How to pick the best customer loyalty program for your small business

Editorial Team

3 min read
loyal customer drinking coffee at cafe counter

Imagine this: On a not-so-busy day, one of your old customers who hasn’t visited for a while walks into your cafe because they received an automated text with a promotion code. A smile spreads across their face–they’re happy to be back at their favorite spot. This warm feeling of appreciation–that’s the power a well-designed loyalty program can create for your small business.

The power of retention

Did you know retaining existing customers is more cost-effective than attracting new ones? In fact, 73% of the companies prioritize keeping their current customers rather than developing new ones. That’s because loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, refer your business to others, and spend more with you over time. Loyalty programs go beyond just discounts–they’re about building relationships and turning your customers into brand ambassadors.

Loyalty program checklist: 9 must-haves

With over 50% of U.S. shoppers likely to be increasing their participation in a loyalty program, the question isn’t “Do you need one?” but “How do you choose the best?” Here are some key features to consider:

1. Customizable rewards program

Your business is unique, and your loyalty program should reflect that. A good loyalty software should allow you to customize your loyalty program to your specific industry or operation. Creating a compelling rewards program leads to faster adoption and a better return on investment (ROI).  

2. Omnichannel experience

Today’s consumers interact with businesses across various channels online, in-store, and via mobile apps. An effective loyalty program needs to provide a seamless omnichannel experience regardless of where your customers engage with your business. This ensures that your customers can easily earn points and redeem rewards whether they shop in person or online.

3. Easy to use

Simplicity is key for success. Both your staff and customers should find your loyalty program easy to use. It should be automated and simple for your staff to manage, and customers should be able to sign up, track points, and redeem rewards effortlessly.

4. Customer retention tools

Retention is the new acquisition. A robust loyalty program should come with built-in tools to create personalized retention campaigns that keep your customers engaged and re-engage with lapsed customers.

5. Referral power

Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool for ages. A built-in referral program incentivizes your existing customers to bring in new ones, expanding your reach and customer base.

6. Marketing tools

Make sure your loyalty program supports your marketing efforts. Tools like email and SMS campaigns allow you to reach your customers directly and keep them informed about your latest promotions and offers.

7. Gift card and store credit options

Offering gift cards and store credit adds value to your program and gives your customers more reasons to be loyal to your brand. They are great tools for customer retention and increasing average spend.

8. Integration with existing tools

For a loyalty program to be truly effective, it needs to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems such as your website or point of sale. This eliminates the need for major investments in new hardware and allows you to leverage the program’s power immediately.

9. Multiple locations support

Scaling a brand with multiple locations or franchises needs a fully integrated rewards program. Allowing your customers to collect points and redeem rewards across all locations.

Final words

Loyalty expert Janet Robinson perfectly captures the essence of loyalty: “Loyalty is not bought. It’s earned.” By focusing on earning your customers’ trust, respect, and appreciation, you’ll build a strong foundation for your small business.

Finally, explore the Clover App Market for apps with these must-have features, good customer reviews, and a free trial.

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