How to Reward Your Loyal Customers

customer loyalty up graphLoyal customers are every small business owner’s dream. So it only makes sense when you do find those customers, the ones who come back to you month after and year after year, you want to reward them. But how can you do that? Actually, there are numerous ways to reward your loyal customers, from simple paper-based methods to mobile apps and more. Here’s a look at some different options to consider.

Rewards cards: Depending on your customer base, your budget and how sophisticated you want to get, you can start at the basic level with paper punch cards (“Buy 10, get one free”). You can also use plastic loyalty cards that you swipe to track customer purchases and other data, which can be more useful in helping gather information for your future marketing programs than are paper cards.

Discount programs: Reward loyal customers by offering some type of discount when they spend a certain amount of money or if they buy a certain number of items within a specified time.

Give a gift: Start keeping track of “important dates,” such as a customer’s first purchase, their birthdays or other relevant dates. Then, give customers and clients gifts on those “anniversary” dates. You can also offer gifts with purchase (like cosmetics companies do, with great success) when customers spend a certain dollar amount or buy a certain volume of product.

Create a VIP program: Offer a VIP program where customers get some type of reward relevant to your business, such as discounts, special sale days just for them, advance notice of sales or access to special information via a newsletter.

Hold events: Events for loyal customers can be a great way to reward them. Consider opening your store or business at a special time for them to shop; holding a special dinner at your restaurant that only your “regulars” are invited to; or holding a seminar or training session for your faithful service business customers.

Mobile apps: Applications such as Belly,  Spendgo and Womply streamline loyalty by enabling customers to enter or swipe their account information, using smartphones or tablets, to win prizes, get store credits or free products, or get cash-back rewards for making purchases. You can customize the rewards programs to work with your goals.

Get personal: Sending a handwritten thank-you note or calling your clients are very meaningful ways to thank your loyal customers that they won’t soon forget. In fact, in today’s digital world, these old-fashioned methods just might be the most memorable and effective customer loyalty tools of all.

Photo courtesy: iStock/Thinkstock

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