Guest post by Joel Hughes, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development, Constant Contact. Joel joined Constant Contact in December 2011 with more than 20 years of executive leadership experience at communications technology and mobile services companies. In his role at Constant Contact, Joel is responsible for driving strategic direction and corporate development initiatives.
When you ask small business owners what keeps them up at night, building a strong network of customers and prospects, and finding new ways to engage existing customers will likely be at the top of their list.
In 2011, small businesses began to look to social media marketing to reach those goals. In 2012, small businesses will add mobile to their toolkit. Why? Because consumers are “always on,” with their handheld devices within arms reach. They use mobile devices to check emails, update social media sites or research products or services online. And they want to make connections with friends, colleagues, and relevant businesses wherever they are.
Just as important, those same consumers expect – and deserve – to be rewarded for their engagement with any brand, whether that’s a purchase, a “Like” on Facebook, or a recommendation to a friend or colleague. Of course, for time- and resource-starved small businesses, taking advantage of mobile and loyalty is anything but simple.
There’s good news for those small businesses, however. Constant Contact recently acquired CardStar, which helps shoppers stay connected with their favorite merchants through a mobile app. The free CardStar mobile app lets consumers manage digital versions of their loyalty cards, reward cards and club membership cards on smartphones. The app currently has more than two million active users and is available on major mobile platforms, such as iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
Interestingly enough, Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman and CardStar founder Andy Miller met at the MITX Innovation Awards in June. The acquisition talks between the two began to get serious when both Gail and Andy spoke on a panel as part of FutureM week in September.
So what does this mean for small businesses moving forward? Together, Constant Contact and CardStar will make using mobile and loyalty easy and effective, just like we have with email marketing, social media marketing, and event marketing. Over time, the app will allow small businesses to tailor mobile deals and information for their customers, and to track engagement so they can reward those customers’ loyalty.
Expect to hear more down the road about our mobile loyalty plans for small businesses. We are committed to helping small businesses succeed, and we’re confident that our latest ventures will do just that.
In the meantime, check out the CardStar app. To learn more, click on this link.