Marketing at the Swipe of Your Card

Even though loyalty marketing programs have had roots in the 1790s, the past 20 years it has become a vehicle for marketing and advertising. Like branding, loyalty programs are becoming part of the customer experience. Loyalty marketing programs such as frequent-use plans and incentive programs maintain a strong link between activity and referrals (Reichheld, p. 96).

Bank of America introduced a new form of loyalty marketing in 2014 called card-linked marketing. With Bank of America’s program called BankAmericDeals, customers see offers from merchants and deals when they log in online or on a mobile device. If they activate an offer and make a purchase, a discount will be credited to their bank account at the end of the month:

(SOURCE: Cardlytics)

What makes card-linked marketing unique is the customer purchase history fuels the recommendations, increasing the likelihood of use.

“Card-linked marketing allows us to simultaneously deepen our relationship with customers and with our wholesale merchants. It really is designed to be a win-win-win,” said Jason Blackhurst, Bank of America’s senior vice president of payment strategy and emerging commerce. “Merchants win because we’re driving more people or volume and they get to define how they capture that. For the customer, obviously we hope we’ve built a simplified way of receiving offers that doesn’t require searching multiple websites (Olenski, para. 16).”

A New Frontier

Card-linked marketing

(SOURCE: Cardlytics)

Card-link marketing  potentially can provide a new perspective on purchase behavior. The Mercator Advisory Group states that U.S. merchant-funded rewards programs drove $4.7 billion in credit card purchases in 2014, with that number expected to grow at an annual rate of 20 percent through 2020 (“MasterCards and Cardlytics partner to deliver an integrated card-linked loyalty program to banks of all sizes,” para. 2).

By being able to provide personal marketing messages based on buyer behavior, card-linked marketing provides marketers invaluable information on personalizing the customer experience. Just one swipe of a card can provide measurable rewards for you in the future.


Cardlytics (2014, Mar. 10). “Card-linked marketing: How it works.” [YouTube video file]. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Olenski, S. (2014, Jan. 22). “Card-linked marketing: The new wonder channel?” Fortune. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from

Reichheld, F. (2003). “Loyalty rules: How today’s leaders build lasting relationships.” New York: Harvard Business School Press. p. 96




Superheroes and Predictive Analytics

Captain America The Winter Soldier
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is also a lesson in predictive analytics.

(Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment)

This past weekend, my wife and I were watching my favorite superhero movie (again) “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” One of the most intriguing scenes in the film was when Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) interrogated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) about the terrorist group Hydra’s plan with Project: Insight. Sitwell revealed that Hydra developed the “Zola algorithm,” a formula that predicts can be a threat to Hydra’s reign by using historical data to determine future activity.

My wife said, “Only in a superhero movie.” I responded, “No, it’s predictive analytics.”

What Is Predictive Analytics?

In addition to being a superhero movie with a suspenseful plot, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” introduced the concept of predictive analytics to the masses. Predictive analytics is a data-mining practice that uses a variety of statistical techniques to analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events. The analytic models capture relationships among the data to assess risk or potential associated with the conditions, guiding decision making or transactions.

While it sounds like something out of science fiction, predictive analytics is a standard tool used in many fields, such as insurance, healthcare, actuarial science and retail. The common use of predictive analytics is in credit scoring, where financial companies use scoring models to process a customer’s credit history, payment history and other personal data to rank individuals by their likelihood to make future payments.

The Future of Marketing?

Predictive analytics can help uncover new business opportunities that can increase marketing campaign effectiveness, maximize profitability and minimize customer churn.

(Image courtesy of STAT Labs)

Dmitri Williams, the founder of social analytics company Ninja Metrics, estimates that just five to 10 percent of social media users are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of influence (Wallace, para. 5). Predictive analytics software helps provide greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. It looks at keywords used when social media users post, and the sites they visit when they talk about products.

By using predictive analytics, marketers can gain greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. So with a little creativity, marketers use predictive analytics with emerging media to become a superhero of epic, digital proportions.


Wallace, L. (n.d.) “Impact of predictive analytics on advocacy-based social media marketing.” Software Advice. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from


The Internet of Things

Earlier this month, I learned about the concept called “the Internet of Things,”  or IoT. It sounds like something out of science fiction, but in layman’s terms they are physical objects — including large vehicles and buildings — that have embedded electronics and software that collect data. Probably the best way that I can explain the concept is by showing this video by MIT Media Lab scientist and author David Rose:


Rose refers to these physical objects with embedded electronics as “enchanted objects.” The concept is that the objects would be part of an interconnected network that integrates computer-based systems into everyday use. Examples of IoT applications include thermostats that automatically control heating or appliances that use Wi-Fi for remote monitoring. IoT also involves wearable devices, such as sports watches that measure body mass index and heart rates. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be more 26 billion IoT devices (Morgan, para. 4).

IoT prediction


From a marketing perspective, Io T could be not only a predictor of consumer actions, but enacting consumer actions. For example, ideas such as an intelligent shopping system could monitor purchasing habits or smart home applications that monitor heat, electricity or energy management can promote lower costs and increased efficiency. Merging Big Data and the IoT could allow media companies to show display advertising based on relevant interests.

The Internet of Things could have a lot of personal conveniences, such as adding a grocery item to an online retailer’s shopping basket or an app reminder to take medication. Because of more efficient marketing and advertising practices, the IoT could allow businesses to improve their return on investment quickly.

IoT describes a world where just about anything can be connected and communicate in an intelligent fashion. So it is possible that we are on the cusp of the physical world is becoming one big information system.


Beo Bot (2014, July 24). “The Internet of Things.” [YouTube: Video file]. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from

Morgan, J. (2014, May 13). “A simple explanation of ‘the Internet of Things.’ Forbes. Retrieved February 19, 2016, from

Beyoncé Breaks the Internet … Again

Beyonce Knowles
Singer Beyoncé Knowles at the halftime performance for Super Bowl 50. (COURTESY: The Associated Press)

On Feb. 6, Beyoncé released the song and video to her latest song, “Formation,” on Feb. 6. The song and video featured several provocative images: A post-Hurricane Katrina setting, a black American boy dancing in front of armed police officers and the words “Stop shooting us (in reference to high-profile shootings involving black males by the police):”

(SOURCE: YouTube)

On Feb. 7, Beyoncé followed up by performing “Formation” during halftime of Super Bowl 50:

(SOURCE: YouTube)

And just before her Super Bowl performance, Beyoncé completed her marketing hat trick by announcing she will be starting a new world tour, starting April 27 in Miami.

Of course, this is not the first time Beyoncé has broken the Internet by marketing through emerging media. In 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled album by posting an Instagram video with the caption “Surprise!” announcing a new “visual” album featuring 14 songs and 17 videos (Marechal, para. 2).

This is a promotional picture from "Beyoncé," the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé.
This is a promotional picture from “Beyoncé,” the fifth solo album from the singer Beyoncé. (COURTESY: Columbia Records)

Social platforms frantically propelled the promotion from viral buzz; according to data provided by Twitter, the release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours and mentions of Beyoncé spiked by 500,000 tweets in 24 hours. (Lipshutz, para. 2). The album, released digitally to the iTunes Store without prior announcement or promotion, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Beyoncé sold more than 600,000 copies in the United States in three days, making it the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store.

From a marketing standpoint, Beyoncé is using social media as an influential way to reach audiences. The release of new content to fans and the general public comes across as a “direct gift” without any commercial mediation. The strategy involves strong online customer engagement, a large fan base to promote content freely and a strong emphasis on word of mouth. By relying on her considerable following, Beyoncé demonstrated the power of emerging media as a potent marketing tool.

Beyoncé (2016, Feb. 6). Formation (clean).” YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Lipshutz, J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé’s surprise album: 20 tweets from mind-blown musicians. Billboard. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Marechal, A..J. (2013, Dec. 13). “Beyoncé discreetly releases album, breaks the Internet.” Variety. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Melina & Friends (2016, Feb. 7). “Beyoncé & Bruno Mars Formation Super Bowl 2016 halftime show.”  YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

The Super Bowl and Social Media

There arguably is no greater testament to the concept of audience engagement than the Super Bowl. The 50th edition of the National Football League’s championship game was the third most watched broadcast in U.S. television history, averaging 111.9 million TV viewers (Pallotta & Stelte, para. 2). According to The Wall Street Journal, a 30-second spot cost more than $4.5 million (Perlberg, para. 2).

Arguably no player epitomized the convergence of sports, media and marketing more than Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. On January 27, Newton caused a social media firestorm on race in sports when he told reporters,  “I’ve said this since day one. I’m an African American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to (‘I’m an African American quarterback that may scare some people.'”).”

Then Newton created another social media buzz a few days later when he wore a pair of $800 zebra-striped Versace pants:

Fashion Cam Newton
FILE – In this Jan. 31, 2016 file photo, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gets off the plane at the Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Calif. The Panthers play the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2015, in Super Bowl 50. Newton was snapped Sunday in the zebra stripe, gold swirl rocker pants immediately setting social media and TV talking heads into a frenzy. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Newton’s wardrobe selection particularly became popular on Twitter, where users posted and retweeted comments:

Cam Newton's pants.png
(COURTESY: Twitter)

And finally, Newton became the lightning rod for social media criticism when he left a media conference after the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.

SOURCE: YouTube)

An event like the Super Bowl has become a place for marketers to see how people engage with social during the game. Known as the “second screen experience,” the social media research company Localytics showed that an average of 3.21 app launches per phone during the Super Bowl (O’Connell, para. 6). Of particular note is that music and entertainment apps were opened the most, as major musical acts are the halftime attractions.

For marketers, the Super Bowl should present a golden opportunity to reach audiences. Media retention is imperative in cultivating an audience, so finding ways to keep in touch with users is key. And what other time to reach an engaged audience than the Super Bowl?


“Cam Newton: ‘I’m an African American quarterback that may scare some people.'” (2016, January 27). The Guardian.  Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

O’Connell, C. (2016, Feb. 9). “Social apps show most engagement during Super Bowl 50.” Localystics. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from

Perlberg, S. (2015, Jan. 28). “Super Bowl spending since 2000: The big game ad-tracker.” Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Pallotta, F. & Stelte, B. (2016, Feb. 8). “Super Bowl 50 audience is third largest in TV history.” CNN. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Sonny Black (2016, Feb. 8). “Cam Newton walks out of post game interview (video) Super Bowl 2016.” YouTube . Retrieved Feb. 8, 2016, from

Affiliate Marketing: How Does It Work

Nearly three years ago, a small vegan manufacturing company hired me to start its planned affiliate marketing program. Like most people, I was not familiar with the concept. So I attended the Affiliate Summit convention in New York not only to understand the concept but how I would incorporate it into a company that effectively did not have a sales force.

Affiliate marketing is the concept of where a person with a website, mobile service or another digital platform such as an e-commerce store (known as an affiliate) promotes the product or services of a company (known as an advertiser). The advertiser supplies the affiliate with marketing content, such as links or banner ads, such as these ads that my department created:

ha_barley_max-250x250  ha_jotg_kit-250x250

The affiliate puts the banners, links, logos or text on websites, blogs, emails or text messages for audiences. When consumers clicked on the link or image, they went to the company’s e-commerce store where they can buy the product. In return, the affiliate received a percentage of the commission of the sale (15 percent for up to $100 in sales transactions; 20 percent for sales of more than $100).

However, the most important part of our program was the ability to store cookies on customer browsers. The cookies provided the company with useful consumer information, such as shopping preferences, buying patterns and when allowing our ads to appear on other engine searches. The information was useful in creating sales campaigns and holiday promotions. Eventually, our program grew to where he gave our affiliates toll-free numbers with their personal IDs embedded as another way to track sales.

As a sales technique, affiliate marketing is a fast-growing way for companies to expand their audiences while reaching new audiences. Global e-commerce had a projected sales number of $1.5 trillion in 2015 as European programs are trying to break into the North American market (Glazer, para. 12).  The benefits of an affiliate marketing plan are that it is a low-risk, pay for performance marketing strategy that leverages time efficiently.

Affiliate marketing poster.jpg
(SOURCE: Prestige Marketing)

If your company has not started an affiliate marketing plan, you may be missing out on an effective way of reaching new clients and understanding their marketing needs.


Glazer, R. (2015, Jan. 28). “Five affiliate marketing trends for 2015.” Acceleration Partners. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from

Karr, D. (2014, Jan. 31). “The benefits of affiliate marketing.” Marketing Technology blog. Retrieved January 31, 2016, from


Race and Social Media

Many people use social media platforms such as Facebook for more than sharing personal updates. They now have become go-to outlets for news stories, particularly for younger generations. In a Media Insight polls review, 57 percent of millennials said that they get their news content from Facebook at least once per day (American Press Institute, para. 5).

However, there are differences in how groups use social networks. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey shows that Instagram is a more popular platform for Latino and black users while Pinterest is more popular among white users:

Latino use of social media

Moreover, another study by the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor shows similar results. According to the survey, 60 percent of people on social media platforms share information about a local event or issue. However, the study showed that white respondents were more likely to post about events or entertainment while black users were most likely to share information about education or schools while Hispanic respondents were most likely to share news about crime or public safety (Zhou, para. 6).

As marketers, it is important to know how social media plays a big role in how groups learn about the world. Reading content is not a passive or random choice, and understanding where and how groups make decisions on content depends on which social media platforms that members of groups consider to be reliable. Marketers need to take conscious steps in making sure they create content where minority groups play an active part in participating in the engagement process.

Because while social media may not always facilitate conversation, it does play a factor in how that conversation starts.


American Press Institute (2015, Aug. 21). “Race, ethnicity and the use of social media for news.” Retrieved January 24, 2016, from

Krogstad, J. (2015, Feb. 3). “Social media preferences vary by race and ethnicity.” Pew Research Center. Retrieved January 24, 2016 from

Zhou, L. (2015, Oct. 5). “How race influences social media sharing.” Atlantic. Retrieved January 24, 2016, from


Building for the Moment

I remember when I bought my first smartphone, an Apple iPhone 3.5, in 2012. I remember inspecting the phone and after looking at the screen, I told my wife, “This is more like a small computer than a phone. Why would anyone pay $100 per month for this?” Fast forward to today, I use my smartphone to check my emails, surf the Internet, sending text messages. You name it, and I’m on it.

Consumers are using their smartphones to find answers for what I call “those I-want-to-know, I-gotta-buy, I-want-to-do moments.” Google reported that more people are performing more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries (DeMers, para. 5). Statistics show that media time on mobile devices is the norm:

Mobile media trends

From a marketing perspective, not reaching an audience or through mobile search or display can be detrimental to your business. A 2015 study by eMarketer shows that mobile advertising accounts for 24 percent of all media seen by consumers, but yet advertisers spend only 8 percent of their budgets on mobile ads (Bosomworth, para. 10).

Without the web and more specifically, mobile, you might not have made that sale.


Bosomworth, D. (2015, July 22). Mobile marketing statistics compilation [infographic]. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from 

DeMers, J. (2015, Sept. 29). “The top 7 online marketing trends that will dominate 2016.” Forbes. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from