You’ve probably participated in a customer rewards program at least once. The most basic one is where you were given a card that had the numbers 1 to ten written on them where they would be punched for every sub you ordered and offered a free one when you ordered your tenth one. Many famous businesses have them, such as American Express and Starbucks. As a matter of fact, both companies said that implementing their customer loyalty program has increased their bottom line. For example, Starbucks boasted a whopping $4.99 billion in the first quarter of 2016 and the executives point to the rewards program as a likely culprit for such high numbers.
These programs have their benefits, you may be thinking as a small business owner, that they’re much too complicated to use. That’s simply not true. You can make a customer rewards or loyalty program work for your small business. It’s not out of your reach. In truth, you’d be surprised at how simple it is to use one.
Making it work, however, is a different story. It’s not impossible, but it will take a little bit of careful planning, and a lot of hard work.
What Is a Customer Rewards Program?
A customer rewards program compensates repeat customers for continuing to make purchases from your place of business. It can be as simple as a punch card that allows you a free sandwich for every 5 you buy. Or, it could be a system that allows you to accrue points towards a reward or something of value. It doesn’t really matter how it’s put into operation. The point is that the customer gets something in return for their patronage.
Why are Customer Rewards Programs Important?
You’ve probably heard that 80 percent of your business will come from repeat customers. So, embrace it!
Customer loyalty programs help you obtain repeat customers. People love rewards. They will shop with you as long as the reward is something that is worth it to them.
Rewards programs can be used for almost any type of business. Businesses in the food, health and electronics industry benefit from loyalty programs the most. However, this is by no means saying that other industries can’t provide a rewards program for their repeat customers. You just may need to be a bit more creative with how it works.
Choosing the Types of Rewards
What type of reward you offer your customers will determine how many people sign up for it. If it doesn’t appeal to them then there’s no reason to sign up. So, what should you offer as a reward?
Most businesses go with a free item. It could be a sandwich, a drink, or even a tanning session. You can also offer a percentage off certain items. General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) offers a percentage off to Pro Access members on a certain day of the month (i.e., quarterly sales day), for example. Even though you have to pay to get into the program, it works. If you pay to get into the program you’re going to make sure you get your money’s worth. That means you’re going to spend your money at the business whenever you get a chance. This helps GNC retain customers and keep them coming back.
Another idea is to partner with businesses that compliment yours. You can all use your loyalty programs to gain new customers and reward repeat ones. Let’s say you run a tanning salon, and there’s a gym and a spa in the area. Perhaps you can suggest to the other businesses that you set up a loyalty program together. If you buy 2 sessions from each business, you’ll get one session from a business of your choice for free.
Can you imagine the impact that would have on your business?
Just make sure that your rewards are actually attainable. If people have to make 100 purchases to see their reward, they’re probably not going to bother going through with it. A small amount of purchases are best. Try to stick to something under 10.
If it’s over 10, make sure that the reward is worth it. Perhaps after 15 purchases you get $50 off a $75 purchase. Or you can give them free tickets to a local sporting event. As long as the reward is reasonably attainable, people will work for it.
3 Top Customer Rewards Programs
Here are the top three programs for small to medium sized businesses.
- #1 Loopyloyalty.com: offers a loyalty program with several key features: You can go live in approximately 15 minutes.
- Mobile wallet enabled.
- You get to choose who you target.
- No point-of-sale (POS) needed.
- Sales insight from day one.
- Blockchain technology.
- Sends notifications when customers are within your vicinity.
- Unlimited stamps, notifications, rewards, and transactions.
- Loopy Loyalty offers a 45-day trial and their prices start at $15 a month.
- #2 Bellycard.com: They are a rewards card program and simple to use. They set everything up for you and you even get an iPad with the system installed on it when you sign up for their program.
- They give you analytics, email marketing options, mobile marketing, and everything else you need to run your loyalty program. You will get solid information about your customers spending habits and how it effects your business.
- Plans start at $159 a month.
- #3 Fivestars.com: A simple rewards program. Once you sign up, they do all the work. For example, customers only need to put in their phone number to sign up. No one needs anything special to become a member.
- Another plus is that they use automated campaigns. They contact customers that haven’t been to your store in a while and offer them incentives to come back. They also have a birthday rewards program. Five Stars pretty much runs your loyalty program for you.
- They have programs for businesses just getting started, looking to expand, and for high traffic businesses.
- There’s no pricing information on the website, but you can try out the demo for free.
Customer rewards programs can really help your small business blossom and bloom. Sometimes it may be tough to compete, especially if there’s a national chain or similar businesses close by. But a loyalty program can help encourage people to keep coming back to your store.
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comment section.