Mining The CRM Gold Within Giftcards

Another giftcard exchange site company has emerged, but this one—a company called Leverage—is focusing on the tremendous customer information inherent in a pile of giftcards.

Leverage's vision is not radically different than other giftcard firms—such as PlasticJungle—but it's focus on the CRM aspect is. With a formula that will likely deliver about 40 percent of its giftcards directly from retailers with the remainder consumer to consumer exchange, Leverage plans on selling information about their consumers to retail and manufacturing advertisers, said Leverage CEO Mark Roberts.

What will differentiate these pitches from SPAM? Roberts argues it's all about context. If the ads hit a consumer while that consumer is trying to read E-mail, it's disruptive and bad. But if that ad hits the consumer when that consumer wants to buy and needs information about purchase options, it suddenly becomes information and fairly useful information at that.

"E-mail is never the place where retail-based communications should happen," Roberts said. "You're not ever in the mood to be sent all this junkmail while trying to read your E-mail."

Leverage's plan is to create virtual spaces where consumers can log all of their giftcards, loyalty cards and coupons and then sell that content—in aggregate only—to advertisers. If they wanted women of a certain agegroup with giftcards of certain value with certain retailers, they could send messages to those people.

Leverage is also going to ask customers to volunteer more information, including travel plans, gift occasions and lifestyle issues.

If a consumer is preparing a vacation in Canada, they might create a space called Canadian Trip. When they open that space, there would be airline, hotel and entertainment offers related to that trip.

The site will also feature ways, according to Roberts, for consumers to control "a virtual volume control." Let's say that a retailer was bombarding a consumer with offers. That retailer might be told to slow down or to even be banned. "Depending on how retailers behave, you can give retailers a time-out for three months."