Traditional rebate programs often go stale after years of driving sales for marketers. Many have stopped attracting new customers at the same rate or are no longer exciting to retail partners. In response, marketers frequently look for other avenues that deliver the benefits of a rebate program, but rarely find methods that work as well.
Instead of changing their promotional strategy, marketers should look to refresh programs with innovations that create excitement for consumers and retail partners. Let’s explore ways to bring innovation to rebate programs:
- Virtualize the reward - If your program allows for digital submissions, but the reward vehicle is a physical reward, it might be time to consider switching to a virtual prepaid product or gift cards. Because physical rewards can take days to get to consumers, they reduce the gratification consumers feel upon receipt. We recently wrote about when to choose a virtual reward.
- Move to instant validation –The validation process is often the component that takes the most time to execute, especially if consumers are required to upload receipts. For marketers within industries that have direct relationships with consumers, like retailers and subscription providers, one solution is to build integrations that allow for a process to intake scant details and confirm validity with a low risk of fraud. For marketers with more indirect relationships with consumers, multiple validation points in the process can be used to deliver quicker validation than scanning and keying receipts.
- Change the distribution model – One of the biggest challenges in rebate programs is ensuring that consumers are aware of promotions; signage and other POP materials are expensive to create, and relying on merchandising teams for display placement can become a logistical nightmare. In contrast, almost every consumer has a mobile device with them while shopping, so consider moving to distribution methods that leverage SMS short code and keywords. This method simplifies the interactions required of retail sales associates or in-home contractors to close sales with rebate offers. Additionally, on-pack materials can include the same information or a QR code.
- Gamify the rebate experience – Guaranteeing a minimum rebate amount or percentage-off, then giving a consumer the chance to get even more, increases excitement. It also gets consumers to engage with the promotion prior to purchase, signaling product interest and purchase intent. No longer do you just learn about the customers who have purchased, but also those who may be considering a purchase.
There are many ways to inject excitement and innovation into rebate programs, but the most successful innovations come from a deep partnership and understanding of marketers’ challenges to develop the right program.
Kevin Palmstein is a Vice President of Product, Alliances and Marketing at YA. He works with clients every day to design scaled rebate programs.