A loyalty program is a powerful tool in today’s highly competitive convenience retail market, and that’s why an overwhelming majority of C-stores in the United States offer a program. According to PDI’s 2019 C-Store Shopper Report, 73 percent of C-stores in this country have a loyalty program in place, with the majority (97 percent) saying their programs have been in place for over a year. Well and good, except many c-store operators struggle to turn their programs into a powerful tool for generating sales and foot traffic.
Next to store execution, the most powerful lever an operator can pull to make their loyalty program successful is delivering impactful digital communications (email and mobile app push notifications) to their members. Given the demands of operating stores in today’s competitive marketplace, optimizing loyalty communications can sometimes tumble down a convenience retailer’s list of priorities. For many convenience retailers, the best approach is to identify a partner with the technology and expertise to take their loyalty communications to the next level. There are many loyalty and marketing solutions available. What are the capabilities and qualities they should look for in a technology provider?
Any loyalty communications solution should have the appropriate level of technological capability to meet the convenience retailer’s needs, and the best solutions will come with valuable expert guidance to help set strategies and goals. These are “technology” and “expertise” considerations. Optimizing loyalty communications begins with the latter.
The Expertise to Devise a Strategy and Set Goals
Loyalty program and communications effectiveness start with outlining a strategy and setting clear goals with benchmarks that can be tracked over time. A loyalty and marketing solutions partner can help convenience retailers link Marketing activity to customer engagement metrics to increased Sales and ROI. When measurable goals are established, convenience retailers can develop tactics to meet those goals. These might include sending new members an incentive to visit the store and make a purchase within the first 30 days of joining the program or identifying lapsing users and incenting them to visit the store more often.
Choosing a loyalty and marketing solutions provider with domain expertise can also help a convenience retailer put an overall strategy in place that effectively engages loyalty members. A good understanding of the industry, as well as C-store customer preferences and behaviors, is required to deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time. But while an expert partner can advise on an effective strategy, executing that strategy requires a communications technology platform that can deliver on the strategy.
The Loyalty Communications Technology Solution
A comprehensive loyalty Marketing solution is essential to optimize loyalty communications. The right solution will enable automation and allow convenience retailers to focus more on running their businesses and less on campaign execution and administration. Most importantly, a robust loyalty marketing solution can help convenience retailers connect with their best customers, develop stronger relationships with them, and ultimately provide positive ROI.
The right loyalty marketing communications technology solution should deploy messaging, content and offers that resonate with loyalty program members and encourage action. It should be able to deliver messages across digital channels – email, SMS, mobile app notifications, social networks – while also personalizing those messages using a broad set of consumer data. For example, a retailer can leverage a member’s transaction data in a monthly email. If the member has repeatedly bought a certain brand of energy drink in the past, the retailer could offer a discount for that brand. As an alternative, the retailer could make a complementary offer of two breakfast tacos for the price of one, if the retailer knows that energy drinkers over-index in purchasing breakfast tacos in their stores.
A robust solution should also be able to send the message at the optimum time – both time of day and frequency – to ensure that members are being contacted at the right time and often enough to influence their shopping behavior. These capabilities allow convenience retailers to engage with their loyalty program members consistently, on an individual basis, and in the way, their members prefer to interact with the brand.
Loyalty programs are very important to many convenience retailers for their ability to keep and reward loyal customers. The right partner and the right technology solution can do the heavy lifting for retailers in taking their loyalty program communications to the next level by making it easier to accomplish day-to-day tasks in support of their strategy. With the help of a solid partnership and a robust solution, convenience retailers can earn more than their customers’ loyalty. They can build stronger relationships, boost engagement and reinvent the loyalty membership program as an effective tool for growth and profitability.