How impactful are small business loyalty programs? How can you stand out from other businesses, on a smaller budget? The secret is: it’s easy!

We’re sharing our 5 tips for starting a small business loyalty program and showing you just how creative you can get with the tools that come with a program.

1. Have a game plan

We understand that as a small business, you want to be smart about where you are spending money. That’s why it’s so important to have a game plan before launching your program.

Small business loyalty programs don’t need to leave a dent in your wallet, but we advise to plan out your goals before you start shopping for a program to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Think about the following questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • What are your goals?
  • What is your ideal return on investment?
  • Who are you targeting?
  • What materials do you need?
  • What materials do you already have at hand?

Once you launch your program, you can easily track your success using SMART goals. SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) help you give yourself accountability and defined checkpoints to measure your ROI. 

Below is an example of a SMART goal worksheet:

SMART Goal Worksheet


2. Utilize all the tools at your fingertips

Have you ever heard of the saying “small, but mighty”? That should really be the slogan for small business loyalty programs.

Once you’ve done your research and signed up with a program that is right for you, you might be surprised at the amount of tools you have at your disposal.

For example, when a small business signs on to Ackroo they are given a complete and custom dashboard. This dashboard is the home to all your program data and analytics, including transaction reports and cards in circulation.

program dashboard

Above is an example of the type of data that you can see in your loyalty program dashboard.

Plus, you have a dedicated account manager . This person’s goal is to help with ideas to take your program to the next level, like running your first promotion! 

And you get a team of graphic designers to help add a little magic to your card design, as well as an email marketing specialist to help with emails (psst – you get a free eblast to use!). 

All of these tools are here to help you kick off your program on the right foot. So, don’t be afraid to be adventurous and explore how creative you can get with your program.


3. Target your best customers – and keep track!

We have two words for you: customer data.

As we mentioned, when small businesses kick off their loyalty program they are provided with a custom dashboard FULL of analytics and data. This data is so important when it comes to targeting your best customers.

We suggest keeping an eye on your best customers and finding ways to further thank them for being the best of the best.

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How? Send an email blast to your top 10 customers in your loyalty program, thanking them by offering extra loyalty dollars that they can use for their next visit. It’s as easy as that!

Plus, whether you are targeting your best loyalty customers or all customers in your program, make sure to personalize. For example, in an email blast use their first name and update them with their personal loyalty balance. A little bit goes a long way!


4. Don’t be afraid to go digital

In 2021, having a digital aspect to your small business loyalty program is so important. Why? Because it allows customers to connect to your program anytime, anywhere.

The truth is, there is a growing demand for an online option from consumers. In fact, in 2020, e-commerce sales increased by 32.4%

eGift Cell Phone

Digital gift cards make it easy for customers to send and receive gift cards.

So how can you bring your loyalty program to the digital side? Through digital gift cards and earning loyalty dollars through online purchases.

First, eGift is key for selling gift cards online. Consumers can purchase a gift card anytime, anywhere. Plus, they can use these gift cards to shop on your online store. Bonus!

Second, pick certain items on your online shop that are eligible for bonus loyalty dollars when purchased. This helps you a) drive online sales b) keep your loyalty program customers engaged and c) help you clear stock of an item.

5. Tie your loyalty program to your full customer experience

Lastly, it’s important to have the mindset that small business loyalty programs are not an “add-on” to the business. It’s part of the full customer experience.

Whether you are running your program mainly in-store or online, find ways to introduce your loyalty program in the full customer experience.

For example, if a customer is purchasing a coffee, let them know they can earn 2X the loyalty dollars on the coffee purchase if they sign up for the loyalty program. 

Or, when customers are shopping online, enable a pop-up that calls out the discount they can receive before they start filling their cart, if they sign up for your program.

The important part is you aren’t approaching it as an add-on or after thought. An opportunity for you to get creative!