Customer loyalty can be indispensable, especially for local businesses. You probably have competitors that do what you do, so you should differentiate yourself if you want your customers to keep coming back to you. There are tons of ways to increase customer loyalty, such as by differentiating your brand voice, offering more value for a lower price or simply improving the experience each customer has as they engage with your brand.
Unfortunately, these can be difficult to execute—offering a lower price means cutting into profits, differentiating your brand voice takes time and might only have a limited effect, and “customer experience” in general is both subjective and, at times, unpredictable. Instead, you may consider using an app to establish some kind of rewards program for your most loyal customers (and attract some of your less loyal customers to come back anyway).
These seven apps have made a name for themselves for increasing customer loyalty:
Foursquare has been around for a while and may be one of the most developed location-based apps. If you head to Foursquare, you can search for your business’s listing (chances are, it’s already indexed) and claim it if you’re the owner. From there, you can provide special offers to your upcoming visitors or include rewards for visitors who frequent your location. In addition, by signing up, you can gain special access to several analytics tools and reports to help you learn more about how your business is faring, who uses your business, how often and why.
Belly’s monthly subscription service may not be appealing to businesses who want something cheap, but for $50 to $100 a month, Belly is still affordable. When you sign up, you automatically get an iPad, which you can use to help visitors “scan in” to your business with their own unique QR codes. Functioning as a loyalty program, you can then reward your most frequent visitors and encourage them to keep coming back. Some downsides may include the cost and the availability (it’s only widely adopted in major metropolitan areas).
Punchcard takes the old-school idea of a business-specific punch card and takes it to a digital level. Using the app, if a customer visits your business 10 times within six months, they can earn a gift card equal to their average purchase at that location (up to $20). Punchcard is a paid service, but can cost as low as $29 per location, depending on the features you want. You can also use the app to send personalized messages.
Similar to Punchcard, Perka can demand less customer action. All the customer has to do is “check in” to a given location, and the merchant takes responsibility for punching their virtual punch card with whatever item or items they’ve purchased. For around $35 a month, it’s a relatively cheap service—and your customers will likely want to keep coming back to your store to earn their “VIP” status within the app.
Like Belly, SpotOn will give your business a tablet that you can use to manage, track and analyze your campaign. Once your customers have downloaded the SpotOn app on their mobile devices, they’ll be able to check in on the tablet and share their experiences on social media, eventually earning more valuable perks at your establishment the more active they become. With SpotOn, you can even create small marketing campaigns to communicate socially with your active customers.
6. Shopkick Local
Shopkick Local was originally designed for major retailers, but it’s starting to catch on with smaller local businesses as well. With the app downloaded, Shopkick Local automatically checks customers in when they enter a business’s doors. Retailers can then track their customers’ habits, learn who visits them the most (and when), and reward their most valuable customers with financial incentives.
You might guess LevelUp’s core functionality based on its name alone. Once you sign up as a business, your customers can download the free LevelUp app and start checking in to your business when they make a purchase—there’s even a plastic card version for your customers who don’t own a mobile device. The more your customers visit your business, the more they can “level up,” and you can create specific loyalty rewards to give all your customers whenever they hit certain levels or milestones. As an added bonus, your business can also earn rebates for every customer it signs up to the program.
8. Bonus: Create Your Own App
Of course, if you don’t like any of these apps, or if you strive for something even more personal, you can consider creating an app of your own. If you find the right developer, you may be able to produce a quality app even on a restricted budget. The SEO value of a branded app will likely reward you in terms of online visibility. And of course, the added exposure of having your branded app downloaded on your customers’ phones and tablets may lead to even more sales and customer loyalty.
With these apps, you should be able to keep up with increasing competition in the realm of customer loyalty. Your customers can get more for each dollar they spend with you, and your funds probably won’t be exhausted in the process. In addition to implementing one (or more) of these apps, you should take this opportunity to review your overall customer experience—the more unique, exciting factors you can offer your customers, the more likely they’ll be to return to you.
Read more articles about customer engagement.