SMB Tips: Keep Customers Coming Back with Loyalty

Jenn Reichenbacher |

March 27, 2014

Keep Customers Coming Back with Loyalty

Consumers love a deal, discount or special offer. For generations, retailers have been providing incentives to consumers to get them to visit their business and make a purchase. Today, according to RetailMeNot, 92 percent of consumer use coupons in one way or another. In fact, coupons saved consumers over $1.8 billion dollars in the first half of 2013 alone - amazing!

For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) a great way to distribute coupons or special offers is actually through a rewards or loyalty program. Before you throw your arms up and run away, loyalty programs are actually easier than you think. Gone are the days of paper punch cards and manual management. Today’s technology advancements have made it down right easy for businesses of any size in any vertical to develop and deploy a meaningful loyalty program that actually delivers results. With the competition heating up, the time is now if you don’t already have an active program.

Loyalty programs are easy to set-up. In fact, most merchant service providers now offer both loyalty and gift (pre-paid) offerings. In addition to helping attract new customers and retain existing ones, loyalty programs also help you manage your business. With a well-managed loyalty program, you will gain valuable insights about your customers, which will help you evaluate current pricing strategies, manage inventory, and discover potential products you may want to sell.

There are more than 2.6 billion loyalty program memberships in the U.S. or 21.9 per household. From the consumer’s perspective loyalty programs do require a little extra effort in terms of sign up and individual management (remembering your card, etc.), but 80 percent say that the benefits are worth it, and 69 percent admit that where they choose to shop is influenced by loyalty rewards.

And, remember, these programs can be offered in a variety of ways as marketing is key with the consumer to get them enrolled and keep them engaged.

  • Rewards programs

  • Elite-membership programs

  • Email newsletters (exclusive offers, discounts and new product announcements)

  • Coupons and in-store discounts

  • Appreciate based programs (thank you)

In the end, it’s important to design a program that works for your business and your customer base. The program design should be easy to keep consumers engaged and offer monetary value in the form of merchandise credit ($10 for every $200 spent, free sandwich after 10 purchased) or dollar discounts (15 percent off). It’s also imperative that the program be clearly spelled out so that new consumers understand how and when they will earn their rewards.

Loyalty programs are a real value for businesses of any size. They not only help you attract new customers and retain existing ones, they help you better manage your business and enhance engagement with your most loyal customers. Keep the program simple, make sure your customers understand the WIIFM (what’s in it for me (them)) and grow your bottom line!