With so many options available in physical stores and online, keeping customers loyal to your brand is no easy task. For small businesses in particular, it may seem difficult to keep customers coming back without spending a fortune on marketing.
Here are the 17 best customer loyalty program ideas to keep customers happy and business booming:
1. Ditch Rewards Cards and Go Mobile
Meaghan Brophy, Ecommerce & Retail Senior Writer, Fit Small Business
If you’ve thrown away countless reward cards after getting them stamped (maybe) twice, chances are your customers have too. Lightspeed Loyalty is an add-on to Lightspeed’s retail POS that lets you create a points-based rewards program with a branded customer-facing web-app. You can also customize one-time deals (birthdays, VIP, etc.), automate marketing campaigns, send promotional SMS messages and emails, let customers pay straight from their phone, and more.
Jeffrey Bumbales, Marketing Associate at Credibly
Coupons are for targeting customers who haven’t done business with you. Loyalty programs are an attempt to turn your solid customers into evangelists. However, I firmly believe that we are selling the latter short.
The hack: Instead of giving your customers a free meal/good/discount/etc. with their 10th purchase, offer them a BOGO (“buy one, get one”) coupon at every 5th. Instead of pleasing one customer who would eventually make their rounds, you’ll likely score a new one. This tip works especially well in the restaurant industry.
Bacho Khachidze, Co-Founder of Treepex
Most major banks, supermarkets, and oil companies aiming to boost their corporate social responsibility programs have established partnerships with tree planting organizations like Treepex. Using an easy to implement API, now even small businesses can have their customers collect points until they have enough: a tree will automatically be planted for their customers without any extra cost. It makes use of a high tech tracking system with NFC tags, and carefully selected certified rangers plant and take care of the trees.
Jeremy Marsan, Editor at Fit Small Business
Customer retention leads to customer loyalty. In order to set up an effective customer loyalty program, small business owners first need to know how much of their total customers are repeat customers and how this percentage measures up to the standard in the industry. This will then let the business owner know if its customers are having a positive shopping experience or if there is a need to improve their services to develop customer loyalty.
5. Text Customers to Ask What They Want
Maggie Aland, Fit Small Business
Get to know what your customers like and dislike with a bulk texting platform like CustomerSpec. Send a one-touch survey asking what topics they’re interested in, what improvements you can make, or what products they want to see. You can also ask customers to share their experience with your business, and respond to their comments to keep the conversation going and increase engagement. Click here for a free 14-day trial.
Lynne McNamee, President at Lone Armadillo Marketing Agency
The best customer loyalty program a) benefits your customers and b) reinforces your brand and brand value. For example, if your brand is built around ‘lowest price,’ then money driven programs work best, such as discounts, money back, and credits towards future purchases. If your brand is built around superior service, then something like spa certificates or the like is better. If your business is about choice, then offer choices in your loyalty program. The loyalty program should be an extension of doing business with your company…not something entirely independent of it.
Adam Watson, Co-Owner of Hollywood Mirrors
We only sell one product – illuminated mirrors – so it is difficult to get customer loyalty as usually everyone only needs one dressing table mirror so repeat business is difficult. However, we ask our customers to become brand advocates and endorse us on social media, and in return we offer them a handsome commission on the sales they generate via an affiliate link. They become very loyal in promoting us; for a long time, even though they don’t spend again with us, they drive customers to our store.
Andrew Wheller, SEO Executive at No Minimum
Promotional gifts are great for rewarding customer loyalty but can also work wonders for ensuring customer retention. Branded giveaway products are awesome free gifts that help keep your company in the minds of the recipients. Offer a free gift with a certain minimum purchase. They can also make your customers or clients feel truly appreciated, especially when tied-in with holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Matthew Becker, President & CEO at BeckerTime
The BeckerTime Lifetime TradeUp Guarantee is simple: a customer may trade in their qualifying BeckerTime pre-owned Rolex watch at any time and receive the full amount paid for the watch to put towards the purchase of another luxury timepiece offered by BeckerTime.
The main goal of customer loyalty programs is to keep customers coming back because they had an amazing experience buying from BeckerTime. At the end of the day, customers should be happy with both their experience and the product. The other goal of the loyalty program is to help customers stay safe. Most people do not know where or how to safely sell their luxury items in order to purchase something else. BeckerTime has made it so easy for customers to trade up at any time, safely, and with a retailer they know and trust because they’ve purchased from us before.
Jeremy Marsan, Editor at Fit Small Business
Loyalty program software helps your business manage and keep track of your customer loyalty program point system. Not all platforms are suitable for small businesses due to monthly costs and accessibility, which means small business owners should be aware of their requirements to decide which software they should adopt. How do your customers earn points? How would you like your customers to manage their points? You don’t need to spend a fortune or set up a complex system, but the right software makes sure it’s not an administrative headache to start a loyalty program.
Claudia Montez, Founder of Isabelle Grace Jewelry
Chances are, your social media followers and emails subscribers are your regular customers, sometimes even potential ones. Use your social media channels and email newsletters to give your social media followers and current customers fun deals they can get excited about. We connect with our current customer base by offering our e-newsletter subscribers exclusive JUST4ME discounts. Every week, we put one of our pieces on a special JUST4ME discount and advertise it in our newsletter and to our social media followers. Not only has this resulted in new purchases from existing customers, but it has also helped us really grow our email list!
Greg Liswiewski, CEO of Blispay
A steady flow of discounts and deal offers is a great way to keep customers coming back. But, offering a financing plan for expensive purchases is also an invaluable tool for customer retention.
Financing deals can bring in new customers and often be the tipping point to convince them to go ahead with that big-ticket purchase. And according to an MMR Research report, nearly two-thirds of previous users of store financing come back and finance at least one additional purchase of $500 or more and 33 percent do so three to five more times. Traditionally, small businesses were incapable of making such offers because they lacked the time and resources to maintain a financing program. But, new POS financing technology allows retailers with limited means to form partnerships that allow them to introduce these programs.
Heather Piper, Co-Owner of Thrill of the Hunt
A custom scavenger hunt offers an adventure packed, personal activity with fun trivia and socialization, online and off. Not only does a scavenger hunt reward your customer’s loyalty, but it also gives you the vehicle to educate the customer and increase your store’s online footprint.
A scavenger hunt can be executed in many different ways. Perhaps you’re an online store? Then create an online scavenger hunt, taking your influential and loyal customer on a tour around your social media. If you have a physical location, show off your town or area by bringing the scavenger hunt there. Maybe your customers are present and wouldn’t mind learning about the area’s history, and possibly unknown secrets and unknown activities?
Be generous with the final prize, or offer many small prizes for completing a loyalty scavenger hunt. Whether the hunt is executed totally online, in a specific area, or a combination of both, share all the details in advance to maintain transparency and customer involvement.
Over To You
It takes effort to build a sustainable relationship with your customers. With the right customer loyalty program, you can keep your customers satisfied with your business. Do you have more customer loyalty program ideas? Share them with us in the comment section below.
And once you have an idea in your mind, visit our Guide on How to Create a Loyalty Program so you can start creating the most effective customer loyalty program for your business.