for six years at one of the early unsuccessful mobile marketing companies called Hipcricket. I got there in 2007 and one of the early stories that I heard was about a campaign for Snickers, where the call to action for asking somebody to use their mobile device was printed on the inside of a candy bar wrapper. I wasn’t there at the time, but you and I both would have stomped our feet and say, “Wait a minute. This doesn’t make a lot of sense.” I mean, obviously, this was 10 years ago and there are a lot of lessons learned.
Michael: Well, I could tell you in warm weather, you’re not gonna be able to read it.
Jeff: Right. But I mean, you know…and this was long before the Snickers campaigns were, you know, if you’re hungry you’re gonna turn into some monster or you’re not gonna be Marcia Brady anymore from “The Brady Bunch.” You know, all those memorable Snickers ads. But another example is, let’s say you’re asking somebody to use a QR code and to take their phone out and to engage with that QR code. Your QR code can’t be 25 feet or 45 feet up in the air on a highway when people are zipping by. What you really want to do is have your calls to actions seen and put yourself in a chance and an ability to get the desired action.
Just a really quick example of one that I’ve talked about is that Arby’s, years ago, did an introduction of a roast burger, a new product. And they had Jimmy Kimmel provide this. He was making the sandwich right on a live read and he had the call to action where he said if you want to get a free one, this is how you do it, and there was a text program,
…[for] mobile search… somebody will search for something and within an hour they will physically go and visit a location.
text the word “roast burger” to a short code. And his uncle Jimmy, I think the guy’s name was, he was an older gentleman, didn’t know how to text and Jimmy Kimmel comically said, “Well, everybody else knows how to do it,” so he just had to do it.
This is not a typical example, because we don’t have Jimmy Kimmel budgets, but the point is that that call to action could not be missed. If we had more time, I could talk to you for about the next 10 hours about all the missed opportunities during the Super Bowl where I think we have a captive audience so we have a chance to put calls to actions that would enable us to not only engage with people during the Super Bowl, but subsequently, you might ask them to download something, you might ask them to join a loyalty club as we were talking about earlier, and then you can have an ongoing monetizable, to sound crass, relationship with them.
Michael: As most of our listeners know, the accredited schools teach these practices. Knowing them as essential for the base exam for OMCA and OMCP. That’s the best practices, the basics. Now I want to free you from that constraint, Jeff. And are there practices that aren’t necessarily part of the standard that do tie into loyalty programs?
Jeff: I think understanding what the mentality is for people on mobile devices. Oftentimes mobile is for action, so what you want to do everything from building a website that has your store hours and has your location to enabling people to find information quickly, is really a best practice that goes across a lot of mobile products and services. So I put this in the bucket of understanding the differences between the mentality and the behaviors of somebody who might be in a longer, more immersive experience, or someone who, if you take a look at the Google stats about, for instance, mobile search, that somebody will search for something and within an hour they will physically go and visit a location, which is nowhere near what the case is if you’re looking at online search. So best practices again are to unearth or to present the information that’s most useful to people so they can take the action and get on their way. And if you think you need to have the CFO’s biography on your mobile website, his or her mom is gonna be interested in that, but unless somebody is going for a job interview with that gentleman or that woman, that’s left for other places for research and discovery.
Michael: All right. Well, Jeff, thank you very much. That is all the time we have today, and a big thank you to Jeff Hasen. Check out Jeff’s writing at jeffhasen.com. Jeff, where can we follow you on Twitter?
Jeff: So it’s @jeffhasen. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, it was available. Just one quick note on that, I promise you that I will not be telling you what I had for lunch. My goal on Twitter is to see an announcement or see an introduction of a product and to, in 140 characters, try to make sense of, so what is a marketer supposed to take from that? So what are the ramifications? Because I discovered that I can never be as good in RSS feed as somebody else, so what I promise if you are to follow me is there’ll be a lot of mobile and there’ll be a lot of “Okay, so what are we gonna make of all this voice stuff that’s out there?” for instance. You know, there’s Alexa everywhere, what does that mean for us? So that’s just a representation of the kinds of things that I tweet about.
Michael: So you can also check out Jeff’s writing at http://www.jeffhasen.com/. His podcast, “The Art of Mobile Persuasion,” is on iTunes. Be sure to pick up Jeff’s books, “The Art of Mobile Persuasion” at artofmobilepersuasion.com, and of course, you can reach out to Jeff at his website to see if you can get him to help you set up a mobile strategy for your brand.