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:
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-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 https://youtu.be/pcQ85NjX6fo
Olenski, S. (2014, Jan. 22). “Card-linked marketing: The new wonder channel?” Fortune. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2014/01/22/card-linked-marketing-the-new-wonder-channel/2/#6b1737955392
Reichheld, F. (2003). “Loyalty rules: How today’s leaders build lasting relationships.” New York: Harvard Business School Press. p. 96