Looking toward 2020, the biggest trends in payments and banking may be connected to the C-suite—not through the CEO, but instead, the CMO. Theresa McCendree, VP of Marketing at Blackhawk Network, writes

Many CMOs are overlooking a marketing tool that is already in their arsenal and poised to help address a transforming landscape head-on.

The evolution of reward and incentive programs presents a big opportunity that marketing and business professionals must tap into for the sake of their own brands and success.

 Skipping costly customer acquisition pursuits

Customer acquisition costs are an increasing concern and brands should look at inexpensive ways to attract and engage customers. Some things to consider include free trials or leveraging popular forms of branded payments like prepaid, gift card and egift rewards to encourage desired behaviors.

 Gain tremendous insights about your customers

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With digital gift cards, consumers volunteer information that can add a layer of insights beyond a one-and-done purchase. Using natural click paths and the digital nature of egifts, marketers are able to gain visibility into the people who buy or receive the card, how they use it and their future purchases—a triple-threat combination.

 A new tool for service with a smile

Retailers can enable their teams to issue egifts in real time to help solve appeasement issues immediately in the store or online. This can turn a negative experience into a positive one, limiting damage to a brand’s image and preventing negative social media chatter from escalating. This can be a major tool to satisfy and engage current customers, and data shows that satisfied customers are more likely to recommend a brand to others.

The future of payments will continue to shift and evolve in 2020 and beyond, but I’m placing my bets that seamless integration of reward and incentives will play a major role in defining success for payment programs in the coming years