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How to Perfect the Art of the Brand Freebie and Instill Customer Loyalty

Brands have assigned certain days -- even weeks -- to doling out discounts and freebies ever since the earliest days of marketing, with festivities like 7/11’s Free Slurpee Day, Amazon Prime Day, or even Chipotle’s annual Halloween “boorito” campaign. From a brand perspective, doing so is a sure-fire way to promote upticks in brand awareness beyond routine, day-to-day services, but from a customer loyalty standpoint, what’s the real value to doling out hundreds of thousands of goodies and discounts to consumers?
For marketers looking to acquire new customers and build broader awareness, having something celebratory and exciting for consumers to rally around is a great starting point. While these campaigns can be used to treat existing loyal consumers, it’s more of an acquisition vehicle for brands to bring new consumers into their loyalty funnel. Using these special branded days in addition to the organic press and word-of-mouth, social exposure around the hype is a strong acquisition tactic. However, marketers need to consider whether freebies and discount days make sense from a financial perspective, especially when they could only attract consumers who are “one-and-done” with the brand after getting the free prize. That said, the intrinsic long-term value to branded days and freebies is not to be ignored.
With today’s high-speed, high-access, omnichannel environment, the art of the freebie has changed. How can brands get the most out of their special day -- and what should they consider during the planning stages to ensure they get the buzz, exposure, and loyalty they desire?

A Targeted Marketing Approach
Any brand can pick a day and call it their own, but if no one really knows about it, what’s the point? To bolster the buzz around freebies, brands need to invest in additional promotion efforts. Regardless of whether a brand’s roots are based online, considerations between both the digital and physical spaces are necessary when deciding which channels and devices are optimal to promote your brand.
Technology, for example, in a physical retail location can take an SMS approach to help increase in-store activity. Retailers and restaurateurs should create POS signage, inspire word-of-mouth promotion, and encourage social posts. However, e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon, need to prioritize visibility on digital devices to lead consumers directly to the website and generate sales, which is why they put particular emphasis on email marketing.
Prioritizing Giveaways and Prizes
When it comes to prizing or giveaways, it’s not all about deciding whether prizes should be digital or physical -- categorically, one will never really trump the other. Brands need to realize that to consumers, immediacy is what matters most. Consumers crave instant gratification; those who wait in line for their freebie expect a direct reward, whether that’s a physical good or a promo code in their hands for the time they’ve invested.  However, for brands looking to maximize the loyalty opportunity, the best kind of prize is complementing a freebie with an added, longer-term effort. One option is to reward consumers with the chance to receive an added experience or a chance to win a greater opportunity, which not only adds to the excitement, but carries the conversation beyond the freebie day as well.
Dealing with Data
Ultimately, freebies are the hook to get consumers to the starting line and into the loyalty funnel. To capitalize on continued momentum, brands must carefully evaluate the benefits of data acquisition. For instance, integrating chance-to-win offers into their freebie days is an efficient way to gain customer information when consumers register or sign up to access the chance to enter. From there, businesses have an opportunity to build a database of loyalty consumers and use the data as a means to more effectively retarget consumers.
To tap into the benefits of any e-commerce site or app, for example, consumers need to register and sign up for an account, laying the groundwork for the brand to be able to communicate with the consumer in the future. Brands shouldn’t miss the opportunity to gain valuable consumer information to start their marketing efforts. In today’s digital age, consumers are less likely to fear giving personal information, as long as they can clearly see the value for doing so.
Holidays, brand birthdays, branded weeks -- it’s all about promoting awareness and attracting newbies to the freebies and then ideally, keeping the brand top of mind longer term. Using the right strategy when it comes to increasing visibility, deciding on the prize package, and collecting data are all key considerations in perfecting the art of the freebie.

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