Card-linked-offers are cash back rewards, funded by merchants who want a no-risk, measurable, pay-for-performance marketing strategy to attract new, loyal customers. These offers become available when a consumer links their credit or debit card to a participating app or loyalty program.
Card-linked offers, also known as CLOs, are a perfect fit with banking and financial services apps, as consumers who embrace fintech are financially savvy and value savings. CLOs are increasingly being used by fintech companies as a member reward.
When consumers use a fintech app that features CLOs they may be served relevant offers for local or national restaurants, retailers, travel, services, entertainment, and other categories. These offers provide a percentage of cash back on a purchase.
What fintech users really appreciate is that they automatically redeem the offer when they use their linked card to make a purchase from a participating merchant. And, in most, cases they’ll receive real-time notification on their statement of a cash back credit reflecting their savings.
Card-linked offers are a win for the consumer and a win for fintech companies who want to create loyalty and drive engagement.
Fintech Provides Consumers a New Level of Convenience and Access
Fintech is the integration of technology into financial service applications. It’s a term used to describe new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. Initially applied to the backend of banks and other financial institutions, it’s evolved to be consumer facing.
Consumers can now pay for meals, manage investment portfolios, check their bank account, transfer funds, manage insurance, initiate a mortgage, trade cryptocurrencies, and much more by using their smartphone.
Early on, fintech offered great promise but sometimes fell short because digital infrastructure was still developing. Driven by new technologies over the last few years, the sophistication and pace of new fintech products has accelerated as users demand instant access to funds and transactions, while at the same time moving to mobile-first.
As a result, many new and existing companies have launched powerful fintech products that give users capabilities that only financial professionals had access to just a few years ago.
Customer Acquisition, Engagement, and Loyalty are Major Challenges for Fintech Companies
Fintech companies face major industry-related dynamics including data security, consumer privacy, regulatory compliance, blockchain integration, and technology investment.
But they also have the same challenges as other consumer product companies in their need to:
- Attract new users and ensure activation at an acceptable cost
- Drive engagement to increase Monthly Average Users (MAUs) and revenue per user
- Reduce churn among customers who may quickly move on to the next new thing as switching costs are low
These customer challenges need to be successfully addressed in order to meet revenue and profit growth targets, but unfortunately most of the solutions come with a high cost that quickly destroys margins.
This requires fintech companies to get creative and think beyond traditional tactics for solutions that preserve margins while delivering strong results.
Card-Linked Offers and Cash-Back Programs Cost-Effectively Meet the Challenge
CLOs are a cost-effective strategy for fintech companies to:
- Attract new active users
- Increase MAUs
- Increase stickiness
- Drive online and mobile use
- Incentivize referrals
- Improve users’ financial health
- Increase spend per user
- Generate more data and predictive analytics
The CardLinx Association, a global digital commerce trade organization, conducted a 2020 digital commerce survey of its membership base that includes Microsoft, Samsung, Mastercard, Discover, UBS, and other majors.
Their research showed card-linked offers were the number two preferred marketing tool at 21.8%, ahead of search engine marketing at 19.1%, with social media number one at 22.6%. This demonstrates the power their members recognize in CLOs as a highly effective marketing strategy.
A strong CLO program targets users with the right discount offer, at the right place and time. This can be driven by several signals including prior purchase patterns, category preferences, and geo-location, among others. Relevancy is the most important consideration for a user to value the offer and redeem it.
Building Your Card-Linked Offer Program
Once you’ve determined CLO is a strategy that can help you reach your targets, you have a critical decision to make: build it in-house, or partner with a company who delivers an already proven turnkey program.
There are two primary components to any CLO program – the platform and the content (merchants). A well-thought, feature-rich platform is important to ensuring easy integration with your digital properties, as well as a rewarding user experience.
But acquiring participating merchants is the far more difficult component because your users will want offers from recognizable merchants, across several categories, that are relevant to them. The best platform cannot compensate for too few merchants, not enough category diversity, weak offer levels, poor geographic fit, or brands that are viewed by users as low quality.
Most fintech companies decide that finding and acquiring restaurants, retailers, services, and other merchants is both challenging and expensive, and well outside of their core expertise. Starting your own sales team, building merchant relationships, and managing a merchant network takes a lot of time, sales capacity, administrative support, and expense.
To create a successful and appealing program, you’ll also need the right blend of national and local offers.
Although having a significant number of local merchants may not seem important, a persistent trend over the last several years is that consumers have a strong desire to keep as much of their spending as possible within their local community.
Finding the Right Card-Linked Offer Program Provider
At Entertainment, we’ve been building upon our best-in-class discount network since 1962. Our merchant team deployment and acquisition strategy have resulted in an exclusive collection of national and local savings that cannot be replicated by other aggregators and content providers.
Our merchant team consists of sales, service, operations and customer success professionals with a single goal in mind — connecting the end customer with the best savings and brands throughout North America. No other company has the experience or direct relationships with the volume of local, regional and national merchants featured in the Entertainment® network:
- North America’s largest savings network – over 500,000 ways to save
- Deepest discounts – BOGO and up to 50% savings
- Directly contracted with merchants
- Discount categories your consumers will use every day – dining, attractions, travel, shopping and more
Entertainment® Rewards & Incentives has decades of experience helping organizations acquire new customers and build loyalty with their audiences. Our custom solutions create engagement at all stages of the audience lifecycle:
- Custom-Curated Content and Special Promotions
We can build exclusive discount offer content directly for your business or organization with brands and offers that fit your demographic. We have relationships with some of the largest organizations in the U.S. and Canada, and are constantly negotiating high-performing offers for our clients.
Additionally, we have extensive experience in building delivery platforms that host our offers of various types including CLOs, show-and-save, click-through, and print on demand. We offer turnkey private label and co-branded sites that can be launched within just a few days, fully customized solutions that can be built to integrate seamlessly with your digital properties, and APIs that can serve our content directly to your platform.