Yesterday, one of my clients in the Florida tourism industry told me she was approached by a company with a novel idea: We want to give you an app to keep up with your best customers, as well as those who’ve fallen by the wayside. The company can’t claim anything close to the name recognition status of Groupon, LivingSocial or Foursquare, but it’s gaining popularity quickly. It’s called Front Flip, and in my opinion, is worth looking into as a potential addition to your social marketing mix.
My client was offered to be a part of the app’s launch into her market, and asked me very simply, “Should my business use Front Flip?” I decided to turn my answer into a blog post, so I could share it with others.
What is Front Flip?
Think of it as a digital loyalty punch card, but a lot more fun and with built-in analytics you can use for further targeted efforts. What makes it more fun than a punch card is the instant-win, scratch-off theme of the app, where users can actually swipe the screen to “scratch” off and reveal whether or not they won a prize. In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways I’ve seen QR codes used in marketing. The companies website points to these five primary features for businesses:
Connect with customers and engage them on a local level
Reward loyal customers and motivate them to visit more frequently
Capture new customers and win-back people you haven’t seen in a while
Increase sales and influence buying decisions
Generate valuable buzz within your customers’ social networks
Each scratch-off instant win is time-sensitive, pushing customers to act sooner than later — a nice feature for business owners. The app also allows users to easily share the fact that they won on Twitter and Facebook. Even better, users can share a gift with a friend, which creates a reason for “sharing” the deal rather than just posting to Twitter or Facebook that the user won the prize in the first place. This one-on-one style social sharing has a big impact on the recipient. Another cool feature is the ability to send “gifts” (deals that don’t require a lucky scratch-off result) to loyal guests or those who haven’t visited in a while, without requiring them to check in. This is a nice proactive feature akin to what you might accomplish with opt-in SMS (text message) marketing.
Why Front Flip is very different from Groupon, LivingSocial, Amazon Local, Google Offers and all of the other daily deal sites
At first glance, it’s easy to look at Front Flip as another daily deal-style app with a unique spin. In fact, it’s actually more like Foursquare than the daily deals apps because a) it’s location-based (the others aren’t really) and b) it’s focused on bringing people back (loyalty marketing) rather than getting new customers in the first place, which is what Foursquare offers through mayor status and multiple check-ins. Also, Front Flip doesn’t take a portion of your sales as a result of the deals. Instead, they charge an upfront fee based on company size.
Front Flip fills in gaps where Foursquare is lacking
As I mentioned, Front Flip is more about bringing folks back than it is bringing them in the first place. Foursquare is much better at doing this than the daily deals sites, however there are a few features of Front Flip that fill a current gap in Foursquare, and that is the ability to send offers to a consumer regardless of whether or not there was a check-in. This could be very useful in bringing back customers who were once loyal, but stopped visiting for some reason. A Front Flip “gift” could be just the engagement they need to come back. I really like this feature because it uses the insights used from incentivized check-ins (which is what Foursquare is good at doing) and proactive messaging (which is what SMS, or text message, marketing is good at doing). So, essentially you have proactive, but informed, outreach to engage two certain types of customer we should all be interested in: the loyal customer and the once loyal customer.
Should my business use Front Flip?
The idea of gleaning user data from frequent visits is actually not a new concept at all. Grocery stores have been doing this for ages. CVS and Walgreen’s have both physical and digital rewards cards. My local Moe’s Southwestern Grill has a POS (point-of-sale) system that captures visits through mobile phone collection, and rewards accordingly through SMS (text message) marketing. Another local restaurant I visit offers a magnetic strip card that, when swiped by my server, tracks my visits and rewards after a number of visits. None of this is new. A location-based “check-in” style app is also not a new concept. Foursquare and its competitors are built for this very purpose and major social networks like Facebook and Google+ have functionality built in to their mobile apps and mobile websites. Apps allowing business to offer deals that drive action is also not a new concept as Groupon, LivingSocial have shown. Proactive marketing to lists is as old as sending texts and emails to an opt-in list.
Despite the lack of novelty of each of the main pieces of the Front Flip puzzle, it’s the way these pieces come together in an integrated, all-in-one package that really impresses me. Front Flip has created a simple system that is easy and inexpensive to do combine things that were once disconnected, custom-only, or expensive solutions (if not all three). Front Flip gives the power of “sophisticated enough” loyalty marketing to those who can’t afford a complex custom solution. When Square launched, it certainly wasn’t the first company to allow businesses to accept credit cards, but it did revolutionize the market in that it made the cost of entry very low and easy to launch for small businesses. Front Flip does the same for basic loyalty marketing and, in my opinion, is worth a try for small businesses, especially those in the tourism industry like my client’s that have physical locations with visiting customers (think restaurants, attractions, shopping outlets, retail stores, etc.). Where I don’t see a match currently is a service industry where customer retention is a bit more complex and perhaps less frequent, and where a physical “check-in” may not be possible (think about many involved in the wedding industry, for example). Overall, I am very impressed by Front Flip and look forward to helping clients add it to their marketing mix.
What are your thoughts on Front Flip? Has your business used Front Flip to successfully achieve a loyalty marketing goal? I would love to hear about it.