Why Do Loyalty Programs Send Mystery Offers?

We’ve all received emails from loyalty programs teasing us with a special offer. All that’s required is to log in and to unlock your “mystery offer.” When you log in, you’re told what your mystery bonus is. The problem with these types of offers is that you’ll usually already know what bonuses are being offered, because they tell you in the email.

If you receive anything but the best offer, it’d be no surprise if you’d be disappointed. Why didn’t you get the higher offer others had received?

For example, take an offer to buy points from Choice Privileges:

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In this promotion, you could buy points at a discount of either 20%, 25% or 30%. To find out your offer, you needed to go to the Choice website and find out what offer you were targeted for.

What’s the use of sending this offer when they just as easily could have sent an email telling you that you’ve been selected to receive a 25% discount. Wouldn’t that be a better way to set reasonable expectations?

What we don’t know is how many people were targeted for each offer. If it’s split equally between the three levels, then 2/3 of the people might feel disappointed in getting a lower bonus. However, what if almost everyone gets the 30% offer? They’ll feel like they lucked out and received the highest offer. That may make them more likely to purchase points. I don’t know the likelihood of this but I bet Choice does.

The other thing these offers accomplish is simply getting you to go to the program’s website. You know that once you’ve gone somewhere online, ads for that company start showing up on your feeds. Search engines know that you’ve looked at that program and might be more likely to refer you there in the future. Your internet browser will autocomplete the website. Even if you don’t take advantage of whatever the mystery offer is, the loyalty program has already accomplished its goal. They managed to get you to participate. If they only sent a targeted offer, you might click on it or you might not. It would depend on if you were interested in what they’re advertising.

Final Thoughts

I guess I can file this one under the “You never get something for nothing” category. In order to reveal the mystery, I need to visit the website. That’s not too high of a price to pay.

As much as I hate having to jump through a hoop, I’m sure that the marketing programs know that these offers generate more sales and participation than ones that simply target members for bonuses. As long as that’s the case, I’m sure we’re going to see these types of offers continue.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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