This article first appeared in Mobile Marketer, May 8, 2015.
It is no secret that consumer behavior has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Customers now typically send emails or texts instead of letters, expect immediate communication, use electronic payments such as PayPal more than checks, want immediate gratification and live on their mobile phones.
Despite this, the vast majority of rebate programs have not evolved since their inception.
The traditional process requires consumers to fill out a form, mail-in their submissions, hear nothing for six weeks and, if validated, get a check in the post.
Here are the five ways that mail-in rebates are broken and need to be fixed:
1. Mail-in rebate
Why ask a consumer to fill out a paper form and mail in a proof of purchase such receipt or UPC code when he or she can upload this content online or send it in via email or text message?
Rebates need to adapt to today’s technology to improve the customer experience.
2. Communication black hole
We have all done it: send in your 22-page rebate claim form and do not hear anything for weeks. Programs should immediately send a text or email confirming that the rebate submission and validation.
Further, customers should be able to check the status of their rebate at any time. Keeping the customer in loop should be a program priority.
3. Just offer checks
What does it say about your brand if it offers checks as the only redemption method, especially as many retailers phase out check acceptance?
Cater to consumer preferences by offering modern rewards such as direct deposit, prepaid debit or gift cards and giving consumers a choice in their reward.
4. Do not collect all potential data
Mail-in rebates require manual data entry, which is costly, and do not collect all relevant and available data.
By using digital receipt validation, you can learn much more about consumer purchasing patterns including purchase location, retailer preferences and demographic details, thereby better deploying assets and catering to consumer needs.
5. Produce negative brand sentiment
The traditional rebates experience, which reflects on your brand, is archaic.
Further, many brands opt to maximize rebates breakage to increase short-term profits. However, this too can have a negative impact on the brand. You only need to enter “brand x” + “rebates” into Google to see some of the consumer backlash.
You can save money and improve sentiment by rethinking rebates from the consumer’s perspective.
THERE IS a fine balance between making a great experience and it costing too much in redemptions.
But digitizing your rebates process enables you to optimize the process to achieve your goals, while learning a lot more about your consumers and saving a ton of money.
David Hargreaves is San Francisco-based chief client officer of Snipp Interactive. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.