The New Upside Of Modernized Rebate Programs

Here’s a cool thing about right now in time: if you are in marketing, whether it be to channel partners or all the way to consumers, there is no longer any excuse for not knowing who your customer is.

We Finally Agree That The Internet Isn’t Going Away, Right?

The ubiquity of Internet use has become reality and the selling of goods online, which once seemed like an incredible leap of imagination, is now changing the face of business everywhere; alternately creating both new billionaires and destruction in its wake. However, where there is chaos there is also always opportunity.  Just because you might work in a hundred year old space, such as appliances or automobiles where the bulk of sales happen in a very traditional and interpersonal way on the showroom floor, does not mean you need to miss out on this opportunity to do better work.
Happy Digital UserIf moving your consumer rebate programs over to digital from paper just feels like greenwashing to you, consider this: being green is really just the cost of admission for doing business with many customers today. Executing your incentives programs via digital goes beyond saving trees. It makes the process easier (maybe even fun?) for your consumer, which helps them see your brand in a more favorable light and thanks to new tools available, that is only the starting point of the advantages.
In Mitch Joel‘s forthcoming book Ctrl Alt Delete he says “loyalty programs help marketers understand who their customers are (and what they are doing).” He is speaking, of course, of your newfound ability as a marketer to gather incredibly in-depth data about your customer. Joel’s book strikes a chord with us at 360 because we agree with his driving argument that marketers now need to be thinking about digital first and foremost in their planning.

Get To Know Your Customer

Let’s first have a look at a paper rebate form and examine what data we are able to gather:   Rebate Form

Typically you will be able to gather only the simple information required to execute and fulfill the rebate offer such as name and address and where the purchase was made. If you provide a longer form you may be able to ask questions that provide more in-depth social and economic demographic data, but the truth is these long forms are less likely to get filled out and more likely to get people’s back up a bit about privacy. Fair enough. Operationally, what do you intend to do with all that paper, anyway?

Creeping Up With Your Customer?

When you execute a rebate program digitally, you are able to use the customers’ email address to then gather information about them that they have already made publicly available across the Internet. Is this “creeping”? It needn’t be.  Let’s look at it two ways; through the lens of impossible-to-interpret, massive singular files of customer data and then through the lens of the ‘big data’ approach.

It really doesn’t serve you directly to get super granular and keep a file that says, “This is Lisa.  She married her husband Steve in 1996 and she loves chocolate milk, new country music and watching American Idol.” On the other hand, by aggregating information across tens or hundreds of thousands of buyers may give you the data to determine “over 80% of our customers who pay 96% of retail or greater and buy the SKUs that our mid-western dealers love because they hold the greatest margin are housewives who have been married since 1996, love chocolate milk, new country and American Idol”. Then you have something.  You start to know who that person is, what makes them tick and you have the opportunity to market to them in a way they are more open to.

What Is The Value Of Getting To Know Your Customer?

This isn’t about your brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts; this is bigger. Some people will love that the company who made their dishwasher wishes them happy birthday on Facebook and some will find it just plain weird and that is fine. Social media provide an outstanding platform for you to offer accelerated customer service and the bigger the brand, the more you need to embrace that opportunity through a service lens and less through a marketing one.

When you gather data such as that discussed above, however, you start to close the gap between your brand and your customer. You know their watering holes in the digital world, you know their language and therefore you know how to reach them.  This doesn’t just make you a better marketer and help you sell more products; it can help your product team in their work and it helps to de-clutter the marketing landscape.  It makes everything better.

If you really want to make your consumer rebate programs work harder for you, I highly recommend our e-book Leveraging The Consumer Rebate.

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Jason King 360 IncentivesJason is the Content and Community guy at Connect with Jason on Twitter