Ask the Experts: How to Start a Rewards Program

by John and Jake Fell

Q: How can I offer a rewards program to my customers?

Jake-Fell-2014-FEATURED.jpgJake Fell: A program that rewards customers for their loyalty is a great retention marketing tool and can help you minimize markdowns. Typically a customer is given points or dollars for a percentage of their prior purchases and can spend those rewards when they reach a threshold or during a certain strategic time period.

The keys to implementing a successful rewards program is accessing your sales data and turning it into unique information that gets generated into a call to action that drives the customer to buy immediately.

An easy way to implement a rewards program is to use your POS system to develop it based on sales data you already have. Simply export a customer profile list that includes the customers’ dollars spent from your POS for a period of time and calculate the rewards. Many of our clients give back 5 percent of sales to their customers in the form of rewards each quarter. Some POS systems can calculate the rewards dollars for you. You can then import the rewards amount into your email marketing platform and create unique one-to-one emails with links to rewards certificates that can be printed or download to a mobile device. We offer rewards programs complimentary to all our email marketing clients that provide us with the necessary POS data.

From a marketing and inventory perspective, consider these points:

  1. Be proactive in marketing your rewards program. The rewards need to be presented as an incentive to buy now.
  2. Make sure all channels of your marketing tout your rewards program – especially signage in the store.
  3. Time your rewards redemption to work with your inventory plans. Consider delivering rewards certificates at the beginning of a season to drive big early seasonal sales and avoid markdowns later in the season.
  4. Design email marketing campaigns around your rewards. During your rewards period, send a series of emails that highlight your latest arrivals and have a call to action to print or download the reward certificate.
  5. Make the rewards expire in a timely fashion – and send out a “use ’em or lose ’em” reminder.