If you’ve spent years wishing you had better metrics to gauge your customers’ likes and desires, or if you’ve always wanted to provide some extra benefits for your most loyal customers, you may want to make 2017 the year you finally establish a rewards program for your business. Fortunately, with the ever-rapid changes in technology, there are already a number of established rewards programs that can be easily incorporated into your existing retail systems for a seamless transition to the consumer.
However, before selecting a rewards program or software model, it’s important to set clear goals and expectations for what you hope to achieve – whether increased sales across the board, more repeat customers, more online sales, or the ability to target certain products and specials to customers based on their past shopping choices. Read on to learn more about some of the marketing and profitability goals you’ll want to identify before launching a rewards program, as well as the specific types of rewards programs that can best help you achieve these goals.
What goals should you have in implementing a rewards program for your business?
Ultimately, the goal of most businesses is to improve profitability – however, there are a variety of very different ways to do so, and the most effective tactics may vary by business. Some goals common to the most popular customer rewards programs include:
- Getting people in the door for specials on a slow day
Certain days of the week or times of year will always be lower volume than others, and if you don't have the option to offer flexible staffing hours (sending workers home without pay during slow times or offering only part-time schedules), boosting your foot or website traffic and sales volume during these slow periods can help you cover your overhead and put more profit away during busier times.
- Getting customers to spend more with each transaction
There are a number of odd physical and psychological quirks you can use to entice customers to spend more money, from stocking your shop with sun lamps (boosting the price a customer was willing to pay for tea by nearly 40 percent) to utilizing a Smart POS like the Clover Mini so that customers can effortlessly swipe their plastic rather than part from their hard-earned cash.
- Getting customers to refer friends
Even better than repeat customers are groups of repeat customers -- and using programs that reward your customers for referring their friends for a purchase can be a great way to generate buzz while also boosting your profits. Even if just 1 of every 4 or 5 customers takes advantage of this offer, this can still boost the total number of customers passing through your business by 20 percent or more.
- Getting customers to post online reviews (preferably after a positive experience!)
It is important not to advertise (or practice) customer rewards for only positive reviews -- doing so can instantly sever the trust you've built with the public. On the other hand, posting polite and helpful feedback or assistance to negative online reviews (and offering a reward regardless of the content or rating of the review) can provide you with invaluable insight into your customers' varied experiences.
What rewards programs can best help you achieve your stated goals?
Rewards programs don't need to be complex -- and while the Clover Station can make matching customers with their rewards as simple as entering a phone number or email address, you can operate a rewards program with something as simple as a paper business card.
- Points per purchase
A simple award of points for each dollar spent (with redemption in the form of a discount or free product) or a "buy nine, get the tenth free!" promotion can be an easy way to encourage customers to sign up -- giving you their email address, cell number, and other information you can use for marketing purposes (after obtaining the requisite permissions).
- Partnerships with other companies
If there are other businesses or organizations in your community that offer a complementary service, partnering with them to offer discounts or reciprocity can be a win-win. For example, if you own a sporting goods store near a major college campus, offering a discount to those who come in wearing a school t-shirt or sweatshirt can help the school's own branding while encouraging college students to patronize your store rather than buying online.
- Games or sweepstakes
Social media has made it much easier to engage customers and potential customers in these types of games -- whether awarding prizes for those who can correctly answer questions about the history of your business to offering rewards to anyone who posts a picture on your website of themselves eating, wearing, or otherwise enjoying your product.
How can social media interface with each program to grow your business?
The advent of social media has made it easier than ever before to promote your rewards program (and your business) – all without spending a dime on advertising costs. By encouraging customers to “share” your page to their followers and connections in exchange for a discount code, entrance in a raffle for free products, or other tangible benefits that won’t affect your bottom line much, you’ll be able to significantly expand your reach to populations with whom you might otherwise have trouble connecting.
Many customer rewards apps or websites include their own radio buttons with each of the most common social media websites already pre-loaded, making it simple for satisfied users to publish your reward program to their followers simply by clicking one of these buttons.
Alternatively, you can drive more traffic to your own social media profiles by offering a prize to the XXXth person to “like” your page. Posing tricky but solvable puzzles related to the product or service you offer and advertising a prize for the first correct answer can also be a good way to get customers engaged and learning more about you.