Loyalty Programs: Keeping Your Customers Close

By Kelley Sloyer

Customer LoyaltyYour customers are your brand advocates, cheerleaders and stakeholders. They are your greatest asset, whether they shop year-round or just during the peak season or holiday season. But what are you doing for them? Are you rewarding your customers for choosing to shop with you?

If not, you should be. When it comes to loyalty programs, the possibilities are endless, depending on your type or business or store and the goods or services you provide. Here are some tips to implement and promote a successful in-store loyalty program:

1. Points, punch cards and rewards. Points systems are used to keep track of your customers’ purchases. In a typical point system, for example, for every $1 your customer spends, they receive one point. Once your customer reaches a certain point threshold, they will receive a discount voucher on future purchases or some other type of reward. The more loyal the customer, the quicker they will receive their reward. Punch cards are another popular way to keep track of loyal customers. You might have seen these at restaurants. For every purchase a customer makes, they receive one “punch” on their card. Once they fill up their card with punches, they will receive a reward in the amount of your choice.

Customer Loyalty2. Utilize email and social for more loyal customers. Social media and newsletters are excellent ways to promote customer loyalty and keep engaged customers informed about what’s going on in your business. Encourage your customers through email and social media to join your loyalty program, especially your VIP shoppers, so they can earn rewards. If you are keeping track of your customers’ rewards via your POS system, send a triggered email to customers who are close to receiving a reward to entice them to spend those few extra dollars. And make sure to include your company website in the promotion. Add a section about your loyalty program to your Frequently Asked Questions page. Include all of the important details about your program and clearly identify how your customers earn rewards.

3. Have bonus days as a special incentive. Everyone loves receiving an extra treat, and your customers are no exception. Offer an extra punch or point for a certain amount of money spent during various times of the year. Choose a month that is slower for your business or store, or a holiday where you’re looking to boost sales. The big holiday shopping season in December is the perfect time to implement a “bonus loyalty day,” as your customers will appreciate the reward for holiday shopping they were likely going to do anyway. Another great time to implement bonus days is during the slower winter months to help increase your store traffic and introduce your customers to new merchandise.

Customer Loyalty4. Add comeback cash. Once you have a solid customer loyalty program established, you can jazz it up with extra rewards like comeback cash. This is a win/win situation for your store and your most loyal customers, and once again, the concept is simple. When a member spends a certain amount, for example $100, they receive a $10 gift card in comeback cash. The more money your customers spend, the more often they earn money to spend in your store. This creates a cycle that will keep your customers coming back for more. Once again, make sure to promote the program both in-store and through your digital marketing efforts. Let your customers know how close they are to earning comeback cash whenever they make a purchase, and don’t be surprised to see customers spending additional dollars simply to earn the reward.

5. Host members-only parties. Small businesses are increasingly hosting parties for their customers. The goal of these parties is to bring more people into their store to create a sense of community. Try inviting your loyalty program members to an exclusive party at your store twice a year. Your customers will feel special and they’ll have a good time, with a minimal investment on your end. Have music, food, drinks and each other’s company. Both you and your customers will have a great time getting to know each other, creating a sense of community. The trick is to keep the party exclusive—for members only—while also making membership open to the greatest number of your customers. Invite them on social media to sign up for your loyalty program and make sure to mention the members-only party.

However you choose to implement your program and reward your customers, the results will be long-lasting. You will see an increase in store traffic and returning customers, which is the greatest reward of all.