Interested in starting a customer loyalty program? It can be a great way to show customers that they’re valued – and encourage them to come back to give you even more business.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started to make sure your program is accessible and easy to use for your customers.

Loyalty Punch Cards

If you want to get your feet wet as you explore the idea of a loyalty program, try the traditional “punch card” method. Design a card, print and distribute to customers. After a designated number of punches – or stamps, etc. – offer a free item or discount. There are a few drawbacks to this low-tech approach, though: You won’t be able to track information about your customers (as opposed to a digital approach) and you’re completely reliant on customers carrying their cards – and remembering they have them!

Opt-In Programs

Another route you can take is to ask customers for their email addresses for a simple “sign up for offers/rewards”-type program. Either online through social media or in stores while they’re making purchases, you can let customers know that they’ll receive special offers available exclusively to those who sign up. You don’t have to gather a ton of personal information, and it’s quick, so customers are likelier to jump on board. This is convenient for them and works out for you, too, because you’ll be able to track the efforts of any email campaigns you do in the future.

Digital Days

Although not all your customers may have a great deal of digital know-how, many of them do – and it’s becoming more important that you cater to the growing mobile loyalty trend. There are even apps that your small business can use to help (and some are free). Does your business already use a mobile payment platform? Many are now integrating loyalty programs into their offerings. Check out what’s available and be on the lookout for services that offer social media integration – making it easy for customers to share a note about great experience and even earn points for likes, shares and online reviews.

Keep It Real

As you think about starting a loyalty program, be considerate of what your customers will actually find valuable – there’s no “one size fits all” approach for all businesses. Observe customer trends and listen to what they say so you’ll be able to think of ways to make your incentives and rewards as unique as your business. For instance, freebies don’t always appeal to everyone, so offering something like a discounted service or workshop may be a better way to go.

Whatever means you choose – from a print-and-punch card to app integration – should be based on what makes the most business sense for you and your customers. Take a look around to learn how you can customize a program to make your customers more loyal than ever.

About the Author(s)

U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses.

U.S. Small Business Administration
Shop Owner with Loyal Customer