Recently I wrote in TechCrunch about how loyalty automation is going to be one of the major benefits of big data and SaaS applications finally coming to small businesses. In this blog post, I want to explore more of what loyalty automation will look like for small businesses and how it will drive sales for small business owners in 2013.
Loyalty automation has evolved from marketing automation. With marketing automation, the lives of marketing managers at mid-sized and large companies were transformed as critical marketing tasks like triggered email design, landing page creation, and A:B testing were automated. Similarly, loyalty automation will change the lives of small business owners and automate tasks they previously did manually or inefficiently. Loyalty automation for small business owners will include: 1) Service Automation, 2) Rewards Automation and 3) Loyalty Marketing Automation. Let’s explore each one.
Service Automation. Great service is one of the reasons why customers are loyal to a particular business. Don’t you love it when you are treated as a regular? When you know the owner, and they greet you by name when you walk in? They might usher you to your favorite seat or immediately bring you your favorite drink. But sometimes the owner is not there. Or your favorite hostess is off. Then your expectations are let down, since you are treated just like everyone else. Loyalty automation will change this. You’ll just walk in to the store, and a long-range NFC scanner will recognize who you are soon as you walk in. The cashier behind the point-of-sale will know your name before they ring your order and know your favorite drink. Every server will know your name, and if you’re a VIP, you’ll be treated as such.
Rewards Automation. One of my friends once said to me about his favorite local pizza shop, “I go there so often I wish they had a frequent flyer program!” A properly constructed rewards programs can make even regular customers come even more frequently. At FiveStars, we have observed that regular participants in rewards programs come 20% more often after starting to use the program regularly. Previously, owners administered rewards programs through paper punch cards and had no way besides the punch card itself to remind people about their rewards. In the future, small business owners will have automated digital rewards programs that can have multiple tiers (every 10 visits get a free coffee, every 20 visits get a free entree, etc.) and where customers automatically get reminders via text and email as they approach various rewards to drive increased visit frequency.
Loyalty Marketing Automation. Loyalty marketing means engaging your customers after-the-sale to drive increased spend and to turn your customers into word-of-mouth advocates. Traditionally, small business owners would gather email addresses manually via business cards collected at the point-of-sale or write their Facebook Page URL on a chalkboard by the point-of-sale. Typically, there’s little segmentation in the email sends, since there is no way to connect customer behavior with the email addresses, so business owners have no other path but to blast un-targeted emails. With loyalty marketing automation, business owners will be able automatically to collect customer contact info via enrollment in rewards programs, turn those customers into social media followers, segment the customers into new, frequent, birthday, and lapsed customers, and send out automated communications to each segment.
Does your loyalty program today drive loyalty automation for you? At FiveStars, we are pioneering loyalty automation and can help you achieve all of the above. If you’re interested in understanding how we do it, schedule a free demo with one of our loyalty consultants by filling out the form below. Loyalty automation is going to revolutionize the lives of small business owners in 2013, and we’re excited to be a part of the trend.