Pros and Cons of Starting Customer Loyalty Programs
Still, we understand that setting up and maintaining this type of program can require a lot of effort, and potentially money. In this post, we’ll explain what a loyalty program is and list typical pros and cons so that you can decide if pursuing business loyalty programs is worthwhile.
What is a Customer Loyalty Program?
Companies of all sizes create loyalty programs that reward their return customers. The purpose of a loyalty program is to keep customers coming back and incentivize them for doing so. For instance, customers earn redeemable points for each purchase they make, and then get a free item or discount after they spend a certain amount.
Based on your business’s industry and what you sell, you can create a personalized experience benefits you and your customers. Now, let’s review the pros and cons that come with starting a customer rewards program for your small business.
The Benefits and Downsides of Customer Loyalty Programs:
Pro: Your Customers Will Have an Incentive to Return
If customer retention has been an issue for your business in the past, creating a loyalty program could be a beneficial solution. Customer loyalty programs often inspire customers to become loyal buyers. They feel like their patronage is appreciated, so they continue to do business with an establishment that offers them long-term rewards.
Even if a customer appreciates your products or services, you may not always be top of mind. Therefore, implementing a rewards program could keep customers engaged with your business and create a better overall customer experience.
A proactive way to use your rewards program to engage customers is to send them monthly emails informing them of how many reward points they’ve earned. This reminder could encourage them to make more purchases!
Con: You’ll Have to Monitor the Loyalty Program
By offering a reward program, you’ll be able to gain customer loyalty, but you’ll also have to put in extra effort to set it up and maintain it.
For instance, you may need a technological system to track customer data, such as the award amounts they’re accumulating. In addition, you’ll need to send out emails or letters to customers that have earned rewards. This could take away time (and resources) from other areas of your business, so make sure you consider this prior to starting a loyalty program.
If you don’t maintain your customer loyalty program, you could alienate loyal customers. Therefore, you should be confident you or your employees have the time to maintain the program before starting it.
Pro: It Could Increase Transaction Amounts
If customers are trying to get a discount, free item, or another exciting incentive, they may be more likely to make larger or more frequent purchases. In fact, according to the Bond Loyalty Report, 66 percent of shoppers spend more money in order to take advantage of their loyalty program benefits.
By offering customers the option of enrolling in a loyalty program, you may see a notable boost in sales!
Con: It Might Be Time-Consuming to Start
Not only does setting up rewards accounts take away from other initiatives, but if you have a digital loyalty program, it may require frequent monitoring. This will all depend on the type of loyalty points system you use. To avoid this, consider an automated service that will save time for both you and your customer base.
Below, you’ll find a few examples of companies that provide customer loyalty and referral software solutions:
- Currency Alliance
- Kangaroo Rewards
- Loyalty Gator
- Preferred Patron
- Revel Systems
- Social Spiral
Pro: It Could Help Promote Your Business’s Brand
Reward programs offer a strong branding opportunity. Whether it’s incorporating your business slogan into the program name or decorating the loyalty card in your colors and logo, your rewards program can reflect your branding.
Aside from incorporating your business branding into your loyalty program, you can promote it on social media, your business’s website, mobile app, and email newsletters. By doing this, you can increase awareness about your program while incorporating your brand’s values.
In addition, you might be able to utilize user generated content that’s related to your loyalty program. For instance, a customer might take a photo of their reward, which you can repost on your social media accounts. The more that your rewards program grows, the more that you can use it as an opportunity to show off your business’s brand.
The more that you publicize your brand, the more that you’ll connect with your customer base, which will likely allow you to grow your loyalty program.
Con: It Could Hurt Your Business’s Finances
If you want to start a loyalty program, you must ensure that you aren’t losing money in the process. For example, if you’re giving away too many products or your discounts are too large, you might end up hurting your business’s finances.
Even if customer retention is good, it won’t benefit your business if you aren’t generating enough money to remain operational. Ultimately, you should be rewarding your customers, while still creating sales for your business.
Pro: It Could Help You Acquire New Customers
Although starting a loyalty program is meant to reward existing customers, you should also use it as an opportunity to attract new ones. Potential patrons will see that you have a loyalty program and might be more likely to make a purchase knowing that they’ll be rewarded with a discount or free item in the future. Plus, loyalty members might become such a fan of your program that they might refer other patrons to your business.
So, when marketing your business to possible customers, make sure to promote your loyalty program. Whether it’s providing information about it on a landing page, publishing sponsored social media posts, or advertising it on your direct mailers, you should make sure that people know about your business’s rewards program.
Con: Customers May Not Be Satisfied
As a small business owner, you should always try to ensure your customers’ happiness. If they aren’t satisfied with your products or services, they could start giving your competitors their business instead.
Although a loyalty program should delight customers, there could be instances where they aren’t pleased with your offers or a particular situation.
For instance, there might be a misunderstanding about your rewards, or a customer might think that they’ve earned more points than you have recorded in your system. It’s important to be prepared for situations like these. If patrons are unhappy with your loyalty program, they might post about it on social media or tell other patrons. Unfortunately, in this instance, having a loyalty program might hurt your business more than it helps.
Conclusion: Will a Loyalty Program Help Or Hinder Your Business?
After reading this blog post, we hope you can determine if starting a business rewards program is the right venture for your business. Having a loyalty program option for customers could set your business apart from competitors, and may help you increase sales in the long run. It’s important to consider how a rewards program could benefit both you and your customers, as it should be advantageous for both parties!
Have you started a loyalty program for your business’s repeat customers? Tell us about your experience with starting a loyalty program in the comment section below!
Editor’s Note: This post was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in October 2020.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.