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How can I reward my regular customers?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013 | By Debra Templar

I’ve got a group of regular customers and want to reward them with some sort of loyalty program. What works best when you launch this kind of initiative?


Small businesses rely on word-of-mouth to bring customers through their doors. But once the word has reached their ears, it's keeping them listening that truly counts.


You can raise the volume of your voice with a customer loyalty program. Launching one will help you reward good customers, track shoppers' purchase history and increase foot traffic during slow periods.


How can you do this?


Identify your best customers


Before launching a rewards program for loyal customers, you should collect information – via a database that tracks visits and spending – to help you assess who those customers are.


Analyse customer data to find out who your most profitable customers are, and market your program especially to them. Many point of sale systems enable you to capture this information as you and your staff ring up the cash register.


Choose a rewards system


Popular rewards programs include frequent buyer clubs and loyalty cards that reward advance purchases, repeat visits or expensive buys with discounts, cash back, store credit, gifts and prizes, free merchandise or special upgrades.


There are a number of loyalty programs on the market that vary according to the business sector you operate in. I suggest you ask your friends and colleagues what loyalty programs they belong to and, more importantly, which one/s they appreciate and value and why. You'll quickly learn what works and what doesn't.


Marketing your program


Invite your best customers to join your loyalty program via direct mail, such as a postcard, or online, via email. Mention it in your regular advertisements and PR efforts, as well.


Measure results


Set goals for your loyalty program and monitor progress regularly to determine how it is impacting sales. Measure increases in revenue and track the number of sales made to registered customers.


Revisit and revise


Monitor enrolment in your program over time and take regular surveys of your customers to find out what is driving their purchases. As customers evolve, your program should too.


Tips and tactics

  • Reward customers who enrol in your program immediately with bonus points or extra discounts; the promise of instant rewards will encourage more customers to sign up.
  • Use your loyalty program to drive purchases during slow seasons.
  • Encourage high and frequent spending when you offer rewards for purchases that exceed certain dollar amounts.
However, sometimes it’s a simple comment such as, "This purchase is on me today. I appreciate you". A genuine comment like this, out of the blue, can do more to generate loyalty than any formal loyalty program (you know it’s formal, but it comes across as informal and genuine).