10 Cool Apps to Boost Customer Loyalty

Value-seeking customers want to be rewarded for their loyalty to your business, but they don’t want to clutter their wallets. Step up your game with these 10 amazing apps.
Contributing Writer, SmallBizTrends.com
February 11, 2013

Value-seeking customers want to be rewarded for their loyalty to your business. But they don’t want to clutter their wallets with paper punch-cards or carry dozens of plastic rewards cards on their keychains. It’s time to step up to digital loyalty rewards programs that work with today's ubiquitous mobile devices. They not only reward your customers—they also enable you to gather valuable data about your shoppers’ purchases, habits and preferences. Here are 10 of the most popular:

1. Shopkick Local:

This location-based app offers shoppers rewards simply for walking into stores and is used by major retailers including Target, Best Buy and Macy’s. Now Shopkick is adding small independent retailers to its retail program in select markets, including Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, DC.

2. LoyalBlocks:

This app also automatically provides rewards and offers to customers simply for walking into your store. Businesses register online, use an Android tablet or mobile phone as a “base station,” download the Business App, and customize the rewards (“tokens”) for their customers. Once those customers download the app to their mobile devices, the LoyalBlocks system automatically recognizes them, punches their mobile punch-cards and sends them tailored rewards every time they come in the door.

3. Belly:

The rapidly growing Belly loyalty network provides your business with an iPad that you use to track customer visits. You can scan customers’ plastic loyalty cards or they can use Passbook on their mobile phones to store their data. Belly integrates with email and social media so you (and your customers) can spread the word about your rewards program. You can also customize rewards and special offers, get data about your customers and send them targeted emails based on their actions.

4. Perka:

When customers with the Perka app check in at your business, you “punch” a virtual loyalty card through their phone from your Perka Merchant app. Perka shows you their names and status so you can greet them by name (and offer special treatment if they’re a repeat customer). There’s even private customer feedback so you can deal with complaints before they get aired on social media. Speaking of social media, Perka lets customers post check-ins and purchases to their social media accounts to spread the word about your business. And you can use data about purchases to push customized promotions to each customer.

5. Spendgo:

With this app, businesses award points for customer purchases while customers receive rewards when they reach a predefined spending threshold. It’s easy for customers to track their rewards progress either at the point-of-sale, online or on their mobile devices. Spendgo provides you with a tablet where customers enter their phone numbers at the point of sale. Or if they’re away from the POS (for example, if your restaurant provides delivery service), customers can scan a QR code on their paper receipts with their iPhones to redeem points.

6. Punchcard:

Customers download the free Punchcard app, take a photo of their receipt and tag your business to earn a punch. The more punches, the more rewards they earn. Unlike most programs, rewards are set and managed by Punchcard and include things like gift cards, free movie tickets or iPads. (It’s admittedly a little odd that you can’t reward them with things from your business, but you avoid the hassle of having to manage rewards yourself.) Punchcard also offers a range of marketing features, including the ability to find and message nearby shoppers to lure them into your business, create personalized offers or send limited-time offers.

7. Swipely

Swipely combines payment tools with loyalty rewards in a simple fashion. There’s no download required, customers just sign up by text message to earn cash-back rewards whenever they use their credit or debit cards at your business. Swipely works with any point-of-sale system and you don’t need new equipment. In addition to providing loyalty rewards, Swipely offers useful insights by providing analytics for customer spending patterns. It also provides a customized marketing program for customer outreach including mobile marketing, direct marketing, social media marketing and more.  

8. LevelUp

Like Swipely, LevelUp combines payment with loyalty. Customers download a free app to pay with their iPhone or Android (if they don’t have either of these smartphones, they can get a plastic LevelUp card). The bonus to merchants is that there are zero payment processing fees. LevelUp offers loyalty campaigns that allow you to both attract new customers with one-time incentives, and reward loyal customers with customized incentives when they spend a designated amount (for example, spend $50, get $5). The rewards don’t stop with the customers: LevelUp gives businesses rebates for every new user who makes a purchase, and rewards employees for every customer they entice to join the program.

9. SpotOn:

SpotOn provides your business with a tablet that serves as your dashboard for tracking customer check-ins, rewards and analytics. Customers download the free SpotOn app or get a SpotOn card, then scan the app or card to earn and redeem rewards and perks. Customers earn extra rewards by sharing on social media, encouraging them to spread the word about your business. You can create social, mobile and email marketing campaigns, measure results and manage your campaigns from anywhere with the tablet dashboard.

10. Foursquare:

The granddaddy of location-based rewards programs, Foursquare’s focus is on social media. Visit Foursquare to claim or add your business listing and update it to get access to free tools and analytics. When customers who use Foursquare check in to your business or search for deals and rewards, they see your updates and offers. You can set up specials to attract new customers, or offer rewards to frequent customers, top-spending customers and more. Use the free analytics tools to learn more about your customers and tailor your rewards.

Like this info? Read more about mobile apps.

Photo: shopkick

Contributing Writer, SmallBizTrends.com