DM News Essential Guide to Databases: Rewards Network Bolsters Merchant and Member Relationships

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Rewards Network, a provider of loyalty and rewards programs for the restaurant industry, needed to scale its marketing to support a complex business that serves two sets of customers.

One set included consumers who use the network to earn cash-back rewards or airline miles for dining at participating restaurants. The other consisted of merchants who rely on the marketing to drive consumers to their tables.

The company needed a solution to drive unique restaurant recommendations to millions of members and represent the interests of the thousands of restaurants that participate in the dining program. A flexible, easy-to-use cross-channel campaign management application was needed that could be used by marketers - not IT people - to design, test and deliver targeted communications at the right time to engage members, market merchants and drive overall program revenue. Key objectives:

· Increase member participation and retention rates.

· Increase traffic and sales for merchants.

· Deliver meaningful marketing reports to specific merchants.

· Boost corporate revenue.

· Reduce overall marketing costs.

To support its growth, Rewards Network embarked on a multiyear initiative to increase customer traffic to merchant stores and properties, provide more marketing support and promotion for its merchants and strengthen its customer loyalty programs through targeted offers and communications. After evaluating several marketing solutions, it selected Unica's Affinium Suite.

Rewards Network has completed the first phase of this initiative. With only three full-time campaign managers, it now executes nearly 5,000 personalized campaigns yearly, delivering 1.5 million targeted direct mail pieces per quarter and more than 3 million relevant member e-mails monthly.

With its new ability to send targeted communications, the company no longer sends a national restaurant guide to members. Instead, individuals receive restaurant information relevant to their home location, and Rewards Network saves more than $1 million a quarter.

One example of how it is using Affinium is the cross-channel restaurant assignment communication. More than 10,000 restaurants are involved in this campaign designed to target members with offers and promotions to restaurants within a certain distance from their hotel or home. As part of this communication strategy, marketers have the flexibility to determine, based on business rules and customer preferences, which restaurants/merchants are presented to the customer.

Rewards Network's former processes could not scale to support the growing number of merchants and their needs. These targeted communications are now quickly and easily created on a daily basis, leveraging standard communication rules, constraints and templates.

The results:

· Reduced overall marketing costs by more $1 million quarterly.

· Increased marketing velocity by more than 500 percent, from months to days.

· Merchant-level marketing reports that show restaurateurs the frequency and volume of marketing done on their behalf.

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