Loyalty Programs. What are they? Who uses them? Do they benefit your convenience store or not? Let’s learn more about them together and see how they can better work with you and your business.
July 27, 2016 | Competing in the Technological Age of Loyalty
Can consumers be loyal to your company or brand anymore? What incentives persuade a millennial to be loyal to your company? Do loyalty programs actually increase sales, or is the end result that you pay more for your most loyal consumers? Once you start a loyalty program, can you shut it down, or would that upset your best customers? [Keep Reading at CSNews.com]
According to Investopedia.com, a loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a company to customers who frequently make purchases. Such loyalty programs may offer free merchandise, rewards, coupons or advance released products.
I am a member of over 20 loyalty programs! Some of them are great and others are nothing special. Why do I join them? I mostly join for the initial pitch–the 20% off or free item at next purchase. And, let’s be honest, they make me feel special–like I am in some sort of secret club. However, after the initial pitch, they lose interest and get lost in my purse. What is it about the select few that bring me back for more?
Do’s and Don’ts of Loyalty Programs
Do Define Your Goals 
What is the point of the loyalty program? Not all businesses need or gain benefits from having one. Be sure you can answer the question, WHY before you decide to start one. An undefined goal will lead your program to losing focus and become useless to both you and your customers.
Do Undestand Your Capabilities and Options 
What can you gain? What do your customers want? What will keep them coming back again? Overreaching will lead you to not being able to hit your goals (as defined above); make sure that your goals align with what you’re able to accomplish–either through staff, budget, or technology, adjusting as necessary.
Do Prepare and Test Your Program 
Don’t launch your first idea. Prepare for the launch and test market to get customer feedback. You might think “buy 20 fountain sodas, get 10% off your 21st” is a good idea, but your customers are unlikely to agree. Make sure you’ve got something your customers will want before you launch.
Don’t Over Communicate 
Don’t bombard your customers with information overload. If your loyalty program includes e-blasts or text messaging, you’ll need to find the sweet-spot between “too often” and “infrequent.” The last thing you want to hear or see is “unsubscribe me” because you’re overloading your customers inboxes by emailing them 7 days a week; but you also don’t want to sporadically message them every two or three months. You should have a regular schedule that works for your customers.
Don’t Group Everyone Together 
Your loyalty program needs to be specifically targeted towards the customer; boomers or millennials, and not generic. Messaging that works for millennials may not necessarily work for an older audience.
Don’t Over-Complicate 
Keep it simple. When a program confuses the customer, they are less likely to use it or recommend it. Keep your goals in mind and that should help guide how you communicate how simple your program is.
What’s Trending In Loyalty?
As you can expect, mobile engagement is linked with higher loyalty program satisfaction. SHEETZ is the top Gas & Convenience leader in loyalty; their program might inspire how you prepare and think about what your program could be. The 2016 Bond Loyalty Report came out earlier this summer, and reports that “that 81% of consumers are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs.” That’s a huge number! However, the number of “very satisfied” respondents was only 22%; that means that programs could be better engaged with their customers .
What will you do to help your customers get the most of our your program?
As a customer or convenience store proprietor, we’d love for you to tell us about your experience with loyalty programs. Let us know what works best for you in the comments below.