Keep Your Customer Loyalty and Rewards Programs Working for Customers, and Your Business
A customer loyalty program is one of the best ways to reward your customers while turning them into repeat customers. But, too many rewards programs are outdated and ineffective. Many loyalty programs use a “points for purchase” model, where shoppers earn points for every dollar spent, or for every purchase made. Even more programs rely on plastic cards that the customer scans, or on punch cards. As of 2011, there were more than 2 billion loyalty programs across the country, or an average of 18 memberships per household.
Retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new customers, and it’s clear that loyalty programs are an excellent tool for netting more repeat business. But, maybe it’s time to rethink how we keep our customers coming back, time and time again.
Don’t Just Focus on Transactions
Most loyalty programs only focus on the purchases that a customer has made. Once they reach a certain dollar or point threshold, they receive a discount or a freebie. But, as Entrepreneur points out, businesses who do that are only rewarding one aspect of brand loyalty. Nowadays your brand is a living entity. For example, loyal customers can interact with your business on social media, and shouldn’t that be rewarded, too?
The reasoning behind meeting customers where they spend their time is simple. According to Entrepreneur: “When companies take advantage of all channels where people interact with their brand, not only can they acquire a much more comprehensive understanding of their customers, but they can build stronger relationships and reward them for true loyalty.”
Revamp Your Loyalty Programs with Technology
Since so many households already have memberships to a variety of loyalty programs, you might not want to hand out more of the little plastic keyring cards that are so common. Those can be lost, and the cost can add up. Many businesses are moving toward a paperless model and are conducting their loyalty programs through apps and other tech.
New digital rewards apps are being introduced regularly. These companies help you get your rewards program up and running, and they charge a small monthly subscription fee. The fee will depend on the program you choose, but many start at $50. Platforms like Huzzah even include tablets in their monthly programs, and apps like Belly are equally robust and come with many options, including help with maintaining your online presence.
Mold Your Loyalty Program to Your Customers
Different groups perceive customer loyalty programs differently – a key fact that you can use to develop your own loyalty program. For example, monetary or cash rewards are slightly more likely to motivate women (84%) than men (81%.) As for tiered rewards programs, men are slightly more likely to be motivated by that feeling (39% for men, versus 33% for women.)
Gender isn’t the only differentiator, though. Millennials might favor technology-dependent solutions, like apps. Older generations might shy away from the tech, and could prefer punch cards. Study your customers to determine what they prefer, because there’s no one size fits all solution.
Members of customer loyalty and rewards programs want more communication from their favorite brands. That means increasing the frequency of communications, like email, but also increasing the relevancy of the communications. Contact your customers when you have something important to share: offer coupons and other discounts, provide an email newsletter with helpful and informative articles, send birthday discounts, and more.
Evaluate Your Rewards Program Regularly
Even if your business already uses all of these tips, it’s still important to take stock of your customer loyalty program on a regular basis, and see how you can shake things up.
From rewarding customers for Tweeting about your business, to offering surprise rewards, there are countless ways to keep your loyalty program up-to-date.