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Transaction marketing reshapes retail in 2011

Transaction marketing gained widespread acceptance among retailers in 2010, as they began to recognize marketing in the electronic banking channel as a far more cost effective way to encourage repeat business, increase the average transaction sizes and drive same-store sales. It enabled retailers to overcome the marketing waste associated with other channels -- like Groupon -- and consistently provided compelling and measurable return on their marketing investment. The coming year will be even more exciting for transaction marketing as it is evolving in ways that stand to reshape the retail industry by providing unprecedented insight into consumer purchasing and behavior, mobile delivery of offers, increased consumer reach and prepaid cardholder targeting.

The bottom line is transaction marketing affords unprecedented insight into consumer activity and purchase behavior and it will require marketers to re-evaluate the effectiveness of their loyalty programs. For the first time in the history of the retail industry, marketers will be able to quantitatively know, for example, how loyal their “most loyal” customers truly are because they can see how that customer’s average ring or purchase frequency compares to that customer’s activity with a competitor. 

Many retailers have traditionally measured loyalty by purchase frequency and the amount spent with the retailer, however, transaction marketing has shown us that these measurements are wrong; they simply identify the biggest spenders in a category and rarely, if ever, predict how much of a customer’s spend a retailer successfully captures or might capture. Beyond driving profitable top-line growth, insights gained by specifically measuring consumer spending, available only through transaction marketing, will continue to give retailers unprecedented levels of insight into consumer activity, loyalty and purchase behavior.

As transaction marketing platforms partner with leading mobile financial services providers, retailers will see consumers embrace transaction marketing offers presented through their mobile devices. This mobile evolution will be invaluable to marketers, considering the exponential customer adoption of the mobile banking channel. Transaction marketing’s extended reach will improve the visibility of offers, as consumers will be able to view and redeem them while they are on the go. Plus, offers will be even more accessible to younger market segments, such as Gen Y, who are naturally more inclined to bank through their mobile devices compared with older generations. 

In 2011, the number of financial institutions using transaction marketing as a customer rewards channel will reach a critical mass in terms of adoption. Last year, hundreds of financial institutions partnered with transaction marketing platform providers. As a result, retailers are now able to present targeted offers to more than 10 million households directly through their bank accounts. Such partnerships are expected to continue increasing in numbers.

This year, we will see retailers have the ability to effectively market directly to underbanked consumers for the first time. The growing number of consumers who choose prepaid cards as alternatives to traditional bank accounts with debit and credit cards represent a significant and rapidly growing market segment that has been very difficult for retailers to reach. Similar to debit and credit card users, prepaid cardholders can view offers through online and mobile access to their prepaid card activity and redeem them through the simple use of their card.

This underbanked market segment is estimated to be 60 million strong and, through transaction marketing, retailers will be able to reach them directly, gaining valuable insight into their brand loyalty and purchase behavior.

A better way to market is possible through transaction marketing as it provides retailers with a methodology to overcome many of the challenges and shortcomings long inherent with on-line and off-line channels. By aggressively targeting the right consumers through arguably their most trusted online venue -- their own bank accounts -- retailers that leverage transaction marketing in 2011 will be at the forefront of the evolution that changes the economics of acquiring and retaining customers.

Scott Grimes is CEO of Atlanta-based Cardlytics, a transaction marketing company that unites banks and merchants to offer new ways of reaching consumers. He can be reached at scott@cardlytics.com.