eDM offers result in 'bad loyalty', says Bookworld CEO

Online book retailer says it's putting the emphasis on engagement with 'citizenship' customer loyalty program

Prompted action via eDMs is a “vicious circle” that only encourages “bad loyalty”, according to Bookworld CEO, James Webber.

During a presentation at the Ad:Tech 2015 conference, Webber described how Bookworld’s customer engagement strategy draws from the failings of the now defunct Borders book shop loyalty program.

Following the closure of Borders in 2011, the company was bought out by media conglomerate, Pearson, which rebranded the Borders website as Bookworld, an online-only book retailer.

The company has since worked on developing a new loyalty strategy focused on interaction and engagement, rather than just prompted action based on special offers and one-off discounts.

“Engaged consumers are 23 per cent more profitable than the average consumer, so we knew the time and effort into making customers more engaged was going to pay off,” Webber said.

“We had the loyalty programs and we had promotions [with Borders], which drove traffic, but they don't drive the same emotional connection to a brand than some other forms of engagement. It's that emotional connection that’s probably the biggest indicator of long-term profitability and growth.”

Bookworld’s answer to this is ‘citizenship’, a loyalty program where users sign up for free to receive 10 per cent off all listed prices.

The new program has been responsible for a huge amount of Bookworld’s growth, accounting for 80 per cent of overall sales and 60 per cent higher sign-ups to marketing. According to Webber, ‘active’ citizens purchase 20 per cent more than the average citizen, and revisit the store 70 per cent more than the average consumer.

Bookworld is also using eDMs and social marketing to invite ‘citizens’ to vote for which products they want to receive special offers on, or where to set up the company’s next pop-up campaign.

Related: 4 brands making customer loyalty programs work
Why Fitness First is dropping its customer loyalty program and turning to data

Webber explained how, prior to its closure, Borders relied heavily on “prompted activity” through emailed promotions, which he saw as an ineffective loyalty tool.

“That leaves the consumer sitting and waiting for an email… and over time, they become addicted to these emails, and they won't come into your store until you send an email,” Webber said. “Why? Because they know another one is coming soon.”

What’s worse, management also becomes addicted to the eDM system, relying on this cycle to pull through if sales are low, Webber claimed.

“What’s happened, of course, is you over use this, and the more you over use it the more you create a diluted experience. I call this a 'vicious circle'... a 'prompted action' circle,” he said.

The next challenge for Bookworld is how to continue providing value to its ‘citizens’ following a hiccup with Google Shopping. As the new tool doesn’t list products with membership pricing, Bookworld was forced to make ‘citizen’ prices universal.

“The problem was what happens to our citizens? They used to get 10 per cent off,” Webber said. “The answer to that, unfortunately, is they get emails and promotions, which means we're now back into the [vicious cycle]... we won't be staying there. We will change that.”

CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Craig Davis

​Leadership resilience, startups scaling up, marketing best practices, customer insights - these are just a few of the topics we manage to explore in the latest episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO featuring Craig Davis.

More Videos

JP 54, D2, and D6 EN590,JET A1 AVAILABLE ON FOB DIP AND TEST IN SELLER TANKWe Can supply Aviation Kerosene,Jet fuel (JP 54-A1,5), Diesel ...

Collins Johnson

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

This article gave me a better understanding about content creation. I learned a lot like this website https://a2designlab.com/ also offer...

Ryota Miyagi

How Remedy is using digital marketing and commerce to drive conversion

Read more

JP 54, D2, and D6 EN590,JET A1 AVAILABLE ON FOB DIP AND TEST IN SELLER TANKWe Can supply Aviation Kerosene,Jet fuel (JP 54-A1,5), Diesel ...

Collins Johnson

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 EN590Dear Buyer/ Buyer mandateWe currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Houston for JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 with good and w...

Collins Johnson

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

With a response rate of 80-90%, a well optimized chatbot is a must-have for every business. Check out this link to explore how you can en...

Drishti Khurana

How NRMA’s Arlo the Koala chatbot won over customers

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in