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Top 10 mobile loyalty programs from first three quarters

Best Buy, Walgreens and Sephora are only a few of the brands with campaigns this year that are betting big on loyalty as the centerpiece of their mobile strategies.

From integrating social media to educating consumers about mobile payments, marketers from every sector have stepped up their mobile efforts in building loyalty during the first three quarters of 2013. With the holidays right around the corner, mobile will likely play a key role for marketers not only leading up to holiday shopping, but also afterwards in building long-term relationships with consumers.

Here are the top 10 mobile loyalty campaigns from the first three quarters of 2013, in alphabetical order.

Best Buy fights showrooming with new mobile-focused loyalty program
Best Buy revamped its loyalty program in September with a more comprehensive in-store mobile offering as the company increasingly looks to beat showrooming.

The big box retailer’s new My Best Buy loyalty program replaces Best Buy’s previous Reward Zone and integrates with the company’s iPhone and Android applications.

Consumers that use the app within a geo-fenced area around a store receive points that are credited to their member accounts. Members also receive mobile-exclusive deals in exchange for downloading and using the app.

As showrooming becomes more mainstream for retailers, companies such as Best Buy that are most commonly associated with the price-comparison tactic are increasingly turning to mobile to differentiate loyalty programs with an in-store incentive.

Cosi leverages social sharing to promote sweepstakes, drive mobile engagement
Fast casual chain Cosi ran a campaign in August that emphasized mobile and social as part of a bigger multichannel program to increase loyalty and drive foot traffic.

Cosi ran online and mobile display ads to offer consumers the opportunity to unlock offers and prizes.

The chain created both a desktop and mobile Web experience for the campaign, and content on the mobile site was geared towards actions that primarily take place on smartphones and tablets, such as posting a picture on Instagram.

Although it is becoming more common for these types of fast casual restaurants to reward purchases with a mobile component, what is unique about Cosi’s program is that the brand is also incentivizing social sharing, which is predominately taking place via mobile devices.

Cumberland Farms mobile payments app drives increased transactions, retention
Convenience store chain Cumberland Farms has made a big push into mobile in the past couple of years to streamline the payment process for consumers fueling up.

After an initial pilot in 2012, Cumberland Farms expanded its program in February with an app that links with a checking account to trigger payments.

In addition to cutting down on the amount of time that consumers spend getting gas, the program also saves consumers 10 cents for each gallon bought, which helps drive repeat transactions and a wider adoption of mobile payments for the brand.

Although not during the first three-quarters of 2013, Cumberland Farms most recently added mobile coupons to its mobile app as a way to integrate rewards into its mobile payment offering.

Jamba Juice’s new loyalty program taps mobile for valued-added rewards
Jamba Juice unveiled a new loyalty program called My Fruitful Rewards in July that puts mobile at the core.

The smoothie chain tested a mobile effort in 30 locations this year through a program with Spendo, which lets consumers type in their phone number at the point-of-sale to redeem loyalty points.

Once a consumer is registered, they receive messaging inside the store letting them know that they have accumulated enough loyalty points to redeem a reward.

The loyalty program is expected to launch more broadly during the first-quarter of 2014 in most locations.

Unlike most mobile loyalty programs, all consumers need to participate in Jamba Juice’s loyalty program is a mobile phone number. They do not need to download a mobile app.

Kroger drives convenience for loyalty members with new mobile features
Grocery store chain Kroger invested further in mobile in May to make its loyalty program more convenient for consumers.

Kroger updated its mobile app to include mobile coupons and the ability to renew prescriptions and keep track of fuel rewards. Other store-geared tools include the ability to create shopping lists and view weekly ads.

As smartphones and tablets become the go-to device for meal planning and shopping, more brands such as Kroger are mobilizing loyalty programs to not only make account information easier to access, but also as a way to pack on extra features such as store locators to increase the number of members.

Rita’s Italian Ice harnesses power of mobile to build loyalty club
Rita’s Italian Ice dipped its toes in mobile in March with a campaign for its annual Free Ice day that included QR codes to drive downloads of its new loyalty-based app.

The Rita’s Rewards app lets consumers track each regular Italian ice that they buy. Then consumers receive a free Italian ice on their eighth trip to a store.

In addition to receiving virtual punches for buying products, consumers can also receive a free punch for logging in via Facebook when they sign up for the program, which Rita’s Italian Ice is leveraging to spread the word about its mobile loyalty program.

Rita’s Italian Ice app stands out compared to others this year because of the incentive that the company has placed on driving repeat traffic that can be tracked and then be used to serve out rewards.

Sephora magnifies mobile ambitions via in-store signage, updated app
In August, Sephora took a big step in educating consumers about the benefits of its mobile loyalty program with in-store signage.

Leveraging in-store collateral is a smart way for Sephora to get the word out about the mobile portion of its loyalty program since education is still a major roadblock for many retailers.

Several different calls-to-action around Sephora stores encouraged consumers to mobilize their loyalty card by driving traffic to a mobile site.

When consumers visited the mobile site, a landing page displayed a bar code that could be shown at the point-of-sale to accumulate and redeem rewards.

In addition, the mobile site encouraged consumers to add their loyalty card to Passbook so that the pass is linked to Sephora’s mobile app, which is a loyalty-driver for incremental in-store and online sales.

As part of the pass being incorporated into Apple’s Passbook, the loyalty pass is location-triggered to keep Sephora top-of-mind when a consumer is nearby to a store.

Sweetgreen only accepting mobile payments, cash during launch for payments app
To promote a new loyalty app, fast casual restaurant sweetgreen only accepted mobile payments or cash at launch.

The restaurant’s mobile app lets consumers earn $10 for each $100 that they spend at 16 locations.

The app also gives sweetgreen access to loyalty tracking, analytics and engagement tools so that the brand has a better grasp on how consumers use the app.

By not accepting credit cards, the restaurant made a big commitment to its mobile investments and in educating consumers on how to use their mobile devices to buy items.

Tesco mobilizes loyalty program sign-ups via in-store iPad implementation
To help increase loyalty member sign-ups, Tesco created a specific in-store tablet app this year.

The British retailer attached tablets with the app pre-loaded to the walls of four stores that let consumers learn more about the program and sign-up right on the spot.

Additionally, a call-to-action at the bottom of receipts promoted the loyalty program.

Traditionally, Tesco has relied on in-store paper leaflets to build up its CRM efforts, but the company claims that by taking the process digital, the retailer is able to process more applications in a way that is more accurate at capturing consumers’ information.

Tesco’s loyalty-building effort is an interesting use for mobile from the perspective of employees, too. Since the app is meant to be used internally, staff can help use the app as a digital tool to educate consumers on the benefits of the loyalty program.

Walgreens targets MapMyFitness app users, sees 8.5pc engagement rate
Walgreens has put a lot of marketing muscle into the launch of its Balance Rewards program since launching last year with mobile playing a key role.

In addition to earning in-store points, the mobile app for the program lets members earn points for engaging with healthy activities, such as walking.

In an effort to reach these mobile users, Walgreens worked with MapMyFitness on a new advertising program with sponsored audio shout-outs to consumers who were using MapMyFitness during a workout session. At the end of a workout, app users were served a full-page ad encouraging them to sign up for Walgreens’ Balance Rewards program.

The initiative garnered an 8.5 percent engagement rate, and 680,000 user workouts were logged during the campaign. Additionally, there were 16 million registered users on the platform.

Final Take
Lauren  Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York