We've all been in this circumstance:
You're at a retail store about to purchase a product and, as they ring you up, the cashier asks you for your phone number. Depending on the level of privacy you prefer, you may inquire about why they ask.
"For our rewards program," they say, simply.
If you've had any interaction with these types of programs, the likelihood is that you know the gist of what they entail. You give away your information in exchange of a possible discount and a ton of spammy emails. In other words, it's not always such a great experience.
Fortunately, there are a lot better ways to implement a rewards program within your pet store without being a spam-central. Believe it or not, there are many benefits to having a loyalty program for both you and your customer.
The Benefits of a Loyalty Program
Rewards programs are a great way to get your customer's information in exchange for ways to get them to save money while also keeping them coming back to you.
In general, they can be a great tactic when it comes to fighting back against the rise of e-commerce. This is because your customers suddenly have a reason to buy from you versus anyone else.
Loyalty programs, when designed well, can be a win-win situation for both you and your customers.
Benefits to Your Customers
Search for "best rewards programs" on your favorite search engine and you'll find article after article featuring information on the best programs. The information is out there because it's in high demand. But why would customers be searching for it?
The answer is simple: To them, it's a way to save money on the products they want and need to purchase.
Let's say, for example, that your dog needs the same bag of dog food replenished every month. Would you rather:
- Purchase from a location where you could save $1-2 up-front, but receive no reward for being a loyal shopper?
- Purchase from a location where you could earn points to receive a free bag after a few months or a free treat - and be treated with personalized information because you're shopping at a store that knows you and your shopping habits.
Chances are, most of your customers would enjoy feeling as though they're a part of a program that rewards them for their purchases. After all, who doesn't like earning points in a game, receiving discounts, or getting free things once in a while?
Benefits to Your Business
So, your customers get points, discounts, and free stuff. But, what's in it for you?
These days, attention span is at an all-time low. Marketers everywhere are vying for the attention from the same consumers and selling them many of the same products. In this environment, it's nearly impossible to stand out.
One way to stand out is to market to very niche target audiences and speak directly to them. Instead of speaking to every pet owner in America, target your messaging to people in your neighborhood who own cats and shop in your store two times a month.
How do you find those people? You get their information.
The major benefit of a pet store loyalty program is that you collect valuable information on the people who shop with you. In turn, you can use that information to find ways to keep them coming back for more.
Loyalty Program Ideas
1. Custom Discounts & Coupons
One of the most common rewards program includes the use of discounts and coupons at your store. These incentives work great with customers who are price-savvy and willing to sacrifice a brand for a good deal.
A great way to do discounts and coupons is to customize the deals based on their shopping habits. For example, if you have a customer who owns two cats, give them a discount on cat litter, food, or treats.
Another way to implement discounts is by going with a point system. Once your customer buys five bags of cat food from you, for example, they get a free cat toy to spoil their favorite feline.
2. Members-Only Pricing
If your customers like to be a part of something exclusive, then members-only pricing and incentives may be a way to go. For some, exclusivity is a key selling point and a reason all in itself to be a part of something.
Consider partnering with your vendors to offer members-only pricing on products, even if only for a limited time. This way, it will be difficult for your customers to say no to an extra 10% on their favorite brand if all it means is joining a rewards program.
3. Invite-Only Events
The summertime means lots of pet events. Whether you're hosting an adoption event, a pet fair, or a holiday-themed event, it's a great way to get pet owners in your neighborhood together to connect over something everyone loves: their pets.
While it's great to have events that are open to the public, the exclusivity factor comes into play again with invite-only events. Make your members feel as though they're a part of something special by sending them a special invitation to a secret pet party just for them.
4. Birthday & Holiday Gifts
Who doesn't like buying gifts for their pets? Whether it's Christmas, their birthday, or just a random Saturday in July, spoiling our pets is what pet owners do best.
Celebrate your customers' pet birthdays by sending discounts on their favorite brand of dog food, a toy, or by even partnering with a dog-friendly bakery to get them something special.
5. Pet Care Guides & Resources
Puppies, kittens, and well, all pets in general require a lot of work. Whether your customer just got a new pet or are looking for new ways to train and develop their relationship with their current one, there's always room for educational (and entertaining!) content.
The key here is not to spam your customers with unnecessary or unrelated material. Try not to be overly sales-y and make sure everything you click "send" on provides some sort of value to your customer. Otherwise, you will have a hard time seeing subscribers stick around and getting them to sign up in the first place
Implementing a Loyalty Program
So, you're ready to put together a rewards program and unleash (get it?) it to your customers. But what does that process actually look like?
Make a Plan
The first step is to draw out exactly what your rewards program is going to look like. This will provide you with a clear road map to everything you and your customer receives from the interaction.
As you create this plan, consider the following:
- What would you like to offer?
- What is more realistic to offer?
- How will you keep track of your customers? Hint: You will need to set up a CRM
- How can you partner with your vendors to offer special deals?
- How will your customers keep track (of their points, stamps, etc. if that's a road you decide to go down)
- What are your specific goals for sign-ups?
- What are your sales goals from this program?
Create Explicit Rules & Restrictions
Once you have an idea of what you'd like your program to offer, it's time to come up with the specific rules and restrictions. Put these in place ahead of time so that you and your customer know exactly what you're getting into.
It's good to note here that as of May 25th, 2018, GDPR changes have affected the way marketing works in the EU. Although you may not be based there, it's a good idea to follow these new regulations as you never know who visits your site/comes in your store. You can read up on GDPR here.
In your rules and regulations, you must specify exactly what your customer gets out of the transaction. Pet Supplies Plus wrote out the specific details of their program on their website here. In it, they included what to expect, how to receive benefits, and more.
Implement a System
Once you start getting your customers to sign up to your rewards program, what's next? Do they receive a welcome email and a 10% off coupon right off the bat? What program will you use to set that up? What will the email say?
There are many backend processes and procedures that go into building a successful pet loyalty program. The last thing you want is for your customer's information to sit quietly in your CRM collecting dust. Instead, use those benefits that you laid out and find ways to market to them.
You know your benefits, you've drafted up your rules and regulations, and you have all the systems in place to start accepting customers. What now?
It's time to tell everyone. You can do this by:
- Creating a page on your website with specific information and a sign-up form
- Telling your employees about the program and asking them to invite your customers as they come in
- Printing out flyers and sign-up forms to keep around the store
- Posting a message on your social media channels and inviting your followers to sign up
With the exception of the website, you should be doing all these things consistently. That way, word will spread about your program and the benefits it offers, and your customers will hopefully be excited to join.
Have you had any luck with your rewards program? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer and writer for the pet industry. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her cat (Chewie), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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