Loyalty programs with rewards cards are becoming ubiquitous with any shopping experience. It seems like every store is asking for a phone number, email addressing, or shoving a keychain card in your hand to get you into their system. As a brand you must recognize this trend, and ask yourself why other companies are doing this, and can set yours apart.
More brands are discovering that loyalty or customer rewards programs have many benefits that go beyond bringing back a subset of their customers. These programs can collect vital information about customers, they can help predict market changes, and most importantly bring consumers back. There are some important elements that big brands need to implement in order for these systems to work effectively, leaving consumers feeling appreciated and not used.
- Implement a System-wide Process that Works at the Local Level
If you are a brand with locations spread out over a large geographical area, make sure that your system can tie in data inputs from ALL of your stores. Customers expect that their rewards points or discounts will work equally well independent of the store’s location. This means that all of the logistical coordination, and data management of the program will need to be set up across your entire network the first day that you launch the program.
If you roll out the system to a group of stores at a time, you risk customers attempting to redeem earned rewards a “non-participating” stores and giving them a bad experience. Avoid this by having an all inclusive launch, with a system in place to bring newly opening stores into the system the day they open their doors. This is a great opportunity to offer double points, or extra discounts to get customers into your newly minted stores and skyrocketing opening day sales.
- Make Enrollment Easy
More than once I have witnessed a new rewards customer filling out forms that would be more befitting of the SATs then something that should take an extra 60 seconds. Ask only for the information that you need, and don’t require all fields to be completed, just a unique identifier like an email address or phone number.
Your employees can always collect new pieces of information at a later time. Make sure that you have an option in the database for the employees to stop asking for information, after all some people just don’t want to give out all their private info. If you provide them with a card, make sure it is durable and can be used on apps like Cardstar, Stocard, or KeyRing. Your program will only be successful if customers actually use it, so make it as easy for them as possible.
- Collect and Manage Incoming Data
Loyalty Programs enable you to answer basic and important questions about consumer behavior in your stores that might be otherwise unavailable. Some important questions to consider: How often do your customers return to your stores? Do your customers buy the same products together? What are your customer demographics? All of these and countless other questions can be answered by implementing a rewards program. Instead of purchasing data from third parties your brand can grow its consumer database organically with first hand information.
Make sure you have a database that can keep all of the records together, reconcile duplicates, and share the data across all of your stores in real time.
- Make It Worth Your Customer’s While
This is really where you can set your brand apart from other players out there. Many programs offer 10% off for a limited time, or buy one get one 50% off. Don’t get me wrong, those are nice deals, but everyone is doing that so how can YOU be different?
Provide real offers, like free giveaways for certain customers. Become known for your rewards program, and your brand’s reputation will spread positively in the marketplace. This is not cheap, but will pay off in the long run.
Rewards programs are a dime a dozen. If your brand wants to leverage it into information source, a way to increase repeat business, and an overall success do it right from the beginning. Hopefully with the tips provided you can use the program as an engine to drive sales to all of your locations and learn a little bit more about your business and your customers.
About the Author
Neil is a natural digital marketer with a mix of tech nerd, news junkie, and style. He began his marketing career in Boston with a specialization in SEO after graduating from Purdue University in Indiana. After a couple of years with a heavy SEO focus, Neil has branched out into the many other fascinating aspects of internet marketing.More Content by Neil Ingalls