This article, written by Ora Solomon, was originally published in Loyalty Management in September, 2012.
It’s a given of loyalty marketing that the more engaged your customers are with your brand, the more likely they are to stick around. Keeping the spark of engagement in your relationship with your customers can be challenging enough in one market. Scatter those customers across the globe and throw in 20 or more different languages to communicate with them, and staying together gets even more complex. How can you ensure your multi-language loyalty marketing efforts are successful? Let’s take a look at five successful localized strategies by global brands.
1. Know what you need to change for each region.
What works in one language doesn’t necessarily work in all languages. Before expanding your loyalty program to a new region, start with basics like the business, product or brand name. Do you need to change it or does the English version work? Amazon Prime, the online retail giant’s popular membership program that provides benefits like expedited shipping, offers essentially the same service in all its European markets but goes by a different name in France, for example.
Or you might need to make changes due to cultural differences. When customers in more conservative Middle Eastern and North African countries go to sign up for membership on the H&M website, they won’t see the photos of women modeling swimsuits that customers in other markets might see. Instead H&M displays just the bathing suit. Working with a localization agency can help you assess what kinds of changes you need to make.
2. Tailor services and benefits to the market.
Multi-language loyalty marketing offers a great opportunity to play to your brand’s strengths in a particular market. What inspires a customer in the States to loyalty might not be what keeps a customer in Japan coming back. Nike.com, for example, offers free shipping to members but customizes it for different markets. In the U.S., where Nike is primarily an athletic brand, members get free shipping on everything except customized NikeID products, which are more style than sport. In Japan, where style rules and NikeID is incredibly popular, members get free shipping only on NikeID products. Nike cultivates loyalty by tying benefits to its most popular products in each country.
3. Make it mobile.
In many countries, mobile is far more popular than any other kind of medium, making a mobile program crucial to the success of your strategy. Mobile also gives you the ability to interact with customers when they’re in the store, making them much more likely to appreciate a special offer or discount. Abroad and in the States, IKEA uses mobile as an integral part of its IKEA Family program. Customers can sign up in-store using a tablet, receive SMS offers while shopping, and even send a text to get an authentication code if they forget to bring their membership card.
4. Turn it into a game.
Many brands are integrating mobile and gamification as a part of their loyalty marketing, particularly in international markets. Gamification is fast becoming one of the most powerful tools for promoting deep engagement with your brand. The McDonald’s McSundae Meltcampaign in Germany is a great example. During the summer campaign, customers could scan posters in public places for a QR code good for a free ice cream. The twist? The code lasted only as long as it takes for an ice cream to melt, so customers had to race to the closest McDonald’s to claim the ice cream before the code “melted.”
5. Make it social.
According to Jim Sullivan of Colloquy, 42% of consumers surveyed in India prefer to receive information from their favorite brands via social media, compared to 32% in the U.S. and Canada. Consequently, one of the most innovative uses of social media to promote brand loyalty comes from India, where snack company Hippo recently used social media to build an avid online following and solve its supply chain problems at the same time. Using Twitter, Hippo asked its followers to report places where the snacks were out of stock. Within hours, tweets were pouring in reporting out-of-stock shops and stores in over 45 cities. Hippo was able to quickly restock and meet demand by engaging its customers with the problem. The most frequent tweeters even received free “hungry hampers” of Hippo snacks. Brands looking to expand into India should look to the Hippo example as a case study in using social media for loyalty marketing in India and elsewhere.