Customer loyalty programs are meant to help businesses retain customers. With 80% of Americans being members of at least one loyalty program, this may seem true. However, some loyalty programs are far more effective than others.

As a small business, how do you make your loyalty program stand out from the crowd and keep customers coming back for more? Here are five tips for building a successful program:

1. Offer unique rewards.

Variety is the spice of life—and that’s especially true for loyalty programs. Create a program that’s more than just a simple punch card offering a freebie or discount when the card is full. Design rewards that will make your loyalty program unique. That might be exclusive perks, invitations to special events or sales, or occasional free gifts.

2. Consider charging a small fee.

Amazon’s Prime membership program demonstrates something powerful: If you charge people money to join your loyalty program, they will feel compelled to keep using you because they’ve already made an “investment” in your program.

3. Set expiration dates on your rewards.

Humans are instinctively drawn to deadlines. If you set an expiration date for using a reward, somebody is more likely to make a mental note—or even set a reminder on their electronic calendar—to come back and use it.

4. Give extra-special perks to your VIPs.

Airlines have long given their most frequent fliers VIP treatment, such as providing them with complimentary upgrades to first class or access to their airport lounges. Small businesses should consider creating special perks for their most frequent customers so they feel extra appreciated.

5. Ditch the punch cards.

Nobody likes having to carry around a wallet full of punch cards, and almost everyone today always has their smartphone handy. You can take advantage of a growing array of existing loyalty program mobile platforms designed for small businesses or use a SMS texting-based reward program. Consider just letting them give you their phone number or their email instead of having to punch an actual card.

Learn How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back For More

Loyalty programs are just one of many ways to retain customers. Be sure to download our free eBook:

This free, downloadable e-book serves as a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide with powerful strategies for creating the most loyal customers.

You’ll learn:

  • Why repeat customers are so valuable
  • How to use online surveys most effectively
  • Key principles that can bolster your customer retention strategies
  • Case studies of businesses that are stellar at customer retention
  • And much more!

Today’s competitive environment means there’s never a better time to think about how to retain customers and keep them loyal.