Today, online marketing tool provider Constant Contact  announced its acquisition of mobile loyalty application CardStar . CardStar is the mobile version of the loyalty cards we all carry around in our wallets…only condensed into a single app.
CardStar, which is available as an application for Android, iPhone, Nokia, BlackBerry and Windows phones, currently has more than 2 million users. Consumers can keep track of multiple membership and rewards cards, such as what you would scan at a CVS or Best Buy. Merchants can send geotargeted offers to customers, as well as track consumer behavior with the application, according to CardStar’s site.
As to why Constant Contact decided to get into the mobile loyalty space, CEO Gail Goodman said:
“We have had our eye on two tech trends: mobile and loyalty. What we found with CardStar is the convergence of these two.”
Will We See an Increase in Small Business Loyalty Programs?
In the past, loyalty programs have been most popular with big-box retailers. Small businesses haven’t jumped in to the same degree, maybe due to the fact that loyalty programs have been, in Goodman’s words, too “administratively cumbersome.” Most small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to manage the analytics and track coupon redemption of their individual loyalty programs.
According to Goodman, to date “nobody has brought to market a simple, powerful solution” to small business loyalty programs. With CardStar, Constant Contact aims to make loyalty programs more within reach of small businesses.
Constant Contact’s Strategy
Constant Contact’s announcement today mentioned this as being a milestone in its “evolution from an email marketing company to the leading provider of online marketing tools that help small businesses create and grow customer relationships.” Over the past couple of years, the company has acquired NutshellMail , Bantam Live , and Social CRM , all of which have added to its shift away from solely email-based services. Moving into mobile marketing fits further broadens its offerings.
As small businesses tie in their social media, email and mobile marketing strategies together, we’re seeing more companies offering more all-inclusive services . Constant Contact seems to be following the same strategy. “We think small businesses shouldn’t rely on any one channel as a way to stay connected to customers. They need to use every tool available,”said Goodman.
Goodman says that Constant Contact has focused on helping small businesses create and grow their customer relationships, and that CardStar is another tool to help them do so.
CardStar  is available as a free mobile download for consumers. Constant Contact will eventually wrap up CardStar into its offerings to clients through its site.