Rakuten Named to Forbes Most Innovative Companies List

Posted by tom on September 6, 2012 under Rakuten | Be the First to Comment

Our parent company Rakuten was recently named to Forbes “World’s Most Innovative Companies” list!

Rakuten placed higher on the list than other major brands including Google, Apple, SAP, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble.

5 Marketing Tips to Grow Your Following This Holiday Season

Posted by tom on September 5, 2012 under General News | Read the First Comment

Have you recently woken up in a cold sweat realizing the Holiday season is creeping up on you?  It’s okay… you’re most likely ahead of the game in terms of your media planning and marketing strategy for the season. However, it’s going to take more than a few display banner ads sporting your stellar logo to support your customer acquisition strategy. Here are five holiday loyalty building tips to help grow and engage your consumer base.

1. Curated Gift Picks
It’s all about empathy when planning your marketing. Place yourself in front of your average consumer’s computer or mobile device. What’s the biggest woe in holiday shopping? What to get Mom? Dad? Sis? Little Susie? You as a marketer of XYZ merchandise happen to have a plethora of knowledge on what sells. So put it to use and curate landing pages that contain special gift picks. Trust us; it will keep your consumers coming back! Or, if you are looking for effective product placements, look for sponsorship opportunities of buying guides and advertorial-style content.

2. Newsletter Opt-In At Your Check-Out
Consumers are bombarded with emails during the holiday season, but if used properly, they can be an effective communications channel to promote special offers and deals. Make sure that as consumers are checking-out on your site, they can opt-in for future mailings full of enticing exclusive offers, giveaways, etc.

3. Interactive Gift Pinterest Board
We’re visual creatures. While it’s true that Pinterest has remained adamant about not allowing affiliate links on their boards, it doesn’t mean you can’t host your own board, where you invite your customers to pin their favorite products on your site. Incentivize consumers by creating a contest around it in which you select a random pinner. This will result in a consumer-created gift guide that you didn’t have to do yourself that will also bring in more organic search traffic.

4. Time Sensitive Offers
Seems like a no brainer, right? Even so, there is a countless number of Marketing Managers out there who spend a vast amount of time selecting their media buys, but when it comes time for their placement, the offer just isn’t there. A static 120×90 banner of your logo is not going to incentivize shoppers to go to your site. It will spread brand awareness, but isn’t this all about performance? So always think conversions. What brings in conversions and return purchases? Exclusivity and limited time offers. So when merchandising your offers, provide exclusive coupon codes or don’t even bother sending the creative. The evergreen on LinkShare or CJ isn’t going to cut it.

5. Contextual Deals
For example, say you are a sporting goods retailer placing an ad on a sports lover blog or a coupon hungry forum. It’s important to find out what pages you’ll be placed on and base your ads accordingly. If you’re getting an ad placement on a post about fishing gear, makes sense to offer a discount for rods and accessories, don’t you think? Or let’s say you are a beauty retailer. It would be wise to place an ad on a loyalty site’s buying guide for Mom’s and offer an increased pass back on that placement. It may require some effort in tailoring deals for every media outlet, but the ROI will be there.

Interested in learning more tips on how to really win big this holiday season? Email us. We’d love to discuss strategies with you.

Christopher Griffin
Merchant Development Manager

Testing to Ensure the Highest Quality – Kari Ponto

Posted by tom on August 30, 2012 under Company News | Be the First to Comment

Our technology solutions are of the highest technical quality, providing an engaging and natural user experience that rewards users for their online search and shopping activity. To maintain this level of quality it requires a rigorous testing system and a talented team to ensure our technology meets our lofty expectations. To manage these unprecedented quality control standards we rely on a team of professionals willing and qualified to do the meticulous work needed to guarantee our solutions are as close to perfect as can be. One of those people is Kari Ponto.

Since joining FreeCause in March of 2011 as our QA Lead, Kari has managed the testing of our client’s rewards solutions, ensuring all core features and enhancements are working properly and any technical bugs or issues are identified before ever reaching a client’s member base. She attends regular scrum summary meetings to stay abreast of what client projects are in the current sprint, while maintaining and updating test plans for current clients in the works as well as developing new test plans for new clients’ projects coming up. Basically, Kari is the only person on the FreeCause team who ‘touches’ all of our technology at some point.

Since Kari is involved in each technology solution that goes out the door, she has been an integral part of our most recent technology enhancements. One recent example is our Chrome plugin. As Chrome continued to increase in popularity it was apparent that we needed to develop a Chrome plugin which would offer a similar amount of utility to users when compared to our RewardsBar, all in an engaging and user friendly experience. Kari has been a key resource, testing each version of the plugin and working to resolve any issues. She has also helped obtain network approval for several of our Chrome plugins for our clients, enabling them to offer those plugins to their members. With each new browser update Kari is also responsible for testing the new binary and making sure all of our technology still works for our clients.

A graduate of University of Wisconsin – Platteville, Kari majored in Criminal Justice and Business Administration. Outside of FreeCause Kari is a sports fanatic, especially when rooting for her Green Bay Packers. She loves to stay active and play just about every sport imaginable. She enjoys running, hiking, and is devoted to her dodgeball and volleyball teams.

Good Reads: Catch Up On Loyalty Industry News

Posted by tom on under General News | Be the First to Comment

We’re always reading about the trends, issues, and news impacting the loyalty industry. Here are a couple of recent articles for your enjoyment:

According to a recent survey, 45% of consumers use the sense of anonymity the Web provides to purchase certain items online that they would not purchase in-person. This interesting infographic also provides some valuable data on other consumer shopping experiences and preferences.

With back-to-school shopping still in full swing, this recent study looks at the influence coupons and deals have had on the shopping season so far. 38.5% of shoppers said more than half of their purchases were influenced by coupons, promotions, or sales.

Everyone knows that a loyal customer is invaluable to a company’s bottom line. But how are you measuring loyalty? This piece in ClickZ looks at the important questions you should be able to answer about your loyalty program and most valuable customers.

FreeCause is in the middle of its company-wide initiative to teach all of its employees how to code in 2012. In this article in the Boston Business Journal, the project is reviewed, including the achievements we’ve reached so far.

FreeCause In The News – Codinization Project

Posted by tom on August 20, 2012 under Company News | Be the First to Comment

Our “Codinization Project” received some more media attention, this time courtesy of the Boston Business Journal.

Check out the August 17th issue of the BBJ, on newsstands now, to see the piece on our project and how it’s already impacting our business.

FreeCause In The News – Codinization Project

Posted by tom on August 15, 2012 under Company News | Be the First to Comment

Our “Codinization Project” – where all of our employees are learning how to code this year – was featured on WIRED.com today!

The article covers the general scope of the project and where the inspiration for it came from, and highlights one of our recent coding success stories.

Olympic Soccer Fever

Posted by tom on August 9, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

The FreeCause team was psyched to watch the US-Japan women’s gold medal match in the office today. It pitted our home country and our parent company Rakuten’s home country. A great game and time had by the FreeCause team.

Casual Connect Recap

Posted by tom on August 1, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Last week members of our team headed out to Seattle to attend the gaming conference Casual Connect, a great opportunity to meet with hundreds of social gaming companies over a few days of meetings and sessions.

Our time at Casual Connect was spent attending meetings, 30+ pre-scheduled ones and many more impromptu meetings, as well as attending event-sponsored activities and parties. The entire event helped us come away with a clearer understanding of the social gaming market and helped us foster some new leads while also enhancing existing relationships.

The conference provided plenty of opportunity for socializing and fun with other attendees. Conference activities included pool and bowling, a party at the Seattle Aquarium, and faux gambling where several of our team members got ‘rich’ by night’s end. These events provided a nice laid back atmosphere for attendees to continue networking with others. Some of our best conversations took place during these fun activities.

Casual Connect was well structured and let attendees make the most of their time there. The venue provided plenty of opportunities and places for informal conversations and meetings with attendees. The location of the event was right in the middle of downtown Seattle which is quite beautiful. Being from Boston, we especially liked the lack of jaywalking we saw while there – everyone seemed to only use crosswalks. It was amazing!

Overall Casual Connect was what we had hoped it would be – a great opportunity to talk to social gaming companies and discuss how FreeCause can better help them engage and monetize their users.

Golden Toolbar Winner – Q2

Posted by tom on July 31, 2012 under Company News | Be the First to Comment

Today we recognized outstanding performance from the second quarter of this year with the announcement of our “Golden Toolbar Award” winner and our June “Shugi Award” winners. The Golden Toolbar award is presented quarterly to the employee(s) who achieved unprecedented results during the specific quarter. For 2012 Q2, our Golden Toolbar Award goes to Vanya Dineva.

Vanya, one of our Software Engineers, was recognized for her outstanding performance during the quarter, identifying and resolving key issues in several of our programs. Vanya is known by the rest of the team as a perfectionist who continually pumps out excellent work. Her willingness to jump head first into ad-hoc debugging sessions and help her teammates out in any way she can makes her admired by her colleagues. She has an eagle eye for spotting inefficiencies and consistently suggests improvements to maximize effectiveness. One recent example, Vanya used her expertise to develop a file compression feature for our Amazon Web Services bandwidth, lowering our costs by 75%.

Vanya was also recognized as one of our June Shugi Award winners, for many of the same reasons she is our Golden Toolbar Award winner for Q2. Our other June Shugi Award winner was Corinne Salchunas, our Data Analyst. Corinne was nominated for her ability to continually ‘get things done’. She has set the bar high for our Codinization Project, learning how to code and implement A/B tests for our technology’s notification browser sliders. Corinne was able to complete in a matter of days what could have taken weeks or months depending on its place in our project prioritization schedule. Corinne continually leaps any obstacles in her way, like the quality of our data and lack of appropriate resources, and finds way to develop top-level data analysis and recommendations for ways to improve our technology for our clients and users.

Adding Technical Expertise to Implementations – Bina Zafar

Posted by tom on July 30, 2012 under Company News | Be the First to Comment

The FreeCause team is known for its ability to rapidly develop, test, and implement the most innovative and engaging points-earning technology in the industry. We have the most talented team of technical and business professionals assigned to working with clients from the initial kickoff meeting all the way through development and launch. Our Client Operations team is dedicated to providing new and existing clients with a superior level of support and expertise, ensuring all of their technical issues and questions are answered. One of those dedicated technical professionals leading the way for successful client implementations is Bina Zafar.

Bina joined FreeCause last December as one of our Software Engineers and recently moved to our specialized Client Operations team as part of our technical team’s reorganization. This reorganization ensures that all clients receive the continued support they required throughout the implementation process and beyond. Bina serves as a technical resource for clients, providing product support, maintenance, and enhancements for a client’s RewardsBar and eMarket. Our clients, and their technical teams, can rest assured in having Bina as their main technical contact at FreeCause to be able to answer any questions and/or resolve any technical issues that may arise.

Currently Bina is working on a number of key client implementations which, when they launch, will add to FreeCause’s already impressive roster of clients. She is also leading a series of important product support projects for several current clients. While constantly working with these clients, providing detailed expertise and guidance and continually, Bina is looking to improve the client and user experience. With vast knowledge in the process of migrating a number of our clients currently utilizing our Toolbar Builder 1 platform to our enhanced Toolbar Builder 2 platform, Bina has provided migrated clients with additional options and features for their RewardsBar as well as increasing maintainability for a longer shelf-life. The newly formed Client Operations team, that Bina is a member of, is also continually seeking ways to improve the implementation process including cutting the time it takes to implement a client solution by half – creating new enriched internal tools, automating several manual processes, and developing exciting new product features.

Bina is a graduate of both the University of Sheffield where she received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Computing and Northeastern University where she received a Master’s degree in Software Engineering. When not working on client implementation at FreeCause, Bina enjoys drawing, music (both playing acoustic guitar and attending concerts), and volunteering.