We're used to big businesses running loyalty schemes, with rewards ranging from corporate gifts and money-off vouchers to free products. But they are not just the preserve of multi-national corporations such as supermarkets and global coffee-shop chains. Even small and medium-sized businesses can find the introduction of a loyalty scheme a useful addition to their marketing strategy.
The main advantage of a loyalty scheme is that it encourages more frequent customer visits, alongside increased consumer spending. Not only are customers more likely to use your products or services over a competitor's, but they are likely to buy more than they might otherwise in order to qualify for potential rewards. Additionally, a loyalty scheme demonstrates your appreciation of your customer's decision to choose your particular company. You reward them, they feel more positively about your firm and this in turn is likely to lead to repeat business from them and new business as they recommend you to their friends. And so it goes on.
The kinds of loyalty bonuses or corporate gifts you offer largely depend on the types of goods and services that you provide. For example, a popular loyalty scheme among coffee shops is to stamp a business card every time a purchase is made. Once a customer has bought nine coffees, they get the tenth for free. An alternative option might be to introduce a scheme where a customer receives bonus points every time they spend money, such as a point for every pound spent. Once a certain target has been reached, you could offer a cash-back incentive, such as a five pound discount once they have accrued 100 points.
A successful loyalty scheme has to be worthwhile for both the customer and the business. If the rewards are not sufficiently enticing, then they will not encourage new customers. Stamped business cards are easy to implement but potentially simple to forge – ensure your company uses a custom-designed stamp to prevent fraud. It is also difficult to monitor the success of a paper-based system such as this. Another option is to subscribe to a company that specialises in providing digital loyalty systems. These utilise new technology such as smartphones and swipe cards. Not only do these make it much easier to track customer data and assess the efficacy of your loyalty scheme, but they give even small businesses a high-end, professional feel.
Implementing a loyalty scheme is easier than you might think and can lead to great rewards for both your customers and your business.