#LEAwards 2020 highlight: EZ-Link's rewards programme taps in to consumers' hearts

EZ-Link has always been proud to be the payments provider to reward consumers for something as mundane as daily commuting on public transport. Over the past 18 years, the brand has cultivated a strong affinity with customers and has been able to extend engagement with them via its rewards platform.

To keep up with evolving times and customer preferences, the brand has over the years brought on board a wide variety of merchants to cater to customers’ lifestyle interests, allowing users to be able to interact with merchants when redeeming their points and rewards. All of these efforts has seen EZ-Link come in as a finalist for this year’s Loyalty & Engagement Awards for Best card-based loyalty programme and best engagement strategy – specific audience.

Challenge

In the transportation space, with the launch of SimplyGo, the competitive field has widened considerably. Open-loop payment rails came into the picture offering convenience and consolidation. Global corporations with massive budgets threatened to upend EZ-Link’s local advantages, whether through scale of distribution or budget of rewards. Yet EZ-Link’s problem statement remained as: How can it stretch the dollar further for its customers?

Given EZ-Link does not have defined target audiences based on demographics such as age and gender, and is open to all who take the public transport, a key challenge for the brand was that its engagement structure had to be wide, meaning budget distribution is inevitably dispersed and engagement mechanics such as merchant and reward choices have to be aligned with the lowest common denominator.

Strategy

In formulating its strategy, it was essential for the brand to break down the problem statement into sub-goals:

  1. How can EZ-Link ensure it maintains a merchant distribution network, whether online or offline, wide enough to maintain the value of its wallet monies through maximising the utility value of the funds?

  2. How can EZ-Link minimise the cost of funds through digital adoption so that it is able to create a positive value loop by channelling cost savings and other forms of value back to customers?

  3. How does the brand create an optimised rewards platform that maintains a balance between engagement and sustainability – ensuring that every cent returned to the customers is not a well-masked “deferred charge” to their wallets?

Meanwhile, with the mobile app, the team was also sparing no efforts in ensuring the dollar in consumers' EZ-Link wallet is truly agnostic – whether to payment modes, locations, demographic-needs, and most importantly to its denominated value.

The rewards team knew that with this in mind, it had to take considerable credit in building up a rewards platform that is comparable to the best-in-class in not only in the transportation industry, but other industries as well. In fact, its rewards platform had to now be the key driver in engaging its mobile app base, with monthly redemption counts of up to 70,000.

Its marketing team also took control of app engagement levers such as in-app notifications, app banners, campaign gamification, which provided performance boosts to campaign performances. This allowed the team to offer the heft of its aggregated consumer data in providing specialised requirements such as segmentation-based marketing and real-time event-driven communications to its partners when the need arises.

In fact, guided by the ultimate aim of redefining the EZ-Link dollar, the team has uncovered amazing opportunities from partners, new technologies, and ideas arising from the ingenuity of its mission-driven crew.

Execution

With the primary target of raising awareness on the rewards platform, the team advertised with Ticket Office wall wraps at train stations where millions of commuters pass by when they exit from their train journeys. It also advertised on newspapers that are given out at train stations and bus interchanges as it reaches the hands of people who commute daily.

On social media platforms on Facebook (164k followers) and Instagram (35.4k followers), its campaigns were mostly in videos and carousel format as they are proven to be more engaging and effective. The team would actively raise awareness for new merchants and rewards weekly, and exclusive campaigns with selected partners.

The secondary target market were those who already had the EZ-Link app. The team maintained a constant engagement with consumers through in-app push notifications and monthly EDMs. This way, consumers are kept in the know about the latest rewards being offered. EDMs also helped in EZ-Link’s engagement rates for rewards.

When managing a database of users with close to one million, the team had to look at a platform that was low-cost and had a wide outreach.

With key tie-ups with merchants such as Shopee and Lazada, the entities leveraged on each other’s platforms to shout out about exclusive campaigns that are just for EZ-Link app users. The team also engaged with partners to curate deals that would entice customers, and create campaigns that would engage customers.

Notable campaigns carried out between July 19 and June 20 were National Day campaigns, Year-end Giveaway campaign, and foodpanda's Chinese New Year campaign. These campaigns were aimed at gamifying the rewards programme by using lucky draw mechanics to encourage users to participate in activities. Due to the low requirements of points required for redemption for such lucky draw mechanics, it encouraged users who do not have substantial number of points for redemption of vouchers, to participate in the campaigns designed for the rewards programme.

Results

From June 2019 to March 2020, about 52% of EZ-Link card users have checked into their rewards catalogue and made a successful redemption About 89,000 users have redeemed a total of 401,853 times between June 2019 to March 2020, accounting for a 11 % increase in redemption as compared to the same period the previous year.

The rewards catalogue garnered almost 565,810 users, generating 11 million interactions on the rewards page, of which 33% expressed interest to find out more.

The EZ-Link app had also gathered more than 1.2 million app downloads since its launch in 2018, of which an average of 30% are active users on a monthly basis. Being one of the first rewards/loyalty programme for public transport commuters, the launch of the app and rewards programme boosted card usages on public transport by 5% by end of March 2019, as compared to the previous year.

Commuters’ awareness of the app and rewards programme had prompted them to switch back to EZ-Link cards to reap incentives and convenience in their public transport journey. Being the predominant public transport card in Singapore, one of EZ-Link’s goals of having the rewards programme was to encourage usage of EZ-Link cards at retail, by tapping their cards or scanning QR code. The team has seen 16% growth in volume of retail transactions made with EZ-Link cards during the period from June 19 to March 20, as compared to previous year.

With the results shown, it is safe to say that, through the rewards programme for EZ-link card users who are public transport users, it has increased engagement in not only the rewards platform, but also other related services.