The only thing better than a new customer is a repeat customer. If you can convince a customer to return again and again, they represent an ongoing income stream. What’s more, those repeat customers are far more likely to recommend your business to others. When you add all this together, a repeat customer is incredibly valuable. 

It all comes down to brand loyalty. Customers have a lot of options, so they’re always going to be looking out for the best. If you can secure their loyalty, then you’re well on your way to building a solid customer base. 

To keep customers coming back, many businesses use a loyalty programme as an incentive. These can range from simple stamp cards to loyalty apps, but they can all be effective.

How to choose a loyalty program for your business

Before deciding on a loyalty program, you should think about what sort of thing your target audience will respond to. For example: 

  • If you have a lot of elderly customers, they might not appreciate an app that they need to download and use from their phone. 
  • If you have a lot of young customers, they’re less likely to have disposable income, so an expensive premium service might not be the way to go. 

With that in mind, here are some examples of tried and tested loyalty programmes. 

Points

A points-based reward system awards your customers points every time they use your business. After saving up enough points, customers can redeem them for products, services, or discounts.

Airlines use this model to great effect, allowing customers to save up miles every time they fly. You can develop your own loyalty points programme with sites like Openloyalty and Xoxoday.

Pros:

  • Easy for customers to track.
  • Earning points can be addictive, incentivising more spending. 
  • Customers will encourage friends to visit your business so they can earn points. 

Cons:

  • A common method, so your points will need to be competitive to convince customers. 
  • Customers might lose interest if they don’t earn points quickly. 
  • The actual monetary value of points can be unclear. 

Stamp cards

A coffee shop staple, stamp cards are easy to produce and manage. Customers bring their stamp cards every time they visit your business, and after a certain number of stamps, their next one is free. 

Stamp cards aren’t just an option for physical business either. You can create digital stamp cards that work through an app if you mainly trade online. Costa recently swapped their points system for a stamp card app. 

If stamp cards sound like the way to go, you can design and create physical cards through sites like Vistaprint and Instantprint or create digital stamp card apps with services like Magicstamp and Stampme.

Pros:

  • Very simple to set up and manage.
  • Easy for customers to track progress and see the value – a free thing! 

Cons:

  • People lose their stamp cards easily. 
  • Requires more inventory to manage than digital options – you’ll need to order cards and stamps every month. 

Membership discounts

Membership programmes incentivise customers to save money by signing up for memberships. Memberships are common programmes in lifestyle industries like gyms and sports clubs. 

They basically work by offering a single-use cost and a membership cost. The single-use price is usually incredibly high compared to the membership, so it feels like a great deal from the customer’s point of view.

Pros:

  • Provides a strong incentive for customers to return. 
  • Makes customers feel like they are getting a great deal. 

Cons:

  • Higher single-entry costs can dissuade one-off customers. 
  • Customers might cancel the membership entirely after not using it for a while. 

Tiered

A tiered loyalty programme works in a very similar way to a normal membership programme, but it offers different levels of rewards and benefits.

For example, you might have three membership levels, like standard, silver, and gold, then allow different privileges to higher-level customers. This method relies on exclusivity, so you need to make sure the benefits of each tier are worth the extra money.

The major difference between tiered reward programmes is how customers achieve each level. The simplest method is to offer different tiers for increasing amounts. 

Alternatively, you could mix it with a points system, allowing customers to achieve different levels after earning so many points. 

Pros:

  • Different levels tiers allow customers to choose between price points. 
  • Customers enjoy a sense of community and privilege that comes with belonging to an exclusive club. 

Cons:

  • It might end up alienating lower-income customers. 
  • Difficult to balance different tiers – lower-tier customers can’t feel like they’re missing out too much, but higher-tier customers need to feel like they’re getting enough value to justify the price. 

Partnership programmes

If you can partner up with another business, both can offer rewards for the other. It’s a win-win strategy. Either they come to you and get a bonus for your partner, or they go to your partner and get a bonus for you. 

Pros:

  • Mutually beneficial for both businesses. 
  • Free advertising from your partner. 

Cons:

  • Finding a relevant partner can be difficult. 
  • Your public image will be tied to the partner business. 

Freemium vs premium

This one is almost like the inverse of a membership programme. Most free services, like Spotify and Youtube, offer a free service as standard. The only downside is that you have to watch a certain number of ads now and again. 

Customers are then offered a premium membership, allowing them to use the same service, ad-free. Instead of offering a bonus, you essentially give customers an inconvenience and then remove it for a price. 

Pros:

  • If customers don’t pay for a premium membership, you’ll still make money from ad revenue. 

Cons:

  • Striking a balance can be difficult. Many customers are happy to sit through ads, so you might not get enough sign-ups. At the same time, excessive “ad walls” are enough to turn a lot of customers off. 

Prize draws

A good old fashioned raffle-style prize draw is still a totally viable option. It’s a popular option for many online content creators as a way to increase engagement. 

Pros:

  • No downside for customers – it’s not based on spending, and anybody can win. 

Cons:

  • Doesn’t actually incentivise repeat customers for your business – they can enter the prize draw and never come back.
  • You need to supply prizes. 

Combinations

When looking for a loyalty programme for your business, you’re not necessarily limited to one type or another. Actually, many businesses use a combination of several methods. For example:

  • Tesco Clubcards give you a discount on certain items while letting you earn points for further deals in the future. 
  • British Airways have a points system as well as an executive club. 

Manage your income with accounting software

Loyal customers will lead to more revenue for your business, and you can easily manage that revenue with Countingup.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. 

Get real time cash flow insights to see exactly what’s in your business account at any time. Then, create profit and loss projections to see how every transaction affects your long-term finances. 

Receive live tax estimates based on your earnings and expenses, so you’ll know exactly how much to set aside for tax season. Then, easily share all the relevant information with your accountant.

Start your three-month free trial today. 

Find out more here.

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