Ford Recognizes Essential Workers with Lacek

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Developing a loyalty program in an industry that hasn’t traditionally used them can take some time to ensure all of the components are included and that the program “checks all the boxes” from the start. But once such a program is established, it’s relatively easy to design and run micro-campaigns within the program.

Executives at the Ford Motor Company wanted a high-value loyalty program to help engage and retain customers, says David Loflin, Ford’s CRM strategy manager, who previously served as the company’s manager of customer experience and loyalty. Ford started a careful search in 2016 but didn’t go live with the FordPass Rewards loyalty program until three years later.

“A loyalty program isn’t something you just develop overnight, particularly in the automotive industry,” Loflin says. “We wanted it to be integrated across all of our businesses. We wanted our dealer partners to have an element in the program so that it would help drive their business. We talked about what a customer thought [an automotive loyalty] program would be.

“We started with nothing. We basically had a blank sheet of paper. We had to determine the hardware systems that we would use, market data analytics, dealer launch training, etc.,” he recalls

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Ford to find a partner for the program. Ford had a long-standing relationship with WPP, the parent company of The Lacek Group, a loyalty, CRM, and branding agency.

FordPass Rewards launched in 2019 with Lacek’s help. The program includes a credit card and awards points that customers can use for vehicle maintenance. Points are redeemable for service, parts, and accessories purchased from Ford dealerships.

But then early in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic hit and soon swept across the country, and Ford wanted to recognize and reward essential workers for their efforts using the loyalty program.

The company ultimately decided to offer essential workers their next scheduled maintenance free of charge. Ford offered current program members and new program members who were essential workers 11,000 points, which would pay for The Works package, which includes an oil and filter change, tire rotation, brake inspection, vehicle inspection, fluid top-off, and a battery test.

Essential workers had to redeem the offer between May 15 and June 30.

The campaign was the FordPass Rewards program’s most visible and most successful campaign so far, according to Loflin. The email offers saw a 45 percent open rate and a 24 percent click-through rate, twice that of the automotive industry averages of 17.4 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively.

The offer was redeemed by more than 75,000 essential workers. The Works package is priced at $39.99, making the claimed value of the offer nearly $3 million. Nearly one-third of the people who took advantage of the offer were not rewards program participants previously, and Loflin expects a strong repeat business from them going forward.

“What excites me the most is that it took three years to launch the initial loyalty program,” Loflin says. “It was unfortunate [that COVID] got us to redeploy the program, but it was incredibly successful. Now that we’ve done it, we could easily redeploy it quickly again for another similar program. It was a great way to thank those who were helping during that time.”

Ford has no immediate plans to run the promotion again, but the company could consider it if the need arises, Loflin says. 

The Payoff

Working with The Lacek Group, Ford developed a special promotion within its loyalty program for essential workers. The campaign resulted in the following:

  • a 32 percent response rate from non-program members;
  • a 45 percent email open rate;
  • a 24 percent click-through rate; and
  • more than 75,000 redemptions, for a value of more than $3 million.

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