Jordan Glazier, CEO at Wildfire Systems shares more on the benefits of loyalty programs and how they can be built out to drive customer gains:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Jordan, we’d love to dive into your past startup success and closer to now, the story behind Wildfire Systems…
I began my career at Boston Consulting Group and a couple stops later I cut my teeth in digital and at Ebay, where I built three of their largest business units. Ebay was a great place to learn and innovate in the formative days of e-commerce. The experience of building a marketplace, attracting supply and demand, and providing a safe and well-lit environment for consumers was invaluable in my later career as I went on to build e-commerce startups.
Wildfire is my third startup. The first, where I was COO, was at Client Shop, which was a mortgage lead gen company and a Lending Tree competitor. It was acquired by Internet Brands in 2006, I’d say it was definitely in the right place at the right time.
My next role at a startup was as CEO of Eventful, a global guide to local events. We, again, were in the right place at the right time, helping the music and film industries transform as consumer spending habits and media consumption rapidly changed with the onset of digital distribution and the shifting tides in live entertainment.
With Wildfire, once again, we find ourselves in the right place, at the right time. Consumer shopping is shifting even more to e-commerce and mobile. At the same time, the services that enable e-commerce, including search engines and browsers, financial services, and others, are competing in a fragmenting environment. They’re seeking to offer rewards and loyalty programs to differentiate, drive retention, increase monetization, and acquire new users at lower customer acquisition cost (CAC). Wildfire enables partners to quickly roll-out comprehensive programs on par with industry leaders Honey from PayPal and Capital One Shopping.
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How have you seen rewards and loyalty programs taking on a new face in today’s marketing environment, a few thoughts on some of the most innovative programs you’ve seen in the recent months?
Shopping rewards and loyalty programs have entered the mainstream. Cashback and coupons used to be the domain of early adopters and coupon clippers; however, the success of services like eBates (Rakuten), Honey, and Capital One Shopping have popularized rewards to the point where consumers expect rewards and savings as part of their online shopping experience. All three of those services are proprietary to those companies’ audiences, and the innovation is coming from platform companies, like Wildfire, which are enabling more dispersed, democratized rewards availability for any online service.
Also, as the industry moves away from third-party cookies and tracking, first-party data is becoming more critical than ever. Loyalty programs are a big part of that, as brands understand the importance of truly owning their customer data across multiple dimensions and driving increased purchases or usage through rewarding customers.
Parallel to this, financial institutions and fintech providers recognize the importance of incorporating loyalty and rewards programs. These are becoming table stakes, and banks can leverage those programs as a way to provide dispersed benefits and financial wellness to customers. These benefits deepen loyalty to a bank’s services and further monetize the commerce they are enabling.
How can marketers today create better customer retention practices by driving efforts with more innovative loyalty and rewards programs?
Customer retention and loyalty is at the heart of shopping rewards programs. An inherent part of shopping rewards is the fact that they meet the consumer where they are within their day-to-day shopping experience, and provide benefits (like cashback, coupons, and discounts) to consumers which are above-and-beyond the primary offering of the company’s core product or service. So, for example, if your bank, which is mainly where you store your money, is also “greeting you at the door” with rewards when you shop, it engenders customer gratitude and loyalty, because it increases the positive association customers have with the bank.
As cashback and rewards programs become more innovative, what are some fundamentals that you’d share with marketers at the cusp of building out their programs?
The key is that these programs must keep the customer experience in mind. Any program, in order to be effective, must blend seamlessly into the customer’s typical, everyday actions. The more difficult a program is to participate in, the fewer customers will use it, and the more likely they might defect to a competitor. We call this “meeting the customer where they are,” and that involves some innovative technologies for desktop and mobile experiences which help disperse offers and benefits contextually within consumers’ natural shopping behavior rather than expecting or requiring them to take detours through offer directories and the like.
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What would you share with (mar)tech founders looking to raise funding rounds, we’d love to hear your learnings and experience from winning a round during the pandemic?
Looking back, I’d say there is greater access to venture investment capital now than at any time in my previous experience, and with that comes the opportunity to pick the exact right investor for you and your business. For those companies seeking funding, I’d recommend focusing on the investors’ area of expertise, ability to deliver added value, and equally as important, their culture and vibe.
Some last thoughts and marketing / martech takeaways before we wrap up?
The rapidly shifting sands in e-commerce technologies, shopping behavior, and consumer spending require us all to stay on our toes and innovate rapidly. For example, at Wildfire we bifurcate our product and engineering teams between executing current capabilities vs. innovating new technologies to make sure that we are dedicating resources to constantly reinvent ourselves. If you’re a hammer looking for a nail, without inventiveness and reaction to market needs, you’re toast.
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Wildfire Systems provides an enterprise platform which enables partners to embed social commerce, rewards, and cashback offerings within their existing services. Wildfire’s patented suite of technologies rewards online shopping and harnesses digital word-of-mouth, delivering enhanced user experiences, consumer loyalty, and new revenue streams for partners. By harnessing word-of-mouth recommendations, Wildfire drives incremental revenue for over 30,000 online merchants including Dell, Macy’s, and Sephora.
Jordan Glazier is the founder and CEO of Wildfire Systems; a veteran technology executive and serial entrepreneur, Glazier was an early executive at eBay, where he was responsible for building several of the company’s largest business units from the ground up. Prior to founding Wildfire, he was the CEO of Eventful, Inc., which he built into the world’s largest discovery platform for local events & entertainment before it was acquired by CBS.