Creating a loyalty incentive programme for your small business – one that can be capitalised on by every customer – is imperative to growing your customer base.
Whether you're looking to attract new patrons, reward your regulars for their support, or to build your company's overall reputation, the importance of encouraging and rewarding loyalty cannot be overstated.
What is the best way to approach this process, though?
Customer Loyalty Programmes
From card schemes to product giveaways, there are numerous types of loyalty programmes that you can create and implement. To help get you started, here are six tried-and-trusted methods that your patrons are sure to love:
1. Offer a Loyalty Card
A loyalty card is a hugely popular rewards scheme in many industries and works well because it is a physical reminder of your business that your customer carries with them at all times.
The customer will present the card every time they make a purchase at your store, resulting in either a discount on their current items or in the ongoing accumulation of points that can be exchanged for goods or services later down the line. Alternatively, you can consider offering a free product (or an upgrade to a better product), a discount off the next purchase, or something unique to your store.
The downside is that to implement such a system, you will need to create and distribute the cards themselves, as well as align and maintain a supporting database. If you don't have the resources to manage all of this, it may be challenging to run such a system.
2. Let Customers Collect Points
This is similar to the card scheme detailed above, but it doesn't necessarily require the distribution of plastic cards. It can be as complicated as assigning a code to an individual customer, then assigning them points depending on how much they spend each time they buy from you. On the flip side, it can be as simple as giving customers a card to be stamped every time they make a purchase, as is the case in many coffee shops, for example. This is a great way to allow customers to earn and redeem points as they please. The points can be exchangeable for specific products or upgrades, a discount, a store credit, or an Xth product free when you collect Y amount of stamps.
Companies such as Designer Shoe Warehouse, Starbucks, and Sephora are all examples of organisations that utilise point systems in this way, where customers earn based upon how much they spend. Indeed, as long as your company has a system in place that can handle the tracking of your customer's points – no matter how sophisticated it is – you can make it work.
3. Create a Discount for Regular Customers
Many businesses have a small group of core customers that regularly spend significant sums of money, and it's vital that you look after these customers and let them know that you appreciate their loyalty and their business.
By creating a special discount for them, you can entice them to continue to spend more at your business or, at the very least, to think twice if they are tempted to shop elsewhere. You can either establish a set discount on all purchases or provide a one-off discount on that day's shopping, depending on how much the customer spends — the higher the subtotal, the higher the discount will be.
Generally, this approach works best in niches where your customers are buying in bulk, although variations of it can be applied across many models.
4. Give a Free Product With Purchase
Regardless of how you enable customers the chance to earn a free product, offering it to them is a brilliant way to boost your business while building brand loyalty. Indeed, this idea allows your customers to try out new products, which can potentially expand the range of items that they purchase from you in the future.
It also gives patrons the chance to share their new findings with others, either by word of mouth or through social media. This can help you to establish new products on the shelf, meaning that both you and your customers benefit in the long term.
5. Offer Your Top Customers Exclusive Promotions
If you're looking for more thoughtful loyalty programme ideas, consider those customers who are always there to support your small business. These are the individuals who are the first in line to buy your products and have been with you since day one – your VIP customers.
Whether you offer them a one-of-a-kind free product (one that is not included in promotions to your regular customers), a more impressive discount, or extra privileges when shopping, be sure to make the experience of your most loyal patrons a remarkable one. It keeps them continually happy and spreading the word of your stand-out service while simultaneously encouraging your other customers to strive for the same perks.
You can even create a special tier for these customers, and offer access to other customers if they spend a certain amount or pay a certain fee. This is a particularly useful strategy if you run a subscription-based business model.
6. Roll Out a Bonus Incentive
Giveaways are an established marketing ploy, but you can also implement them without the competition aspect.
For particularly loyal customers, you can demonstrate your ultimate appreciation by showering them with free items (and documenting the whole thing on your social media channels, of course). This outstanding show of recognition could take many forms, too. Do you own a café? What about a lifetime of free coffee or tea? Are you a travel agent? How does an all-inclusive trip to a tropical destination sound?
This is an idea that will have a lasting impact, as it can be incorporated into your future marketing campaigns and become a part of your company story. Of course, it will be a lasting memory for the winner of your exclusive prize, as well, and an incentive for your other customers to show the same levels of devotion to your brand.
One of the key consumer trends in 2020 is the need to be recognised and rewarded for displaying loyalty. By offering an incentive to draw people to your business — and encouraging them to return in the future — your brand will flourish thanks to a boost in customer satisfaction and company reputation. From loyalty cards to surprise gifts for your best patrons, any one of the ideas mentioned above could be perfect for your business model. As mentioned, always make sure that you advertise these gestures, too: the generosity of your business will always be an ultra-effective marketing tool in itself.
In the meantime, what do you think? Which of these customer loyalty programme ideas will your use within your small business? Are there any other ideas that we missed? Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.