There’s a reason why customer loyalty and rewards programs are growing in popularity among small businesses: A successful rewards system leads to customers who feel valued, appreciated and, in turn, loyal. A 2016 study found that customers who are part of a reward program generate between 12 and 18 percent more revenue than those who are not program members, leading to repeat business, positive PR and increased profits.
The bottom line? Customer loyalty and reward programs are a win-win, which may be why 57 percent of marketers stated they planned to invest more in their loyalty programs in 2017. Here’s a look at a few tried-and-true approaches you can take to integrate such a program into your marketing strategy.
Chances are you have one (or 20) in your wallet. This low-tech approach to a loyalty program is as easy as designing and printing a card that allows consumers to rack up stamps or punches with each purchase. After a certain number of purchases are made, the perks start rolling in. The downside to such an approach is it may offer you very little in the way of tracking spending or customer demographics. But the upside can be that it encourages your clients to return again and again in an effort to bank rewards.
Email or SMS Campaigns
You can ask customers to submit their email via a survey, short printed form or simply at the point of sale, and ask for their permission to add their address to an opt-in email list. You can also take advantage of SMS or text-message marketing, which requires minimal effort on the part of the consumer. You will need to get your customers to opt-in to receiving text messages. Either approach can allow you to communicate special promotions, discounts and information for loyalty members only. Just be sure to do your research before conducting any email or text messaging campaigns. You can visit the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications commission websites for valuable information on conducting email and text messaging campaigns.
In an age where there’s seemingly always “an app for that,” loyalty programs are no exception. Scans of the app can accumulate benefits — think the My Starbucks Rewards app, whose introduction in 2013 was considered largely responsible for a whopping 26 percent rise in profits. In addition to the option of paying straight from the app, such programs allow points to build from transaction to transaction, while special promotions can be sent to your members via push notifications.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Be sure to advertise your loyalty program. Take advantage of point-of-purchase signage, brochures or single sheets that explain your program messaging, and, of course, social media. Take it one step further — link your system of rewards to incentives that prompt your loyalty members to get the word out on their personal social media outlets. Get creative about offering discounts or points to those who write reviews, check in, share or like your pages.
Make Your Members Feel Special
Rewards programs are designed to increase brand loyalty. In fact, according to the firm Bain and Co., if a business can just increase retention rates by 5 percent, profits increase between 25 and 95 percent. Let your members know they’re valued through continued communication, birthday and anniversary recognition and, where possible, incentives customized to their particular needs. Remember it’s not just monetary rewards that will keep them coming back for more. Offer perks such as advanced notice, alternative payment options, faster shipping or other VIP perks that will make your loyal customer stay a loyal customer.
About the Author
Stacey Kole is a principal director at Branded, a personal and small business branding agency. A former magazine editor and published author, she currently contributes to the online editions of several publications. She is the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, working to build scholarship funds for young women in the state of Arizona.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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