Spendgo Helps Raise Funds for Folds of Honor Foundation

Spendgo's Loyalty Marketing Solution Facilitates Bidding Experience at Restaurant Leadership Conference

Phoenix, AZ – April 4, 2016 – Today, in conjunction with the Restaurant Leadership Conference (RLC), Spendgo, a provider of personalized customer engagement solutions for restaurants and retailers, announced that it is helping to raise funds for the CARRE Foundation’s “Spotlighted Charity,” the Folds Of Honor (FOH), which provides educational scholarships to the children of fallen and disabled service members. Spendgo’s easy to use solution facilitates a larger numbers of bids, increasing the money raised for FOH. The RLC is taking place from April 3- 6 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

Spendgo’s customer experience platform allows RLC attendees to use the conference app and Spendgo kiosks located throughout the show to bid on silent auction items. The bids will be communicated through leader boards and individuals will get notifications when they’ve been outbid to gamify the experience and help drive donations.

“We really value the partnership with our conference sponsors,” said Luke Kircher, conference director, Foodservice, Winsight Events. “Spendgo has helped elevate the attendees’ experience, awareness and participation with CARRE and its “Spotlighted Charity” FOH, in a meaningful way. The whole bidding experience is powered by the Spendgo content engine and loyalty platform, which makes it very easy for our conference guests to bid on auction items.”  

“We are honored to partner with CARRE to support the FOH charity,” said Ivan Matkovic, founder and CEO of Spendgo. “Families face harsh realities when a loved one in uniform is killed or wounded and we are happy to play a small part in easing some of their burdens.” 

Sarah White, one of the first children to benefit from FOH, is the daughter of US Air Force Captain Dennis Michael White. Her life was forever changed over Easter weekend of 1995 when her dad set out on a routine training mission and never came home. Since the loss of her father Sarah has gone on to earn her bachelor’s from Auburn University thanks to FOH.

 

About Folds Of Honor

Folds of Honor is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have fallen or been disabled while serving in the United States armed forces. Our educational scholarships support private education tuition and tutoring for children in grades K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and dependents. Founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard who served three tours of duty in Iraq, Folds of Honor is proud to have awarded more than 10,000 scholarships in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including more than 2,500 in 2015 alone. For more information or to donate in support of a Folds of Honor scholarship, visit www.foldsofhonor.org.

 

About Spendgo

Spendgo, located in San Francisco, Calif., helps businesses create digital customer loyalty programs and marketing campaigns that are particularly well suited for in-store, mobile, and

online businesses. Companies can send offers via email or text, and integrate offers with the POS system so a customer can redeem incentives on the spot. Spendgo partners with industry leaders in POS, tech support, mobile payments, ecommerce, and mobile marketing and has a wide range of clients including Jamba Juice, Round Table Pizza, Cold Stone and more. For more information, please visit www.spendgo.com

FSTEC 2015

Many brands showcased their latest and greatest tech for this week's FSTEC conference.  Much like the other vendors, Spendgo was also there featuring our newest in-store engagement experience. However, we had a very special and unique opportunity to showcase our new product by powering the CARRE Silent Auction in support of Folds of Honor -- a foundation providing educational support to the families and spouses of our wounded and fallen soldiers. Find out how you can get involved in the Folds of Honor.

 
 

Via our new touchscreens with video display, attendees were able to enter bids digitally to win some cool tech prizes -- Apple Watch, Phantom 3 Drone, Amazon Echo, weekend stay at the Washington Marriot, and more. Thanks to the collaboration from the CARRE Foundation, Winsight, and an additional donation from the Washington Marriot at Wardman Park, all the proceeds went to the Folds of Honor.

Featured during the event were Spendgo's new Android based customer displays. Combined with our omnichannel customer experience attendees were able to view their bids online and in the conference app. We're extremely appreciative of being able to contribute to the Folds of Honor  charity and look forward to creating an even better experience next year

Contact us to learn more about how Spendgo can power your omnichannel experience.

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Top 5 April Fool’s Jokes (from Companies)

1. Amazon Circa 1999

Ahh! What time-warp 1999 website is this? The threat of not easily finding Prime goods was the second worst thing, after the scare of dial-up connection returning. Touchè Amazon, touchè.

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2. Tesco Trampoline Shopping Aisles

We’re all for bouncing your way to loyalty rewards. Maybe they’ll have extra points on the top shelves.

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3. Domi-No-Driver

“The World’s First Auto-Nom-Nom-Nom-Ous Delivery Vehicle” Need we say more? Check out the #DomiNoDriver spotting out in the UK here.

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4. Petco’s Pet Selfie Stick

This unfortunately is a joke. Adding a treat at the end of the stick will capture some purrific shots. Someone’s Instagram is about to blow up! Check it out here.

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5. Volvo Personal Airbags

Volvo Car Japan released a video of their new personal airbags — providing protection to those #TextingWhileWalking and oncoming collisions with people or that parking meter that came out of nowhere is frequent. Watch it here.

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The Top 5 Myths of Customer Loyalty Programs

A good customer loyalty program has the ability to increase sales, customer visits, and lift average ticket dramatically. Yet, with a general lack of knowledge regarding loyalty programs, many companies fail at creating and maintaining a truly successful and engaging loyalty program. Because it is cheaper to retain an existing customer rather than buying a new one, it is vital to understand the in’s and out’s of launching a customer loyalty program prior to launch date. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 most common myths associated with customer loyalty programs.

  • Myth 1 – Loyalty programs work better when the reward is bigger
    • Untrue. Ask any customer – a tailored and customized experience trumps a reward with a larger value any day. Not to mention the inherent value of personalization is far reaching – customers will remember the experience and return for repeat business with personalization and great customer service. Loyalty programs are only truly beneficial when the customer can capitalize on the benefits. Just think – it’s not the size of the reward, but the way the customer is valued and rewarded for their continued patronage.
  • Myth 2 – The loyalty program will spread on its own
    • Like wildfire, right? Wrong! The success of any customer loyalty program depends on your customer’s being adequately informed. But don’t panic – this doesn’t mean you need to have a huge marketing budget. Use your employees to spread the word, generate hype, and sign up new members.
  • Myth 3 – Customer loyalty programs must be for select customers or existing ones only
    • This only works if you’re trying to be exclusive or members-only, which isn’t applicable for a majority of businesses creating customer loyalty programs. Loyalty programs are about gaining loyalty from your customers  – not excluding a large chunk. Every customer can be a loyal customer if you treat them right.
  • Myth 4 – A customer loyalty program will definitely increase sales
    • We like to think so, but things can definitely go south if you don’t setup your program correctly. If you setup your program specifically to increase sales, you’re unlikely to succeed, just like if your program is too complex or it takes too long to earn a reward.  A successful loyalty program is setup to benefit your actual customers – take the customer’s wants, needs, and expectations into account and you’ll be on your merry way to increased sales.
  • Myth 5 – Your customer loyalty program will translate to loyal customers
    • Attention span is low among consumers. As most loyalty programs are fleeting, getting your customer’s attention quickly and being able to hold it is essential for success. Because of this, it’s important to make long standing customers feel like their loyalty is being adequately rewarded. Nurture the relationship with constant customer engagement and relevant rewards. Dependability keeps your customers coming back and further strengthens brand loyalty. Decreased attrition = increased sales.

Success and failure of customer loyalty programs depends on various internal and external factors. High team member involvement and widespread knowledge dramatically increases customer participation and subsequently, increases sales. On the flipside, a lack of understanding and personalization of rewards causes a severe decrease in customer participation and therefore, less chance of success. Make your customers feel important and include your team members as vital components in your marketing efforts. We guarantee you will not regret it!

A Complete Guide to the New Fan Experience

These days, going to a game isn’t just about your team winning anymore. Instead, it’s an all-encompassing fan experience that includes arriving at the stadium, tailgating festivities, getting food, drinks, and team swag, waiting in line for the bathroom, and of course, watching your team play.

In today’s high tech world, the conversations heard around a stadium are drastically different from 10, even 5 years ago. With the launch of Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, and Instagram in 2010, our fixation with social media has saturated the market with different twists on sharing content. A typical game day experience includes conversations about poor cell service, insufficient Wi-Fi, and the painstaking inability to post updates and share statuses on social media. To keep up and stay relevant, organizations have had to implement serious tech upgrades to accommodate the changing game day experience. Plus, be honest, who doesn’t want to boast (at least a little) that they’re at the game and everyone else isn’t?

Just look at Levi’s Stadium in the heart of Silicon Valley, currently the most high-tech stadium in the world. Designed with the Silicon Valley tech nerds in mind (ourselves included), Levi’s opened in July 2014 with over 400 miles of cabling, 1,200 access points, and over 40 Gb/s of Internet capacity. To put that into perspective, it means 70,000+ attendees can all connect to the Internet at the same time without running into network overload issues. Plus, there’s even a tablet app which locates the bathroom with the shortest line or the parking lot entrance closest to your seats. Talk about some serious game day convenience!

This increase in direct connectivity with fans means that teams can boost revenue at differing touch points for the duration of the game, including downtime like halftime or in between innings. Bored between quarters? Play interactive games with other fans or enjoy team trivia for chances to win game day prizes. Don’t like your nosebleed seats? In just a few clicks, upgrade to better seats, walk down, show your upgrade confirmation on your phone, and enjoy the better view. With so many people plugged in at all times, it’s no wonder teams are racing to stay connected in order to deliver more personalized services and experiences. Plus, the more fans stay connected, the more likely they are to share (and the more data insights marketers can gather).

For us here at Spendgo, we’re embracing this changing fan experience and view it as a great opportunity to get to know your already diehard fans, as well as engage them with more personalized experiences. One of the main benefits of a loyalty program like ours is that it has the flexibility to reach many different tiers of fans. With your diehard fans, loyalty is obviously not an issue – you know they’ll be there until the end (red and gold for life, baby!). Leverage this dedication and reward them as being your biggest advocates with team swag or exclusive access opportunities. For everyone else, it’s about being able to engage them in the conversation and further drive sales. With Spendgo, whether you’re a local business or kiosk within the stadium, providing cross-vendor promotions is a great way to introduce or call attention to each of your businesses. Why not enjoy a free garlic fries reward after purchasing a jersey from the clubhouse store. If a customer has 5 points until their next reward, drive them to reach it and reward them instantly or allow them to save it until the next game. Acquire new members through social sharing and even sharing rewards with friends to elevate the game experience and your brand. Not only have you made season ticket holders feel important, but you’ve just created one more loyal fan who will remember your generosity.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to upgrade, reward your fans, and win (both on and off the field)!

The Epicness of March Madness Offers

The time has come once again. An entire month when it is totally acceptable to have basketball on at all times of the day. It’s March Madness — a month where 68 amped-up teams face off for the ultimate prize – eternal glory in the college basketball hall of fame. And for us less-athletically gifted spectators, we take full advantage of the epic deals while smack talking our friend’s (obviously terrible) brackets.

Domino’s 50% Off

One of the heavy hitters, Domino’s has always been easy to spot in the assembly of ads. Rather than going with their “Pick to Win” strategy utilized the last several years (think – Road to Domination campaign), Domino’s decided to make all pizzas 50% off from March 16th – 22nd. The catch? The deal is only applied when orders are made using Domino’s digital ordering channels, in an ongoing effort to ramp up their digital presence.

Being one of their busiest times of year (Domino’s sold over 1.7 million pizzas during last year’s Final Four and Championship games alone), Domino’s doesn’t necessary need to gamify their promotion to make a huge impact during the tournament. And hey, who doesn’t like half off pizzas?

Pizza Hut Million Dollar Half-Court Shot

Not to be outdone, Pizza Hut is giving away $1 million to the customer who can make a half-court shot backwards on April 9th at the legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. As part of their effort to promote their Stuffed Crust pizza, Pizza Hut will use the original marketing campaign, featuring NBA legend David Robinson and anchorman Dick Vitale, which encourages customers to eat their pizza backwards. Using the hashtag #StuffedCrustShot, Pizza Hut is reintroducing the old favorite for the original price of $9.99.

With a chance to win $1 million and take a shot on the prodigious court, we think this contest will definitely garner attention among young hopefuls.

Yahoo! Celebrity Bracket Challenge

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition. Except maybe some celebrity competition, like All-Star players Paul George and Skylar Diggins, Hollywood celebs such as Alyssa Milano and Jeremy Piven, Pro-Bowler Stephen Gostkowski, and so many more. To sweeten the deal, each celebrity pool has different prizes for their respective winners. The prizes may not measure up to the 2014 Warren Buffet and Yahoo $1B Perfect Bracket Challenge with infinitesimal odds of winning, but they do include awesome autographed gear, guitars, gaming consoles, tablets, meet-and-greets, and more!

ESPN 2015 NCAA Bracket Challenge

This year, ESPN has brought back their Bracket Challenge, sponsored by Best Buy and All State, with a prize package of about $30,000 going to a randomly selected, top 1% bracket performer. With one of the highest participation rates in bracket challenges, you’ll either have to be the luckiest person in the U.S. or a professional bracket guru to even be entered into this challenge. But hey, it’s free to join, so why not try your odds? And in the words of beloved Hunger Games fanatics, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Buffalo Wild Wings GameBreak
The pinnacle of March Madness promotions, campaigns, and games. On March 7th, Buffalo Wild Wings released their first of many ad campaigns, featuring Steve Rannazzisi from The League. And yes, this is definitely poking fun at large pizza chains offering online ordering and delivery deals.

This year, B-Dubs has rallied behind the hashtag #WingWisdom and hired “guest captains” to change the channels, offer beer and sauce samples, and encourage people to play trivia games in-store. The Guest Captains will be used solely to promote the sports – beer – wings centered brand. Already having trivia and games on tablets at each table, B-Dubs will roll out letting customers order on the devices to eliminate misunderstandings in the loud sports bar arena. The restaurant chain also started a tournament tracker microsite to offer real-time game scores, schedules, and company commentary on games and social media content. And don’t forget the topical GIFs to capture major moments throughout the tourney. Using the in-store GameBreak platform, B-Dubs will offer mini-games and bracket challenges with prizes in real-time.

CBS Bracket Challenge

This CBS Bracket Challenge is giving away a grand prize of four 2016 NCAA Final Four Game tickets and $6,000 in cash prizes. With slightly higher odds for the randomly selected winner of the top 10% bracket performers, perhaps now is not the time to be planning your 2016 spring break trip.

So whether you’re more excited for the actual basketball or the killer promotions, March is an exciting month for fans and players alike.

And finally, as we say in the WCC, Go Broncos (our copywriter went to Santa Clara University).

The Era of Data-Driven Marketing: How To Make It Work For You

Data is important. Scratch that. Data is essential. In the context of loyalty and rewards programs, data is imperative – the life source of running and maintaining a successful program. Marketers today face a huge problem with a lack of actionable, clean data, making it difficult to segment and reward customers accordingly.

Understanding this need to aggregate actionable data insights, our user-friendly and comprehensive e-reports have been built out to provide you with powerful metrics into your customer base. Data gathered with each report helps you determine how to more effectively market to your customers and encourage their continued loyalty with your brand. Our reporting suite includes four standard reports generated daily, weekly, and monthly: Account Analytics, Individual Store Analytics, Campaign Report, and Workforce Analytics.

Account Analytics

Whether you own five locations or 100 locations, this report provides an overview of how your customers are engaging with your loyalty program. With metrics broken down by user loyalty status, evaluate and compare store performance to strategize campaign targets and drive adoption at weaker performing locations. Hold competitions among stores within your franchise or corporate group to strengthen user numbers and further foster employee participation.

Individual Store Analytics

This report breaks down each individual store, for a much more granular view of how your loyalty program is performing. Understand specific stores with metrics such as user adoption, reward redemption, and overall ticket average. Compare to the prior month’s metrics to measure growth and continuously improve numbers at each location through campaign creation and employee advocacy of your loyalty program. Set goals based off of the prior month’s data to increase usage, account activation, and ticket average. Store managers can leverage this report to understand how the program is progressing in order to successfully market to and retain customers.

Campaign Report

Whether you run an email, SMS, offer, or store-level incentive, this report measures how effective that campaign was with the data that truly matters – sales conversions. With each campaign, determine your KPIs and our team will gather the metrics necessary to measure campaign success. Data for this report is gathered prior to the campaign being run, during the campaign, and following the conclusion of the campaign, to give you a 360 view of your campaign successes. Our team of experts will help you setup your campaign and provide this comprehensive report for analysis.

Workforce Analytics

The Workforce Analytics report gathers extensive customer metrics specific to each employee and store location. Leverage this report to see how effective each employee is at promoting various campaigns and create competitions encouraging them to further drive sales. Understand what your customers respond to best via gathered metrics and encourage your team to adopt the highest performing employee’s approach. Continuously improve your employee and customer participation to see high levels of engagement.

And if you’re looking for metrics not covered in our base reporting, we’ll work closely with your team to create customized reports to acutely measure all your campaigns.

Contact us to start gathering actionable data insights and optimizing your customer loyalty experience.

The Pats won Super Bowl XLIV, but what about the host region?

By Spendgo Founder & CEO, Ivan Matkovic

With three major events taking place in a two week period – the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, and the Phoenix Open – we wanted to see for ourselves if there was any quantifiable benefit to the host region.

Super Bowl Economics

A common debate between the NFL and the nation’s sports economists is the huge disparity (we’re talking millions) in how the Super Bowl is a boon to the host city. Economists argue the benefits are nil — Professor Philip Porter from the University of South Florida stated, “Super Bowl attendees simply don’t buy much that the local economy sells.” Perhaps they have a point – on the day of the Big Game, Spendgo found there was a 15% decrease in store traffic and sales for local businesses compared to a normal Sunday. That being said, if you owned a grocery store, bar, or restaurant catering for a Super Bowl party, you most likely had one of your best days of the year. Unfortunately, the latter is true across the country regardless of host-status, meaning unless your business is located between the stadium and parking lot, there’s a good chance you would have seen similar economic benefits.

A Pro Bowl Silver Lining?

This year, things were a little different with the NFL moving the Pro Bowl to the same city as the Super Bowl. In the week leading up to the Pro Bowl, held on January 25th, there was an 18% increase in store sales in the greater Phoenix area. This surge wasn’t driven by the influx of visitors, rather it was led by local residents and Spendgo loyalty members who, on the day of the Pro Bowl, spent 31% more than a typical Sunday. This stands to reason that the way to invigorate the regional economy is with an event that brings the locals out and doesn’t simply rely on attracting new visitors.

So then what made the Pro Bowl unique? Is it the fact that people were not as glued to their TVs as they were for the Super Bowl? Or were the events and laid back atmosphere surrounding the Pro Bowl creating a driving economic benefit for the host region? All I know for sure is the Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area next year. Go Niners!

The Spendgo Solution to Digital Marketing

Email and SMS/MMS marketing channels are known to be cost-effective forms of digital marketing. But did you know that adding personalized product recommendations can increase sales conversion rates by 15-25%? And the speed in which people act upon an SMS is astounding – 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery. This creates a huge opportunity to reach customers outside the traditional in-store experience.

The Spendgo Advantage

By cutting out all the fluff metrics, Spendgo is able to get to the bottom line and target sales conversions. Spendgo-powered loyalty programs average an SMS opt-in rate of over 30% and email opt-in at 97%, adding significant long-term value to your member database. Whether you’re sending email or SMS communication from our platform or through a third party, we integrate seamlessly and provide the tools to maximize marketing returns on any budget.

Using the Spendgo analytics platform, you will be able to better market to your customers, drive your loyalty program, and effectively measure your ROI with:

  • Member segmentation – frequency, favorite products, demographics, etc.
  • Content marketing – 10 tips on eating healthy, recipes for the holidays, etc.
  • Sales conversion metrics – time to sale, average ticket, etc. 
  • Digital offer redemption – redeemed offer at the point of sale

The Spendgo Technology

Measuring actual sales conversions on any type of campaign (promotions, loyalty, new products, announcements, etc.) is a marketer’s Holy Grail. Fortunately, Spendgo does just this; our ability to attribute line-item transaction spend to individual customers allows our clients to segment and sidestep the traditionally wasteful spray and pray technique. With Spendgo, you’ll know exactly how quickly your audience responds to your messaging and how much they spend because of it.

On top of being the fastest-growing loyalty platform today, we’ve added this high-value function to your digital marketing campaigns to effectively measure ROI and generate real sales conversions. Email and SMS/MMS digital marketing is not going anywhere anytime soon, so what are you waiting for? Contact us today.

Are you ready for some football?

At no surprise, the most expensive advertising day of the year is Super Bowl Sunday. According to NBC, 30 second spots for Super Bowl XLIV are reportedly selling for $4.5M (say what?!), an increase of over 12% from Fox’s rate in 2014. For most, forking over that type of money for a “moment in time” campaign is out of the question. I don’t care who’s performing during the half-time show. But if you’re one of a handful of brand marketers with your pockets lined, here’s hoping you pull off a water-cooler worthy spot like GoldieBlox did at last year’s game.

Ok, so you don’t have a cool $4M in your budget? But you still want to create Super Bowl buzz? We thought this approach last year from Newcastle Brown Ale was so clever, it hurt. One of their “If We Made It” campaign online spots featured Anna Kendrick poking fun at the traditional well-paid celebrity appearances in high priced Super Bowl ads only to find out that the beer maker didn’t have the money.

And to the other 99% of marketers, small can be just as big. Think about a store-level campaign to increase overall visits and encourage your loyal customers to show patronage on Game Day. Here are a few affordable tips to successfully run a Super Bowl campaign:

1. Stay Current: This seems like a no-brainer, but if your menu and site are outdated or unattractive, customers are less likely to purchase from your establishment. Take a quick assessment of your site now to see if there’s any glaring issues. It’s essential to have a seamless and intuitive online ordering experience for your customers.

2. Cross Promote: You sell chicken wings. You know soda pairs well with wings, so your objective is to promote soda. Create a value-driven promotion like “Buy 2 large wings, get 2 sodas for the price of 1.” Pair related items to create a win-win situation for all parties.

3. Create Thematic Fun: Ever think of making that sandwich bread in the shape of a football? What about a special online game? When you “eventize” thematic food for special events, they tend to sell better due to its limited window of purchase. Here’s an example of Papa Johns’ online Super Bowl game for a chance to win free pizza the day of.

Papa Johns Super Bowl 2014 gamefication promotion

Papa Johns Super Bowl 2014 gamefication promotion

4. Social Media Presence: Make sure that leading up to the Big Day, your social media presence is palpable. According to the Pew Research Center, over 30% of Facebook users get their news from Facebook. With engagement like that, it’s vital to keep your social feed up to date. You can also create a unique Twitter #hashtag for your brand and promote it in-store and on your social sites. Make a contest around the hashtag to increase awareness and generate excitement.

5. Direct Communication: Don’t underestimate the tried and true power of direct mail. Send out an email a week before launching a promotion, new menu items, or special in-store events. A few days prior to the campaign, send out another short reminder email. If you’re creating a Spendgo-powered campaign, you’ll be able to track how many emails were opened and the direct ROI with your efforts.

6. Incentives, Incentives, Incentives: Offer double points on the items you want to promote during the Super Bowl. This campaign can easily intertwine with the cross promotion idea. A good example would be “Buy 2 large pizzas, get an order of breadsticks for 2X points!” Customers love getting rewarded for their actions.

Whether you get inspired with these ideas or hatch others, the Super Bowl is too large of a national event to stay stagnant. It’s a chance to reward your loyal customers and gain new ones. If you’re looking to promote new menu items or just trying to keep up with the buzz of Super Bowl Sunday, we’re always here to help at info@spendgo.com. Happy marketing!

The best (and worst) of Cupid’s magic

In our Super Bowl post, we detailed how to run store level promotions and campaigns around the big event. For Valentine’s Day, we decided to take a different approach. In honor of this holiday that’s slightly overdone, we compiled some of the best and worst Valentine’s Day ads we’ve seen over the past few years. Check out this entertaining campaign by Coke, whereby a vending machine only displays itself to couples, and to their delight, produces personalized cans with their names on it. Bravo to the beverage brand for making a small gesture feel so fun!

 

Or this guy in Australia, who decided to dramatically almost propose to his girlfriend in an ad in the Launceston Examiner. Let’s hope Jodie found it as funny as we did.

Safe to say he had to make dinner that night.

Safe to say he had to make dinner that night.


And if we’re going to talk about Valentine’s Day, you can’t forget about the leader in skin marketing, Victoria’s Secret. They’ll be running a TV spot during the last quarter in the Super Bowl, but if the game isn’t competitive enough, viewers may be tuning out. To prepare for that risk, Victoria’s Secret released an online spot “Don’t Drop The Ball” ahead of the game with a heavy emphasis on social media. Ok, so maybe putting supermodels in football uniforms isn’t the most novel idea, but there’s something to be said about creating attention at the right moment in time to the right audience.

We really enjoyed Ikea’s clever Valentine’s Day newspaper ad which gave customers a compelling reason to come back in store. The ad was a coupon for a free crib for babies born on November 14, exactly nine months from Valentine’s Day.

This ad by Ikea Australia is brilliant.

This ad by Ikea Australia is brilliant.


But let’s say you want to go with a less brilliant idea. How about trying the smooth pizza approach? Yes, this is a package deal by Pizza Hut which includes a limo, flowers, fireworks show, photographer, videographer, and of course, an engagement ring.

How could she say no when pizza is involved?

How could she say no when pizza is involved?

And on that note, McDonald’s France rounds out our top picks with the classic Big Mac proposal approach. Again, when fast food is involved, it’s a sure thing, right?

Ballin’ on a budget or just straight ballin’?

Ballin’ on a budget or just straight ballin’?

So there you go. This Valentine’s Day, you have permission to not be predictable. If you’re going to be romantic, funny, sappy or cheesy, be bold and smart about it. Happy Love Day!

CES + NRF = OMG Innovation

January’s explosion of new gadgets and gears is best summed up by Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thingamabobs?
I got twenty
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more

Unlike this water nymph though, we care. And after reading about the coolest products from both the Consumer Electronics Show and the National Retail Federation expo, we couldn’t possibly take on any more innovation lest we go cross-eyed. So, without further ado, here are some of the top trends and hardware picks we think are poised to break new ground in the retail and hospitality space:

Upgrade From Old To Smart

LoopPay and its new smart phone covers will make mobile payments as easy as a swipe.

LoopPay and its new smart phone covers will make mobile payments as easy as a swipe.

Paying with cash seems so blasé. Plastic? 2012. The increasing adoption of mobile wallets has been validated with the introduction of Apple Pay and other key players making large investments in the technology. But not every retailer has upgraded their point of sale system to accommodate this payment shift creating a blue-sky opportunity for disruption.

We’re already familiar with LoopPay, a mobile payment solution that works with legacy terminals which are found in nearly 90% of merchant locations today. It works by allowing you to emulate a card swipe with your phone. The nice thing is that you needn’t worry about upgrading to a new smartphone that supports the system. At Sin City this month, LoopPay announced they are partnering with new OEM partners including case maker Trident and XPAL Power, which will manufacture replacement back covers starting with the Galaxy S5. The idea is that you can digitize all your existing credit cards and pay with your phone instead. The LoopPay case ($60) for the iPhone 6 will be available in February.

Or maybe you want something that requires even less of an effort the next time you pay for your latte. Or unlock your car door. Or access your office building. Enter the Nymi Band. Using your own heartbeat as a unique identifier, this wearable bracelet ($149) confirms who you are in order to remember passwords, unlock devices, and even make wrist-swipe payments. In a world where passwords are so pervasive, imagine one bracelet to rule them all.

Wearables

Track your every movement to improve posture and flexibility.

Track your every movement to improve posture and flexibility.

First on the scene were fitness-tracking devices like the now-shuttered Nike FuelBand and Fitbit bracelets. Then came smart watches like Pebble, followed by the more in-your-face (no, literally) accessories like Google Glass. You get it. In short, the proliferation of new wearable devices ain’t slowing down anytime soon.

We admit that the design is a bit clunky, but Belty’s technology has promise.

We admit that the design is a bit clunky, but Belty’s technology has promise.

What about a wearable device in the form of clothing? Meet the XelfleX, a fitness shirt that uses fiber optic fabric to measure vital signs and produces a 3D replica of your movements. Though still in early stages of development, the smart shirt’s ability to accurately track how well your body is moving opens the door to a wide range of possibilities for athletes, coaches, and fitness freaks everywhere. Also, we’re kinda digging the sleek, high-fashion style, a la Tron.

Real-Time Tracking

eBay and retailer Rebecca Minkhoff team up to create “magic mirrors.”

eBay and retailer Rebecca Minkhoff team up to create “magic mirrors.”

Meanwhile, out east, the NRF show heralded more tech retail innovation than we could shake a (selfie) stick at. Tracking the consumer in store or tracking products in real-time is resulting in more streamlined and highly personalized buying experiences. Technology is creating a new breed of personal shopping.

eBay teamed up with tres chic designer Rebecca Minkoff to create the ultimate connected store. The result is a full-body interactive mirror wall that tracks what items you bring into the dressing room using tag sensors and displays them on screen. Need a new size or color? Select your preferred style and someone on the floor will be notified to bring it directly to your room. The smart dressing room also allows you to change the mood lighting and save sessions for even more personalized service. The best of the online shopping world is now brought into the physical.

Another tracking mechanism involves a smart drink cooler that can toggle back and forth between displaying real-time ads to local sports team promotions on game days. We can foresee that type of personalized messaging shuffling into retail stores as well. What about using tablet devices as connected scales to determine how much beer a restaurant still has on tap? Yep, NRF had that too. For a round up on other OMG cool technology at the Big Show, watch this.

Forbes columnist Kevin O’Marah prognosticates it best when it comes to consumption in the digital age. “Most volume still moves in traditional ways, but consumer behaviour is already well down the road to where the Jetsons live. Now retailers want to get them to Jetsons-style shopping.”

Repeat or Refresh? – Tips on How To Approach Your 2015 Marketing Budget Strategy

The beginning of a new year signals a clean slate opportunity for your marketing game plan. It’s a chance to reflect how progress has been thus far and determine if the status quo should repeat, reprogram or altogether refresh itself. Carpe annum. Seize the year! Before you charge towards those ambitious 12 month goals though, we’ve listed several key points to serve as a resource when creating your 2015 marketing budget.

What are my goals?

The first thing to do is outline your marketing objectives or key performance indicators (KPIs). This should range anywhere from 3 to 10 goals, such as: increase purchase frequency, encourage first-time customers to try a new product, increase average check or generate awareness. Once you have completed this extensive list, narrow down which top three are your priorities for 2015. It’s important to focus on a smaller amount of attainable goals versus covering everything as your resources will spread too thin and your marketing efforts too disparate to produce any real effect. Remember, these key objectives should be measurable goals.

How much do I spend on marketing?

With your KPIs finalized, this should make it easier to determine how much your total marketing budget will be since you can weigh the importance of achieving those objectives relative to other budget items. Typically, marketing expenditures should be anywhere between 2-10 percent of sales. When you’re a company with larger revenue, you’ll spend less on marketing than compared to a smaller revenue company. It’s advised that a company with less than $5 million in revenue should allocate 7-8 percent of sales to marketing while those with more than $300 million should spend 3-4 percent. After completing your budget, revisit your objectives and allocate based on priority. Avoid setting aside the entire budget on one KPI or across one program, and make sure to allocate an untouched discretionary amount in case of emergencies.

Where do I allocate the budget? 

Now that you’ve decided on the ‘what’ and ‘how much,’ it’s time to decide where to spend the money. A good way to allocate is the 70/20/10 rule:

  • 70% spend on previously successful programs
  • 20% spend on last year’s experimental budget
  • 10% spend on experimental marketing (new channels or opportunities)

Utilizing this method allows you to trial multiple new channels or opportunities, while still relying heavily on proven methods. Now that you have everything planned out on paper, it’s time to decide on how to execute your marketing campaigns and determine how to measure success.

How do I execute a campaign and measure ROI?

Source: Dilbert

Source: Dilbert

A Spendgo-powered marketing program means you will be able to monitor, iterate and achieve your KPIs while increasing ROI through extensive data and measurable results. Let’s say your KPIs this year are to increase average check and adoption rates, and achieve over 85% reward redemption in-store. Spendgo collects baseline data from store locations, which your dedicated Success Manager will leverage to improve and increase your numbers. Spendgo can help you set up a customized campaign to promote new menu items and generate awareness during the run at every desired touch point. Our Campaign Analytics report gathers data before, during and after the campaign; and shows campaign adoption by members and non-members. Our line-item metrics can be broken down by individual store or franchise group on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis giving you a direct line of sight into your business.

Is your POS holding you back? 

Don’t feel daunted, you’re not alone. According to Hospitality Technology‘s 2015 POS Software Trend Report, the majority of POS purchasing activity among restaurant operators will be for upgrades to existing POS software with the intent to add new functionality, features and/or modules (67%). Some of the functionalities most in demand were the addition of a loyalty tool (57%) while integration with other systems (47%) and cloud-based POS (35%) were ranked close behind. Spendgo’s flexibility meets with proficiency across all those requested functions and not only reaches, but helps surpass your marketing KPI goals. Spendgo can be tapped as a new turnkey loyalty platform for a first-time marketer or, just as easily, be used as an upgrade to a hospitality operator’s existing POS software. Think of us as an all-around partner. We can cover you either way.

If you want more tips, have questions on our platform or just need a hug, we’re here for you. Drop us a line at info@spendgo.com. Now go kick the doors down 2015 and make us proud.

Those Rare Albino Elephants

Anyone know exactly where the term ‘white elephant” came from to describe today’s office gift exchange party? Today’s your lucky day. The backstory, according to Wikipedia, is that the term “white elephant” refers to an extravagant but burdensome gift which cannot be easily disposed of. Story has it that the King of Siam gifted rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him so that they might be financially ruined by the animal’s upkeep costs.

Fortunately, no one was as mean-spirited at our own white elephant party. (Besides, we’re pretty sure a rare albino elephant would have blown out the maximum $15 gift budget.)

Instead, this is what our lively, no-animals-were-hurt-in-the-making-of-this-party looked like:

It’s beginning to look a latke like Hanukkah!

It’s beginning to look a latke like Hanukkah!

Nothing better than a Lego set for Chief Resident Geek Ivan. Everything is awesome!

Nothing better than a Lego set for Chief Resident Geek Ivan. Everything is awesome!

Keri, Robin and Neeraj silently plotting on which gifts to steal while managing to smile through a picture. Such pros.

Keri, Robin and Neeraj silently plotting on which gifts to steal while managing to smile through a picture. Such pros.

Mark & Tommy enjoying some best friend activities.

Mark & Tommy enjoying some best friend activities.

Everything about Anthony’s look. Yes!

Everything about Anthony’s look. Yes!

A proper gentleman always has a fancy wine collection on hand. You’re welcome, Neeraj.

A proper gentleman always has a fancy wine collection on hand. You’re welcome, Neeraj.

99 problems…

99 problems…

Happy Holidays from the Spendgo bunch!

Happy Holidays from the Spendgo bunch!

Relaxing in our new hoodies now, we can’t wait to start the new year off in a big way. Stay tuned for exciting things here at Spendgo’s headquarters.

Relaxing in our new hoodies now, we can’t wait to start the new year off in a big way. Stay tuned for exciting things here at Spendgo’s headquarters.

And from all of us here at Spendgo, we wish you a very happy and safe holiday season. Up and up in 2015!

Black Friday or Broken Friday?

Be careful out there come Friday morning. We would hate to see another casualty on Black Friday Death Count, a website that clocks the injuries and fatalities that happen on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Since 2006, Black Friday has killed a total of 7 people in the U.S.

Since 2006, Black Friday has killed a total of 7 people in the U.S.

As the team here starts to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we couldn’t help but poke around the interwebs to see how public opinion stacks up towards Black Friday and how this singular shopping day has already made headlines weeks ahead of the actual event.

In no particular importance, here are facts and figures that we pulled from the world wide web about Black Friday:

  • Just 28 percent of Americans plan to shop in a store on Black Friday, according to a survey commissioned by Bankrate and compiled by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
  • A few years ago, retailers started opening their brick-and-mortars on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to win a bigger chunk of Black Friday business. Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney are among the retailers planning to do so again this year.
  • Pre-Thanksgiving online sales are already up 19 percent over 2013 when retailers like Walmart, Target, Amazon, Staples, Lowe’s and Sears got an even earlier start this year.
  • Analysts predict that Black Friday sales will make up a 4 percent increase in sales during the 2014 holiday shopping season but margins will suffer since the shopping frenzy has trained consumers to expect a constant stream of price cuts.
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  • Millennials are the group most likely to brave the Black Friday crowds. According to Bankrate’s survey, 54 percent of consumers ages 18 to 29 say they will shop either in stores or online the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Collectively, Black Friday shoppers anticipate spending an average of $399 per shopper, with a median of $200.
  • According to a new study by NerdWallet, the long-held idea that the day after Thanksgiving is the best day of the year for sales, with unprecedented deals there for the taking, is wrong. Analysis of 27 Black Friday advertisements was conducted and 25 of those retailers listed at least one product for the exact same price in 2014 as in their 2013 Black Friday ad. That means 93% of retailers are repeating Black Friday products — and prices — from year to year.
  • In a Harris Poll study commissioned by NerdWallet, research predicted that middle-income Americans will carry holiday debt longer than lower-income consumers.
With Internet shopping, problems like lines, crowds, and wearing pants are bygone nuisances. Why would anyone risk a midnight pepper-spray attack from a mall cop when they can let warehouse robots do it for them? – Travis Dent, web developer for Black Friday Death Count

Attention Black Friday shoppers: You’re wasting your time. Or not? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ghosts, Goblins and Ebi Sushi, Oh My!

Cue the Nightmare Before Christmas music. This is Hallo-ween! This is Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween, Hallo-ween!

Spendsetters are known to be enthusiastic about a couple of things: Delivering happiness to loyal customers, eating ridiculously savory homemade food at company events, and getting uber-competitive at Halloween costume contests.

This year, competition was stiff.

Tarun, your sneakers blend in so well, we almost don’t recognize you as Shrek. Right, Donkey?

Tarun, your sneakers blend in so well, we almost don’t recognize you as Shrek. Right, Donkey?

Keri eventually won the grand prize for Creepiest Costume. Was it even up for debate?

Keri eventually won the grand prize for Creepiest Costume. Was it even up for debate?

Jacquelyne. Stop it with your Stitch onesie. You’re adorable.

Jacquelyne. Stop it with your Stitch onesie. You’re adorable.

Tommy couldn’t bring himself to wear a Halloween costume because he claimed he woke up with a pain in his neck

Tommy couldn’t bring himself to wear a Halloween costume because he claimed he woke up with a pain in his neck

How does Prasad manage to make even an adult skeleton onesie look cool on him?

How does Prasad manage to make even an adult skeleton onesie look cool on him?

No mystery is too difficult to solve if Theo Holmes is on the case. First up though. Who ate the sandwich I left on my desk?

No mystery is too difficult to solve if Theo Holmes is on the case. First up though. Who ate the sandwich I left on my desk?

Shiver me timbers! We approve of Neal’s candy apple right arm added to his Captain Jack Sparrow look.

Shiver me timbers! We approve of Neal’s candy apple right arm added to his Captain Jack Sparrow look.

Because a 1950’s housewife always bakes in pearls.

Because a 1950’s housewife always bakes in pearls.

Those shorts.

Those shorts.

And as the Penguin said all day, “Quack, Quack, Quack!” We know. We weren’t sure either.

And as the Penguin said all day, “Quack, Quack, Quack!” We know. We weren’t sure either.

Spooky graveyard bean dip

Spooky graveyard bean dip

Buttery, low-cal vampire’s bread

Buttery, low-cal vampire’s bread

Ghoul’s eyeballs (or meatballs)

Ghoul’s eyeballs (or meatballs)

Hot dog mummies

Hot dog mummies

Resurrection ghost cake

Resurrection ghost cake

And our creative director Kerina as the world’s largest piece of ebi sushi

And our creative director Kerina as the world’s largest piece of ebi sushi

We hope everyone had a merry, spooktacular and cavity-free Halloween!

Spendgo Gains 1.5 Million Members With Over 2,000 Per Store

Earlier this year, Spendgo achieved a big company milestone and passed 1 million member signs-ups. Three months later, another half million members have signed up to our loyalty platform. We’re happy to announce that Spendgo now has a network of over 1.5 million members.

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What’s more, we are thrilled to also see our national client Jamba Juice celebrate their achievement of enlisting over 1 million Jamba Insider Rewards members. In just a short amount of time, the restaurant retailer has proven how to smartly leverage emerging technology to keep consumers loyal and engaged.

After the program launched with Spendgo five months ago, the enlistment rate rose quickly, significantly outpacing the enlistment rate of industry leaders. Jamba anticipates membership to reach two million by early 2015.” – Jamba Juice press release

At a time where other check-in companies are averaging under 500 loyalty members per store, Spendgo nets 3,000-4,000 members per participating location. It’s no wonder that our loyalty program adoption rates make up an impressive 15% compared to the industry average rate of 4%. Happy members and even happier brand clients are the reasons why we stay committed in offering the best, most versatile loyalty experience platform.

Thank you! I appreciate the timely response!” – Spendgo member Bree after contacting Customer Service with a question

We were always confident that Spendgo would be warmly received by consumers, brands and merchants alike. We offer the smartest solution in tackling a marketer’s biggest gripe – the advertising attribution problem. “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Spendgo links SKU level purchase data with an actionable customer ID from 98% of point-of-sale systems, making our program compatible with in-store, online and mobile payment platforms. Simply put, Spendgo delivers on the marketer’s Holy Grail: a closed redemption loop with a measurable ROI.

We still have a lot of work to do. But we want to take this time to thank everyone that has helped us become the fastest-growing loyalty program that’s 1.5 million members strong. It’s probably time to get more balloons.

The Team That Eats Together, Stays Together

The sky is blue. The sun sets in the west. And Spendsetters love to eat. Just stating the facts.

True, everyone needs to eat, but we choose to do it together. Doesn’t sound like much, we know, but if you think about it, it’s actually a good sign for a lean startup like ours. In rare instances like an unforeseen fire drill, will you find someone eating at their desk, working through their lunch hour. On most days though, just before noon, someone will inevitably gopher up from their desk and initiate the million dollar question “Where to for lunch?” And no matter which establishment we’re patrons of, we find ourselves choosing to bring food back to the office and eat together at the communal kitchen table. Over sandwiches, burritos or Jamba Juice, we catch up on important matters. World Cup upsets. Weekend plans. Who’s going to be the commissioner of our Fantasy Football league?

Everyday at Spendgo I have the opportunity to try my hand at everything from sales to operations to support, so my days are always new and exciting. Plus, the people here are pretty awesome. – Jordan
— Jordan

About a week ago, our love of food was put to a creative challenge. In celebration of America’s birthday, everyone was tasked to bring in one “appropriately American food” choice as their contribution to the potluck.

The smell of hot dogs grilling on a griddle wafted through the air.

Thirsts were quenched with plenty of America’s finest beer.

This.

And someone brought a block of cheese.

Spendsetters stayed long after the food and drink dwindled, catching up and laughing with others.

Everyone within Spendgo has got great chemistry with one another, which is awesome. It’s much easier to enjoy your work when you enjoy the environment. Also, there’s pudding.
— Tommy

And as much as food brings us together, working at Spendgo with other smart, like-minded individuals is what fulfills us.

As cliche as it sounds, working in a startup is the ultimate work environment: collaborative, flexible, and exciting. You learn something new every day and you are constantly challenging yourself. I don’t sit in a cubicle, wearing a cheap suit, counting hours waiting to go home everyday. Startups are fun and we drink (cheap) beer.
— Mark

If any of this sounds appealing to you at all, check out our careers page and drop us a line. We’re always looking to add more talented people to our growing team. We’d love to hear from you, pudding-lover or not.

Balancing Functionality and Security

Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, Sally Beauty Supply and now presumably P.F. Chang’s are all victims of customer credit card data being stolen directly from their POS. Following PCI compliance; and making sure you have up-to-date software patches and anti-virus software are all necessary steps to protect your store IT infrastructure. But it ultimately comes down to eliminating security risk points. Most vendors will tell you this is inevitably the hardest part of deploying a solution today. Virtually every solution requires sign-off from IT and security departments and understandably so. No one wants to be the guy who was responsible for the security loophole, but that often comes at the detriment of new functionality which could be a difference maker for the business.

Photo: The New York Times

Photo: The New York Times

So how to get around this problem? How do we deliver functionality that relies on POS data without exposing even more risks for potentially stolen payment data?

We know the answer to be simple: Don’t touch the POS.

Using the Spendgo Transaction LinkTM this not only means that we can capture all transaction data in real-time from any POS system, but we’re also able to do it in a passive and secure manner via your POS printer. We do not require any additional software and never have to flow data back into your POS other than what is sent to the printer.

This is a great opportunity for Spendgo and our customers, and with extensive APIs, other solution providers are now able to deliver data-driven features securely. Loyalty programs, personalized marketing communications, online ordering, digital receipts, paperless coupons, reporting, and many more features are made available with a single and secure POS integration.