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Customer Engagement

How to Promote Your Loyalty Program Without Spending a Cent

Written by 
Brad Davis
February 10, 2020

Are you excited about your fantastic new loyalty rewards program, and now you want to have all your customers (old and new) falling over themselves to be among the first to join?

Before you start splashing out on expensive marketing campaigns and high-profile advertising methods (or resort to shouting it from the rooftops), we suggest that you consider these six innovative ideas for spreading the word about your enticing new loyalty program without spending a cent.

1.     Get your staff as excited about the new program as you are.

customer and staff in shop
Image Credit: Christiann Koepke

Obviously, this first one is more applicable to brick-and-mortar businesses where customers are physically visiting a store and interacting with staff.

No sign, poster, billboard or flyer is capable of being as engaging as a real-life person – especially a familiar face that your more regular customers have grown accustomed to seeing every time they visit your store.

The more you educate your employees on the perks and benefits, terms and conditions and other details of your loyalty program, the easier they’ll find it to promote to your customers in a natural, conversational manner.

Encourage them to mention the rewards program to customers at POS, or at another point in the customer-employee interaction.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have the most committed, passionate and dedicated staff ever (in which case, congratulations!) it might be slightly unrealistic to expect your employees to be as excited about the business’s new loyalty program as you are… and that’s why it doesn’t hurt to incentivise staff to promote the program.

Much the same way that your program is rewarding customer loyalty, you can also reward your staff for good salesmanship. These rewards don’t need to be extravagant, and in fact they don’t even need to have a monetary value.

An extra lunch break or “leave work early today” perk to the employee who manages to sign up the most customers this week can be enough to boost motivation. If your business is a café or restaurant, free lunches for a week could be an option, while a bookshop might offer its staff a complimentary book of their choice, or exclusive access to a literary event.

This spike in loyalty program signups is sure to lead to increased brand engagement, which far outweighs the cost of a small prize or token of gratitude.

2.     Offer an upfront incentive to join.

ink gift with gold bow and glitter

If you really want to make it easier for your staff to secure signups, an upfront incentive is an excellent way to jump-start membership interest from day one. This technique is also incredibly effective for online businesses with no physical staff or brick-and-mortar store at all.

In fact, at Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions we’ve found that businesses which offer an enticing reward upon signup, build registrations more than three times as fast as businesses that don’t offer a signup incentive.

This offer might be, “Sign up right now and enjoy 30% off today’s purchase.”

Most customers will jump at this offer, whether they have any intention of ever returning to your business or not. This might sound like a silly idea, but you’ve managed to paint a very positive image of your brand in that customer’s mind, and there’s a good chance they will be back to pay dividends on that initial investment on your part.

And that’s exactly what an upfront incentive is – an investment. The rewards become apparent later, when you find yourself with a healthy pool of loyal customers.

3.     Turn your existing loyalty program members into advocates, with an enticing referral program.

word of mouth referrals
Image Credit: iStock

The best loyalty programs don’t just reward customers for their spending – they reward customers for various kinds of behaviour which mutually benefit the business and the customer.

By offering your loyalty program members rewards or discounts in exchange for referring their friends, you can rapidly grow your customer base at a rate that brings in far more revenue than what it costs to dish out a few extra rewards to your existing customers.

TransferWise has enjoyed immense success with its “Invite a Friend Program”, with rewards of up to £50 for existing cardholders.

Customers acquired through referrals boast a 37% higher retention rate, and offer at least 16% more in profits than customers acquired through other means.

Also, customers who are referred to a brand are five times more likely to refer other people to a brand, so once the ball is rolling, it’s a self-powering machine!

4.     Create fun social media campaigns to build a bit of hype around the program.

social media sharing
Image Credit: NeONBRAND

Of course, no list of marketing ideas would be complete without mentioning our good friend, social media. We’re not talking about paid social media advertising, either.

Aside from regular posts to remind your social media followers (however many or few your business may have) of the benefits of joining your loyalty program, Facebook and Instagram especially can be invaluable tools for spreading awareness of a rewards program.

Depending on what kind of business you have, you might consider running a campaign where loyalty program members post a picture on Instagram relating to one of your products or services, along with relevant hashtags to your brand name and loyalty program.

The owner of each week’s winning picture wins some sort of prize, and the fact that this is being seen by all of that customer’s friends and followers entices signups from people who might have been complete strangers to your brand before they saw the image and competition.

5.     Offer tiered rewards to encourage “climbing the ladder” to VIP status.

Everyone loves feeling like a VIP. And while it’s crucial that you make your loyalty program as simple and convenient to join as possible, it’s also important to acknowledge the difference between a brand new loyalty program member who has spent $5 with your business, and the long-term loyal customer who has spent thousands.

A tiered rewards program won’t be feasible for every type of business, but if you’re serious about a sophisticated, high-functioning loyalty program that is constantly working to promote itself, it’s worth considering a tiered system.

Perhaps your “Tier 1” members enjoy 20% off X with every purchase of Y, or a free A with every fifth purchase of B.

Meanwhile, your “Tier 2” members enjoy tailored rewards, skip-the-queue benefits or something similar that suits your particular business, and so on.

You see this sort of system a lot in hotels and airlines, because it incentivises low-tier members to strive for the next tier, and the exclusivity of this VIP membership encourages non-members to join.

6.     Surprise and delight with spontaneous “Scratch & Win” competitions.

Sushi Suhshi Scratch & Win Campaign

And finally, offering quirky and exciting side-promotions through your loyalty program is another great way to get people talking and to drum up some more “buzz” around membership.

With digital loyalty apps (where customers access the loyalty program through a mobile app, so they can accrue points, redeem rewards and engage with the brand via their smartphones), businesses can send automated texts, emails and push notifications with links to exclusive or “limited time only” promotions like Scratch & Win competitions with instant prizes.

You can learn more about how these campaigns work here, and you can learn more about digital loyalty apps here.

When it comes to promoting your loyalty program, the only limit is your own creativity.

Remember though – when done right, a truly effective loyalty program will promote itself! Make sure your loyalty program offers attractive rewards and a unique customer experience, and you should have no problem gaining signups and increasing brand engagement.

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