Key to Successful Incentive Fulfillment

May 01, 2010

Incentive Magazine

Accurate, timely, and cost-efficient delivery of incentives defines effective fulfillment.  In the digital age, some audience’s respond well to e-mail and technologically advanced fulfillment approaches.  Yet, others prefer non-interactive delivery methods, including direct mail, but their costs are high due to postage, printing, and, often, third-party labor costs.

To combat cost and time challenges, marketers should consider working with full-service fulfillment and incentive partners that can provide integrated solutions.  Having fewer parties handle different pieces in a campaign results in more efficient execution and decreases the chance of errors.  Marketers also realize significant savings on hard costs by avoiding markup fees from multiple vendors.  Soft costs decrease dramatically as internal resources are freed up when marketers no longer have to deal with multiple contracts.  They can focus less on logistics and more on future campaigns and initiatives.

Scotts LawnService recently executed a winning fulfillment strategy as part of a loyalty campaign.  It wanted to keep customers who were likely to cancel their lawn service, while expanding its e-mail database.  Scotts also wanted to encourage customers to use its EasyPay online billing option.

Scotts distributed a postcard pointing customers to a Web site to register and receive a $25 gift certificate valid among 14,000 restaurants nationwide.    Once someone registered or signed up for EasyPay, he or she received an e-mail gift certificate code sent directly by Scott’s incentive partner.  Scotts saw a triple-digit percentage lift, not just because of the attractive incentive, but also due to the efficiency of the process.

In another successful campaign, Scotts sent an e-mail as well as a billing stuffer offering a $50 gift certificate with the purchase of an additional service.  Scotts worked with the same partner to distribute the incentive via direct mail and e-mail, understanding that marketers lose valuable time and money by coordinating fulfillment tasks themselves.  Scotts met direct-mail cost challenges by entrusting one provider with all fulfillment activities, including developing and printing the award letters, inserting the gift certificates, and shipping the promotion to customers.

Marketers with physical stores have incorporated incentives directly at the checkout counter to draw customer traffic.  This way, awards are delivered with positive, in-person experiences that increase incentive interest and loyalty.  Incorporating incentives electronically into the point-of-sale (POS) system ensures automatic delivery and minimizes human errors.

Motherhood Maternity implemented a promotional campaign using a POS-system fulfillment strategy at 550 nationwide stores.  The incentive sought to increase average transaction values, as the retailer awarded a $50 gift certificate from a third party online retailer when customers spent $75 or more.  Electronic gift certificate codes and redemption information were printed on customer receipts.  Cashiers offered encouragement and redemption instructions.  As a result of the campaign, Motherhood Maternity saw average in-store transaction values grow by more than 20 percent. 

Regardless of which strategy is chosen, marketers have shown that attention to fulfillment detail is just as crucial to customer engagement and loyalty as the incentive itself.  When done right, fulfillment opens the door to return on investment and long-term customer loyalty.