Too many businesses have overly complicated rewards programs which limit customer sign-ups and engagement, leading to over spending and questionable results. I have some simple advice from over 25 years of Loyalty program experience: Keep It Simple People!! (I just couldn’t bring myself to call anyone stupid)
1. Leverage Word of Mouth
Too often, businesses over-spend on communications and advertising without taking advantage of their best asset: customers. Creating a positive experience at every point of contact - a simple thank you for being a rewards member, providing an unexpected offer, discount or gift, and a heartfelt personal acknowledgment for their patronage - will get you ten times better return on investment than a program flyer lost on your counter.
I recommend to all of my clients a well laid out, word-of-mouth campaign integrated into their rewards program launch plan. It’s easy and mostly free!
2. Choice is Key to Your Rewards Offering
Many rewards programs I've seen limit the number of items a member can earn to only 5-7 items in each point-earning tier. While this might be great if you have 50 tiers, it would be a nightmare to communicate this to your customers. Typical convenience stores carry about 2,500 different products per store, so if you have 5-7 reward items in each tier with a typical 3-tier structure, that means you are providing less than 1% of your offering to your best customers! This is a huge turn-off for your customers.
I have also seen programs that choose little-known items, highly discounted by manufactures that are looking to promote a struggling product, as their only reward options. Shame on the store owners for trying to save a buck at the expense of providing decent options for their best customers! Your most loyal customers deserve the ability to choose between a good selection of well-liked products....so don't be cheap!
3. Go Digital - Save the Planet (and Some Cash)
Research shows that no one likes carrying rewards cards and key tags. In fact, our survey shows that less than 13% of members actually have their card on them at the time of purchase. Today’s best practices allow customers to enroll by simply texting a small word or phrase to a special short code and just like that: You are enrolled. More importantly, your cell phone number is your membership number and nobody needs to worry about potentially forgetting it!
This saves you thousands of dollars on plastic cards that never get used anyway, so you pennypinchers from above can now offer better rewards. Even more importantly, customers respond to text offers six times more often than email promo offers. Some of our clients see 80% or more responses to their promotional texts! Oh, and BTW…Customers love how easy it is. :)
4. Empower Employees with Excellent Training
Frontline employees will make or break your program. Do not launch or operate a program without proper training and a full buy-in from your frontline staff. I wouldn't even bother launching your program if you have not put ample thought into this key cornerstone of a good customer engagement program.
Train them on process, provide cheat-sheets for enrolling and engaging customers, inform them on how the program helps them and the company, and reward them for good behavior. This is by far your best investment dollar for a rewards program.
5. Benchmark for Success
Create for yourself measures for success other than just number of members or ROI. Consider measuring things like rewards-member transactions vs non-member transactions, promotional response rates, and redemption rates. For some great qualitative measures, you can assess Social Media interactions, customer satisfaction, and even employee satisfaction with the program and how they view your business.
There are so many ways to keep a program simple and cost effective but it requires some thoughtful planning and understanding of you and your customers' needs.
As always, if you have a question or want to learn more, I would love to talk and set you on a path that is right for you. Feel free to send any questions to me at email@example.com or click below. I am also offering a free program design for our blog readers as well!