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The Marketing Unleashed Podcast – Are customer rewards programs effective?

Joel: Welcome to another episode of the Marketing Unleashed Podcast. With me is Jamie and Jill. Today, we’re going to be discussing customer rewards and loyalty programs. Ladies, I know I’m a part of at least a few customer loyalty or rewards programs, how about yourself?

Jamie: Definitely.

Jill: Yeah.

Joel: I mean-

Jill: Can’t tell you how many, there’s so many.

Joel: What we’re going to talk about is how they affect the brand and company customer relationship. How does it help bring customers back? How does it help customers feel more a part of… like you’re a part of that brand’s tribe?

Jamie: That’s exactly it. It makes you feel like, “Ooh, I’m a part of something.”

Jill: “I’m in the club.”

Jamie: Yeah, you’re in the club.

Joel: But isn’t it weird though, that whenever we say… Okay, so let’s say… Just throw out any customer loyalty that you’re a part of right now, off the top of your your head.

Jamie: Ulta, Sephora, [Schnucks 00:01:03] Rewards.

Joel: All right. Ulta or Sephora, either one, those are national brands. Ulta has how many millions of customers?

Jill: I don’t know.

Joel: Probably millions though, right?

Jamie: Yeah.

Jill: They’re everywhere, and online.

Joel: Now, there are tons of those customers that are a part of this program, but we still feel like we’re a part of something unique. It’s weird isn’t it? Because it’s like-

Jill: Well, it’s like when you’re checking out at the store and they ask you, “Are you a member?” It’s embarrassing if you say no in stores. Like, “No, I’m not.” I’m not a member at Bread Co. or Panera, whatever you want to call it, I don’t know why. I guess I don’t go there-

Jamie: Oh, yeah. I’m a member there too, yeah. And Petco-

Jill: Yeah, but every time they ask me and I say, “No,” I’m like, “Ooh, I wonder if-

Jamie: Because yeah, everywhere you check out they assume.

Joel: You feel like an outsider.

Jamie: They assume. They’re like, “Are you going to be using your Macy’s card today?”
“Uh, no.”

Jill: Or it’s just-

Jamie: “Are you going to be using your rewards today?”

Jill: Or you feel kind of dumb, like you’re not saving money and you easily could be by being a member.

Jamie: That’s the point.

Joel: Hang on, though. Hang on, so you hit on something. You said, “Macy’s card.” Now, that’s totally different, because that’s a credit card. But the problem is, is that they still-

Jill: They have a separate rewards program now, though.

Joel: Oh, they do?

Jill: I think, yeah.

Joel: But they still try to use that credit card, which they profit highly off of. They try to make that as their rewards program, even though there’s really no reward.

Jamie: Well, because they get you in initially, because your first purchase, you’re going to get 15% off.

Jill: Yeah, or something like that, and then-

Jamie: Yes, and then-

Joel: That you’ll pay 20% on interest.

Jamie: You get special deal. They say you get-

Jill: If you do it online, you get free shipping or something like that.

Jamie: Yes, so I don’t… It’s not necessarily a loyalty program, but it’s still a specialty thing.

Joel: You’re in the tribe. That’s what it is.

Jamie: Yes. A lot of companies and brands do that. They have their own special card.

Joel: Oh, I think every retail.

Jill: They do make you feel inferior if you don’t, if you’re not using it.

Joel: Like, “Oh, you’re one of-

Jill: It’s just like, “Oh, you’re not? Why aren’t you?”

Jamie: Yes, because if you used your card, then yeah, you get free-

Jill: Your points.

Jamie: Yeah, free shipping, you get points, you get exclusive deals, you get to know about deals sooner. Yeah, that’s part of being in the club.

Joel: Now, we talked about… Okay, so the credit cards. Now, we also, before we started recording, we talked about Amazon, Amazon Prime. Now, we pay for Amazon Prime. A little bit different than a credit card because it’s not revolving, it’s just the yearly fee. I don’t even know what it’s up to, $120 bucks or something a year?

Jamie: Yeah. With that, you just need to make sure that you are buying enough stuff to make it worth it.

Joel: I buy enough stuff probably in a month.

Jill: And always buying the Prime choice, because otherwise it’s, “What did I just buy that for? I can’t return for free.”

Jamie: I’m probably the only one in our office that is not a Prime member, just because I don’t buy enough stuff to make it worth it.

Jill: But for people like you, they make the TV shows. If you’re not buying enough stuff, you can do the TV and you can do the music.

Joel: They have other ways of-

Jamie: Yeah, you know what? I haven’t thought… I didn’t think about that. I could take advantage of, yeah, the music-

Jill: The other stuff that they-

Joel: Of the original content, and the past shows and all that, and the movies. Amazon, they’re making their own movies now, just like Netflix.

Jill: Yeah, and shows and-

Joel: Yeah, and their stuff is pretty good.

Jill: You can pretty much listen to any music you want. It’s not like… I guess they still have ads, I don’t really know on the Amazon Music, but you could just listen to anything.

Joel: Yeah, I got the Google Music.

Jill: Like Spotify.

Joel: Yeah, I don’t listen to the Amazon. I got to Google. The Googly.

Jamie: I got to consider that.

Jill: Yeah, you should.

Joel: Not to sound like an ad for Amazon Prime, and it’s only like 10 bucks a month I think, or it raised.

Jill: But it’s pretty infuriating when you order something on Amazon Prime and it somehow still takes like four days.

Joel: Which happens quite often, actually.

Jill: Or it comes the next day. You just never know.

Joel: You cannot pinpoint Amazon, but that’s besides the point here. But Amazon Prime though, it’s odd because you’re still paying to be a part of the membership and it’s not… I guess the reward is that we get the free shipping. Now, I use it. I never choose the standard shipping, and for what, a dollar Amazon credit is what they always offer?

Jill: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joel: I’m like, “Screw that. I want my thing in two days or less.”

Jamie: We’re so spoiled nowadays.

Joel: It seems like every brand or every company, every restaurant now, every chain restaurant definitely has some type of rewards.

Jamie: OpenTable.

Joel: OpenTable has rewards?

Jamie: Well, that’s the… Yeah.

Joel: I don’t know, I’ve-

Jill: Yeah, I guess I’ve never used it. I use OpenTable, but I think you get points.

Jamie: Yeah, because every time you make a reservation you get points, and then-

Jill: Ask [Jed 00:06:05].

Jamie: Ask your dad.

Jill: He’s a boss in there, he uses his points all the time.

Joel: Oh, does he? Well, he uses OpenTable all the time.

Jill: He gets so many points. I think you get gift cards.

Jamie: Yeah, you can-

Jill: Not sure.

Jamie: Yeah, for gift cards towards-

Jill: But he won’t eat anywhere that doesn’t have OpenTable because he needs the points. Then you ask him, and he doesn’t really know what he does with the points.

Joel: He doesn’t actually use them?

Jill: I think he racks them up for years, and then-

Jamie: Yeah, and then-

Jill: I don’t really know how it works.

Jamie: … they go towards-

Joel: You almost have to rack them up for years.

Jamie: It’s like the credit card points and the hotel points and-

Joel: Oh, hotel points for sure. You can stay in a hotel for three months straight and only get two nights free, it’s frustrating.

Jamie: It’s almost like you… These retailers, it’s almost like, “All right, so what are you offering?” It’s like if you’re not offering some type of incentive program, you’re not doing it right.

Joel: Well, and so that’s another question: How much do you have to offer to make it worthwhile for people to actually take part in it, or just feel like they’re getting any kind of deal? Is it the retailer’s job or the brand’s job to make you feel like you’re getting a great value? Wouldn’t it just be the product itself is the great value? Why does it always have to be: up the game, and start giving away things? Even though, I think we all know that the point system, it’s like a penny a point on average.

Jill: Well, I think a lot of the reason why people join rewards programs, at least I know I have, just for stuff like I want free shipping. All you have to do is sign up for the email and then you’re in the club. I just did that because I didn’t want to pay for shipping-

Joel: Well, what’s the brand?

Jill: … and that’s usually enough for me.

Joel: But that’s of real value to you.

Jill: Yeah. I don’t want to pay for shipping.

Joel: But the-

Jill: An example of another one that I’m a part of is Nordstrom, Nordy Club, they call it.

Joel: You’re a Nordy?

Jill: Yeah. I spend a lot there and I return a lot of it. I don’t have time to get out of my house a lot, so I’ll just buy a lot of stuff and return. But I have been adding up my points for a year, I don’t know where they ever go, I don’t know what takes so long, I don’t know how many leads you to what. Then I’ll get like 10 bucks one time a year.

Jamie: What’s the point?

Jill: But I’m very diligently typing in my rewards number, which is my phone number, every time I make a purchase. I’m like, “Yes, I’ll get my points for this.” But it’s 10 bucks maybe, maybe 20, depending on what I bought. But it takes forever. It makes you feel like-

Jamie: It’s not a great program?

Jill: … you got to be a super-big-giant spender to be part of it, and I am not spending 10 grand at Nordstrom every year.

Joel: For example, Southwest Airlines, I’m a rewards program person. I did a lot of flying over the summer for these [Tones 00:09:14] and these Sam’s Club Trips thing. I looked at my points recently and it’s, I don’t know, 13,000 points. Which sounds like a lot, but it’s not, not to book a flight. Also, I think those points expire at some point, and it’s-

Jill: Kind of like at Starbucks.

Joel: Oh, Starbucks is that way?

Jill: Big rewards points system on their app. If you don’t use them, you lose them.

Joel: After how long?

Jill: I can’t remember, but I’ve definitely racked a whole bunch up and then… stars, they call it, and then have them be gone the next day. They’ll warn you when they’re expiring but-

Jamie: But do you know how much equals a latte?

Jill: I don’t know, it’s probably like a hundred or something. But you do get a free drink on your birthday.

Jamie: See, that’s cool. Yeah, see that’s-

Jill: It’s probably worth it just for that, because you don’t have to pay to be part of it.

Jamie: Do you know how many points equals a free flight? It always depends on how far you can-

Joel: Probably like 50,000.

Jamie: … how far away it is too, right?

Joel: What, the flight?

Jamie: Yeah.

Joel: The distance or the-

Jamie: Yeah. It depends on the distance, too?

Joel: Well, yeah. Well, it depends on the price of the flight.

Jamie: Okay, so that’s what it means.

Joel: I don’t know how Southwest does it, but one point is probably the equivalent of a penny. If you have 50… Well, let’s just say a $500 flight would be… That’s a lot of pennies. Wait, it’s like 50,000 pennies, right?

Jamie: I don’t know. Math. Don’t make me do math.

Jill: Who knows?

Joel: Yeah. Oh, my God.

Jill: An example of a loyalty program that I enjoyed, maybe Jamie did too, that disappeared was the Target one.

Jamie: Wait, didn’t they do away with the Cartwheel app?

Jill: They still have it. I think it might be called something… It’s just Target app. You used to use it by… and you still do this, you scan items in the store and if there’s a coupon for it, it will pop up and you can use it when you’re checking out. Then they used to send you gift-card points. If you racked up a certain amount of money that you spent at Target, you would get 10 or 20 bucks, but they took that away. Now it’s just a coupon scanner, and I don’t know if you put that under the umbrella of-

Jamie: See, that’s why I like the Target Red Card.

Jill: Yes, 5%.

Jamie: Yeah, because you get 5% off of every purchase-

Jill: And free shipping.

Jamie: … and free shipping.

Joel: But is the Red Card a credit card?

Jamie: No, it is linked to your bank account.

Joel: Oh, that’s just dangerous.

Jill: Well, you have the debit then. I have a credit one.

Jamie: Yeah. I have the debit, yeah. It’s not a separate credit card.

Jill: It’s only for Target, it’s not a MasterCard or anything. But I like it.

Joel: Just so we know, a $500 flight would take 50,000 credits, if they’re a penny per credit. That means you have to spend $50,000… Assuming that this is how Southwest does it, you have to spend 50 grand to get a $500 flight back.

Jill: Maybe your job is paying for some of those flights.

Joel: Right. I think that’s who you hear about that gets a lot of the airlines, or they spend a lot on credit cards and they convert that to airline miles. But Southwest isn’t… It’s cool to be a part of the rewards program and all that, and I always do it because I think, “Oh, maybe someday it’ll add up to something.” Then my points disappear, and then they’re gone.
Or Hilton, the Hilton Honors, I stay three, four nights a week on each trip. You do 10 trips, that’s 30, 40 nights a year, and I get maybe two nights at a decent hotel.

Jamie: Or don’t they get you a discounted rate?

Joel: Yeah, you could do a discounted rate. But at the same time, why do a… How often am I going and staying at a hotel anyway, you know what I mean? Privately or whatever?

Jill: I just found some statistics here to talk about how they are really popular. A report said that 72% of adults online belong to at least one loyalty program. The average was nine.

Joel: Nine loyalty programs?

Jill: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 24% said that they belong to too many loyalty programs, which, how do you belong to too… Just don’t do it if you’re not into it. Then 78% of people said that loyalty programs save them money, and half said that they influence what they buy. I guess that means-

Jamie: Yeah, I agree with all that.

Jill: … when I get points here at Schnucks, I’m going to go there instead, that kind of thing. It seems like most people are happy with belonging. I don’t think you could really go wrong. If you’re not into it, then just don’t do it.

Joel: Right. Well, I-

Jamie: Yeah, because you have nothing to-

Jill: It’s not harming you.

Jamie: Yeah, you have nothing to lose and you’re getting stuff.

Jill: But I can’t tell you how much it costs brands-

Jamie: The brands and retailers and all that?

Jill: Right.

Joel: Oh, it doesn’t cost them very much.

Jill: All I could find was something about influencer marketing, which is replacing rewards programs, as in they’re paying people to wear their stuff on Instagram.

Joel: See, and I think that-

Jill: They’re getting a lot of money from that.

Joel: At least for me, I could not care about what influencers or anybody else is wearing, doing, eating, anything.

Jill: I think they have a certain demographic, which is not you.

Joel: I know, but-

Jill: No offense.

Joel: No, no, I get it. I understand. But I’ll tell you what though, I am one of those types of people where I will… If I happen to go to a place and they have a rewards program, I am far more likely to go back there soon, if I join the rewards program and I find the rewards worth it. Like Jersey Mike’s, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I’ll go there once or twice a week easily, because I can rack up points quickly, and I feel like that’s a very good value in their rewards program.

Jamie: Then you get a free sub after what, so many?

Joel: So many, yeah.

Jill: But one thing-

Jamie: That’s a simple program, too.

Jill: Right. One thing to consider-

Joel: Right, and-

Jill: Sorry, Joel.

Joel: No, go ahead.

Jill: In this article I’m looking at, mobile is essential. The punch-card days, it’s a little nostalgic when you get one of those, because they still do happen, but-

Jamie: I remember those.

Joel: But you lose them.

Jill: Well, see, it says 57% say they want to engage with their programs via mobile device. That’s something to consider. Also, it seems like a lot of places you go to, they already have your info in their computer and all you do is tell them your phone number.

Jamie: Yeah, they always want your phone number.

Jill: Like World Market, that’s one that-

Jamie: Schnucks.

Jill: They’ll be like, “Oh, you have…” Ulta does it too, “You have 20 bucks. Do you want to spend them?” Like, “I had no idea. That’s a great surprise.”

Jamie: Yeah, it’s simple.

Joel: What irritates me about the Schnucks, is that if you forget to put in your phone number before you click the pay button, you can’t go back. There’s no way to add the points later.

Jill: You snooze you lose?

Joel: Yeah, and sometimes I’m just in a hurry. I’m just going through the motions and-

Jamie: Yeah, but you have to do it right before you do anything, you have to punch in your phone number.

Joel: Right, so now I have to consciously think before I scan any… I’ll usually scan the first item and then punch in my phone number, because I don’t know when the transaction actually begins. But if you scan at least one item, then you know it’s going through.

Jill: Same with at Target. If you’re doing self-checkout, you’ve got to scan your phone for the Cartwheel thing before you buy everything. Joel, what were you saying about Jersey Mike’s? What do you get from there?

Joel: What do I order?

Jill: What’s their reward?

Joel: It’s based on points. It’s a point system, and I don’t know-

Jill: Like a free sub?

Joel: Yeah. You get so many points. I don’t know, it’s got to be similar to, so many dollars spent equals so many points.

Jill: But it’s a good feeling when you go somewhere and you find out you get something free. Like, “Free sandwich! Free drink! Yes!”

Joel: Right, like the gas stations. A lot of them will do every six or seventh drink is free.

Jamie: That is one that I’ve never signed up for, and I see that all the time.

Joel: The place that I go fill up… I’m weird, I don’t like to see my gas tank go below a half a tank, so I fill up twice a week, easily.

Jamie: Oh, you do?

Joel: Yeah, I’m weird like that. But I’m also there because I’ll just go in and grab a drink or whatever. But it’s always a nice surprise because I-

Jill: Yeah, it is a nice surprise.

Joel: … because I’m a millennial and I don’t use cash, so I always use my debit card. I’ll have my debit card ready, and then I’ll run my little… the rewards card that they have. Then they’ll be like, “Oh, the drink’s free.” And I’ll be like, “Oh, awesome. My day just got a little bit better.”

Jill: Yes, and maybe here’s another little fun fact: maybe where the retailers make up for their costs for giving away free stuff is… It said on average people spend $42-ish more at retailers that have loyalty programs.

Joel: No, I guess that makes sense for retail.

Jill: Yeah. You’re going to the places that give you stuff, basically. That’s where they make up in the cost.

Jamie: Yeah, because when I see… Especially as Sephora it’s like, “Oh, I’ve got this many points to use?” Then I’m like, “Ah, I should buy something.”

Jill: But do theirs expire?

Jamie: Mm-mm (negative).

Jill: That’s nice, because I stock mine up and I forget about them. Then I wonder, “Did they go away and I didn’t know it?”

Jamie: No, theirs never expire.

Jill: That’s good.

Joel: Well, and I think one of the big reasons why rewards programs and loyalty programs are so effective, is because the cost of the program to give back to current customers is way less than the cost to acquire new customers. It’s always easier to bring back a current customer than to find a new one. As long as you just don’t screw it up… For the most part, if you don’t screw it up, if you’re a retailer, you have good-quality product, people come back anyway. But you can increase the frequency with the rewards programs.

Jamie: Well, and you don’t even have to do a whole full-on loyalty program. It could be just an incentive at a trade show, or a promotion or something like that.

Joel: That’s true, yeah. Yeah, it could be something like a one-time deal, you just show up and you get the extra promo. That’s like Black Friday. Black Friday sales, it’s just one massive, “Come and spend your money.”

Jamie: Yeah, a giveaway.

Joel: Yeah, it’s a giveaway. Yeah, or grand opening events.

Jamie: Because once you hook them, then-

Joel: They’re in.

Jamie: … they’re in.

Joel: Right. Yeah, I’m trying to think, is there any retail store where I went and shopped on Black Friday for a deal and ended up going back? I can’t think of any off hand. I’m sure it happened.

Jamie: Well, because it’s probably a place that you’ve already gone before.

Joel: Maybe, but maybe not, because I could just been looking through the ads and I’m like, “Okay, I’m just going to make a special trip to this one store.” And then-

Jamie: Because they were having a deal?

Joel: Yeah, because I was looking for one particular item. Then I was just like, “Oh, this is a cool store,” and then I keep going back.

Jamie: Yeah, I can’t think of a place where I’ve done that.

Joel: I’m sure it’s happened, but it’s… I don’t know. Maybe when I was younger it was easier, because your buying experience just wasn’t as vast at that point. I’m sure the first time I ever went into a Best Buy was for Black Friday, or a Target or a Walmart, or any of those places.
Now, we did a rewards program. Was it? Yeah, I guess it’s rewards, not loyalty, with the Honor Show Chow, which is-

Jill: Maybe we should tell them what Honor Show Chow is.

Joel: Honor Show Chow is a-

Jill: Show animal feed.

Joel: Yeah, show animal feed. I was trying to think of what type of animal.

Jill: For different species.

Joel: Yes. You know, cows, pigs, lamb.

Jill: Goat.

Joel: Chicken.

Jamie: Pig.

Joel: Pig.

Jill: All that.

Joel: All that good stuff.

Jill: We were doing it old-school style with the rewards.

Joel: We were.

Jill: Which I don’t know how it is anymore, because we-

Joel: It probably doesn’t exist.

Jill: … don’t work with this client. I think it-

Jamie: Yeah, I don’t think it exists anymore.

Jill: I don’t know. But what we used to do was, customers would cut out the… There was a little UPC code.

Joel: No, it wasn’t UPC, it was a little circle.

Jamie: It was a circle.

Jill: Right. Yeah, it was a little emblem that they would cut out and they’d save them up, and then they’d mail them in to us-

Joel: And I would count them.

Jill: … and they would look at the little catalog, and they’d pick out toys or shirts-

Joel: Supplies.

Jill: … or whatever that they wanted.

Jamie: This was like 10 years ago, so I mean-

Jill: It was even longer than that. Well, yeah.

Joel: Well, when I was working with them, it was 10 years ago.

Jill: Yeah, and that was an example of-

Jamie: Yeah, then you would get swag.

Jill: They needed to get with the program. Let’s just say, we tried to convince them that it needed to go digital or-

Joel: Right, and they wouldn’t do it.

Jill: But they had pretty many participants, I would say.

Joel: It did. Oh, we had probably, I don’t know, maybe at least 1,000 or more people per year.

Jill: Yeah, I would relate it to, if you’ve cut out-

Jamie: The box tops?

Joel: Box tops.

Jill: … the box tops from cereals.

Joel: Yeah, cereal box top, which is… Well, it’s not the original, because there used to be something like stamps. I don’t know, we’d have to-

Jamie: That’s still going on, isn’t it? The box tops?

Joel: The box top, yeah, but now it’s for school funding.

Jill: But here’s an example of a more modern way of the Honor Show Chow: I buy a lot of baby diapers, and all you do is scan it on your phone and it loads it into your points.

Jamie: See, I’m sure if they were still doing that program today, that’s how they would do it.

Jill: Yeah, and it’s nice.

Jamie: Or if we were still doing it today, yeah.

Joel: Theoretically, yeah, that’s how it should be.

Jill: The scanner doesn’t always work that well, sometimes you have to manually type it in. Then you’re on the app, then you can select all the stuff you want to buy. It’s pretty easy if you remember to do it.

Joel: Yeah, which sometimes that’s half the battle, is just remembering.

Jill: Yeah, I have a big stack of unscanned ones at home, because I’m lazy; but I don’t want to throw them away, because that’s just money sitting there.

Joel: But what is weird is that… Yesterday, I went to Jimmy John’s, and they said, “Oh, are you a part of our rewards program?” Which I’ve seen it is for a month now, and I’m not, and I said, “No.” And they’re like, “Well, why not?”

Jill: Yeah, see? They guilt you, make you feel bad.

Joel: I know. Well, they did, but she wasn’t interrogating me. She was just like, “Oh, well you should sign up. Here’s-

Jill: It’s not like at Bread Co., “Why?”

Joel: Yeah. Like, “Oh, you’re not one of us.”

Jill: “I don’t like you anymore.”

Joel: Yeah. No, but it was weird because I’m like, “Well, I go to Jimmy John’s enough where I probably would-

Jill: Would get some use out of it?

Joel: Yeah. But I’ve been there, I don’t know, at least a half a dozen times since they started that rewards program, and I still haven’t signed up.

Jamie: Maybe you should, Joel.

Jill: Something deep within you makes you say, “Eh.”

Joel: I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. I don’t-

Jill: Well, it’s like, “Do I have to get a little card for that? I don’t want another little card thing and-

Jamie: Well, then you’re like, “Okay, are they going to start sending me a whole bunch of emails? Is this going to be annoying?”

Jill: It’s like they need to explain the benefits more, a lot of the times.

Jamie: Like, “What do I get?”

Jill: What do I get with all these rewards I sign up for?

Joel: Well, hang on. That’s something we can touch on here. Are all the rewards programs pretty much the same now, where you should just be able to figure it out? Is it so intuitive that you should just know what you’re getting?

Jamie: Not necessarily, because it really does depend on the business. Because I know we go to Bass Pro a lot, and every single time, they’re like, “Are you part of our rewards program?” But I don’t know what we get.

Jill: You’re like, “Well, what does it do?” Then you don’t want to stand there forever while they explain it.

Jamie: Yeah, and I don’t-

Jill: That’s one reason I say, “No.”

Jamie: Yeah, and every single time, because Aaron’s always with me when I go to Bass Pro. I mean, why would I go by myself? Aaron always declines, and I’m like, “Why don’t you want to sign up?”

Jill: Yeah, because you don’t want to hear the spiel?

Jamie: Yeah. To this day, I do not know what all the rewards entail.

Jill: They need some signage.

Joel: But don’t you think it’s probably just, the more you spend the more you earn, type of thing?

Jill: Yeah, but it’s like, what-

Jamie: But I don’t know what the points go towards.

Jill: Is it points, is it dollars? Do you get a discount?

Jamie: Yeah, do you get a hat?

Jill: Do you get a gift card?

Jamie: Yeah, is it swag, like Bass Pro swag? I don’t know.

Jill: They need to make more info readily available at checkouts, because a lot of people don’t want to stand there and listen to the 10 minutes of-

Jamie: Right, and then how fast is it to sign up? Do I have to give you all my info?

Jill: My address, my phone number, my email.

Jamie: Yeah, I hate doing that.

Joel: Here’s a new… Well, new within the last five years or so, but have you guys ever heard of Ebates?

Jill: Yes.

Jamie: Oh, yes.

Jill: Use it all the time.

Jamie: I am part of that. I love it.

Jill: Almost 700 bucks collected.

Jamie: For reals?

Jill: Yeah.

Joel: Oh, I’m triple that.

Jamie: Okay, I have been a part of it-

Jill: Really?

Joel: Oh, yeah.

Jamie: I’ve been a part of it for maybe a year or two, and I guess-

Joel: Oh, I’ve-

Jamie: … I just do not buy enough.

Jill: I’ve had it five years, so it’s-

Joel: Yeah, I’ve had it five or six years.

Jamie: I’m probably at like 75 bucks, and that’s it.

Joel: Oh, really? No, I’ve-

Jill: I got a 90-buck check once, and I felt pretty good about that.

Joel: It’s to a point now, where… Well, not now, but it’s rare that I get a check for under $75 or $100.

Jill: Man, what are you buying?

Joel: But they only send us like three checks a year or so.

Jill: Yeah, they do it every three months, I think it’s four.

Jamie: Okay, but the most I have ever seen for the percentage of cash back, the highest I have ever seen is 6% cash back.

Jill: They do go up to 10%, I just had a 10-spot.

Jamie: That is insane, because every single store-

Jill: Macy’s does it a lot.

Joel: But it’s a very niche website, usually, for the 10%.

Jamie: Yeah, because every time-

Jill: No, they have special days-

Jamie: … it’s always 2% or 3%, that’s every single place I go to.

Jill: They have special days though, some made up anniversary or something, and they’ll have all these stores that are 10%.

Jamie: Really?

Jill: The good ones too, yeah. If you go on the… Well now it’s called-

Jamie: Rakuten.

Joel: Rakuten.

Jill: Yeah, it’s some weird name. Ebates was so much better.

Jamie: I know, I agree.

Joel: Yeah? I-

Jill: But if you go on their-

Jamie: I don’t like Rakuten.

Jill: … website it tells you what’s the big deals of the day and-

Jamie: But usually, because I have the extension, so every single time I go to some online store-

Jill: Yeah, it pops up.

Jamie: … it just pops up and I’m like, “1%? Yay.”

Jill: Target is 1% or less.

Jamie: Yeah, Target is always 1%.

Jill: Amazon is like 1% or-

Joel: Well, Amazon is negligible, they barely… because it’s not even on every category. Whenever I shop on Amazon, I don’t even go to Ebates anymore, but-

Jill: Macy’s does it big time, by the way.

Jamie: Does it?

Jill: Yeah.

Joel: I get a lot through Enterprise Rent-A-Car. That’s how… Yeah.

Jill: When you’re spending like 500 bucks and you get your 5%.

Joel: It adds up. It’s like 4% or something, so it adds up pretty quick.

Jill: Should we explain that everyone knows what Ebates is, or are we assuming?

Joel: Well, the reason I brought up Ebates is because that’s a way for smaller brands to offer rewards to their customers, at least online, because you can just sign… As a retailer, you can sign up for Ebates to participate in a program. Then, I don’t know exactly how it works because I’ve never seen the back-end contract, but if you’re a smaller retail, like what’s the [PaperDolls 00:28:31]?

Jill: Yeah, I don’t think they would… They don’t even have online shopping, but-

Joel: Oh, they don’t do online?

Jill: I don’t think so.

Joel: Okay, but something like that, where they have a few stores maybe around town and they have a decent online store, they can sign up for an Ebates. You don’t have to have it where it’s an in-store only, or you manage the program yourself.

Jill: A lot of stuff, I think you can get Ebates back when you’re in the actual store somehow with the app.

Joel: Yeah, sometimes you can.

Jill: I’ve never really gotten it to work before.

Jamie: I’ve never tried that.

Joel: I’ve never looked at it.

Jill: Because a lot of times I’ll be like, “Man, Ulta has 6% back online. I’m just going to go buy this online, because in the store it’s not.” It adds up.

Joel: What I’ve done is, especially around the holidays, the Ebates, the percentages go up to incentivize people. What I’ll do is, I’ll buy it online and pick up in store.

Jamie: Oh, smart.

Joel: I don’t even have to go… It’s ready for me. I’ll go to Best Buy, if I’m buying something from Best Buy, and Best Buy, it’s usually not much, it’s like 2% at most. But still, it’s better than nothing. Plus, I get Best Buy rewards on it, so I feel like I’m double dipping. Or, what’s another? It’s either Home Depot or Lowe’s, I forget which one, they usually have high percentages between October and the end of the year, during the holidays. I’ll always go on Ebates and buy everything online through them, even if it’s just something totally stupid, like bug spray, I don’t know. I’ll go buy whatever I can through them online.

Jamie: Smart.

Jill: Oh, yes. I’m looking at the app right now, and there is an in-store button.

Jamie: Do you just have to show it to the cashier?

Jill: It says you have to link deals to… I guess you put your credit card in the Ebates app; yeah, you have to do that, and then you link it. I guess it just automatically goes when you pay with that credit card.

Jamie: Interesting, I’ll have to try that sometime.

Joel: At least in our world, customer rewards programs, they’re pretty effective, right?

Jamie: Oh, yeah.

Jill: Yeah.

Joel: Do you actively search companies or brands that have rewards programs?

Jill: I think it’s just an added bonus if you find one that does. I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t shop somewhere just because they don’t have one.

Jamie: Yeah, I would agree.

Joel: Have you ever been recommended to one though? Has somebody ever said, “Hey, you should start shopping here cause they have a great rewards program?”

Jamie: I don’t know.

Jill: I think I find out about a lot of stuff through emails, or just when you’re checking out at the store and the cashier says something. But as far as a friend-

Joel: Well, have you ever told anybody?

Jill: I tell Rachel all the time about Ebates, but she won’t do it.

Jamie: What?

Jill: I don’t know why, because I wanted to get my refer-a-friend.

Joel: I know. Yeah, I tell Misty about it. She’s a part of some Swagbucks or something. I’m like, “That’s stupid. Go on Ebates.”

Jill: But I don’t know, maybe Target. Oh, you know what? I saw somebody post something about Starbucks.

Joel: About their rewards?

Jill: Yeah, or just like, “I got my free drink.” I was like, “Oh, how do I do that? I don’t want to pay for this. I want a free drink, too.” Then I signed up.

Joel: You don’t want to pay for a drink?

Jill: No.

Joel: At the place that all they sell is drinks?

Jill: Yeah, I just want my free one.

Jamie: I don’t think I have ever bothered, I don’t know why.

Joel: With that in mind, yeah, they’re effective to current customers, but is it effective to a point where people are sending new traffic?

Jamie: Well, if they do a refer-a-friend thing, then maybe.

Jill: Or maybe to a spouse. I’ll say to my husband, “Why aren’t you doing this program?”

Jamie: Yeah, because come to think of it-

Jill: Get with it.

Jamie: … because that Ebates thing is the only one I could think of-

Jill: It’s saving us money.

Jamie: … where it says, “Yeah, refer a friend and you get the 25 or 50 bucks,” whatever it is.

Jill: It has to be a certain number of friends, I think. I’ve never-

Joel: Yeah, it’s like-

Jill: I’ve never recruited enough. I did recruit Joe on that one.

Joel: Oh, really?

Jill: He likes Ebates now, too. But-

Jamie: Well, and then I remember for a time there was, you can refer a friend to Direct TV and you get 25 bucks.

Joel: Off your next bill or something?

Jamie: I think it was just a solid 25 or 50 bucks.

Joel: Oh, they send you a check?

Jamie: Yeah.

Joel: Oh, that would be cool.

Jill: Hey, maybe I should call out a refer-a-friend that failed. Should I do that on here?

Joel: Wait, what?

Jill: A refer a friend that failed.

Joel: That failed?

Jill: Yes. My dad referred us to a certain Chevrolet dealership, and he was supposed to get 100 bucks and never did.

Joel: Oh, really?

Jill: Yeah, because we bought a car from the same guy, and through that he was supposed to get a check for 100 bucks in the mail. That was in January, and he still hasn’t gotten it.

Joel: Oh, I bet he’s pissed.

Jill: Yeah.

Joel: Now, would you ever go to that dealership again? Do you think he’ll ever go?

Jill: I don’t know. We probably will because it was a good experience for us.

Joel: But if you have a negative experience with it, with the rewards program, because that-

Jill: I would be like, “Where’s my money?” If I referred you, and you bought… It should even be more than that. You bought a car, and you were only getting a measly 100 bucks.

Joel: Well, you got to remember the car industry is weird. They don’t really make money on the cars, they make money on the service and all that.

Jill: I guess I won’t say who it is, because maybe it eventually came, I don’t know. As far as I knew, it hadn’t; the check hadn’t come yet.

Jamie: It’s probably a clerical error.

Joel: Well, let’s hope. It could still be in processing.

Jill: That’s pretty much why we went there. He recommended it and also said, “I get a hundred bucks if you buy your car there.” That’s why we went.

Joel: Who knows? Maybe it’s one of those deals where you have to own the car for a year or something?

Jill: I don’t know.

Jamie: That happened when we bought our Tundra. It was a referral thing, and the guy who helped us was supposed to get 100 bucks, and hopefully he did.

Jill: Yeah, that’s a pretty… The car industry is really through word of mouth-

Jamie: Sales, in general.

Jill: … because you don’t want to-

Joel: Well, it’s a huge purchase, and you don’t want to just-

Jill: You want to trust… You listen to what your friends say when you’re spending a whole bunch of money on something, and you don’t want to go to some place with clowns working there.

Joel: It’s also weird though, because in the car-buying industry or any large purchase like that, it’s like, what’s the difference between this Chevy at this dealership, and this Chevy at this dealership? There’s no difference.

Jill: It’s who has what you want, pretty much.

Jamie: Yeah, and who’s going to work with you on the deals.

Jill: Yeah, who’s going to work with you?

Joel: But they all work the same. I do it, but it’s weird.

Jill: It’s basically, who has what you want?

Joel: Yeah, kind of. It’s like-

Jill: Or who’s willing to get it?

Joel: Yeah, it’s like, “Oh, you have this car in this color with this trim, I like that.”

Jamie: When it came down to when we were buying a new car, it was really about the money. It just came down to the price. It was the same exact car at one dealership, and this dealership. But this one had a better price.

Jill: Who’s willing to work with you? Right.

Joel: Did you-

Jamie: We did our homework for months.

Jill: Our car didn’t even come from our dealership. They had to get it from some other one, so they didn’t even have it.

Joel: Yeah, which that’s not unusual.

Jill: But I’m just saying, I guess we could have went somewhere else and had them get it. But we went there because he was recommended to us.

Joel: You can order cars online now.

Jill: Yeah, or get them through a car vending machine.

Joel: Yeah, Carvana.

Jamie: Oh, don’t even get me started on that.

Joel: I’d like to-

Jill: That’s another topic.

Joel: I’d like to see Carvana’s rewards program.

Jill: 5%.

Joel: Yeah, you get a penny per dollar spent on your next car, but you have to use it within a year.

Jamie: It’s just so funny, because it makes cars seem just so disposable.

Joel: They are disposable to some people.

Jamie: I know.

Jill: Yep. Flat tire; need a new car.

Jamie: Right. I don’t like that mindset. I don’t, because I’m one of those people-

Jill: That’s because you’re married to someone that fixes cars.

Jamie: Right. I’m one of those people that keeps my vehicles for a long period of time. I don’t like just throwing away cars.

Joel: I am too, usually.

Jill: Yeah, Joel, yours is running up on 10 years or-

Joel: It’ll be 11 years old, next year.

Jamie: But there they are, they’re making cars to-

Joel: Better.

Jamie: No, to be disposable.

Joel: Well, but they’re-

Jamie: To where just keep them for a couple of years, and then you get a new one. They’re not made to last like they used to.

Joel: Well, but no, but at the same time though, they are, because they’re using synthetic oils, they’re using a lot of synthetic things that makes the car actually last longer. You’ve got to put work and money into it, but cars now, they’ll easily go-

Jamie: They’re not built to last.

Joel: Cars will go a half a million miles.

Jill: We’re getting off subject.

Jamie: Yeah, we are, but… Well, either way.

Joel: Either way. All right, so let’s bottom line this. Rewards programs: yes, no, maybe?

Jill: I give it my stamp of approval.

Jamie: They’re great.

Joel: Jill’s stamp of approval?

Jill: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jamie: They’re great.

Joel: Is that a new podcast thing?

Jill: Can you hear it?

Joel: Yep, Jill’s stamp of approval.

Jill: We need a sound effect. Like a, ding!

Joel: Yeah, like a big old stamp.

Jamie: I approve.

Jill: Can’t go wrong, I say. Jamie?

Jamie: Yeah, I approve.

Joel: I approve too, and I guess if you can get me to move, or if you can get the needle moving on me a little bit with a rewards program, that means it’s probably working and a good thing.

Jill: Good job, Jersey Mike’s.

Joel: Oh, yeah, Jersey Mike’s, I will see you soon. All right, anything else?

Jill: Nope.

Joel: All right. We’ll be right back with, can’t let it go.