Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer Loyalty Programs: Finding, Attracting and Retaining Customers

Gaining customer loyalty has always been a major concern for businesses. As early as the 1700s, American retailers used tokens given to customers with each purchase as a way to encourage return business. These tokens worked much like a point system and could be turned in to receive another product. This system was later replaced with stamp programs and remained until the early 1900s. Today, loyalty programs are mostly digital, though you do see the occasional punch card. (My wallet, for instance, contains a digital Sephora Beauty Insider card and a punch card for a pho restaurant near the office.) But the best loyalty programs still function the same way those tokens did.

With the rise of social media, it has become easier than ever for businesses to be in contact with their customers — which also means hearing the negatives as well as the positives. Between social media and other marketing tools, all of this insight into customer behavior can be utilized by loyalty management software.

Loyalty management software allows businesses to find and target customers who have a high probability of becoming a return customer, and then create campaigns incentivizing returning customers. Often, this looks like an email campaign that contains discount codes, or a gift card to be used online or in store, or creating a points program that gives frequent customers a gift after accruing a certain number of points. Any online rewards program or brand loyalty program essentially does the same thing.

Until recently, loyalty management software was bundled into our Gamification and Loyalty category, which focused on products that used point or badge systems to gamify either employee or customer engagement. However, it became increasingly apparent that these were two distinct kinds of products: those aimed at increasing internal employee engagement, and those aimed at increasing loyal customer engagement.

Loyalty management is so much more than simple point accrual these days; there are elements of social media monitoring, marketing analytics and email automation involved with these tools. For this reason, we’ve created a separate loyalty management category.

According to our research specialists, who determine the requirements for each category on our site, in order to be able to be included in this new category, a product must:

  • Help identify valuable, loyal or interested customers
  • Create a loyalty program with incentives such as gift cards or rewards points
  • Provide a means to distribute gift cards or other incentives
  • Track engagement with the loyalty program

There are currently 47 products in this new category, 15 of which have reviews as of Feb. 14, 2018. Tools of this nature can go by other names, such as customer loyalty software or customer loyalty management.

Here are a few of the products in this new space that already have user reviews.

Belly customer loyalty programs

Belly is a platform that works from an iPad right on your counter. With it, businesses can create a digital loyalty campaign, run customer analytics, send email and mobile campaigns, grow their social media presence and integrate with online reviews hubs. The platform is ideal for retail, restaurants, auto shops, spas, gyms and more.

  • Lite: $159/month
  • Elite: $229/month

“Easy-to-use customer-facing interface and seamless hardware integration make it easy for any small business owner. The simplicity of deployment is probably Belly Card’s biggest calling card in my opinion. We used the system for loyalty programs at single location, multiple location and regional locations at bars, restaurants, retailers and cafes.” — Belly review from Trent A.

Clutch customer loyalty programs

Clutch provides a variety of marketing tools including customer scoring, loyalty solutions, analytics and email campaigns. Clutch can also help with customer analysis, marketing design and opportunity discovery. For a small business without a dedicated marketing team, this kind of help can be invaluable.

  • Inquire with the vendor

“Clutch combines an unmatched expertise around customer loyalty, a rich, easy-to-use platform and truly exceptional service throughout implementation and beyond. Our email marketing efforts have become much more efficient since moving to Clutch. Our customer loyalty program provides greater incentives, reporting and brand alignment thanks to their hard work.” — Clutch review from Travis C.

Preferred Patron
Preferred Patron customer loyalty programs

Preferred Patron is a loyalty management platform that offers a variety of solutions at three tiers. The platform can be integrated directly with POS systems, or via phone or email. It contains several marketing tools such as campaign setup and launch, program and email branding, customer profile tracking and more.

  • Bronze: $69/month
  • Silver: $129/month
  • Gold: $249/month

“We have used this program over a decade, initially utilizing the Gift Card program. Based on our immediate positive experience, we began implementing all that Preferred Patron had to offer. Among the most beneficial product features is the loyalty program which allows direct email campaigns with segmentation. Preferred Patron is by far the most comprehensive and affordable loyalty program for small businesses. We have realized an increase of 400% in our loyalty membership as well as very positive feedback from our customers who participate in this program.” — Preferred Patron review by Becky M.

There are lots of loyalty management solutions in our new category, which shows that loyalty management is a large and growing space aimed at assisting businesses with their customer loyalty programs. As we gain more reviews in this category, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

If you’ve used any of these products and loved or hated them, feel free to write a review describing your experience. Once we have six products with more than 10 reviews, we can create a Grid® report to give a better representation of the loyalty management software market

If you’re interested in more new categories here on G2 Crowd, here is a explanation of our new email signature category and our recent breakdown of the container ecosystem. You can learn about the history and trends of these spaces, as well as the current ecosystem and our reasoning for creating the categories.

Looking for Loyalty Management software? Check out the best loyalty management software according to G2 Crowd’s real-user reviews.

* Please note: Reviews have been edited for spelling and grammar.