Mark Zuckerberg may think that email is dead but Ted Murphy argues it’s still pretty powerful tool, especially for advertisers. That’s why the CEO of IZEA is confident that the latest development of the WeReward program is really going to be valuable for businesses striving to build relationships with their customers.
Murphy says the new features make WeReward the first location-based service to integrate Salesforce, check-ins, and rewarded app downloads. Rolling out the week of December 15th, WeReward will divvy up its offerings into three sections: places, products, and tasks. For the latter there will be digitally verified app downloads available for free or at a discount.
But Murphy’s most excited about adding a small step to the end of the process of claiming rewards. An opt-in feature will allow users to sign on to receive communications from the advertiser. "This allows the business to establish a relationship with the consumer in a number of ways," Murphy tells Fast Company. The user’s information (what they bought after they checked in) will go directly to the business’ customer relationship management (CRM) or email service provider (ESP). Additionally, Murphy explains, "You can become a Facebook fan of the business and directly follow them on Twitter."
And just to be sure there’s no funny business, WeReward built a double opt-in. Murphy says the user must confirm via email that they want to receive information from the business. Fifteen connections will be available to start, including Mail Chimp and Constant Contact.
Though this new development on WeReward opens what was formerly a closed loop system, Murphy admits it was necessary in order to grow the six-month-old service. "The challenge with our system is that marketers have established ways of communication with current and prospective customers. Forcing them into the WeReward system doesn’t make sense," says Murphy.
However, Murphy maintains that WeReward’s opt-in program enhances the sometimes inexact science of CRM. "CRM is in its infancy. Aggregating and scraping and interpreting data when you don’t have a direct connection isn’t always helpful. WeReward will allow people to pump their information into advertisers’ CRM so they really get to know their customers."
If an advertiser already has the user in their data base, Murphy says it’s even more valuable. "Now they know what product you like and they can use it in their direct mail efforts." Murphy’s reluctant to shovel dirt on direct mail’s grave because with WeReward he says a business can invest in producing a quality piece knowing it has a high value target.
For the December launch, WeReward is going back to solicit businesses who started with the program when it began such as Domino’s Pizza and offering the service for free. The intent, says Murphy, is to gather intelligence on what works and what’s reasonable to charge. "We’ll eventually charge per month for the service," he says.
As for extending to the global market, Murphy says that he’d like nothing better than world domination, however, logistics such as destinations and foreign currencies are big challenges so far. "We would have to partner with another organization with feet on the street. The tech stuff is the easy part. We could turn it on overnight."
But Murphy’s most excited about the potential for apps. "That is definitely something we can do internationally and the goal is extending to all forms of content. In the next couple of weeks WeReward will have iBooks, music, ringtones, and movies available for download."