It’s no secret that maintaining customer loyalty is an essential part of operating a successful small or medium sized business. Customers today have nearly limitless buying options, and breaking through the clutter to encourage repeat visits can be a challenge. Rewards programs are an easy way to quickly improve and maintain customer loyalty, but what type of rewards should you offer to optimize performance?
Rewards That Are Accessible For All of Your Customers
One of the largest mistakes made when creating a rewards program is only addressing a segment of your audience. Not every customer purchases the same product or service from you, and it’s important to ensure all of your customers feel their purchases are valued and rewarded. Opt to offer several different rewards, and use the opportunity to align reward offerings with your business goals. At a coffee shop for example, specialty drinks may be popular but a particular seasonal flavor might be relatively unknown. Introduce the item as a reward to increase awareness and get your most frequent customers hooked. Additionally, ensure that rewards are set at values reasonable for customers to obtain. Rewards should motivate customers to return more often, not discourage them.
Often, the concept of a rewards platform triggers the idea of ‘discounts’ for business owners. However, your most loyal customers are often motivated by more than just receiving a dollar off their purchase. Kissmetrics dedicated an entire blog post to the question, “Can You Buy Loyalty?” Especially for small and medium sized businesses, a customer’s decision to frequent these locations is about more than cost – personality and buying experience make a big impact. Capitalize on this fact by offering your loyal customers unique experiences and opportunities to engage with you and your business. For example, offer a private cooking class as a high-tier reward, or maybe the opportunity to create and name a menu item. This type of engagement builds long-term customer relationships. You can even use these experiences as social media content to further increase exposure!
Rewards That Support A Cause
Rewards programs can provide an excellent platform for supporting and generating awareness for causes important to your business. In contrast to offering dollars back or free items, provide customers the option to ‘donate’ their earned rewards points toward a designated cause. This type of initiative can be successful year-round, but especially so when promoted in tandem with a particular event (think: holiday season or awareness months). To ensure the initiative is effective, be sure and use your marketing tools to communicate to customers why this cause is important to you, and report back on the impact they’ve helped make at the conclusion. This is another opportunity to share on social media about the work you and your customers are doing to give back to the community.
Rewards That Are Simple to Sign-Up For And Track
A rewards platform is only as effective as it is simple. Long gone are the days where customers are willing to manually fill out field after field of personal information in order to enroll in your program. Business cards in a fishbowl seem simple, but require manual work to import and track on the part of the business owner. Research and launch a digital program to capitalize on ease-of-enrollment as well as performance tracking. Digital programs make it extremely easy for customers to track their points and progress toward rewards. This feature is essential to maintaining long-term program engagement. After all, what good is a rewards card that never rewards you? Don’t forget that a positive customer experience should ensure that customers get rewarded every time they come to your business. Be sure when evaluating program options, you’ve considered how to manage situations where your customer has forgotten their card or app at the time of visit.
In conclusion, rewards programs are an incredibly effective way to encourage customer loyalty and build customer relationships in a meaningful way. Take time to consider what the goals of your program are, and how to create a program that achieves those goals while providing customers with rewards they want to earn. If you’re not quite sure where to start, take a look at the tools Belly provides and schedule a consultation with one of our Loyalty Experts to discuss your goals.
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