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Purchase Behaviors, Promo Codes and Offers, Oh My!

by: Dave Walters (@_DaveWalters)
04 October 2012

One of the coolest aspects of my work as a product evangelist is meeting with our customers every week. I’m never quite sure what kind of marketer I’m likely to run into — the super-smart 20-something who thinks about how email and social interact; someone 10 years older who has a deep direct marketing background that’s driven by testing offers; or even a multichannel marketer who lives the phrase “marketing automation.”

Maybe coolest of all, I see all these marketers progressing through the knowledge cycle at an ever-faster pace. Young folks are embracing tried-and-true DM theories, while veterans are expanding the thinking around social. It’s a great time to be a marketer — and have a whole new set of technology tools at your beck and call.

Incenting Repeat Purchases
I was sitting with a client last week whose business is focused on selling $10 to $20 consumables around a major purchase every three to five years (think the classic razor/razor blade marketing, although this industry has slightly higher prices).

As we discussed a new set of technologies available to the seasoned marketing team (new website with a better cart, the latest Adobe Web analytics tools and Silverpop Engage), we began brainstorming ways to incent repeat purchases. And guess what surfaced quickly? Yep, the old punch card program — buy six, get one free. But how would you pull something like that off without all the cost and complexity of a full-on loyalty program?

Capturing Purchase Behaviors
The simple answer lies in an ecommerce system that’s able to capture purchase behavior data at the SKU level for a logged-in user. This keeps track of how many “razor blades” a given customer has purchased and can be the primary mechanism to drop someone into an automated campaign. For example, you might keep that logic in one of your back-end systems, or you might even populate a Silverpop relational table with the data.

Once the purchase criteria have been met, it’s simply a matter of delivering a single-use promo code via email to your happy customer. Some marketers will have systems to manage these instantly generated codes, while some will leverage agency partners to execute these campaigns. Regardless of how the number is generated, you know it will be redeemed that single time in your shopping cart flow on the site.

The key is to leverage dynamic content (the promo code) within a behavior-triggered message to that user. And the only way to manage one-to-one promo code delivery at scale is to have an always-on program running – constantly looking for users who meet the criteria, and then executing the campaign in real time.

Building Brand Love
Don’t underestimate the brand love this can create at the customer level. While most marketers will construct a literal program that communicates the “Buy 6, Get 1 Free” up front, don’t be afraid to use the same methods to deliver great offers to existing customers as a pure surprise. Imagine seeding your 50 best customers (by specific SKU purchase history) with a new flagship product – and then enabling them to share every aspect of the experience via social media.

These are the types of new-school marketing campaigns I’m seeing more of every week. Marketers are using overt customer behaviors to drive more topical and timely messages designed to sell more products. Some brands do this very publicly, and some are quietly building lists of great customers who are about to become even bigger fans when they’re treated like VIPs.

We’re in a world where the thinking is there, the tools are now at scale and customers are hungrier than ever for a differentiated experience. Will you be the marketer who makes the time for a brilliant new campaign for your best customers?

Related Resources:
1) Tip Sheet: “7 Tips for Creating an Effective Modern-Day Loyalty Program
2) Blog: “Using Real-Time Data and Relational Tables to Drive Customer Emails
3) Webinar: “Beyond the Discount: Tackling the Fundamentals of Experience-based Loyalty Programs

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