Do you want to raise your profit margin while simultaneously getting to know your valued customers better? Creating a loyalty program can accomplish both of these goals. Thanks to today’s point-of-sale solutions, keeping the program going once you get it up and running is just a matter of a few clicks and some regular maintenance. Here are the main elements you will need if you are going to make your loyalty program shine:
Customers need to be motivated to join your program. After all, doing so involves some time as well as providing information such as their phone number or email address. In this age of endless spam, it’s your job to convince your patrons that signing up for your loyalty program is in their best interest.
You need to understand how to set up, maintain and grow your program. As we said above, your POS can be an indispensable part of your loyalty mechanism, but that is only true if you know how to use it. When in doubt, contact your payment processing company to get some training. Any vendor worth their salt will be more than happy to assist you. After all, your success leads to more profits for them.
Core Elements for Tracking Data
Your program is only as good as the tools you have in place to monitor it:
- Website membership. When your customer becomes a preferred member on your site, they can take advantage of exclusive specials and promotions. Meanwhile, you gain access to their all-important contact information for your database.
- Mobile app. When your website is optimized for mobile traffic, you can capture a whole new tier of customers. Combine that with your own app, and you can take things to the next level. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of developing an application; it’s not as hard as you think. Better yet, there are plenty of professionals who would be more than willing to develop one for you. It just might be worth the investment.
- Your POS system comes packed with customer loyalty program-building tools. If you’re nervous about launching a program, set up a pilot for just family and friends. You’ll be a pro before you know it.
- Call center. Provide your customers another way to do business with you even when they cannot come to your physical store. Beware, however, of a call center whose staff is impersonal or hard to understand. The optimal call center experience is fast, friendly and task-oriented. Make sure representatives are trained to motivate customers to join your loyalty program.
- Social Media Management Tools. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or the platform du jour, harness the power of social media. Reward your loyal customers for writing reviews and taking and sharing photos that feature your business.
- Customer Databases. These are the beating heart of your loyalty program. Work hard to maintain and grow your database with active customers. Use the database to tell you if a regular customer hasn’t bought anything for awhile. Then take a few minutes to contact them personally with an enticing offer.
- Digital Marketing Engagement. Today’s technology affords you numerous opportunities to keep your customers active and engaged. Take advantage of them all – email, social media, mobile app and location-based messages – to invite customers to stop by for a special sale or discount.
- Analytics Tools. Your POS isn’t just a database manager. It also enables you to generate sales reports that show what products are selling and which ones aren’t. You can also use online analytics tools to tell you how many visitors are coming to your website and how many are clicking away without making a purchase.
GETTING LEVERAGE AND MAXIMIZING BENEFITS
- Obtain customer intelligence that informs decisions. The more you know about the people who frequent your online or brick-and-mortar store, the better able you will be to tailor products and services to meet their needs. As part of your customer loyalty program, you might try generating a survey, complete with incentives to fill it out, that asks these very questions. The information you receive can turn into marketing gold.
- Use the information gained from analytics to refine your product line as well as your marketing programs. When loyal customers feel listened to, it reinforces their positive buying behaviors. What’s more, they tend to spread the word in a positive way about your store.
- Get to know your customers. Without a personal relationship, even the best marketing schemes can fall flat. People can quickly discern between fake and genuine interest in their needs. It takes time, but the power of the personal touch can never be overestimated.
- Make your rewards program easy for customers. When people can quickly see their status and track their loyalty points, they are far more likely to spend what it takes to get to the next tier or reward.
- Award points in real time. Whether it’s a punch of a card or a printout on a receipt, people like to see what they have earned right away.
- In the spirit of simplicity, eliminate fine print or confusing conditions from your loyalty program. All these do is create the misperception that you want to worm your way out of providing the awards your customers deserve.
- Market your rewards system to potential customers. If they don’t know it exists, how can they possibly sign up for it? In this case, their ignorance is your loss as well as theirs.
- Send reward notifications to your customers. When they have reached a tier or earned a discount or prize, celebrate with them via email or a notification on their mobile app. It’s a great way to get them to come back and spend money.
- Make the rewards system relevant to customers. Do some research to learn what your most sought-after products are. Then make discounting them an intrinsic part of your customer loyalty program. Make rewards meaningful, useful and of interest to your customers, and it’s a virtual guarantee that they will jump on the bandwagon.
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Pillars of a Successful Loyalty Program – An infographic by the team at Total Merchant Services