Why You Need A Mobile Loyalty Strategy in Asia

Mobile Loyalty Strategy Is More Than Just An App

We all know a mobile-led strategy is essential for your engagement program. But, do you realise how important that strategy is in Asia?

Traditionally in more established markets, email has been the communication channel of choice, and still is in many cases, when it comes to loyalty and engagement programs.

Tier upgrades, redemption confirmations, offers, and so on mostly are communicated via email.

Asia has been a poor cousin to more established markets in many industries. Loyalty is no different. So email it is. Or has been.

But today’s Asia is very different.

When the western world was setting up modems, and ISP’s and even signing up to Yahoo and Hotmail email address with their Macintosh, the majority of Asian consumers were not. 

Why? They could not afford the hardware. A PC of any sorts was a pipe dream for many, and perhaps still is. Recently, with mass production, process efficiencies, and technology improvements lowering prices overall, it is becoming more accessible.


As the mobile phone market evolved, and the second-hand market started to grow, resulting in Mobile Phones became more accessible. Then people could communicate.

How did people start? Not email. Not costly SMS messages.

Free Messenger Platforms. WeChat in China. LINE in Japan and Thailand. WhatsApp in nearly every other country in Asia, and the world for that matter. And that’s not mentioning Facebook Messenger.

All that is needed now is a smartphone and to tag onto some free wifi. And the gateway to the rest of the world is opened.

IBM, in a study across Email and SMS in 2018 you can see (noting the survey is aggregated and with Asia defined as also including Russia and excluding India), that Asia:

  • Has the Lowest Email Open Rates, Mid-Range Click Through Rate (CTR), and Exceptionally High (in comparison) Click to Open Rates (CTOR)
  • Highest Hard Bounce Rates
  • Equal Lowest Unsubscribe Rates

What this doesn’t show is volume.  But, these 3 points alone show that email is not the channel of choice.

Mobile Loyalty Strategy

Since the wave of smartphones and increasingly cheaper Android phones, the mobile has become the primary access point to the outside world. Mobile Number Portability was already in place, so once a number is allocated, it can stay allocated to that consumer.

In working with a client in Indonesia, they have significant issues with open rates for email campaigns. However, engagement via WhatsApp is high. A core goal of their program is to increase the open rates for email.

The younger generation of their member base are more tech-savvy, however, the middle-aged and upwards and generally less so, and use what they know. Messenger Apps. In this case, WhatsApp is the only channel to reach all members successfully, however challenging to implement tracking and understand open rates

What about my App?

If you have a mobile app for your program, it fits within a mobile loyalty strategy. A group of your members will use it, and some will not. According to a TechJury report, the average person has 80 apps on their phone and uses eight daily, and 30 every month. Unless you are mission-critical to your member's daily life, the reality is you may not be one of those 8, or 30, but one used on occasion.

The best strategy is mobile-led, likely with the App front and centre. However, supported by using the Major 3rd party Messaging Players such as WeChat, LINE, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as a communication channel, but also leverage their store and eCommerce capabilities.

Image result for whatsapp logo . .    .    .    .   

There is no right answer. What we recommend is that you have a strategy, and technology, that covers what your members use.

Plus, ask them via which channel they would prefer to receive communications. We can make every assumption, but nothing will beat the individual’s own choice on how they would like to interact with your brand.

Be where the conversation is.

Paul Malcolm Vivid Engagement Loyalty Program
Paul Malcolm
Founder & CEO, Vivid Engagement

A specialist Loyalty and Engagement Consultant focusing on Loyalty Programs, Engagement Strategy, Gamification, and Marketing Technology.

Captivate Your Customers Before Your Competitor Does.
Contact us to learn how.