How to start a loyalty program or update your current one

Loyalty programs add to the overall brand experience and keep customers coming back.

Whether you are starting a new one from scratch or giving your current one a makeover. Here are our top tips to see a real return on your loyalty program.

1. Clearly define your value proposition for members

Points, visits, and mystery rewards… all have their place, so determine what is going to work for your business at the core of the loyalty program offering.

2. Your staff are your most important asset

Make signing up to your membership program part of your staff onboarding. This will help them understand how it works and what the current offers are as they receive the same promotions and offers as customers and know what to expect. The other benefit is that they might see opportunities and operational issues that you haven’t seen, setting up an internal feedback channel for staff to send ideas about the loyalty program is a great way to understand and overcome problems that may arise.

3. Loading your data from another system

If you have an existing loyalty program or customer database that you are migrating to a new platform, you need to make sure:

  • You have a plan for the points transition – are they sunsetted, transferred in the same or a different currency/conversion?
  • Know who is subscribed to receive communications. If your database is in a platform, make sure you also extract unsubscribed customers or member contact status and import that into your new platform
  • Build a communication and customer engagement strategy to inform customers about the change and prepare your customer-facing staff. It’s also a good idea to have an FAQs section that you can add to as other customer challenges or queries come up.
4. Build the program into your everyday operations

If you want a successful program it needs to be part of every staff member’s role and they need to know how it impacts the overall business. The best way to achieve this:

  • Ask every customer if they are a member
  • If not, encourage sign up. Refer to the earlier point that the value of the membership needs to be able to be clearly stated
  • Create a scoreboard across your stores so everyone knows the targets and how they are tracking
  • Report on how the loyalty program is impacting your business – sales to members, average transaction value, repeat visits, engagement with promotions etc
5. Make Signup easy

Can you use Guest WiFi to create an easy signup process? QR codes have become part of our everyday behaviour, so why not include a sign up on your menu, on tables and on your digital signage that links straight to your signup from. Having a digital self signing up process means no paper forms and your front of house staff aren’t held up keying in new member data.

6. Ask the right questions

Consider what you need to engage properly with your members during the sign-up process. For example mobile and email, DOB (perhaps day and month if the audience may be sensitive), favourite store. Consider asking them some key questions eg are you Vegan or Vegetarian, chilli lover, favourite flavour etc to drive a more personalised experience.

7. Build your ongoing engagement program

Loyalty programs need to stay top of mind to be successful so make sure you have a schedule of promotions, new menu, updates etc to keep customers engaged. Using a digital marketing platform like TalkBox can help you stay engaged with customers and drive them back to the venue or online for more visits.

8. Automate your ‘always on’ communications

Communications can use customer behaviour and information as a trigger a message. These are a great way to keep engaging with your customers, optimising their visits while you and your staff focus on running the business. Automated communications can be easily set up and include an offer that entices customers back such as:

Sends after a new member joins your loyalty program. Read how one business uses this communication to get a second visit, automatically.

Send a happy birthday message to help them celebrate with you.

Send a message after a period of absence and recover customers who may have forgotten about your business or been attracted to a competitor.
Kate Brook
Author: Kate Brook