Examining the Levels of Loyalty Programs, and What They Can Bring to Your Business
In the retail world, where the emphasis is placed on customer experience, what merchants can offer to consumers is crucial to success. One of the best ways to improve customer experience, is to implement a customer loyalty program. The notion of a customer loyalty program has been around for a number of years, and has become one of the best ways a business can provide a better customer experience. The reasons why businesses should use a customer loyalty program has stayed the same, but over the years, the way they function has evolved. These changes offer a whole new set of opportunities for merchants to engage their customers with, and has grown far beyond what customer loyalty initially started as. Technology has allowed customer loyalty programs to move beyond a basic punch card, and expand into a full-fledged, automated system that provides convenience for merchants and customers alike.
The integration of digital media into loyalty programs is one of the biggest changes made to the traditional system, as it allows for a faster, more seamless experience for customers. As the majority of consumers today utilize smartphones, many businesses are looking for ways to adopt practices that work in conjunction with these devices, and customer loyalty is no exception! A study notes that loyal customers use brands’ mobile apps twice as much as non-loyal customers, and this reflects how digital media has become an integral part of the loyalty industry. The inclusion of digital media in the structure of customer loyalty programs is yet another mark of how far they have come from their punch card beginnings. By looking at the advancements made through modern loyalty programs, you can see whether your business is ahead of the curve when it comes to loyalty and customer engagement.
Below is a scale outlining the different levels of customer loyalty programs that are currently available to your business. See how up-to-date your business’ loyalty program really is, and why you should consider upgrading to Loyalty 3.0:
The Levels of Loyalty Programs
Loyalty 0.0 - No Loyalty Program
Not much to say here! A previous TapMango blog notes that 83% of customers are more likely to do business with companies that have a loyalty program in place, so there’s no time like the present to set one up! It’s easy, affordable, and the potential returns are endless!
Loyalty 1.0 - Punch Card Loyalty Programs
Source: Help Scout
Back to basics! Whether it is a stamp or a punch card, this style of loyalty programs presents a simple incentive for customers, offering a free product after a certain number of purchases. Loyalty program like this creates a reason for customers to return to your store, but has no long term benefit for the business. A disposable, one-time use card can only track what is printed on the card, and once the card is redeemed, and the free product is claimed, the incentive for the customer to return is diminished. With this style of program, the loyalty starts and ends with the disposable card; the customer must remember to carry the card around with them whenever they go to the store, and must remember to get it stamped or hole punched for the loyalty to take place (let's face it, we all remember that time we were looking for the completed punch card, only to realize we lost it).
On the merchant’s end, things are not looking so great either. A punch card loyalty system is a hassle to manage, as it can be hard to keep track of how many punch cards have been distributed or redeemed. And just imagine the process if you decide to change the free offer on that punch card, after you have just printed 1,000 units, basically, you can’t! Additionally, measuring the effectiveness of punch cards is extremely difficult, as the manual process of using a stamp or hole punch is not integrated into the electronic sales system. Due to this fact, there is no real connection to the consumer, and merchants have no way of knowing who their customers are, so no relationship is formed. To improve this style of loyalty program, there needs to be a more convenient way to take advantage of its features, and an incentive with longevity to keep customers coming back, even after their free product has been redeemed.
Loyalty 2.0 - Loyalty Card Programs
Source: Wild Apricot
The loyalty card picks up where the punch card leaves off, and provides customers with a continuous point system.This system collects points for the consumer every time they make a purchase, and keeps track of them digitally. This is a great way to elevate the punch card, as a simple swipe of the card will save the points for the customer, and lets them choose when to redeem them. Unfortunately, the loyalty card falls short in collecting data about consumers, and therefore, cannot assist in creating a tailored experience for consumers. One study found that 61% of customers are more likely to buy from businesses that provide a personalized experience, and a loyalty system is a great way to help gather information to make this happen.
While the loyalty card may be an improvement to the punch card, it maintains some of the same problems that the punch card faced. A customer still has to remember to have their loyalty card on them at the store, and must remember to swipe their card in order to get points for their purchase. There is also the inconvenience for the customer to have to carry around the loyalty card. Shoppers simply don’t want to have to carry around a large number of loyalty cards and have a wallet too large to fit in their pocket.
Loyalty 2.1 - Mobile App Loyalty Program
Loyalty 2.1 takes a small leap to the first technological advancements that were applied to the customer loyalty industry, in which loyalty cards were replaced with digital capabilities. Now, a slightly more sustainable and convenient solution has been put in place.
With the rise of smartphones came mobile apps, the secret weapon that has proven to be one of the best ways to meet a user’s needs. An app-based loyalty program provides customers with ease, as all they need is their phone to take advantage of the perks they have access to. Statistics show that 90% of mobile loyalty users feel they have gained something from these loyalty apps, proving their efficiency and popularity. Mobile apps have the technology to store the purchasing data of consumers, which means that the app can help the business better understand consumers and their purchasing decisions. While this may provide more information about loyal customers, it does not engage them in a way that builds a relationship. Similar to the punch card and loyalty card, loyalty starts and ends with the transaction, and does not provide an opportunity for customers to be engaged by the business. If loyalty is only found on a smartphone screen, consumers lose out on the customer experience from your business.
Loyalty 3.0 - Multi-Platform Customer Engagement Loyalty Programs
Standing tall at the top of the chain is the multi-platform loyalty program, which takes the strengths of the other methods of customer loyalty, and improves on their weaknesses. For example, the outdated stamp card is upgraded to a smart loyalty tag; this card can hold both monetary value, prepaid product credits, and loyalty points, and never needs to be replaced. Even if the card is lost, all the data is stored on a digital portal, and it's simple to issue a new card with all of the old information on it. With platforms, such as the one offered by TapMango, what you are providing your customers with is a loyalty program that is enticing, straightforward, and integrated with customers’ digital media. You receive an inhouse tablet that can keep track of the points a consumer collects after each visit, and makes it easy for customers, by letting them know when they can redeem a free gift, with visuals to guide the process.
With Loyalty 3.0, there are a number of features that advance the customer experience, by finding new ways to interact and connect with consumers.The in-store tablet, as an example, can incorporate gamification promotions, that not only encourages loyal customers to play, but also sparks curiosity from those around who would then have an interest in joining your loyalty program. This helps to drive conversation in store, and connect merchants with consumers. The Bank of America found that 57% of small businesses attribute customer relations as the main source of repeat business, so your interactions with your customers in store must make them want to return!
Some of the other features that Loyalty 3.0 offers help to personalize the experience for your customers. With a multi-platform loyalty program, it’s an easy process to collect data about the effectiveness of your promotions, as well as your customers’ purchasing patterns. This helps to put your customers into groups based off of their interests, which your business can then message with content targeted to their purchasing needs. Loyalty 3.0 can also be used for time-based promotions, as there are a number of features that can interact with your customers, even when they’re not in your store. You can pre-sell your products to your customers, so that they can pay online, and pick up their product or service at your business when it’s convenient for them. In addition, you can create an automated campaign that will offer your customers promotions at a predetermined time, such as their birthdays. With Loyalty 3.0, these features are available, to truly connect and engage with your customers.
Signing up and running a multi-platform loyalty program is easy and extremely price efficient, and this is due to the fact that a merchant joins a system, that offers a preconstructed platform. However, TapMango is unique in having the capabilities to have every aspect of your multi-platform loyalty program customized to your liking. Your customer experience will not only be seamless, but also brand-specific to your business. TapMango offers a fully customized system, showing that your loyalty program is completely independent (as if you spent the money to build it from scratch). Since you get an independent loyalty program your consumers, they will not have access to your competitors using the same platform, who could potentially be offering better deals right around the corner.
Loyalty 3.0 captures the principles and ideas of modern customer experience, and this allows for small businesses to compete with big brands.
To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?
With the easy-to-use interface and affordable costs, there's no excuse not to upgrade to Loyalty 3.0. By upgrading your loyalty program, you offer your customers an experience that is engaging, easy to keep track of, and catered to the digital media they already own. The costs to set up and run a functioning loyalty program, while also trying to provide the most benefit for customers, are two things that were once hard to juggle. Now, with the use of a multi-platform loyalty program, you get the highest level of customer loyalty for a competitive and cost-effective price. What more could you ask for?!
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