July 2014 was the month that it was announced that Twitter had acquired CardSpring (https://techcrunch.com/2014/07/17/twitter-cardspring/) a platform that could eventually be incredibly useful for those using Twitter as a means of pulling in new customers, and coveting repeat custom too.
Never heard of CardSpring?
That’s OK as it has not reached the UK yet, and may not for some time but the fact that Twitter has acquired it, along with an insight of how it could be used, is always worth keeping an eye on.
After all, more and more online, local companies are finding that they need to compete wider for new custom and repeat custom. Online and offline marketing strategies should be address the how and when you target potential customers, as well as practical activities and tools with stuff like reductions/sales, money off offers, coupons and gift vouchers or cards.
What is CardSpring?
In its current format it is a program that connects your social media promotions with card-linked promotions.
Card-linked promotions are… promotions from a local business that customer can connect or link to with their debit or credit card. They find these through online ads and when they buy from your store (either online or in-shop), they will automatically get this discount or promotion as the program recognises their card details.
Could it work for your local business…? Yes, as it creates online promotions that can be used in-store, but can also track these card-linked purchases, so you can see what is and what is not working, as well as how many repeat visits people make. And, you would have complete control over where and who will advertise your card-linked promotions.
The program has been used in America to great success, with local businesses not needing to train their staff on a new payment system or change their point-of-sale card merchant etc.; in fact, it is a completely seamless program.
OK, let’s say you decided via Twitter, for example, to offer 10% to all your followers when ordering a bunch of flowers online from your website. You may give them a code to input at the trolley cart bit that knocks off this 10%.
You may offer the same discount to people who use Facebook and the other social media sites you use. At the same time, you run a loyalty card scheme for your online shoppers too…
And it call starts to get a bit confusing so when you sit and look at your sales figures, wanting to know who accessed which offer from which online platform, it is information that is almost nonsensical.
(Why do you need to know that information anyway? Because it gives you an idea of what if working where, as well as where you are pulling in customers from. If you are getting zilch customers from Facebook, should you be adding something else? Or maybe the time has come to look at other apps and social media… remember one of the golden rules of your marketing strategy: review what IS and what IS NOT working!)
Back to CardSpring – this clever piece of kit allows you to set up digital coupons, rewards, loyalty programmes via various social media sites that can be card-linked; when people buy, and you get the information that you need: where they found you and what offer they have taken advantage of.
Better still, it is real time so when the consumer buys a product (in other words, they swipe their card to make a purchase), you get told and you can instantly interact with that customer! And we all know, that customers love a conversation with the people they buy from, even online.
Twitter has bought it and they are going to use it… but it might not be here for a while but when it does hit UK shores, you can be some of the first businesses to try it out!
Increasingly, people are able to securely store information such as credit or debit card details online and possibly, one advance now that Twitter has acquired CardSpring is that customers could file their details with Twitter, and on linking their card to certain merchants and local businesses, they will automatically receive the discount or promotion on offer.
Twitter and CardSpring: the future for online commerce?
Possibly, as Twitter has one major advantage over all other social media platforms and that is the re-tweet. Whilst others shy away from curating or repeating information, Twitter’s very existence relies on circulating information, adding new in to the mix too. The re-tweet pushes out the message to a whole new audience and, if more than one person, does it the reach of the tweet can be astronomical.
So your consumers could be offered a discount in a tweet from you; they register their card details and when they buy – and this is the clever and useful bit for local business – either online or offline (in your shop, for example!), this discount is still applied!
You get an analytics report and you now have another string to your selling bow.
Backed by big investors, it is no surprise that CardSpring has developed the way it has, and courted the popularity it has and was only a matter of time before some snapped it up. Twitter could be playing a blinder here, especially as it connects the online and offline commerce experience and marketing tactics.