Creating a customer loyalty program is one of the best ways to generate retention and say thank you to the folks who are helping your business succeed the most. Loyalty programs are simple to implement and incredibly effective – with a little bit of thought and analysis prior to diving in. (Disloyalty programs, where you send an email to people who haven’t bought for you for 12 months telling them everything now costs them $10 extra, is also recommended as punishment for traitors.)
Who Are You, Customer?
First figure out what your customers want. The easy way to do that is with creative surveys. Try to move away from the notion of a survey as boring and unattractive – no one wants to fill out marketing research material for you if it’s not enticing. One way to engage more with a survey question is to make it very, very fast. Use a program like Survey Monkey and present three pictures to the customer on your thank you page, email blast, or Facebook page. This could be a picture of three products you are considering carrying or images of three business values asking which is most important to them. (It could also be a picture of your three children asking, “Which one should I send to military school?”)
Everyone loves the unexpected. When you think about a loyalty program, think about how to go beyond your competition – to really surprise your customer with your generosity and trust, that you want a two-way relationship. (Try sending everybody a $100 bill in the mail.)
Choosing to Join
Giving folks the option to join your loyalty program will create greater commitment to actually using it. Make your presentation short, simple, and compelling to allow folks to jump onboard – but ask them.
Alternative – VIP Access
Consider creating your loyalty group only out of your top-tier customers. You could also partition your VIP customers as a subgroup of the loyalty group for enhanced benefits. (Send them each a key to your house with a note that says, “Come by and party in my basement any time. I won’t bother you.”)
Member Numbers & Tracking
One way to get people more involved in a loyalty program is to have rewards that folks are working their way up toward. This approach makes the whole thing more interactive and interesting. Think here of frequent flyer miles or credit card perks for hitting certain milestones.
Start Them Off at an Advantage
Research shows that if you create an 8 purchase loyalty card after which the customer gets a free service, resulting completion is at 19% (their case study). Creating a 10 purchase loyalty card and marking off the first two – so same requirement, just framed differently – generates 34% completion. (Loyalty cards in federal prisons have as high as 100% completion rates.)
That should get you off on the right foot – and of course it’s always something you can revise. Most importantly, don’t put this one on the back burner. Loyalty programs are easy revenue generators and keep customers coming back for more.