Loyalty Program: Why you need one and how to get started
March 14, 2018
Loyalty programs can make customers feel more appreciated and special, and in turn increase the likelihood of them advocating your brand to their peers. Your customers are your biggest cheerleaders (or your biggest threat!), so treat them well and it will pay off. Customers will join a loyalty program firstly to save money and secondly to receive rewards, so be sure to make the program worthwhile otherwise they will lose interest. If there is too much of a barrier for customers to receive discounts and convert points to dollars, your loyalty program loses meaning and people will drop off and no longer encourage others to sign up. Find the sweet spot for making it fun for your customers by giving them real value for their actions while you gain valuable analytics.
Why you should have a loyalty program:
As much as your customers think a loyalty program is a benefit to them, the real winner is you. When customers initially sign up for a program, most don’t think twice about the impact they have when filling out form fields such as age, gender, and address. Gaining customer information on habits and buying patterns is powerful information that you can use in decision making for purchasing product, sales, events, store layout, etc.
The moment a customer walks out your doors, you have lost contact with them and you are at their mercy regarding when or whether they decide to come in again to browse for new books. A bonus of a loyalty program where you collect people’s email addresses is now you have a way to keep your brand top-of-mind and entice them into your store with sales, promotions, and exclusive member-only content. With these promotions, you can incentivize more frequent and/or larger purchases that make the customer feel like a winner, but you ultimately come out on top.
Loyalty promotion ideas:
Creating a loyalty program that makes your customers feel good and also benefits you will take some research as to what you are willing to give up in order to gain. Depending on how complex you would like to get with your program, you may have to take a deep dive into analytics such as AOV, LTV, CPA, etc. to see exactly how much you can give away. The focus of this article is to give you some basic ideas you can implement relatively quickly, all while keeping things simple to maintain and attainable for your small business.
If you want to start out cheap, punch cards are a great option. Design your own or visit your local printer to come up a simple punch, stamp, or sticker card where each time a purchase is made, a mark is made on the card to get the customer closer to a special offer. But, in order for the customer to get the card, collect information from them such as name, email address, address, age, and gender that you can track against their purchases each time a mark is made on their card. Incentives could range from a free book under a certain value to 50% off your entire purchase under a certain amount. If you want to get a little fancier with it, once one card has been redeemed, you can graduate your customer to the next level that is a little harder to attain, but the perk at the end is that much better.
Special in-store offers
Forget the card and just collect your customer’s information in your POS system, where you can associate a purchase to an email address. At the point of purchase, inquire with your customers as to whether or not they are a loyalty member and look them up by email address. This allows you to run promotions whenever you choose and the customer does not have to deal with a card. Run deals where loyalty members get x% off on a certain slow day of the week to up your sales on those days. This will make all your customers want to join your program! Or offer a limited-time sale where customers can get x% off their order for a certain amount of time, where only loyalty members can take part in the promotion.
When collecting your customer’s information, if you record the date they signed up and/or their birthday, you can offer them fun anniversary or birthday perks, like giving them a free book under x amount for the 7 days before and after their birthday. This makes the customer feel like you have a personal interest in them and associates a positive life experience with your brand.
Points = money
This one can get a little tricky. The sweet spot for finding out how much you are willing to give away will need to be determined by looking at your AOV, LTV, CPA, etc. If you would like to hear about our personal experience with our retail brand on how to get started, please leave a comment below and we will get in contact with you! With points, you can have more fun with promos by running 3x or 10x days, for example, where your customers rack up the points faster by making a regular purchase. Keep in mind that customers do not like their points to expire, so send them reminders that they have points available to redeem or let them know at checkout when you pull up their account. Also note that expiring points in Canada is now illegal, so be sure to set up your program in a way that abides by the new laws. This loyalty program approach can be a lot of fun, but if you make it too hard for your customer to earn real dollars towards future purchases they will quickly realize this and stop using the program.
Marketing your program:
It’s great to have a loyalty program, but if your customers don’t know about it, no one benefits. A simple way to make sure your customers know about your program is to ask each one at point of purchase if they are a loyalty member. If they are, mark their purchase against their email address. If they aren’t, be sure to have pamphlets at cash that you can hand to your customers that summarizes the perks they will experience by signing up that day. When customers first join your program, add them to an email campaign that welcomes them to the program and confirms they are successfully signed up to be a part of an exclusive community with perks. Since you will be collecting everyone’s email addresses, send out monthly or bi-monthly emails about exclusive offers and reminders about why being a member benefits them. Use this opportunity to also give them exclusive insight to sales before they start so they are the first to know. When you let your loyalty customers know about something exciting before everyone else, it makes them feel special.
Once your program is up and running, you will want to know if it is worth your time to continue or not. Important metrics to look at when comparing your loyalty members to your non-loyalty members are frequency of purchases, average order value, and program engagement rate. Are things improving for your bottom line? If not, don’t worry. It might take a couple of changes to start to see where you are making an impact with the customer. Be patient with it and give it the time and dedication it needs before you decide to stop your program.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers how they are liking your program. Send out an email survey or run a simple ballot survey in-store and learn about what your customers love or dislike. The key metric you are measuring here is Net Promoter Score (NPS) by making sure to include the one question “How likely are you to recommend [store name] to your friends and family on a scale from 1-10?” Your customers are your biggest advocate, so you want to ensure they will be telling their friends about you if they are happy. Check out this article here to learn about the importance of NPS for your store.
Let us know if you plan on trying to implement some of these ideas in-store and keep us updated on how things are going! We would also be happy to have someone from our marketing team jump on a call with you to discuss our own experience with loyalty programs, so please leave your info below if you would like to be contacted.