Customer loyalty is the lifeblood of many small businesses. When you have customers who keep coming back to buy from you, again and again, it’s cheaper and easier to keep your business running. Loyal customers bring you bigger profits and also can serve as your company’s best word of mouth marketing – because the people who love to buy from you the most are also most likely to recommend your business to others.
According to a report from Manta and BIA/Kelsey cited in Entrepreneur, “Why Small Businesses Should Be Utilizing Customer-Loyalty Programs,” 64 percent of small business owners who have already adopted a customer loyalty program say that it has made more money than it costs to maintain, and repeat customers spend 67 percent more on a given purchase than a new customer does.
But customer loyalty doesn’t just happen automatically – sometimes small business owners need to encourage their customers to increase their visits or buy more often by offering a customer loyalty program. Customer loyalty programs can be one of the best ways for small businesses to compete with big companies – because they can further solidify your strongest customer relationships and keep your customers coming back. Today’s customer loyalty programs have gone far beyond the old days of printed paper punch cards, and they’re not just for big companies; it’s now possible for small businesses to use affordable, easy online tools and mobile apps that can reward customers for frequent purchases, repeat visits, customer referrals, and more.
Here are a few insights and examples of how small businesses can use customer loyalty programs to get big-company results:
Decide on Your Goal
What do you want to accomplish with your customer loyalty program? More sales? More frequent customer visits? More customer referrals? It’s simple to say that you want more sales, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but depending on the type of business you run and what your overall business goals are, a customer loyalty program could also be used to reward customers who come to your store more frequently (whether or not they buy anything), or to give rewards to customers who refer their friends to come to your business or “like” your Facebook page, or to give special “surprise” rewards to some of your best customers.
Here are a few examples of customer loyalty programs that you can use as a to reward your customers and get bigger sales:
LevelUp is a customer loyalty program combined with a mobile payments solution. With LevelUp, your customers can make payments by using their phones, and every transaction also gives your business data about your customers’ preferences and choices. This makes it possible to target your customer loyalty program to what matters most to your customers, in a way that boosts sales most effectively. They can be found at thelevelup.com.
Perka is a customer loyalty program that works via mobile app to track customer check-ins at your business. Every time a repeat customer checks in at your business, you get notified – and you can issue loyalty rewards to your customers as soon as they make a repeat purchase. Perka is especially sophisticated in the way it enables small businesses to create more complex, advanced loyalty programs that might previously have been possible only for big companies. They can be found at perka.com.
Punchh is an online customer relationship management platform that designs customized customer loyalty apps and programs for small businesses, particularly in the restaurant industry. As described in, “Using Smartphones and Apps to Enhance Loyalty Programs,” Punchh works with its small business clients to develop unique loyalty programs centered on a variety of customer behaviors and responses, to go beyond simply “buy 10, get 1 free” and tap into a broader array of customer data that can help you boost sales and deepen your customer relationships in a variety of ways. They can be found at punchh.com.
Spendgo is a customer rewards program that can be integrated directly with Point of Sale (POS) systems. Instead of simply rewarding customers for the total dollar amount that they buy, it gives small businesses an added level of flexibility to assign customer rewards to specific items. It also has sophisticated targeting based on the customers’ prior behavior and preferences. They can be found at merchant.spendgo.com.
Building customer loyalty doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a lot of money. With the right small business customer loyalty program, you can reward your best customers, find out more about what motivates them to buy, and boost your sales by getting more of your best buyers to keep coming back to you – month after month, year after year.
Have you used any customer loyalty programs for your business? Which ones would you recommend? Tweet us at @KabbageInc and let us know!