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Creative Customer Loyalty Program Ideas That Bring in Customers

Grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, casinos, hotels, airlines: the list and variety of organizations offering customer loyalty programs is seemingly endless. Look at the keychain of the average person, and you can expect to see at least one loyalty program mini-card hanging from it. With so much competition, how will you make yours stand out from the pack? If you take a creative approach to your loyalty reward program, both you and your customers reap the rewards.

Setting up Your Program

Start by looking at how you communicate with your customers. Obviously, a welcome email or text message when the customer first signs on is standard, but what about future messages? Personalizing those not only increases the value to the customer, but it also offers a chance to upsell. For example, if you run a clothing store and a customer buys a prom dress, your email should include deals on accessories. This kind of specialized communication should go out within 24 hours of the customer's visit.

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Setting up your points system also presents a few challenges. The goal is attainable goals for your customers to work toward, but not so easy-to-achieve that its cost is prohibitive for you. In other words, the "carrot" you dangle should be attractive and attainable, but cost-effective for you. For example, cafes and sandwich shops typically offer customers a freebie after X number of purchases.

Offer Customers Creative Ways to Earn Points

The average customer loyalty program awards points based on number of visits or dollars spent, because it is an effective reward system. Follow what works, but don't limit yourself to this dollars spent system. Instead, supplement it with extra rewards and promotions that help spread awareness of your brand. You grow customer loyalty while finding potential new customers, win-win!

One of the most effective ways to do this is through social media. Offer points when customers share their experiences with your brand on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform (you should be on all of them). These posts have the potential to reach thousands of people.

Another popular option is awarding program members birthday gifts. Send an email before their birthday that includes either a physical gift (such as a low-margin freebie), an award of points, or a discount on their next purchase. You can do the same thing on the anniversary date of their membership with your loyalty program.

Random dates also work for these kinds of promotions. In fact, every day represents some kind of funny, interesting holiday, and most days have more than one! Choose six of them and offer a special promotion, relevant to your business, every other month. Do you own a bookstore? August 9 is Book Lovers Day, so offer every loyalty program member who visits your store that day a free bookmark. Own an arts and crafts store? October 25 is International Artists Days, so offer your members discounted art supplies. There are literally hundreds of holidays for you to choose from.

Stir Up Their Competitive Instincts

A tiered system serves as motivation for a lot of people. The same logic behind credit card companies' introduction of gold and platinum cards decades ago applies to your rewards program today. You can either offer many different tiers – such as bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – or create a single upper tier, or VIP class. Reaching each tier typically involves the customer hitting a spending threshold, determined by the type of business you operate. In other words, don't make hitting the second tier reliant on spending $1,000 if you operate a small coffee shop. Like the initial carrots offered, it must feel like an attainable goal, or your customers won't bother.

You can take this a step further by recognizing your biggest spender of the month as your Customer of the Month on your webpage and in social media. One likely secondary benefit is that customer sharing this news on his or her feed, as well. You don't have to state that the reason is for spending the most money when honoring the award, of course.

Of course, one part of implementing a tiered program is greater reward and benefits for customers in the top tiers. This may take the form of special offers, greater discounts, and more freebies.

Breeding Loyalty with Creativity

Your customer loyalty program gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers and prove how much you appreciate their patronage. After all, you likely have loads of competition, meaning your customers have plenty of choices. Make sure they know how grateful you are that they chose your business.

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