With the popularity of Amazon Prime increasing, striving small businesses are trying to compete by running paid membership programs, which create a new type of loyalty. So what is a loyalty program and how can running a “Prime-style” loyalty program benefit your business?

memberships

There are many types of loyalty programs on the market but in a traditional sense, the basis for a loyalty program is a customer earns points for spending and redeems a reward when a point target is reached. Therefore encouraging the customer to visit more regularly or increase their spending habits.  

Historically these loyalty programs have been executed by paper or plastic cards due to ease of use.  With the increasing use of technology and smartphones, today’s version of a loyalty program can include features like points being viewed in-app or marketing messages being sent via SMS. Typically these are the types of features you should find in a good quality digital loyalty platform:

  • Point balances sent in digital format (SMS, email or push)
  • Integrated into your businesses point-of-sale
  • The ability to send marketing messages via the platform
  • Auto-promotions for customer segments

Point-based loyalty points programs work well for cafes and quick service restaurants – venues where customers generally shop at a variety of places yet you still want to be at the top of their list of choices.

membershipsDigital Loyalty has evolved very quickly due to the advancements in the way customers consume digital content. Now we look at smartphones as a digital wallet or even our own shopping mall. Online shopping, Apple Pay, Amazon’s “one-click” purchase, and Amazon Prime have all driven us to enjoy fewer clicks, less hassle and basically doing less of anything.

So where does this leave small retailers? There’s still a place for independents as there are 22 million small businesses in the US, it’s just there is more pressure for business owners to add digital to their in-store experience. The combination of consumers going wallet-less along with the popularity of Amazon Prime is what has led businesses to use a “Prime-style” loyalty platform. In essence, a customer is charged a recurring fee and the business offers special rewards or benefits in return. Some features can include:

  • Setting up memberships and recurring payments directly from your point-of-sale
  • Tracking abilities for used rewards/benefits
  • Send promotions to VIP members to make them feel valued
  • Declined cards management

The icing on the cake is that all of this drives recurring revenues and leaves little up to chance when trying to strive for growth in a business.  Membership programs work particularly well where there is a great deal of competition and the customer should be regularly purchasing your product/service.

memberships

The best vertical example using this type of software is car washes, for example charging $30/month for unlimited car washes. Membership programs can be used for unlimited rewards or a set amount of benefits within a billing period. Wine clubs, golf clubs, coffee shops, nail, tanning, hair and beauty salons, in particular, are also using membership platforms to run their Prime loyalty programs. Great membership examples in these verticals are:

  • $39.95/month for two premium bottles of wine a month
  • $119/month for 4 Deluxe facials per month and 15% off all products all of the time
  • $70/month for unlimited blow-outs or men’s shaving
  • $45/month for nail paint with shellac on toes and hands per month. As many touch-ups as required.

As far as small businesses go in surviving long-term, a digital loyalty strategy is a must – it’s just investing in an affordable product that can execute steady growth for the business and be so downright easy you would be lost without it.

So maybe these aren’t accurate statistics but it’s a fairly good assumption to say that every customer loves freebies. The definition of a “freebie” is something given or received without charge and we’re telling you that your business should give more of them away.  These types of giveaways are important in a business’ marketing and sales strategy, but it needs to be executed effectively and with the right objective.

freebies-campaignYou might be surprised as to the insights behind giving away free goods. Logically the expectation is that customers will walk in, take their free stuff and run, but in fact the opposite occurs. Take 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day for example; Slurpee sales were boosted by 38% when they offered free small Slurpees to every customer for one day of the year. Surprisingly, attendees of the Free Slurpee Day were sampling the free size and then upgrading to a larger size. Offering a freebie simulates a “try before you buy” selling technique but without any rules or obligation. This alternative method makes customers feel relaxed about making their own choices to purchase more.

freebies-campaignGreat times to offer freebies are when you are releasing a new product, when you need an aid in up-selling/cross-selling or simply looking for a new way to market your business.  Right now you are probably looking at your income and wondering how much you can afford to give away for this kind of campaigns. In reality giving away free items is a great PR stunt for large companies and they can reach far more consumers than any SMB can. So how do you run a freebie campaign without losing out?

Here’s some alternatives:

  1. Give away free smaller items with the purchase of larger items
  2. Run a contest where customers must make a purchase to enter the competition
  3. Implement a loyalty program, remembering to promote and celebrate your first day of launch in-store
  4. Market a “freebie” hour, rather than an entire day

freebies-campaignEffectively, you want either new customers coming in and becoming regulars or enticing current customers to come in and spend more with you by trying something different. Today’s consumers have a world of choice at their fingertips, so empower your customers to make the right decision by choosing you each time.

There are so many different types of loyalty platforms on the market that it can become confusing as a business owner when implementing the right program. Everyone is so conditioned to seeing what works for big retailers as well, that it is easy to assume that what works for them will work in the SMB world…wrong. Let’s have a look at some of the misconceptions happening in the SMB loyalty space.

Customers love marketing emails

loyalty-program-misconceptionsNo…they really don’t, do you love receiving hundreds of emails every day? It takes a very special kind of email to blow email open rates out of the water. Mailchimp says, on average SMB email campaigns average an open rate of 21.53% and that’s by creating outstanding email campaigns, but that’s just an open rate.  For a customer to actually take action on this email is far less. Think before you implement a loyalty program that focuses purely on email and email marketing campaigns, as you may not see the return on investment you are looking for.

 

loyalty-program-misconceptionsCustomers will do anything you tell them to do

Wrong again, it’s incredibly hard to get a customer to behave in a certain way, so don’t leave it up to them. There are plenty of loyalty programs that require a customer to take action in signing up to a loyalty program. They may have to go to a website and sign up or keep a paper or plastic card in their wallet or it may even be scanning a QR code when they arrive in-store. Think about the customer and how much of an inconvenience this is for them. The best advice is removing the friction from the sign-up process and doing it for them, that way you stay in control & don’t leave it up to them to decide.

Birthday offers will generate a tonne of revenue

loyalty-program-misconceptionsTotally false again! We’re not saying it’s going to be a total flop but think about what you personally do on your Birthday. You either celebrate with your loved ones maybe have a party at home and in most cases, your friends will take you out for dinner to a place that they think is nice or to your favourite restaurant. In any of these cases, your small business will probably lose out. Now think about it again, is it really worth running Birthday offers in-store?

Reminder: Focus your energies on the things you can control & don’t leave the rest up to chance

SMS marketing works!

This is only half true, it certainly works but remember the saying “too much of a good thing is bad.” SMS campaigns work because they are short, snappy and grab a customer’s attention immediately but if you bug a customer with predictable and constant SMS messages, all you are going to do is make them “opt out.” Make it exciting and keep promotional campaigns between 2 – 4 times a month.

loyalty-program-misconceptions

 

Loyalzoo – who the heck is Loyalzoo?…well you would like to know wouldn’t you?

For a start, we’re a London-based business with a global footprint. We support independent retailers and small chains and eateries and all those places which are the basis of your local community. Loyalty is our business. Keeping high streets and communities thriving and buzzing is the brilliant outcome of our digital platform.  

meet-loyalzoo

We’re definitely the most unique digital loyalty solution in the UK and our ambition is to be the number one choice for SMBs. This week we’re throwing open our doors and holding an investor meet & greet where we’ll be serving Loyalzoo cocktails and treats for our guests. Would you like to come along? You can sign up for the event here on Eventbrite.

You’ll be able to get to know the team behind the brand; Massimo Sirolla the Co-founder & CEO of Loyalzoo, who knows  his retail and loyalty business will be on hand along with Mark Ryan – Co-founder & non-executive director, Rhiannon Barnes – Growth & engagement manager, Andrew Campbell – Chief Technology Officer, and Iain Watt – Full stack developer. So if you’re interested in finding out about our typical customer, how we came to be or our plans for the future – someone will definitely be able to fill you in.

We also have major plans for the business which is why we’re raising a big £500,000 investment at the moment. A large part of this is through our third crowdfunding campaign which is now live on Seedrs and has started off with a bang. For more information, head to www.seedrs.com/loyalzoo3

If you’re an existing, new or potential investor, come along and meet the team to hear our story and our plans. We look forward to welcoming you.

Happy staff = happy customers

Have you ever had the worst customer service ever? It ruins your day and you walk out of the store fuming. Now have you been served by an absolutely outstanding staff member and their customer service is next level? How amazing does it feel?  Now that’s what helps create loyalty! Maybe it’s time to reflect on your businesses environment and start making some positive changes to motivate staff.

Reward employees for great performance

motive staffIt’s one thing to congratulate the team as a whole but individually rewarding staff for hard work is a great tactic.  It means those who go above and beyond feel appreciated and it makes underperforming staff realise they too can work just that little bit harder.  A few great ways to do this is by:

Note: make sure to reward for various types of work, otherwise you may just end up rewarding the same staff members over and over again.

Incentivise using food to motivate staff

motivate staffWell you’ve heard that food is the way to a mans heart but it’s also the way to a staff members heart. Your employees work hard and there’s nothing better than shouting your team lunch. Without spending too much either, you will find a full stomach leads to better productivity and happiness. Try and use mood boosting food to motivate staff such as healthy burgers incorporating eggs and avocado or why not even try keeping a fruit bowl in the lunch room. You’ll be surprised how much this can change your staff members happiness.

Utilise wall space

motivate staff
Ok maybe motivational quotes are a bit old school but who’s to say you can’t try the following:

Bulletin boards: This is a fantastic way to communicate outstanding work, pictures from staff events, posting about birthdays or if there is nothing to communicate put up a joke. Communication is the key to running a business and if the staff can take part in it and get the creative, the more they will be willing to exchange ideas and converse.

Business news: Sometimes it’s hard to get staff excited about business news. You as the business owner find everything exciting when it comes to advances in the business, so why not let them choose when to get excited by it.  Put up a visual graph to show growth or success so employees don’t have to read, they simply walk in and see straight away how well the business is doing. This will make them feel like they are part of something truly special and that you are all working together to achieve greatness.

Fun pictures: You might get a few eyeball rolls if you start hanging up motivational quotes everywhere but putting up fun pictures with bright colours can enhance ones mood. The best colours for happiness are green and yellow, so get hanging and get those staff happy!