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Keep Them Coming Back: 4 Loyalty Apps to Reward Customers

2012 October 17

Consider this scenario: You’re trying to decide on a lunch spot with a co-worker or friend. She suggests a burrito place and a sandwich place. You like both restaurants equally and their prices are the same, but at the sandwich place you’ve got six stamps on a loyalty card. After you buy one more sandwich, your next lunch will be free. Do you suggest the sandwich place?

I probably would. Call it a bribe if you want, but customer loyalty programs work. When I head out to the grocery store, I tend to favor the store that has the best deals when I use the loyalty card I keep on my keychain.

Social media and app developers realized long ago that the potential for digitizing customer loyalty cards could be worth millions of dollars. When start-up TagTile began gaining ground last year with their product, Facebook snatched it up in April. Participating businesses kept a TagTile scanner at their register, and users could use the app on their phone to scan at the time of purchase. There was no longer a need to carry a stack of cards in your wallet or clutter up your keychain.

Similarly, Belgian-designed app FidMe has grown popular in Europe, allowing consumers to scan the barcodes from their loyalty cards into their phone, consolidating all those programs into one handy app. For moms who probably already have their hands full at the register, the appeal of that sort of streamlined convenience is obvious!

In the U.S., businesses that never considered starting a loyalty program are being swayed by the incorporation of social media into the rewards collection. Beyond just making purchases, users are earning points and rewards for helping to spread the word about a company. Talk about taking extreme couponing to the next level.

Interested in learning more or starting a loyalty program for your company (or how you can take advantage of them as a thrifty consumer)? Here are a few of the major players:

1. Perkville

This handy app keeps reward accumulation and redemption relatively simple, allowing business customers to determine a structure for point accumulation. Re-Tweet a post by the company? Earn 10 points, for example. Buy a $25 sweater? 25 points. Refer a friend who makes a purchase? 50 points.

Once a user reaches a certain amount, they redeem it for a gift certificate, free item, or percentage discount. Redemption occurs within Perkville’s online platform, with the consumer downloading a voucher they can redeem at the time of their choosing.

If you’ve got a ton of followers on your mommy blog, the perks here are clear. Be careful anytime you post commercialized information on your site, but if it’s a product you really believe in, why not spread the word and earn free stuff?

2. PunchTab

Perhaps the most developed of loyalty apps, PunchTab offers a staggering variety of options, with existing clients that include eBay, Walmart, and Arby’s. Consumers earn rewards based on their level of participation within social media, earning points and rewards by spreading the word about a company on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

PunchTab claims that +1s on Google+ can be doubled, Facebook ‘Likes’ multiplied by five, and Twitter followers increased tenfold. For a business getting its feet of the ground or looking to grow quickly, the potential is staggering. Rewards for point accumulation range from discounts and giveaways chosen by the business to gift cards with PunchTab partners like Groupon and Barnes & Noble.

Furthermore, PunchTab offers rewards called ‘Badges’ that don’t cost the business customer anything in discounts. ‘Badges are virtual bling,’ they claim, allowing users to earn the colorful icons that decorate their profile pages with Likes, comments, and tweets. For a company that caters to a large number of young people, the attraction of earning ‘stickers’ that show your affinity to a particular brand is clear.

For mommy bloggers with teenage kids (especially those who double as business owners), the growing trend of virtual badge is a trend worth following.

3. FourSquare

Originally designed as an app that allows users to track their friends, promoting popular businesses in the process, FourSquare has grown into its own loyalty rewards program. ‘Checking in’ at a restaurant, gym or movie theater might earn 20 percent off a bill, while referring a friend can add up the rewards even faster.

Similar to PunchTab, FourSquare utilizes badges that unlock as a user makes ‘accomplishments’ in the real world. A business might offer a badge for completing a challenge, like trying every sushi roll on the menu or attending five yoga classes in one month. Chances are, your blog’s followers like to know what you’re up to. FourSquare is a relatively unobtrusive method of sharing your favorite local spots.

4. Wildfire

While not exactly an ‘app,’ Wildfire is perhaps the most developed and integrated software for getting the word out about a promotion across multiple social media platforms. Syncing with LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, Wildfire lets business customers promote giveaways through creative means like photo contests and trivia quizzes, monitoring and accumulating user data as it comes in through each platform. Google recently bought the company, which obviously bodes well for its development as a continued major player in the loyalty application pool.

If your blog has major sponsors, Wildfire could provide the infrastructure to promote a new outreach and link it into your own social platforms (increasing your value to the sponsor and revenue potential in the process).

Have you tried out any of these apps and programs as a business owner or as a consumer? Which other loyalty apps have you heard about or utilized?

Industry veteran Anita Brady is the President of 123Print supplies high quality customizable items like business cards, letterhead, banners, yard signs and other promotional printing materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.

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