There is no doubt about it; customers are more aware and switched on than ever before in the modern age.
Much of this stems from the rise of concepts such as crowdsourcing and freelancing, where individuals have been empowered to play a more pivotal role in the development of brands.
Technological advancement has also created a more demanding society, where consumers have far higher expectations in terms of the speed and quality of service.
This, coupled with the knowledge that brands are able to meet these expectations, means that businesses are required to invest significant time and forethought into the retention of existing customers.
X Effective Customer Loyalty Scheme Ideas for Cafes
Not only is customer retention central to cultivating brand loyalty, but also helps businesses financially.
After all, it is between five and ten-times more expensive to acquire customers than it is to retain them, while loyal patrons also spend 67% more on average than new consumers.
With this in mind, here are some creative and effective loyalty scheme ideas that can help you to retain a core consumer base: -
#1 - Maintain a Simple and easy to understand scheme
Fundamentally, loyalty schemes enable customers to earn points through transactions, which in turn translate into a reward.
This can take numerous forms depending on the nature of your business, but from a café or coffee shop perspective it usually equates to a free or heavily discounted beverage.
The issue here can be creating a scheme that is overly confusing, particularly when you try to introduce multiple steps or the customer is forced to perform some such of mathematical equation to work out precisely what they are entitled to.
After all, you are supposed to be rewarding the customer for their patronage, meaning that they should have to do very little to earn or redeem their reward.
So if you wish to drive recurring, short-term purchases through your café loyalty scheme, simplify the mechanics and avoid the need to offer further clarification.
Leading coffee shop chain Café Nero have the right idea in this regard, as they award customers a stamp for every drink that they purchase.
After nine stamps have been collected, consumers can claim a free beverage of their choice before repeating the cycle.
#2 - Initiate non-monetary schemes based on consumer values
If we accept that the changing nature of commerce and the jobs market is creating a more informed generation of consumers, it is also important to consider the constantly changing values that underpin society.
Modern employees are far more likely to be motivated by something other than financial reward, for example, with job satisfaction, flexible working hours and career development increasingly important consideration.
These same value sets can be applied to customers, and your brand can leverage this by initiating non-monetary schemes that are based on carefully collated data.
The principles of analytical CRM (not the mention the Cloud-based technology that allows customers to garner significant amounts of information in the first place) have made it easier than ever for even small and independent businesses to develop detailed customer profiles, which in turn offer an invaluable insight into what makes your consumers tick.
Once you truly understand specific consumer value sets, you can then develop creative, non-monetary rewards that deliver genuine satisfaction to your loyal patrons.
Whether you enable your customers to participate in community projects or allow them to have their own, unique drink featured on the menu is up to you, but the key is to focus on the profile of your consumers and develop rewards that are focused on engaging a targeted audience.
#3 - Develop mutually beneficial partnerships with local Businesses
Clearly, cafes thrive on the relationships that they have forged with regional consumers, which is why marketing techniques for your café, such as local SEO and geo-targeted adverts are so popular in the modern age.
The importance of local partnership extends beyond consumers, however, and this is something that can be leveraged successfully through strategic coalitions with neighbouring businesses.
By identifying local companies with complimentary value-sets that have the potential to add value to the experience of your customers, you can create more impactful loyalty schemes that drive long-term retention.
Your café may choose to partner with a local entrepreneur who has developed a range of healthy snack bars, for example, discounting these to reward customers while affording a neighbouring start-up some much needed exposure.
Similarly, you may partner with a local service provider that is relevant to your particular niche, creating co-branded deals that offer additional value to targeted consumers.
Cafes in particular may want to consider offering cookery classes through a local evening school, as this represents a natural allegiance that customers can benefit from greatly.
This type of creativity not only helps to create unique rewards, but it also ensures that your customers fully understand the level of appreciation that you hold for them.
#4. Consider the world of Gamification
While gamifaction is a relatively new concept in the field of marketing and sales, it has quickly entered the commercial mainstream.
Gamification is particularly effective when integrated into a consumer loyalty scheme, as it modernises your brand’s burgeoning image and engages consumers through organic interaction rather than simplistic rewards.
The level to which you deploy gamification tactics is up to you, but Starbucks have shown that even simple techniques can be effective.
More specifically, their own reward scheme is based on the fundamental mechanics that underpin mobile gaming, starting when consumers download a branded app.
Every time they complete a transaction, they accumulate stars, building until they reach a redeemable amount.
Additionally, there are alternative tiers of membership available through the scheme, meaning that more loyal consumers are able to upgrade their level over time.
This process reflects the classic gaming pattern of engaging players with multi-level gameplay, while Starbucks reinforce the effect by tailoring progressively lucrative and personalised rewards for their most loyal customers.
You can go further, of course, through the introduction of regular sweepstakes, quizzes and interactive competitions that successfully immerse consumers.
Just remember that these initiatives need to be handled with care, as you must strike the ideal balance between engagement and the rewards on offer.
Customers will quickly tire of contests that are stacked in favour of the brand, so try to set favourable odds for consumers and ensure that there is always a visible winner!
The Last Word
Ultimately, these loyalty scheme ideas will help you to successfully engage and reward the loyal customer base that drives your café’s growth.
The key thing to keep in mind is the importance of customer profiling, as an innate understanding of your customers makes it easier to tailor satisfying schemes and rewards that increase brand loyalty.