How loyal are we to loyalty programs? American households are signed on to an average 29 loyalty programs, but are active (meaning earn or redeem at least one per year) in only 12 of them. These low engagement rates underscore the many businesses who lose money on time and effort when running loyalty programs, while customers get no more value from the businesses to which they are "loyal."
It should therefore come as no surprise that restaurant, retailers and destination marketers are scrambling to find cost-effective ways to drive physical visits. A prime example of traditional, hyper-local marketing can be found in brick-and-mortar gambling establishments, who compete with the $71 billion U.S. internet gambling industry. Casinos will regularly sink 20% or more of gaming revenue into marketing efforts like direct mail, promotions, television spots, ads and more. But in the digital age, this is not the wisest way to invest your marketing budget.
Just in time for the holidays, here are four hyperlocal digital and social strategies that deliver connected, contextual experiences to loyal and prospective customers within driving distance of your locale.
1. Launch A Loyalty Program That Actually Delivers Value
The pillars of an effective loyalty program are to continuously engage customers through exciting contests, promotions and/or virtual game play, and incentivize participants, normally via an easy-to-understand points system and rewards that are exciting enough to motivate an in-person visit.
As an example, social player engagement platform Coin-In recently launched a premium casino game which integrates its signature loyalty rewards program as a means to drive real-world patronage.
In a 90-day pilot that partnered with one of the west coast's prime casino resorts, players accrued 6.6 million minutes of virtual gameplay, resulting in a 100% increase in physical casino visits from players redeeming rewards for food, lodging, branded merchandise and other bonuses. Additionally, Coin-In drove new player's club sign-ups by 286%, achieved over 1,000 re-activations from dormant players, and produced a 15% Y.O.Y. increase in casino player count, alongside a 24% Y.O.Y. increase in casino visits per user.
This is a clear case of how incentives and continuous engagement with customers can get folks through the door and add to a business's bottom line in meaningful ways.
2. Surprise and Delight Your High-Reach Super Fans
The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust - more than 8-in-10 respondents (83%) to a recent Nielsen survey indicated that they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family.
However, few brands have mastered online word-of-mouth marketing techniques. Super fans offer a powerful way to amplify your message when given a reason to talk.
Earlier this year, Panera Bread generated several million organic impressions for it's clean French Onion Soup launch via social buzz during the campaign launch. After much social media angst over the removal of French Onion soup from the menu, Panera wanted to let soup fans know that French Onion would be returning to bakery-cafes, this time without artificial additives.
@hannah_kruse Great news, Hannah! French Onion Soup is back w/ a new, clean recipe. We'd love to treat you to a bowl on us. DM for info!- Panera Bread (@panerabread) January 13, 2016
The brand generated considerable market awareness by surprising and delighting nearly 300 social fans who had mentioned they were missing Panera Bread's French Onion. Panera let them know that French Onion was back, and offered them an e-gift card to try the new clean recipe. Enthusiastic conversations ensued.
3. Bring in Influencers
Consumer trust isn't confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds of people say they trust consumer opinions posted online - the third-most-trusted format. This trust is the reason why influencer marketing is growing so fast - followers of social celebrities are inspired to take actions based on everything the influencer does, from the morning routines they follow to the restaurants they visit.
SociaLite Vodka's influencer marketing campaign is an example of a startup enlisting community-based celebrities to drive foot traffic and trials in regional Canadian markets that are otherwise inundated by national advertisers. The company used social listening to pinpoint community influencers talking about healthy alcohol options, gluten free foods and healthy lifestyles and whose social tweets, posts and videos generated high response rates. SociaLite then invited these micro-influencers to try the product and share their impressions.
@HealthCastleGlo follow back so we can DM you about getting a free sample of our NEW flavour! Would love for you to try & review.- SoCIAL LITE Vodka (@SoCIALLITEVodka) September 28, 2016
4. Geo-Target Consumers with Social Media Ads
Social ads can be effective for driving in-store visits from potential customers, and advances in geo-targeting now enable brick-and-mortar shop owners to display relevant ads to people physically nearby their stores.
The best way to optimize your geo-targeted adverts, however, lies in cloning community influencers' profiles and targeting similar audiences from social networks by using AdWords. Taking this approach enables local businesses to target qualified local customers who are more likely to take advantage of a brand's offerings.
Geo-targeted advertising combined with gamification, super fans and community influencers, is a golden recipe for driving increased sales and in-store visits from local community members. Using these methods should allow brick-and-mortar destinations to have a much more profitable holiday season.