When carefully considered and thoughtfully deployed, a loyalty program can be a business game changer. Before you write off the idea or charge full steam ahead into a program of your own, review the steps in this guide for some tips and guidelines.
For a loyalty program to be successful, you must identify your objective and align it to your customer needs. Use your customers spending habits to identify where you have room for improvement.
Starting a new business? You won’t have the necessary data to know your customers purchase habits. However, with a new business, you have the opportunity to lay the groundwork to drive traffic back to the store from day one.
Pro tip: For new businesses, make the reward attainable so that new customers have more incentive to visit often early on. As the program matures, you can phase in higher purchase requirements.
Pro tip: Make accrual values more than a $1 to 1 point exchange. Customers typically feel like they get more value when they earn higher point values for every dollar spent. (For example, 50 or 100 points per dollar.) Adjust your redemption rates accordingly.
Pro tip: Start new customers with a bonus point with their first purchase to make the reward more attainable and get them hooked with the special attention.
For a new loyalty program, it is highly recommended to start with a pilot program with a small test group. This will allow you to adjust your loyalty program as you test out what makes the most sense for your business without worrying that you’ll have hundreds of customers whose expectations have already been set.
If you have a customer relationship manager (CRM) in place, you may want to invite your most loyal customers to participate. Not only will they benefit from a brand they already enjoy, they’ll likely be most willing to provide feedback about what would make them use the loyalty program more.
Without existing customer data, you’ll need to identify the ideal pilot customer with a little more creativity. Try setting parameters such as transactions over a certain dollar amount or customers that purchase a higher than average number of items as ideal customers to invite.
You can have the best loyalty program of any business in your zip code. But if you don’t communicate it well, the people that you need to make it successful may never find out about it. Developing a communication strategy will help you train your team and ensure that your target customers are aware and engaged.
Your team will be vital to the success of your new loyalty program. As you train them the functional aspects of how to work the loyalty program within your POS platform, you should also provide a pocket training guide as a support tool.
During your pilot program, you’ll want to control communication as best as possible so that you can achieve the desired outcome as closely as possible. Email is probably the best strategy for communication as you can deliver it directly to your customers. However, some customers aren’t thrilled with handing out their email, so utilizing a business card printing service to create a branded wallet card outlining the program.
If you’ve ever heard the adage “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” you should know that it can (and should!) absolutely be applied to your new loyalty program. Once you establish your objective, your rules, and your target customers, it’s time to set goals so you can measure your success!
SMART goals are especially helpful in tracking program success as they’ll help you ensure that they are meaningful. Be realistic with your goals and understand that they will mature as your program matures.
An example of a SMART goal might be:
By November 1, I will have 100 target customers active in my pilot program and will increase average transaction size by $1 within this group compared to the customers not in my pilot program by providing the right rewards to encourage larger purchases.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes during your pilot program. Again, it’s much easier to adjust your program with a smaller test group than overhaul a fully rolled out program.
Loyalty programs are not a replacement for service! Your program should complement the environment that you’ve created for your customers and be a welcome extension of your brand that rewards an ongoing relationship.