Ever since the invention of the frequent flyer mile, we’ve been hooked on points, cash-back and membership clubs. We are all consumers, after all.
Meanwhile, almost every business wants loyal, repeat customers. If you own a small online boutique or a brick-and-mortar storefront, you've probably considered a frequent buyer incentive program. I often see the simple punch or stamp card method of loyalty at coffee shops: “Buy 10 Lattes, Get One Free.”
There are cash rebate systems, points-based programs, tiered customer VIP status and membership “clubs” like Costco or Sam’s Club. More recently, Amazon’s Prime service allows customers to pay $79 per year to get free shipping all the time, among other perks.
If you're considering starting a customer loyalty program, here are four you’ll want to take a closer look at:
This smart app for iPhone and Android is a digital stamp card, as its name implies. Of course, it's a bit more elegant than that small printed card and gives you the ability to interact with your customer. It's a robust marketing platform with plans starting at $59/month.
Sounds like a cousin to Farmville and it should be on Facebook, right? Well, it can help you with social media, but it's a well thought out reward program. It works with different point-of-sale systems, tablets or just by computer. There's a free level account with up to 50 transactions, then plans start at $19/month. OPEN Forum’s Stephanie Miles has reviewed Perkville in-depth.
This almost didn’t make the list because most of my readers know I want to see transparent pricing on a company website. Belly doesn’t offer any, but the marketing copy implies it's a turnkey custom solution—meaning they set everything up to help you get started. They even ship you an iPad with the system ready to go. Various forums claim it starts at $50/month.
This is a cash-back system that works with all POS systems. Merchants define the rewards/incentives, and Swipely tracks customer transactions and funds are deposited into their Swipely accounts when reward thresholds are reached. No info on pricing on the site; you have to fill out a Web form. According to the site, “Swipely can be implemented at no additional cost.” Sounds too good to be true, so buyer beware.
If you've found a better way to help your fellow small-business owners, please share it in the comments below.
HubSpot, the inbound marketing experts, has one of my favorite posts on loyalty programs: 7 Customer Loyalty Programs That Actually Add Value. It explains the different approaches including excellent mini case studies to illustrate.
Monika Jansen writes at the Network Solutions GrowSmartBiz blog about six loyalty programs, two of which I had on a short list. If you want more options, read her excellent post: 6 Loyalty Rewards Programs for Small Businesses.