Gilt Grants Discounts Based On "Influence" -- Does This Have Staying Power?

Gilt Groupe recently ran a promotion with Klout in which it offered tiered discounts based on a person’s influence score (see the screenshot below). Members of Klout Perks received a discount for Gilt purchases based on their Klout score; the higher the member’s influence score, the higher the discount.

Gilt’s primary objective with the promotion was to build brand awareness through word of mouth and acquire new customers.  It will be interesting to see how the program performs for Gilt in terms of first-time purchases, long-term customer behaviors, and ROI.

This promotion got me thinking about the potential uses of influence scores for marketing purposes.  I’ve blogged about these scoring methodologies before and believe that we’re still feeling our way through their construction, relevancy, and value.  But I do see at least two general use cases forming.  In addition to incorporating them into analyses for customer insights, marketers can use influence scores — either home-grown or externally derived — to:

  • Identify influentials who can help create awareness. Marketers can seek to create word of mouth by reaching out to people deemed to be “influential” (let’s debate that another day) through services like BzzAgent, Klout, PeerIndex, Swaylo, and others.  In the Gilt example, the most influential people are provided an outsized incentive in the form of higher discounts.
  • Treat existing “important” customers differently. My colleague Zach Hofer-Shall pointed out a nice example of this use case:  the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas looks up guests' Klout scores when they check in and upgrades those with high scores to help spark positive word of mouth.

My inclination is that using influence scores to drive acquisition programs will typically result in an initial spike in awareness that will quickly decay. But infusing influence scores into everyday operations to quietly “surprise and delight” individual customers, like the Palms example, seems like a natural extension of what good customer-oriented organizations already do.

Do you think overt incentives or rewards based on a person’s influence score have the potential to generate value for marketers?  What other use cases do you see for using influence scores for marketing purposes? Chime in here with your comments.