Archive for Industry Commentary

Ohana’s Open Architecture Makes Rebates a Seamless Part of Your Customer Experience

apiToday’s web experience is all about instant gratification.  Last year, research done by Fast Company found that 74% of customers leave a website if it doesn’t load on their smartphone in less than 5 seconds

Ohana’s Technology Team knows how important it is for anything you add to your website—such as our rebate application—to work seamlessly with the rest of the site and not disrupt the customer experience.  We also know that integration needs to be as near plug-and-play as possible to avoid burdening your IT staff with a huge coding effort.

That is why we’ve designed a powerful, flexible web application programming interface (API).  Non-technical readers, think of the web API as a simplified means of remote software applications and components interacting with each other over the internet.

Exposing a web API allows us to create seamless integration between various client applications and our applications.  It enables clients to provide rebate submission, reward status, and payment choice from their own website.  The REST architecture is lightweight, making use of standard AJAX requests to execute functionality quickly “behind the scenes” so that the customer doesn’t even notice a transition.

The web API also gives our clients the flexibility to deliver a responsive experience that translates cleanly across different device types (tablet, smartphone, etc.)   So you can not only add promotional functionality to your website, but also to your mobile application so your customers can take advantage of promotions everywhere they shop.

Our platform can also help clients understand consumer behavior as their customers hop back and forth between the online and offline world.  We helped one client easily add a deal to their website that triggered a single-use coupon to be emailed to their consumer.  The coupon was redeemed through the client’s dealer network, and tracked back through the Ohana platform.   All the details of the promotion – from engagement to redemption and purchase – were automatically reported to the client on a daily basis.

Consumer demands on technology are high, and Ohana’s engineers work hard to make sure our clients roll out promotional programs that meet those demands with minimal launch effort.  We like the challenge.

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“Should I do a Rebate Program or a Loyalty Program?” Yes.

So you’re implementing a loyalty program…let the fun begin.  Should you have cards or no cards?  What about keychain cards?  Is it a points program or a cash program or both?  And what are you even going to call your program to gain mindshare?

Building a successful loyalty program takes careful planning, and as a result often pushes other promotional marketing efforts to the back of the queue because it’s easy to get so focused on the traditional tenets of loyalty programs.  Unfortunately, rebates often fall into the category of “that doesn’t fit into our loyalty strategy”, and loyalty program participation suffers as a result.

Getting consumers into your program can be a difficult task, and even when they do sign up, you have to worry about how accurate their information is (sorry, retailers, but Austin “Danger” Powers has signed up for many programs on my behalf).  Rebates can not only help drive increased membership, but also ensure you’re collecting accurate contact and demographic information to help power your marketing efforts:

  • Customers can automatically be enrolled in your program as part of the registration process when they go online to submit information for their rebate payment.
  • Because you’re using email address to let them know if they’re approved, and street address to mail the payment, consumers typically provide very accurate contact information.
  • Rebates can be paid to prepaid cards that are reloadable and that can contain several account structures, so your rebate payment can act as your loyalty membership card and eliminate the need to manage a separate distribution process for cards.

So use all the tools at your disposal, but use them thoughtfully.  Your promotional programs can and should work together to achieve your goals, and the customer experience should be seamless to increase conversion and engagement.  Be dynamic, be consistent, and reap the benefits of an integrated promotion strategy.

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Fixing Rebates Series: Doug Moore, Retail Industry Veteran, Shares His Thoughts on Ohana Companies, Rebates, and Incentive Marketing

The following is the first post in a series we call “Fixing Rebates”, where experts from inside and outside Ohana Companies weigh in on issues related to consumer rebates and the incentive marketing industry.

As one of Ohana’s charter retail customers, I experienced first-hand the power of the loyalty and data platform they’ve created; many years later, my enthusiasm for Ohana and its solutions remains.

Prior to Ohana, my company had a serious business issue – we knew rebates offered a powerful incentive to drive sales, but we also knew that the process of submitting mail-in rebates was painful for our customers (and resultrepeat customered in damaged customer relationships).  Ohana’s platform allowed us to make rebate submission and redemption hassle-free for our customers.  By enabling a seamless online process, we could get customers paid with prepaid debit cards and gift cards, and follow up with these happy customers to direct their rebate/gift card activity back to my big box retail locations.

The net result was significantly increased repeat traffic back to my stores, from happy customers with cash in hand (which, of course, led to incremental revenue we could track and excellent program ROI).

When it comes to the commodity part of the service, which is processing rebates, Ohana is as good as any competitor.  But, that’s to be expected.

Where it gets impressive Ohana’s ability to aggregate rebates not just from the retailer, but from manufacturers and utilities, too.  Using other people’s money to drive store visits and sales has no equivalent in the retail space.  Throw data analytics in as the icing on the cake and frankly I am not sure why there isn’t a line out the door at Ohana’s headquarters to engage their services!

Chris and team, keep up the good work for retailers and our customers!! It’s clear to me the Ohana model for marketing rebates and incentives is the direction our industry is progressing, as well it should!  As you guys like to say – everyone wins.

Doug Moore is currently a Principal at First Street Consulting, LLC and a board member of Lumber Liquidators.  He previously held senior management roles at Sears Holding Company, hhgregg, and Circuit City.


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Can you beat “showrooming”? Yes, but you need the right promotions.


Showrooming is the fear of every brick-and-mortar retailer. Shoppers wander up and down store aisles to get a real-life view of merchandise, then whip out their smartphones and make their purchases online via a discount websites.  These shoppers take advantage of the inventory and extensive capital investment (more…)

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The Power of Suggestion – Working with Clients to Maximize Rebate Programs

Our Client Delivery team takes prides in having a consultative relationship and sharing our experience with our clients. We like to think that our clients are looking for a trusted advisor that can do more than take their order and send it back to the kitchen.

big_ideas Case in point: One of our new clients this year was shocked that we wanted to set up a discovery meeting with her team followed by a design meeting. She was so used to just receiving a form from her previous rebate partner, checking off the details of her request, emailing it back and not hearing from her account team again until there was a bill to send.

None of us on the Ohana Client Delivery team can even fathom just taking client orders and simply handing them over to be implemented by our Ops and IT teams. We are problem solvers and we tap into Ohana’s team of industry veterans to help devise the best solution for our clients.

We like being in the thick of things. We’re hubs, not spokes. And we’re eager to share everything we’ve learned over the years with our clients so that their time and money is spent building programs that are going to deliver results.

As for the example above – our new client was thrilled that we wanted to sit down and discuss ideas for her program. We were full of questions: What was she trying to achieve? How urgently did she need to have it? What would be easy, what would be challenging? How does this fit into her short-term and long-term marketing strategy? Does she even have a long-term strategy? The facts we uncovered, and the ideas we generated, during these meetings led to a much more productive relationship, and to much more thoughtful and successful incentive programs.

As you consider vendors, whether in the incentive marketing space like Ohana or in any support or services function, I encourage you to explore those who are willing to be creative and supportive partners (and, not just order takers).

Mike Avon, Director, Client Delivery

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57 Channels and Nothing On: Tips for an Engaging Omnichannel Strategy

OmnichannelOmnichannel: it’s the latest marketing buzz word.  Marketers are clamoring about reaching consumers using every available channel of communication, and brands are scrambling to put the strategy in place.  Mobile apps are being built, web pages are being crafted more responsively, and social media outlets are being leveraged.

But is the content keeping up?  Oh look, the local appliance store is having a 10% off sale…again.  I’ve started ignoring those alerts like my friend’s Facebook posts after an episode of Breaking Bad (let me guess: it was AWESOME!!!!).

Whether you’re reaching across all channels or focusing on those that your customers use most, the content needs to be engaging.   Promotions are a great way to catch someone’s attention, but your portfolio needs to be dynamic.  The good news is there are a lot of promotional tools to choose from: rebates, coupons, and sweepstakes just to name a few.    Mixing a few of these into your marketing strategy will help your communications break through the din and increase consumer engagement.

Here are some other important points to remember on the road to omnipresence:

  • Be Consistent:  If your mobile customer parks themselves in front of a laptop, make sure they’ll have access to the same information they’ve been getting on their phone.
  • Be Responsive: Consistency is definitely important, but don’t make a mobile user have to pinch and swipe their way to presenting a coupon at the register.
  • Make Buying Easy: You’ve got their attention.  That’s great, but it’s fleeting.  Don’t miss out on a sale because the consumer couldn’t figure out how to take advantage of a deal immediately.

John Deal, Director, Product Management

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“Old School” Rebates Frustrate Your Customers *AND* You. There Is A Better Way.

grrIt’s a fact – customers hate “old school” mail-in rebates.

Whether intentional (to drive breakage) or unintentional (clunky internal processes, mail-in processing confusions, poorly-planned payout methods), the old way rebates were run left a bad taste in customers’ mouths and didn’t provide the ROI rebate sponsors desired.

Take this post by Daily Breeze contributor Muhammed El-Hassan. Like so many other consumers, he loves the idea of a deal and the promise of the rebate.  But, after being let down, he feels cheated and blames the cellular phone provider for running a bad rebate program.  Think this makes Muhammad more likely to switch providers when his contract is up?  You bet.  Think he’ll refer his friends and family to his provider?  Not likely.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  The technology, systems, and strategies exist to create rebate and incentive programs that make consumers happy, love your brand, and buy from you again.  These same strategies can also drive more sales and better program ROI for you!

At Ohana, these “Everybody Wins” programs are what we power for our clients every day.  With solutions and strategies like paperless/online rebates, Rewards Centers to act as customer portals, aggregation of multiple rebates (from multiple funders) into a single customer payout, and even streamlined mail-in programs that digitize submissions so users can look up status online, Ohana fixes the issues with “old school” rebates and turns them into loyalty-loop promotions that consumers and rebates sponsors love.

Don’t make your customers fight Rebaterus like Dilbert (and, for more proof of customer frustration, read the comments at this link!).

We launched Ohana because we’re certain rebates, when run thoughtfully to drive short-term sales lift while keeping an eye towards long-term customer loyalty, can be a fantastic part of your marketing portfolio.

For more ideas/proof, check out these case studies:

Have questions?  Comments? We love this stuff, it’s what we do!  Get in touch, we’d love to talk about it more …


Peter Albers, Executive Vice President, Digital and Marketing

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