If you’re anything like me, you’re a loyalty whore.
If a brand or business I patronize has any kind of loyalty program, sign me up!
CVS, Duane Reade, Starbucks, Amtrak, US Airways, Starwood, Modell’s, Whole Foods, Children’s Place.
You name it, I’m registered.
And why the fuck not?
If I’m spending my hard earned dough buying your goods or services, why shouldn’t I be rewarded?
Sure, I’ve got to spend $1,000 in order to get $5 off my next $500 purchase, or fly a gazillion miles to upgrade to first class, but so what?
I’m being rewarded for my loyalty!
And loyalty equals retention equals repeat purchases and visits.
As happy as I am to find that a business I support has a loyalty program, I am equally dismayed when they don’t.
Really, why wouldn’t you want to incentivize patronage?
In this competitive day and age, when shoppers have so many choices of where they can spend their dollars, doesn’t it make sense to offer something your competitors don’t?
If you’ve thought about implementing a loyalty program, but don’t know where to start or think that it’s too expensive or difficult to manage, here are five simple tips to get your loyalty game popping!
1. Use an existing loyalty platform.
If you’re unsure of how to start a loyalty program, fear not. There are a number of really good off-the-shelf loyalty programs that you can use to get started. They don’t require any technical expertise, and in many instances, they’re free.
One such program is LoyalBlocks. LoyalBlocks is a loyalty app for businesses. It’s fully customizable and allows merchants to offer promotions and specials to their customers, in exchange for frequent visits. With LoyalBlocks, you simply set up your ‘loyalty club,’ create your rewards, custom specials, punch card offers and in-store content, and you’re ready to go. There’s also a customer-facing app which your customers can download and start getting rewards.
Shopkick is another app that rewards users for simply walking into different businesses. Partner stores and establishments benefit from the foot traffic and engagement. With Shopkick, users who visit partner businesses receive “kicks” or points, which can be accumulated and redeemed for rewards. Businesses who sign up for Shopkick receive beacons which can be discretely installed, and which track when users are in (or near) their stores. Shoppers can receive targeted offers and prompts, based on their location to drive sales.
Still a lil’ gun-shy and just want to test the waters? Then FourSquare may be perhaps the simplest way to get started. Currently, there are over 50 million people using Foursquare to find businesses. The simple act of having visitors check-in to your business via FourSquare and share that check-in with their networks, can prove an invaluable driver for your business. FourSquare’s online tools for merchants let businesses track visitors, create ads, special offers and deals.
2. Give something away!
One sure fire way to get people into your store is giving something away – discount on their next purchase, 2 for 1 special, coupon or gift-with-purchase – anything to make customers feel like they’re saving a buck. Apps like RetailMeNot have made it super easy for businesses or brands to give potential customers a reason to shop with them. RetailMeNot operates the world’s largest marketplace for digital offers, enabling consumers across the globe to find hundreds of thousands of digital offers from their favorite retailers and brands. App users can search through offers, which can be redeemed in store or online.
Similarly, platforms like Groupon or Living Social, which offer steeply discounted deals, are another way of giving customers (and potential customers) a means through which they can get down with your brand. By routinely publishing special offers, your customers will have a reason to check in on you often to make sure they’re not missing out!
3. Incentivize sharing.
If you’ve ever purchased a Groupon or a Living Social deal, you know that you can get your deal for free by inviting your friends to buy the same deal. If the deal is compelling enough, it’ll gives users a reason to share. Even if the person who shared the deal can’t get enough of their friends to buy it (and thereby earn their’s free), people love to announce the fact that they just copped a good deal to the world. By adding social sharing capabilities to your offers, you’re taking advantage of folks’ natural narcissistic inclination to share.
4. Make it social.
Much like the point above, we live in an increasingly connected world, where virtually everything we do is posted on social media. Folks share when they’re on their commute to work, when they’re eating out, when they’re at the gym, even when they’re doing nothing. People spend more time on social media than they do with their children. Make it easy for your users to share by building social sharing capabilities directly into your loyalty program. More importantly, give points for liking you on Facebook, tweeting about your experience or adding a hashtag to a picture and posting it on Instagram and engaging in that social behavior. Social is an increasingly important part of most people’s lives nowadays, so get in on the action!
5. Promote. Promote. Promote.
If you’ve got a marketing budget, think about taking out ads talking about your loyalty program. Set aside part of that budget on Google Ads that drive specifically to your loyalty landing pages or to landing pages where your loyalty program is featured prominently. Don’t have a budget? Then tweet, post status updates on Facebook and hashtag the heck out of some flicks to drive awareness about your new program.
If a loyalty program falls in the forest and there is no one around, does it make a sound? There’s nothing worse than a loyalty program that no one knows about. So don’t let your loyalty program languish in obscurity. Talk about it!
Have some ideas on building a loyalty program, I’d love to hear about it. So feel free to comment below.