6 Reasons to Opt for Card-Linked Loyalty Programs

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amex_cardCustomer analytics have become an integral part of the local merchant’s marketing toolbox, and digital loyalty providers are increasingly leveraging their own data to help clients make more informed business decisions. Hyperlocal vendors with loyalty programs that are linked to credit cards or debit cards are especially well positioned to take advantage of this trend, since they allow merchants to collect information about all customers paying by card, as opposed to only those who’ve enrolled in their loyalty programs.

Digital loyalty providers have a number of options when it comes to how they structure their programs, with those connected to customer telephone numbers or mobile apps that are scanned at the POS being among the most common. However, card-connected loyalty programs have a few benefits that other types of programs cannot provide. Here are six reasons why loyalty providers should consider structuring their programs to connect with customer’s credit or debit cards.

1. Increased POS compatibility “The biggest benefit of card-linked loyalty programs is that they are compatible with existing point of sale systems and, because they leverage consumers’ existing credit and debit cards. Because they use retailers’ existing payment solutions, card-linked programs do not require expensive upgrades, in-store training, and can achieve broad customer adoption.” –Eckart Walther, CardSpring

2. Expanded reach “With a traditional, non-card-linked loyalty program, the merchant is only targeting customers that are already coming in the door. With card-linked offers, merchants can complement these programs to find new customers and convert them to loyal ones. Because customers are targeted based on previous purchase history, merchants also know they are acquiring the right customers. As a result, we find that many merchants opt to run a card-linked offers campaign in tandem with their existing loyalty programs. For them, it’s not an either or, it’s simply a smart place to put their marketing dollars that isn’t about the ‘one and done’ discount, but rather is about attaining new customers and turning them into loyal ones.” –Jeff Fagel, Edo Interactive

3. Improved analytics “With card-connected loyalty programs, merchants can better understand customers through their transaction histories. This includes all customers, not just loyalty members. Programs like Swipely provide deep analytics on all customers that pay with a credit or debit card, not just loyalty members. The data and trend analysis can be used to build smarter marketing programs designed to drive incremental sales. The outcome of these programs can then be measured using the program’s own tools.” –Matt Oley, Swipely

4. 360° views of consumer behavior “Card-linked marketing is based on actual consumer purchase history. Not just a single store or category, but across the entire wallet of spending. This consumer purchase behavior captures 360 degrees of activity, not just purchases in a single store or category, but all activity of the consumer. This is critical to influence customer behavior. That customer that seems loyal – coming into your store twice a week? Maybe they shop your competitor twice a week, too. Another customer who frequents your venue once a month? Turns out they don’t spend with any of your competitors – they are incredibly loyal. Understanding a customer’s loyalty demands knowing where they spend and when they’re not buying from you. –Kasey Byrne, Cardlytics

5. Simplicity for consumers and merchants “Faced with a barrage of choices, consumers are craving simplicity. With card-linked offers, consumers are using the very thing that is already in their wallet, their credit card or debit card, so it’s fast, simple and easy for them. No additional app needs to be downloaded or information provided at the point of sale. This simplicity helps in driving usage and loyalty. Merchants are also craving simplicity. They don’t have the time, resources or domain knowledge to execute complex loyalty and marketing initiatives. Card-linked offers make it possible for these brands and retailers to provide value to both new and existing customers.” –Jeff Fagel, Edo Interactive

6. Leveraged brand affinity “Card-linked marketing programs enable merchants to leverage the brand affinity of large, already-established loyalty programs — like those offered by the nation’s largest banks and airlines — to attract new customers and boost card spend from existing customers. Card-linked loyalty programs help merchants tap into the marketing muscle of major loyalty programs, opening up their coveted opt-in customer databases to promote shopping offers through email, web sites, mobile apps, social media and other channels.” –Tom Beecher, Cartera Commerce

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.