Guest Column - January/February 2015

Compelling Benefits of Mobile Incentive Platforms

By Ira Ozer, CPIM, CRP

There is a huge shift occurring as traditional incentive websites are being enhanced and replaced by mobile ones, and for a variety of compelling reasons.

Research from IDC and many other technology research companies predicts that 87 percent of sales for connected devices will be tablets and smartphones during the next four years, and more than 60 percent of commerce is expected to come from mobile devices. Len Covello, CTO of RAW Inc., says that it is important for incentive companies to have a mobile rewards and recognition platform because over 90 percent of U.S. employees used their personal mobile device for work purposes in 2013.

Covello explains that since companies already have engaged mobile users in the workplace and the highest usage of mobile is on social media, expanding employee recognition programs with a social aspect on mobile devices is important. The key to mobile functionality is to offer people the ability to complete things quickly on their phone, such as on-the-spot recognition, in which the user can select from a number of pre-populated categories instead of completing a detailed nomination form or survey on a traditional website. This convenience and immediacy has much more participation and engagement than traditional methods.

Beyond responsive design, native mobile solutions allow companies to take advantage of a number of smart device features that simply aren't available to a responsive website. Creating and maintaining a native app for iOS and Android is more expensive, but residing on users' devices increases brand awareness, allows program sponsors to offer deals based on user information gathered from the device itself (such as location data), and grants marketers the opportunity to alert users in a more effective and direct way than e-mail.

The basic ways to interact with mobile incentive sites are similar to traditional websites, just on a smaller screen, but there are new uses for which mobile technology really breaks through in innovative and dynamic ways:

  • Incentive program participants can make sales claims in real time, which can improve participation and data received, such as customer warranty information.
  • Participants can take photos on their smartphones and upload them to the incentive site to improve quality and accuracy of claims as well as social media participation.
  • The use of Beacons and QR codes speeds up registration for programs, seminars, conferences and training sessions and can track program participation on location.
  • Integrating social media as part of the incentive or loyalty program experience, such as Twitter, can allow participants to tweet about events to earn bonus program award points.
  • Real-time information about store inventory levels can be gathered and integrated into the supply chain to extend the program far beyond incentives.
  • Secure messaging, which is particularly applicable for healthcare and other industries that require HIPAA and/or other regulatory compliance, beyond basic information security.
  • Digital rewards that can be enjoyed in real time, such as downloadable music, movie tickets and in-store retail purchases.

Gold Mobile, a leading mobile technology company that builds sites for a variety of brands, creates interactive mobile apps with uniquely mobile experiences. The functionalities are designed for viewing and interacting on mobile devices, so that in addition to clearer visibility, the experience is completely different from traditional websites. Bob Gold, CEO, explains that when people are on the move, they want and need faster access to information and to be able to take action in real-time.

Tanya Dainoski, marketing manager reports that they developed an incentive system for The EZ Referral Network that enables car dealerships to increase sales, while rewarding loyal customers. The system brings relationship selling back to the car sales process by allowing any customer to refer family and friends to the dealership in return for receiving name brand retail gift cards, a specially branded Visa gift card and soon, a credit toward service and parts at the dealership without the need of a physical card. The results are impressive, because the conversion rate for leads that turn into sales for dealers that are in the network is 35 percent vs. 10 percent for those not participating, and the gross profit is similarly higher. And when the new virtual card system is launched, the cost of the program will be reduced and convenience increased, because there will be no reason to issue or carry physical rewards cards. Participation and engagement is high because the mobile platform is convenient, allows for immediacy of referrals and to invite new members to join the network.