Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Cash as a payment tender may no longer be king, especially with the rapid shift toward online shopping and digital wallets. Nevertheless, today’s consumers clearly prefer cashback rewards as their loyalty program currency. At the same time, cashback and coupon rewards programs are becoming more critical to consumers: when times are good, saving money is a nice-to-have, but with an uncertain economy and high inflation, cashback rewards and discounts are essential for most consumers.
Rewards for shopping are now expected on everything from groceries to financial services and travel. At the same time, customers seek expediency and frictionless shopping while immersed in their online experience.
However, not all reward programs are created equal or meet consumers’ preferences. For one, they want simple, user-friendly experiences. They also want rewards embedded seamlessly within their shopping experience, and discounts automatically applied at checkout.
What they don’t want is to detour from their shopping experience or search through a directory of brands to “turn on” an offer.
Long story short: the easier it is to obtain rewards from a loyalty program, the better. Retailers and payment enablers (financial institutions and card issuers) who make their rewards programs naturally accessible and seamless within the shopping journey will achieve the most success in inviting — and sustaining — prized consumer relationships.
Related: How Brands Can Turn Short-Term Rewards Into Long-Term Loyalty
The growth of loyalty and rewards programs
Loyalty programs are a win-win for both retailers and consumers. Brands offering rewards programs usually see stronger brand loyalty, better customer retention, lower user acquisition cost, and increased revenue. Consumers, in turn, benefit from lower prices and ease of use, including earning cashback on purchases and using coupons as they check out.
In industry surveys, roughly 83% of consumers say that they are more likely to do repeat business where a rewards program is present than a comparable business without a rewards program, TidalCommerce reported. Almost 2/3 of internet users believe that earning rewards and loyalty points is one of the most valued aspects of the shopping experience.
Consumer expectations for rewards programs, and their online shopping behavior, have evolved to the point they now help drive retail loyalty. While consumers will always find ways to shop, many in the current economic climate now seek more ways to stretch their budgets by participating in loyalty and shopping rewards programs to earn discounts and cashback rewards. In a recent survey commissioned by Wildfire, 90% of consumers say that, because of rising prices, they are more interested in getting discounts, using coupons and earning cashback rewards when they shop.
In effect, shoppers consider rewards to be a key part of their shopping experience, whether directly through a retailer’s program, credit card company or even through a third-party program. Third-party programs, including online shopping companions such as PayPal’s Honey, Capital One Shopping, the Acorns Earn program and even built-in discount alerts offered by the Microsoft Edge browser and Bing search engine, have gained in popularity. These help direct consumers to coupons, discounts and cashback rewards right as they shop.
What makes using these programs even more appealing to consumers is that they are embedded within the buying process and activated within the natural flow of users’ online shopping experience. Another data point from Wildfire’s survey indicated that most consumers expect coupons to be applied automatically at checkout during the natural flow of the shopping experience. They also prefer cashback rewards via direct payment, with about half of the consumers choosing it as a credit to their banking account or credit card and about 30% of customers preferring to receive it through a service such as PayPal, Venmo or Cash App.
Related: Why Your Small Business Should Use a Cash-Back Card
Cash as reward currency — offered simply
Speaking of coupons, discounts and points, while those shopper incentives might be nice, most consumers prefer cash as their reward currency. In Wildfire’s consumer survey, eight out of ten consumers surveyed indicated they prefer rewards in the form of cashback rather than points, miles, or other types of credit.
Many retailers have realized that offering incentives — such as cashback, coupons and shopping rewards — can influence consumer purchase behavior, sales conversion, and even where consumers choose to shop. Over 80% of the consumers we surveyed report they’d be more likely to shop at a store where they could earn a cashback reward on their purchases vs. one that doesn’t, and 79% are more likely to complete a purchase when they can earn a reward.
The good news is that many retailers are starting to listen to customers, as indicated by a recent report from Comarch, which shows that almost half of the direct-to-customer retailers currently, or intend to, offer cashback rewards as part of their loyalty program.
Related: How To Get Additional Cashback After Your Existing Cashback + Discount
How to implement cashback in your loyalty program
What are the takeaways for online businesses seeking to capitalize on the consumer demand for cashback rewards?
- Ensure loyalty and rewards programs are easy-to-understand. Consumers show a clear preference for simple and convenient programs. Don’t make them jump through hoops to activate and earn rewards.
- Enable a cashback rewards component in addition to, or instead of, a points-based loyalty scheme. If a business doesn’t have the resources or infrastructure to implement a cashback rewards program, it should ensure its brand can participate in popular third-party rewards platforms. Typically, this is enabled through participation in major affiliate networks such as CJ and Impact.
- If a brand is already participating in an affiliate program online, they must ensure that the program allows publishers to include the brand in browser extensions and cashback/loyalty categories. By attaining exposure with these publishers, brands can benefit from increased awareness by having their rewards offers presented to consumers as they shop.
The bottom line? Cashback rewards programs drive both top-of-funnel shopper visits and bottom-of-the-funnel sales conversion.
Disclosure: Acorns and Microsoft are Wildfire partners.
5 Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker This Year
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The ability to speak publicly is a skill that everyone can use. From coaches to entrepreneurs and writers, anyone who wants to get out into the world to market what they do needs to be an effective speaker.
This article will discuss five ways to become a better public speaker — five methods for sharpening your raw talents to morph into a more effective communicator overall.
Related: This Is the One Thing You Need If You Want to Get Paid Speaking Gigs
1. Practice in different environments
This tip comes from an exercise that musicians sometimes use while practicing.
The idea is to see if you can replicate your performance no matter where you are. As a speaker, you will encounter all kinds of scenarios and audiences. You have surely had distractions around you, being in front of people with different interests, being under different lighting and noise conditions and more.
Practicing speaking in different environments will force you to get comfortable performing under all circumstances. Without the crutch of your favorite environment, you have to remember your lines and recall cues completely on your own.
Related: 4 Expert-Backed Strategies for Improving Your Communication Skills
2. Produce different kinds of ‘speaking’ content
Another tip for becoming a more well-rounded speaker is to produce a variety of speaking content. Speakers don’t always have to stand on a stage and talk to live audiences.
I create speaking content across many channels — from my website and blog to YouTube and my podcast series. I distribute audio and video recordings of my speeches to my clients and promote them on my social channels. I go live on Facebook and other platforms to speak directly to my audiences that way. You can do the same.
This variety isn’t by accident. Producing these different types of content in the digital space allows individuals to sharpen their speaking skills and reach larger audiences than they could in person.
3. Get active on audio platforms
Here’s a speaking tip that doesn’t involve performing as much as learning from what others are already doing: Get active on professional audio platforms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces to meet with like-minded individuals and discuss relevant topics.
Doing this lets you compare notes with industry counterparts while working on your speaking skills. You will endeavor to communicate with other business leaders and coaches from around the world and all different walks of life.
Related: The Role of Effective Communication in Entrepreneurial Success
4. Take every opportunity to speak
Speak to a group at every available opportunity. I used to wonder how I could speak to an audience when the professional invitations dried up for a bit, and the answer was local service groups.
Toastmasters International, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International and the Freemasons are all great examples of the types of organizations that not only perform good works for their local communities but also welcome speakers and presenters to deliver valuable information to their members.
I find chapters of these groups in many cities and towns that I visit. Having these groups near me allows me to cut down on my travel time and simply makes it more convenient to continue practicing speaking skills while also putting my abilities to good use for my community.
Not only will this help you with your skills at public speaking, but it’s a rewarding experience as well.
5. Work with a speaking coach
Finally, every speaker-in-training could benefit from working with a speaking coach or mentor. These professionals provide their clients with professional tips and feedback on everything from the words they’re using to how they’re delivering them to audiences.
Some speakers wonder why they can’t just rely on their friends and families to provide them with honest feedback, and there are some good reasons for not doing that. Family and friends are kind, but that’s exactly the problem. Speakers need the unrelenting honesty of professional coaches if they truly want to leave their bad habits behind and become stronger.
I hired a professional speaking coach to improve my skills, and I can attest that it pays dividends every single day in my career.
Related: Leading Speaking Coach Shares His Strategies To Get A Flood Of Clients From Webinars And Virtual Presentations
Communication is everything to professionals
Whether it’s in the world of business, non-profits or coaching, speaking effectively is vital to success. Communication means everything to professionals, and those who can’t tell others what they do and what they’re about can’t expect to get their visions too far off the ground.
I followed these five actionable tips for becoming a better speaker, and I came out on the other side as a communicator that I never even thought possible. You will do the same.
26% of U.S. Workers Would Rather Undergo a Root Canal Than Follow This Workplace Policy
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
According to a recent survey conducted by job site Monster, more than one in four (26%) U.S. workers would rather undergo a root canal procedure than work in their offices five days a week. Additionally, nearly two in five (38%) workers said they would quit a job that required just one day onsite. These staggering statistics reveal a clear shift in workers’ attitudes towards the traditional office environment, and companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees.
As a highly experienced expert in the field of hybrid work, I talk with 5 to 10 leaders every week about how to make hybrid work serve their needs well. I ask them what their top concern is, and most say it’s hiring and retaining talented staff.
External surveys say the same thing, such as this recent survey by Vistage of the leaders of small and medium-sized businesses. It found that 60% of SME CEOs are planning to increase headcount in the year ahead, with only 7% planning on reducing headcount. According to Vistage Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin, this is a significant shift from the trend of big companies making headlines with layoffs, as small and medium business CEOs are reluctant to lay off their hard-won new employees. One key reason for this shift is the recognition that hiring challenges are impacting the ability of these businesses to operate at full capacity. With 61% of CEOs saying that hiring challenges are a major concern for their ability to operate effectively at full capacity.
Given this information, I confidently tell the leaders whom I advise that the future of work is in a flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work. This model not only keeps workers happy and engaged, but it also has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.
Related: You Should Let Your Team Decide Their Approach to Hybrid Work. A Behavioral Economist Explains Why and How You Should Do It.
Increased productivity and employee engagement
One of the most significant benefits of a flexible hybrid work model is increased productivity and employee engagement. Studies have shown that remote workers tend to work more efficiently and are less likely to experience burnout. A mid-size IT services company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 20% increase in productivity among their remote workers.
Remote workers have the ability to create their own personalized work environment, which leads to an increase in productivity. They can work from a location that is most comfortable for them, whether that be their home, a coffee shop or a coworking space. This leads to a decrease in distractions and an increase in focus, resulting in a higher level of productivity.
Flexible working also has a positive impact on employee engagement. When employees have the ability to work in a way that suits them best, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. This leads to a decrease in turnover, and an increase in employee loyalty and job satisfaction.
Access to a wider talent pool
A flexible hybrid work model also allows companies to tap into a wider talent pool. When companies are not limited by geographical location, they can attract and retain the best talent from all over the world. A large financial services company that I worked with had difficulty finding qualified candidates in their local area, but by implementing a flexible working policy, they were able to hire top talent from other parts of the country.
A flexible working policy also allows for a more diverse workforce, as it can attract candidates who may have previously been excluded due to geographical constraints. This diversity leads to new perspectives, ideas and innovation.
Cost savings on talent
Flexible working can also lead to significant cost savings for companies. A flexible hybrid work model reduces the need for office space, and it can also lead to a reduction in absenteeism and turnover. A retail company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 30% reduction in absenteeism due to less workers taking sick days and a 20% reduction in turnover.
When employees have the ability to work from home, it leads to a reduction in absenteeism as they are less likely to be affected by things such as traffic, weather, or public transportation issues. This can also lead to a decrease in sick leave, and an increase in overall productivity.
Flexible working can also lead to a reduction in turnover, as employees are more likely to be satisfied and engaged in their work. This leads to a decrease in the cost of recruiting and training new employees.
Addressing cognitive biases
Cognitive biases can play a significant role in decision-making when it comes to flexible working. The status quo bias, for example, leads managers to resist change and stick to the traditional office environment. The sunk cost fallacy can also come into play, where managers may be reluctant to change the way things have always been done because they have invested so much time and resources into the current system. By being aware of these cognitive biases and actively working to overcome them, companies can make more informed and effective decisions about their working policies.
One way to overcome these biases is to gather data and conduct studies on the impact of flexible working on employee productivity, engagement, and turnover. This can provide concrete evidence to support the implementation of a flexible hybrid work model. Additionally, it is important for managers to actively seek out feedback from employees on their preferences for working arrangements and to consider their needs and concerns.
Implementing a flexible hybrid work model
Implementing a flexible hybrid work model can seem daunting, but with proper planning and communication, it can be done successfully. It is important to set clear guidelines and expectations for remote work, such as setting specific hours of availability and ensuring regular communication with team members.
It is also important to provide the necessary tools and resources for remote work, such as a reliable internet connection and a secure virtual communication platform. Providing training on hybrid work best practices and technology can also help to ensure a smooth transition, as can hiring a hybrid work consultant to guide your transition.
Related: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Is Right. New Employees Are Less Productive in a Hybrid Work Setting — But Why?
The shift in workers’ attitudes toward the traditional office environment is undeniable. Companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees. A flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work is the future for anyone who cares about worker retention, increased productivity, access to a wider talent pool, cost savings, and overcoming cognitive biases. The time for companies to implement this model is now. As a leader of a company, it’s important to recognize that the traditional office model may no longer be the best option for your employees or your business. By embracing a flexible hybrid work model, you can retain top talent, increase productivity and save costs. The future of work is here, and companies that adapt will be well-positioned for success.
Google Worker Laid Off While On Leave Caring For Sick Mom
One person who was laid off from Google in the company’s wave of staff cuts last week says he was on a leave from work taking care of his mother who is terminally ill with cancer.
Paul Baker was on leave for about a month when he received an email letting him know the company was laying him off, along with around 12,000 others, he told Insider.
“While on carer’s leave for my immediate family member’s terminal cancer, I too was laid off. After the initial shock, it morphed into sadness because I miss the people,” he also wrote on LinkedIn.
Related: More Than 1,600 Tech Workers Are Being Laid Off A Day On Average In 2023, According to a New Report
On Jan. 20, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees taking responsibility for hiring “for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”
Baker told Insider that he was on leave and was told by a friend about the layoffs, then found his work laptop had been “cut off,” the outlet wrote.
He was a video producer at Google, according to his LinkedIn, and had been at the company since 2018. Baker told Insider he was feeling “shock and sadness.” The outlet said it verified the leave period as well as his severance email and prior employment with Google.
Related: In a Viral TikTok, An Ex-YouTube Employee Talks About Getting Laid Off During a Business Trip
“I’ll truly miss it,” he said.
Baker also told the outlet he has not received information about how his severance package would be affected by the fact that he was on career leave to care for his mom.
Pichai said in the memo the company will provide “six months of healthcare, job placement services and immigration support for those affected.”
Still, he told Insider he would love to go back to the company.
“If there’s ever a Google position open for another video producer position, I would take it in a heartbeat,” he said.
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