small business customer loyalty

Loyalty Punch Cards: Are They Extinct?

Loyalty punch cards extinct

Dinosaurs. VCRs. Fruitopia. Punch Cards.

What does this group have in common? They were all once kings of their perspective worlds, but now only live in our fondest memories or favorite ‘90s movies. Well, at least they should.

How many times can you remember grabbing one of those paper punch cards and then simultaneously losing it? From a business owner’s perspective, how many times have you had customers complain that they lost their card, which had 8 punches on it already, but no way to prove it? Technology advancements today not only decrease the threat of angry members and fraud, but they also create ways to foster those digital connections with your customers to avoid losing them forever – costs that are sometimes hidden until it’s too late.

Here are 5 things you can’t do with paper punch cards and why switching to digital is best for business:

Go Green

Between customers losing the cards or turning them in for their free offer, and just generally keeping enough cards in stock, you’re going to go through a lot of paper. Using technology as a substitute allows those customers to download an app to check in, redeem their offer right on the iPad with no need to turn in their card, and you never have to worry that you’re going to run out. Going digital is not only smart, but less waste makes it good for the environment, too. Plus, think of all the green you get to keep in your wallet thanks to the money you’re saving on printing.

Reach Your Customers Outside The Store

Picture this: you’re launching a brand new menu with the best pumpkin spiced waffles this side of Mississippi. You want to tell all of your customers about them, but you only have the ability to tell those who are in your restaurant because your punch cards don’t collect emails. Don’t make your customers wait. Belly has a suite of marketing tools available for the simplest, “Hello!” or the targeted, “Come back and see us!” You can even turn on an Auto-Engage campaign and never have to lift another finger to bring your customers back in your store again.

Data Collection, Analytics, and ROI

Pretty much the only thing you can do with a paper punch card is tell how much you gave away. When you go digital you can discover who your customers are, how they frequent your business, and then track the return on your investment when you market to them all on one single site.

For example, research shows that only about 27% of first time customers come back for a second visit, while second time customers return at a 70-80% rate! You can use the customer's’ check-in data to automatically send an offer to those first time visitors, ensure that they stick with the program, and watch them come back more often. Let’s see a piece of paper do that!

Acquire New, Loyal Customers

You know the old adage, “80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.” Loyal customers make your business successful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to get new customers as well, though. Going digital and using a tool like Belly Bites allows you to utilize the universal loyalty network you’re a part of and offer some of your best items to customers who may have been to the laundromat down the street, but not your coffee shop.. yet. You’re also able to know how many people have seen the offer and then come in making it easy to track the return, which is just part of what Dominican Joe owner Mehul Patel says makes using Belly a no brainer.

Improve Customer Relations With Custom Rewards

Typically with loyalty punch cards, you choose one item and the 10th one is free. That’s soooo boring! Why not find out what your most loyal customer’s favorite sandwich is and name it after him or give him a lesson in pizza tossing or cake making? Experiential rewards are a great way to get to know your customers and boost your business’s social appeal. You can also use your rewards to promote new items, give discounts, or pretty much any other incentive that your customers respond to. The happier your customers are the more likely them come back and tell their friends just how awesome your business is.

So, are loyalty punch cards extinct? The answer should be yes. The hidden costs of using punch cards instead of digital loyalty, specifically losing potential customers, can make a huge impact on your business. While there are some things that may fade out of style and come back full force, i.e. bell bottoms and choker necklaces, others (cough paper punch cards cough) should, and likely will,  just be buried and forgotten. We live in a digital world; it’s time to catch up and put those boring old pieces of cardstock behind us. Besides, switching from paper to digital is way less painful than finding a new favorite fruit drink or burning all your VHS tapes onto CDs, right? Make the switch to digital and call Belly today.

Ready to see Belly in action? Click here to learn more.