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Mobile Marketing: Improving Customer Retention Through Card-Linked Coupons

By: Michael Scheibach

Mobile payments may be the wave of the future, but mobile marketing is the best opportunity today for financial institutions to improve customer relations and to create new revenue potential. This has proved to be the case for Inland Bank & Trust in Oak Brook, Ill. The $1.3 billion asset bank has launched an innovative digital coupon program through a partnership with Boston-based Linkable Networks, which has the ability to provide coupons and card-linked offers at the individual product or SKU level.

“While banks play a key role, solutions to mobile payment applications will continue to be led by merchants,” said Howard A. Jaffee, CEO of Inland Bank & Trust. “Banks have a far larger opportunity in leveraging mobile marketing to enhance the experience that consumers have when using banking products. Our partnership with Linkable Networks is an example. It provides our consumer and commercial clients a great way to take advantage of marketing on a mobile platform. It’s critical to note, however, that while mobile is important, a multichannel solution — one that works across mobile, Internet and traditional media — is more important. Consumers switch constantly from one device or medium to the next and back again.”

The program is designed expressly for customers with an Inland Bank Visa credit or debit card. The only requirement for the cardholder is to register his or her card (a one-time process) with Linkable Networks to enable card-linked offers. Consumers then are able to link their offers from local, regional and national merchants, called Linkables, to their cards with a simple click. Merchants can deliver coupons to consumers on any digital device — personal computer, tablet or smartphone — as well as through traditional media such as print, TV and radio.

Linkable Networks’ secure platform recognizes when a customer has linked to an offer. The system then views the merchant’s credit processing ID to see if the customer has made a purchase at the merchant (i.e., a virtual redemption). Once the system sees a match, it triggers the coupon value to be delivered to the customer’s account. When an offer is purchased, the savings appear directly on the individual’s bank statement.

“Consumers love a deal and they love to save money,” said Tom Burgess, CEO of Linkable Networks. “Banks that make it easy for customers to take advantage of deals and savings will benefit from the strengthened relationship with their customers. The resulting benefits of a stronger relationship is long-term loyalty, fewer customer defections and the ability to upsell/cross-sell more bank products and services.” In addition, Linkable Networks provides a new income source through its revenue-sharing business model.

Inland Bank & Trust and Linkable Networks initiated discussions in April and launched the program three months later, in June of this year. The bank incurred no hard costs, although soft costs included training bank personnel and inserting card-linked offer messaging within the bank’s marketing materials. This was made simple, though, by Linkable Networks’ launch package. And the early response has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Jaffe, who emphasizes the importance of the customer.

“Our primary goal is to use innovation to strengthen our relationship with our customers,” said Jaffe. “We also always strive to offer value-added services to our customers, both consumers and retailers alike. And this is just another concrete example of how we are accomplishing that goal. Of course, customer retention and customer acquisition are also objectives, but we feel that by adjusting the way we involve ourselves in our customers’ lives, especially as technological advances impact them, is how Inland Bank stays relevant.”

Michael Scheibach is executive editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) September 2013 by BankNews Media