3 Creative Ways to Reward Loyal Customers

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Repeat customers to your small business are like perennial foundation plants of a garden. Once they get established, they yield big returns. Loyal customers also let you grow your business with less effort than if you had to cultivate every customer anew. Curious about how to reward loyal customers? Consider a loyalty rewards program. A Forrester Research survey found that loyalty program members spent about $40 more than nonmembers over three months. Loyalty members also report a higher-rated customer experience, according to the survey. These top customers not only buy more from a business, but they also become word-of-mouth brand ambassadors.

Often, the biggest challenge in implementing a reward program is determining what will keep your customers happy while your bottom line stays healthy. Here are three ideas for customer loyalty programs that can grow a small business without breaking the bank.

1. Punch Card

We’re all familiar with those hole-punched cards that let customers earn points with each purchase, eventually leading to a free item, a special discount or perhaps a gift card. A simple punch card reward system can work especially well for a retail store or restaurant.

Let’s say you own a sandwich shop that’s popular with workers from nearby stores and office buildings. A reward card that provides them with a free lunch every few months can be a good way to show your appreciation. It will also give those regulars an extra incentive to choose your eatery over other options — and maybe bring along a friend who becomes a new customer.

2. Mobile Rewards

These days, loyalty points are often integrated with a POS system and rewarded by scanning a code on a customer’s smartphone. Mobile loyalty apps make it easier to target certain customer segments and customize your offerings to them, according to Forbes. Customizing the program will cost a bit more, but it can pay off in increased customer engagement and the collection of valuable data to benefit your marketing and sales efforts.

Some reward apps and software programs enable customers to track their points and discounts online. That convenient feature may motivate them to do more business with you so they can get their rewards faster.

Coffee shop rewards loyal customers with mobile rewards program

3. VIP Experience

Free and discounted products aren’t the only options for small business owners rewarding loyal clientele. Customers also love getting access to special services and events.

For example, if you own a beauty salon with a roster of faithful clients who never miss a weekly appointment, consider treating them to a free makeover or manicure. Maybe you could offer a hairstyling class to select clientele, or tickets to a local fashion show or cultural event to a handful of your biggest customers.

For other types of businesses, the VIP rewards can include sneak previews of scheduled retail sales and free design services or discounted material upgrades for landscaping and construction business clients who repeatedly do major projects.

Finally, customer loyalty programs for small business owners shouldn’t cut too deeply into the sales revenue they hope to gain. But a modest upfront investment can often pay off big, especially when the program is tailored to the clientele.

Knowing how to reward loyal customers starts with getting to know the customers themselves. To maximize participation and increase sales, look for ways to provide your best customers with the kinds of perks they value most.

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