Is Your Service Business Under Threat Of Commoditization? Here's How To Act

by Sarah Lazell

Customer Data, Gamification, Direct Bookings, Interactive Marketing

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Have you used an aggregator in the last few months to buy a service; perhaps to renew your insurance, book a takeaway or to plan a weekend away? 

Aggregators such as online booking agencies, comparison sites, and online travel agencies (OTAs), are modern-day match-makers; saving customers precious time, effort and money. They are a great convenience, simply answer a few questions and your ordered results will appear with no searching required.

woman-laptop pixabay

Businesses are also aware of the benefits of using third-party sites. They give enhanced visibility, which in turn can convert into increases in bookings/customers/orders, and if you aren’t using them then it is likely a few of your competitors are! 

  • On average, 46% of consumers bought for the first time or switched their car insurance policy through online means (74% in the UK!).
  • OTAs are forecasted to grow to 817.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.
  • Third-party takeaway sites such as  Deliveroo, JUST EAT, hungryhouse and UberEATS are seen as the catalyst for growth in UK food delivery market. Currently, the UK is spending £5 billion annually on takeaway delivery.

Whilst the benefits of aggregators are clear, there are also downsides.

  • Your unique service becomes another commodity. When everything looks the same to your buyers, they’ll generally settle on whichever solution or product is the cheapest.It won’t show why your business is unique or special, or why paying a little bit more is actually a lot better value.
  • Loss of opt-in marketing data. Quality first-party data is not passed on by aggregators, meaning that you are missing out on important, decision making information about your customers. 
  • Loyalty and reward opportunities are missed. It's harder to retain a customer brought in through a 3rd party.
  • The fees Aggregator models get their income via the referral commissions and fees for including your product on their site. This fee can creep up year on year,  and on top of this, if you want a better product listing than your competitors, expect to pay a lot more for the visibility. A recent YouGov survey found that consumers thought they paid between 5% and 10% in commission when they bought something through a comparison website - in reality, the average commission is 24%!
  • Profit margins are eaten. It is natural to assume that if the majority of your business is coming through 3rd parties then your profit margins and data are going to be continuously eroded. 

We aren’t saying you shouldn’t use aggregators, but, your marketing strategy should also include ways of creating and retaining customers directly.

2019 Beeliked Marketing Calendar

How do you take back control of your first-party data and gain a competitive advantage?
Be prepared

There is a window of opportunity for you to claim a direct sale before a customer buys via a third party. 81% of shoppers research products, compare prices and read reviews before making their purchases. In the hotel industry, 50% of users first look at a hotel’s web site before ultimately booking via an OTA. This is the time you can persuade your customers to purchase directly from you, this is when you must engage with them.

Why are you special?

Be the antidote to commoditization and show how you are unique. It is also about offering the right incentives at the right time. Find new ways to connect with your customers, help them in the decision-making process and show the benefits of going direct. Offer something unique and of value to them: a better deal, a discount, an upgraded package, freebies or extras, a solution to their problem or an enhanced experience?

As a marketing platform offering gamified campaigns, we’ve had a lot of success helping brands differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to build up their data post-GDPR, reward customer loyalty and drive more direct sales to their website.

We recently worked with a large hotel group to help them re-build their marketing data post-GDPR. By introducing simple and fun gamified campaigns they quickly boosted their engagement and opt-in rate. 

  • Average Engagement Rate: 64%
  • Average Opt-In-Marketing Rate: 56%

scratch card restaurant takeaway

A scratch card is a great way for you to reward your customers and boost your opt-in data. By having a chance to win a free drink with their takeaway order, customers are incentivized to order direct. Give your customer incentives that stand out from the crowd by adding interactive quizzes, contests, and games into the process.

Add interactive content

For those looking to rejuvenate their customer pool, interactive content can give you a competitive edge. By offering a sufficient reason for someone to opt-in, such as creating personalized and compelling content as part of the user journey, your customers get to enjoy an enhanced experience and have a reason to share their data. 

For more examples check out this

By making your content interactive you can boost engagement levels and brand awareness.

  • 88% of marketers said that interactive content is effective in differentiating their brand from their competitors. source
  • 79% of marketers agreed that interactive content can have reusable value, increasing the number of repeat visitors and multiple exposures. source 
  • Interactive content generates 4-5x more page views than static content. LinkedIn

For more examples check out this

Give customers a reason to be loyal

Rewarding loyalty is a great way to reactivate your customers and keep your product at the forefront of their minds. Look for incentives that will give them a reason to come back again.

For example, Ivy Hotel used a simple interactive spin the win app to enhance loyalty. Once customers had checked out of the hotel they were given a chance to win prizes for their next stay.

spin the wheel hotel beeliked

For more examples check out this

In Summary
  • Whilst there are benefits to using 3rd party sites, direct bookings are also important to preserve your customer data and keep costs down.
  • Make sure your marketing is data-driven and find ways to collect data throughout the customer journey to improve the experience for your customer next time.
  • Use interactive content such as games to showcase your brand’s uniqueness and give customers a reason to go you directly, share their data and keep coming back.

Looking to stand out from the crowd?

BeeLiked is a marketing platform offering easy to set up and run campaign options, that are perfect for trying and testing something new. We have a  wide range of innovative digital campaigns to help brands engage with their existing audiences and reach new customers through the viral and social nature of contests and games.

Wondering how BeeLiked can help you? Simply request a demo by clicking on the yellow button below and our team will talk you through how we can help.

Tags: Customer Data, Gamification, Direct Bookings, Interactive Marketing

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