What should your top goal as a brand be in 2014? Trust me, it should be to get your customers to love your brand.
Zero ROI marketing? For those of us with our dating years behind us, Valentine's Day dates seem humorous now. Most of the time those nights out meant a lot of money was spent trying to impress another person ... flowers, champagne, dinner and maybe dancing afterwards ... all in hopes that a burgeoning relationship might deepen. Too often the pricey effort went for naught. Or as a marketer would say, zero ROI.
One-time offers don't lead to love. Brands often act the same way, spending loads of money to impress customers by making lofty offers at the outset: two-for-ones; half off first visit coupons; free appetizers with every entrée. Free food, they think, is the way to customers' hearts. But not really.
Repeated positive experiences lead to love. While customers might come for that first freebie, they'll return only if you impress them that first time and then deliver repeated positive experiences, meaningful touches that build a relationship between them and your brand. You don't want them to merely like your food, you want them to fall in love with your brand, which takes time, maybe three, five or seven visits. Call it earned loyalty on behalf of the operator.
One-to-one insights are the foundation of relationships. In a mature relationship, being with another is easy and fun and doesn't require the flash and cash of a Valentine's date. It takes intimate knowledge about that significant other, gathered over time, and the smarts to apply that knowledge to please that person.
Mobile delivers one-to-one insights. Mobile helps brands form those meaningful relationships with customers because it helps them remember all the details ...what customers have purchased (i.e. the items they've demonstrated they liked), how frequently they visit, and what it is they like about a brand. Each time customers visit the restaurant, mobile helps operators communicate with and please that customer in the future.
Customers might even share their likes about that brand in social media, or better yet, they might refer a friend knowing another will like those same things. Mobile captures those interactions and insights and gives them to operators to use and anticipate customers' desires.
Mobile creates positive experiences. When relationships go smoothly, they become fun, too. When customers can open their smartphone app, see their loyalty points total instantly, and determine what they need to do to earn their rewards, the guesswork is gone. That's easy. When the app provides a game for them to play, that's fun and it deepens brand awareness and increases excitement. When they can pay their tab through their smartphones, that's really easy because no purse or wallet is needed. When they can order from their phones without waiting in line, that's convenient. All those small plusses add up to a significant comfort level with a brand that makes coming back for more a no-brainer.
Go mobile now. And trust me, you want to create those relationships in 2014. Currently, there are more than 1 billion smartphone users on the planet, and by the end of 2014, there will be 2 billion! If your business could make such a pleasant relationship with its customers through their smartphones, what sort of loyalty do you think that would engender? Better yet, what sort of sales increases would follow when those customers continue to return?
It used to be said that the way to a person's heart is through their stomach, but in this high-tech age, the way to customers' hearts is through their smartphones. Get them to love your brand and you'll have no problem getting to their stomachs.
Jitendra Gupta is CEO of Punchh, a mobile CRM suite that includes branded mobile apps for campaigns, games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, referrals, reviews, gift cards, surveys, and integrates with social networks and operators POS systems to gather 360° customer insights. Punchh helps restaurants increase same store sales and profitability by driving repeat visits, word of mouth, new customer referrals, and higher returns from marketing campaigns.