Is It Time to Add a Customer Loyalty Program?

Niema Jordan , Editor

Ready to take your business to the next level? Consider adding a loyalty program.

A customer loyalty program rewards customers for shopping with you frequently. It is a great way to engage with your regulars and make them feel valued — if the rewards are good. The goal is to give them a reason to come back. But you can also use a loyalty program to acquire new customers.

Seventy-eight percent of consumers say they are more likely to choose a business that has a loyalty program over one that does not, according to the Visa report Digital Transformation of SMBs: The Future of Commerce. And 65 percent of consumers surveyed said they look to see if a business has a loyalty program prior to shopping at a store, visiting a restaurant, or trying out a service. This means when you introduce a loyalty program, your current customers aren’t the only people you’re reaching.

Get Started with Square Loyalty

Keep customers coming back.

Despite customer preference, only one in five small businesses surveyed have a loyalty program. Grocery stores and markets are more likely to have a program in place, while the majority of retailers, restaurants, and services don’t provide an additional incentive for doing business with them.

However, nearly 80 percent of small businesses with loyalty programs say they’ve seen a positive impact on average ticket size, repeat customers, and revenue since introducing rewards. Analysis of customers enrolled in Square Loyalty show that they spend 37 percent more after they join than they did before.

So, what are you waiting for?

Go digital

You know the scene: The person behind the counter hands the customer a business card–size piece of paper with a stamp or initials in one of the boxes. “Bring this in next time,” they say to the customer.

But, how likely is it that the loyalty card makes its way back to the store?

It’s more likely to get mixed up with other business cards, buried at the bottom of a purse, or thrown out with receipts. There’s also the chance that the customer returns with multiple cards that have only been marked once and you have to tally visits (heavy sigh).

If you’re looking for an alternative, try a digital loyalty program. Ninety percent of consumers prefer a digital reward program over paper cards, according to Visa’s study.

One benefit is the time you save. Going digital means less time searching for and punching cards and more time actively engaging with your customers. And thanks to loyalty insights, you learn more about the people who shop with you.

Getting set up with a digital program doesn’t take a ton of time.

To get started, find a program that integrates with your POS and customer directory. Then set up a program that will best incentivize your customers. Will they earn points based on number of visits or amount of money spent, or earn points based on specific items? What will they receive for shopping with you consistently? A discount? A free item? When and how you reward your customers is up to you.

The final step is to promote your program. If you have a mailing list, send a blast letting customers know about the new incentives. And since the majority of consumers do online research prior to shopping, make sure your website and social media platforms highlight the benefits of doing business with you.

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Niema Jordan is a storyteller, content strategist, producer and award-winning filmmaker from Oakland, Calif. She has written for numerous publications including ESSENCE, EBONY, The Undefeated, The Crisis, and Glamour.