SpotOn focuses on customer loyalty through marketing for the digital future. Gregory Bair

SpotOn is a marketing platform which sets its sites on digital loyalty as its method. This powerful tool for marketing is simple for merchants to send messages to each and every one of their customers at any time of day, reaching them based on their preferences. This instant action is direct through email, mobile, and social campaigns. Offering paper coupons and hoping that the merchant Facebook post will reach the customer base are passé methods which SpotOn moves way beyond. They help merchants reach the modern economy where everyone wants a deal, everyone wants rewards, and everyone wants it to be fun. It is gamification at its root, bringing deals, rewards, and fun to the customers who come back for these tangible bonuses to shopping that delights. For the merchant this gamification offers repeat customers, increases revenue, and strengthens off-peak business times. And it’s all within the touch of the merchant’s finger to the free tablet they receive when enrolling.

Introduction

The company which eventually became SpotOn began in 2010 with nearly 50 years of combined experience alongside over 125,000 small businesses. Their goal was to provide a low cost alternative to small business owners who frequently use daily deal sites. This goal also provides a merchant’s customers with a loyalty program which is quite memorable and convenient for them. This goal has evolved to what it is today.

Two years later, in 2012 SpotOn was launched and the results have shown that happy loyal customers are created in non-traditional ways regular marketing campaigns cannot reach. They started by digitizing punch cards, and making the data to be shared quite accessible and action-driven. The way that the merchants communicate with their customer base is different with SpotOn. And SpotOn gives them the tools to achieve a level of customer loyalty they could not achieve through traditional methods.

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Customer Loyalty

SpotOn is all about customer loyalty as a base of financial support for the merchant. Not only having knowledge, but acting on it. Driving the customers to the loyalty the merchant’s crave.

Today’s Customer

Social media is where it’s at: one in every 4.5 minutes online is spent on social media. Facebook is the #1 most trafficked website in the world. Mobile is increasing: 80.1% own a mobile phone. 91.4 million mobile internet users. Consumers are all in search of a deal: In 2011, nearly half of all online consumers redeemed digital coupons online or in a store. Forty-five percent (45%) of consumers would prefer to receive mobile coupons via text message versus other methods.

Today’s Business Owner

  • Has little time to spend on marketing
  • Knows old marketing methods no longer work
  • Is reliant on deal sites
  • Has deal-chasing consumers
  • Wants to use social media
  • Lack the understanding to do so
  • Finds that growth is difficult
  • Can’t tie online efforts to revenue

This is where SpotOn comes in. They focus on social media, mobile messaging, loyalty, deals, and analytics to create a powerful marketing hub for business owners to reach this deal-centric customer base. They build a foundation of happy repeat customers for the business. They attract new customers using social referrals. With mobile messaging, eager customers can be reached wherever they go. The entire merchant’s social media is combined to one convenient central location, saving time. The merchant creates viral deals and saves money by avoiding deal sites, which drain resources by sending one-time deal seekers. Then the merchant measures the results clearly in real time.

How does SpotOn do this? First the set up: SpotOn sends everything the merchant needs, including the tablet. The merchant then plugs it in, customizes for their specific rewards and deals they want to offer, and it’s ready to go! The customers are engaged when they receive the offers to their smartphone apps, email, Facebook, or Twitter via the business dashboard, HotSpot. Loyalty is then tracked with one quick scan. Customers earn their points when they make a purchase. The merchant’s tablet logs it all and displays it with interactive charts and graphs to see their data in real-time, at anytime, anywhere.

For Social Media:

  • Expert site set up (even if you don’t have it)
  • All-in-one social interface
  • SpotOn Facebook app
  • Interact in one place
  • Schedule posts ahead of time
  • Brings conversation to you
  • Listen to consumers online

For Mobile Messaging:

  • Short code & custom keyword
  • Easy-to-use messaging interface
  • 50 free texts each month
  • Free signage
  • Reach customers wherever they go
  • Instantly communicate deals
  • Track opt-ins online

The customer can opt-in in 3 ways:

  • Merchant’s Facebook page
  • Text the keyword to the short code
  • Give merchant mobile number at checkout

Products and Services

SpotOn offers many products and services to merchants. Below are some of the offers included in the contract.

 Loyalty Program

SpotOn offers both Loyalty & Birthday Rewards for customers. Loyalty programs increase average purchase & visit frequency by over 25% Merchants can reward great customers for their loyalty. The free tablet does all the work.

  • Automated customer tracking
  • Points or visits
  • Go cardless
  • Customer categorization
  • Regulars, newcomers, been a while
  • Simple to join
  • Facebook app or at checkout
  • Loyalty program interface
  • 40 free loyalty cards
  • Access to DIY card ordering tool

 Easy Marketing

Businesses can connect with all of their customers anytime via email & mobile. They can know the value of your customers through social media integration: full Facebook and Twitter.

Create Unique Deals:

  • Turn online activity to in-store purchases
  • Enable social buying and referrals
  • Blast deals to social and mobile users
  • Create unique redemption codes
  • Online marketing calendar
  • Easy-to-use deals interface
  • Unlimited redemption codes

Track Everything

Real-time data lets the merchant see exactly what’s happening at the counter through powerful SpotOn analytics:

  • Social data
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Foursquare
  • SMS opt-ins
  • Business trends
  • loyalty revenue
  • Transactions
  • Deal stats
  • Redeemed/unredeemed
  • SpotOn Plus
  • Customer behavior
  • Visits, spend, rewards

Simple Set Up

SpotOn sends the merchant everything they need with expert help included.

  • Expert advice from social specialists
  • Tips and tricks
  • Custom site set-up
  • Content ideas on demand
  • Each merchant has their own SpotOn team

Mobile-Friendly

With the free smartphone app, customers never miss out on points.

Included

Wifi-enabled tablet

Loyalty cards

Mobile app

In-store marketing materials

Email campaigns

Mobile messages

Business analytics

Social media integration

Rates and Fees

I have found various rates on different sites, some differing rates even posted by SpotOn. I suggest asking for the lower rates and see if they will allow it.

  • $70 per month (now $60, some sites even say $50)
  • $19.95 one-time shipping fee for the tablet
  • 12 month contract
  • No equipment to purchase
  • No transaction fees

I found these prices for SpotOn and SpotOn Plus with what’s included in each:

SpotOn $39/mo

  • Social media
  • SpotOn Facebook App
  • Mobile messaging & keyword
  • Social analytics
  • Do-it-yourself Deals

SpotOn Plus $49/mo

  • Social media
  • SpotOn Facebook App
  • Mobile messaging & keyword
  • Social analytics
  • Do-it-yourself Deals interface
  • Loyalty program & rewards tracking
  • Customer analytics
  • Business analytics
  • Free starter kit
  • SMS (beyond first 50 each month)
  • Transaction fees (10cents / swipe)
  • No monthly fee first 60 days

Contract Terms

SpotOn requires a binding 12 month contract with a monthly fee. Here are some of the obligations of the merchant:

  • The client is responsible to create and send notes and deals to customers.
  • The client must fulfill such deal offers.
  • The client is responsible for its loyalty program, including design, description, and administration, as well as fulfillment.
  • The client must maintain internet connectivity to use HotSpot.
  • The client must train their own staff to use HotSpot.
  • The client must pay SpotOn monthly by automatic withdrawal.
  • The tablet and/or router, which is provided free of charge by SpotOn, is on loan for the term of the contract.
  • SpotOn has a limitation of liability clause. It is limited to the return of monthly subscription services during the time the service and devices were out of service.
  • The client is responsible for the replacement of broken and lost devices. Replacement fee is as below:
    • 10 inch tablet $500
    • 7 inch tablet $250
    • Router $75
  • The client must pay both subscription fees and activity fees.
  • SpotOn reserves the right to gather and store data of the merchant’s customers who opt in to SpotOn’s services.

Customer Service

Some merchants have complained that the customer service makes promises they do not follow through with. I have not found any positive reviews the mention the customer service. Customer service is not easily accessible from the home page of SpotOn’s website.

Technical Support

Some merchants have complained about the technical support when the service is not operating properly. I have not found any positive reviews that speak about the technical support. Technical Support is not found easily from SpotOn’s home page.

Reviews / Testimonials

SpotOn has an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau. They are not BBB accredited. I found no good reviews on their Better Business Bureau page. I found many good reviews from customers online through various sites of merchants which I will not include here, but I did find a few good reviews on various sites from merchants.

  • Love the new features! Already getting great feedback from customers about this!
  • I’m excited about being able to offer Spoton to new clients. They are truly loving the service and how Spoton is able to help them in their business. Every retail establishment should consider Spoton as a way to increase their profits through customer loyalty like the big guys but in a much simpler format.

SpotOn provided a customer spotlight with a review on a slideshare. Bagel Café was facing a situation, their sales were down for 2 years, particularly slow lunchtime sales. They were marketing with coupon books and campus newspaper ads. They gave SpotOn Plus a try and revenues increased by 20%. SpotOn Plus helped them reach over 3500 customers. They had 318 SMS opt-ins, over 3500 likes on Facebook

“Our revenues have increased 23% since we started using SpotOn two months ago.” Wes Hensley, Manager, Bagel Café.”  Click to watch the video.

Complaints

Spot-on’s A- rating with the Better Business Bureau was earned because complaints filed with the BBB were resolved. I found many negative merchant reviews of Spot-on on various sites. The complaints usually deal with the return of the tablet after canceling the service or the way the charges are billed. Some I see as company fault, but many are the fault of not reading the contract.

Conclusion

SpotOn is trying hard to bridge the gap between the merchant and customer, giving them each what they want. Customers are very happy with the service. Merchants like it too, although some have been very vocal about their mishaps. Overall, they have a very interesting aspect on marketing to the now. They are ahead of the curve and looking to the future.