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Among US-based small businesses, usage of customer loyalty programmes for delivering special offers and rewards to frequent customers remains steady, according to the 'Local Commerce Monitor' from BIA/Kelsey. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

Among those business owners surveyed, 38% said they currently offer a customer loyalty programme, with an additional 21% saying they were likely to add such a programme within the next 12 months. There was effectively no statistical change in this finding compared with the 2012 survey, one year before.

Small businesses estimated that 17.7% of their total business during the coming 12 months would be generated by customer acquisition promotions such as discount deals, daily deals, coupons or similar offers (although these promotions may or may not be aligned with a loyalty programme).

"The data suggests solid interest and intentions in loyalty programmes, which are becoming an increasingly important tool for customer retention," said Steve Marshall, director of research for BIA/Kelsey. "We believe the proportion of business generated from both loyalty programmes and promotions will rise significantly as SMBs increasingly tailor their offerings to frequent customers and specific customer segments."

Among those small businesses offering customer loyalty programmes, more than half (54%) said they operate their own in-house programmes, primarily using a paper-based tracking method such as a punch card.

Marshall concluded: "There's a large opportunity for third-party service providers and credit card companies to replace the home-grown loyalty platforms with sophisticated electronic platforms that link into a CRM system and/or a payments platform."