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

Blog Posts

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Better the bank you know?

In 2018, only 21 per cent of customers believed that banks in general had their customers best interests at heart and behave ethically. Only 26 per cent believed that banks will keep their promises; views cemented further following the Hayne Financial Services Royal Commission.

Carolyn Pitt

Head of account management, Hulsbosch

What 15 years of emotional intelligence told us about youth media audiences

Taking people on an emotional journey through content is the most critical part of being a publisher. Which is why emotion lies at the heart of VICE Media.

Stephanie Winkler

Head of insights, VICE Asia-Pacific

This journey would identify all your future life aspects!

Maryann Humphrey

Open Colleges: one-to-one journeys is the goal

Read more

It's a pretty good idea. I think this integration is useful. Don't you agree?

Misty Stoll

Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Read more

ok. so no RCS support? by the way, RCS is a lot bigger than 5G in terms of marketing and monetisation so y'all should be covering it.

DragoCubed

Optus goes for education with 5G network campaign

Read more

Many companies and individual merchants have shifted their major part of marketing to web marketing services Portland as it weighs fewer ...

Radiata Solutions

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

This is a unique experience! Will be interesting to talk to their managers.

Joyce Harris

​How Krispy Kreme revitalised its brand in a saturated market

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in