How payments can drive brand loyalty in 2022

Brett Narlinger, head of global commerce, Blackhawk Network

The new year seems to creep up earlier every January. After a few blurred months that begin with pumpkin spice lattes and culminate with the last-minute holiday shopping melee, marketers must quickly pivot to the following year’s scrum for consumers’ attention. There’s increasing pressure to create powerful marketing programs that earn maximum ROI. 

As marketers look to squeeze everything out of their 2022 budgets, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every interaction stands to drive lasting loyalty with customers, and each interaction is valuable — right down to the payment experience. 

Gone are the days when a point-of-sale transaction was just a transfer of funds. Forward-thinking marketers approach payment experiences as untapped multifaceted opportunities to create long-lasting loyalty and drive meaningful relationships with existing, new and prospective customers. Businesses are taking this concept a step further by ensuring that the rewards and incentives they use to drive loyalty are embedded into the payment process — and actually get used. 

Bridging the gaps between shopping channels

People shop online, in-store, via mobile and on retailers’ apps — and it’s now expected that they’ll earn rewards and loyalty points for their purchases. Shoppers also want the option to pay however they feel most comfortable. Increasingly, software-as-a-service-based technologies connect all these avenues into one cohesive shopping — and payment — experience across channels. 

For example, consumers can shop within a retailer’s app, pay for their purchases via a method (or methods) of their choosing, have their goods shipped to them or prepared for in-store pickup and then quickly receive points earned for the purchase for future buying experiences. 

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the quest for customer loyalty. As the lines between shopping channels blur amid the ongoing pandemic, people now expect to shop wherever it’s convenient — and expect seamless payment experiences at checkout. 

Innovative businesses understand that those payment experiences must include digital options. For example, Blackhawk Network research found that 88% of shoppers surveyed now use a digital wallet of some kind. In addition to enabling credit and debit card spending, digital wallets now allow people to load prepaid cards, gift cards, rewards and loyalty points. 

Accepting the payment methods people prefer across different channels helps boost sales and encourages shoppers to engage with and buy from brands in the future. 

Embedding branding throughout meaningful engagements 

No matter the size of an organization running a promotion, the essential step of thanking people for their business or offering customers special gifts with a purchase reinforces branding and drives ongoing loyalty. Embedding branded rewards or points into the payment process connects people to the brand wherever they are and helps keep positive brand sentiments top of mind for weeks, months or more. It can also help funnel money back into the business.

People want to use their rewards and points; research from Blackhawk Network found that 30% of Americans surveyed plan to use rewards or loyalty points to make purchases in the next year. Offering the chance to use branded currency reinforces the behavior that led to the reward in the first place and creates ongoing touchpoint opportunities that drive engagement long after point-of-sale. 

These meaningful engagements lay the foundation for lasting relationships. Repeated brand interactions can also provide invaluable insights into individuals’ shopping habits that open up cross- and up-sell opportunities. 

Creating emotional connections through personalization and inclusivity 

It’s a marketer’s responsibility to find clever ways to make existing, new and prospective customers feel special. Engaged and emotionally connected customers have higher lifetime value, are more loyal to brands and become brand advocates at higher rates than unconnected customers.

Democratized payments that allow people to shop via many channels give folks a sense of community and self. For example, enabling shoppers to use prepaid and gift cards or loyalty points via digital shopping channels empowers those who may not have debit or credit cards and otherwise would not shop online or via mobile. This demographic represents significant buying power and will appreciate those efforts to offer inclusivity — as well as the convenience that payment experience provides them. 

Additionally, adding a personal touch to promotions or rewards can create a lasting impact. For instance, businesses of all sizes can feature their brand and logo on prepaid cards — in addition to personalizing the cards with the recipients’ names and a custom message. Whether thanking them for their business, following up after a sales meeting or rewarding them for taking part in a special promotion, this makes a difference and makes the card theirs instead of just another generic marketing ploy. 

In 2022, as marketers battle for shoppers’ attention, businesses striving to stand apart are reinforcing their brand in meaningful and unobtrusive ways. Empowering people to shop on their terms means creating smooth payment experiences that showcase branding while laying the foundation for ongoing brand loyalty. 

Sponsored By: Blackhawk

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