So you're looking to improve customer loyalty, huh? Well then, let's get to the point. On average, loyal customers spend 60% more per transaction, buy 90% more often, and are 5x more likely to return to your business. Crazy, right? Those stats right there should be convincing enough to get you to pull the trigger. However, that's not why you're here. You're here because you need to know if you should use the traditional punch card system to get the job done. So, let's answer that question.

Answer To That Question

No.

Now, I know you're probably thinking something like "Hey man! I've used punch cards for years and get tons of traffic. Who are you to say they don't work!" But just hold on, I never said they don't work. In fact, they do work - and they work pretty well. The question I'm answering is if you should be using them. And again, the answer is no.

Here's Why

With technology as advanced as it is, it's probable for the once timeless punch card to come to an end. We are in a new age of customer experience where the consumer has higher expectations than ever. They want experience, high quality, custom personalization - all things that the punch card lacks. But it doesn't stop there. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should go another route to increase customer loyalty:

Outdated

Odds are, you're targeting millennials & Gen Zers - which is great! They've got the most spending power out of any generation. But you know what else they got? Smartphones, laptops, and anything else with a screen. Most of them don't even know what life without the internet was like. They are used to this now. It's part of their day to day. If you want to keep up with them, you need to think technology first, paper never.

This guy gets it.

Inconvenient

"It's just a tiny piece of paper, how inconvenient can it be?" Well, to millennials, the answer is very inconvenient. Remember, at times they are referred to as the convenient generation. And on top of that, 43% of them say carrying a card is their top frustration with loyalty programs. But if that's not enough, here's a real life, personal story that really illustrates my point.

It's a Saturday morning and I'm about done cleaning out my wife's car. Just as I'm finishing up, I open up the glove department to find that I wasn't even close to finishing. Old receipts, broken pens, useless cards, etc. just littered the glove department. My first thought was to empty the whole thing into the trash. After all, this stuff looked like it hadn't been touched in months. However, trying to be a decent husband, I started going through it carefully so I wouldn't throw anything away that my wife would later need.

So I started separating everything into a keep pile and a trash pile. As I was about halfway in I found my first keep pile item. It was a loyalty punch card from Soda Tsunami, a local soda shop nearby. It was stamped 6/10 times so I figured I'd keep it to save some money. As I kept going, I found another Soda Tsunami punch card, this time stamped 7 times! So I put that one in the keep pile also figuring that she'd use it eventually. But then I found another one...and then another one...and then two more...and then three more! I couldn't believe it!

I ended up finding 9 loyalty punch cards to Soda Tsunami in total. And here's the kicker, each one was stamped more than 5 times each. She literally could have had 5 free drinks!

When I went inside with the 9 punch cards to show my wife, she laughed and said she totally forgot how many she had and that I could just throw them away.

The end.

There's a lot to learn from that story. However, the point is that she only used the punch card if it was convenient for her. And if it wasn't convenient for her, she just got another one because it was the easier option. This shows that either she really doesn't care about filling it up or she doesn't think it's worth it. But if one thing is certain, once that card went into the glove department, it was over.

What's even crazier about this story is that my wife is probably one of their top customers. She'd been over 45 times in just a few months. That means even their most loyal customers, who would benefit the most from it, didn't even think twice about it - the saw no value. But no matter the reason for that, something needed to change there to increase convenience and ease of use.

Lack Of Data

Good, strong data drives better decisions, solves problems, and helps business owners understand their target audience. In today's market, it's crucial to invest in software that tracks key analytics and other important metrics.

Saying the punch card lacks in data is an understatement. It almost tracks no data at all! It is impossible for it to compete with modern loyalty programs that are able to track important data that can help drive more business. Imagine being able to know the lifetime value of a specific customer, or how often customers come in and at what times. With data, all this is possible and more. Without it, it's the 80's again.

So What's The Alternative?

Alright, before I get into the alternative, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Ya well that's great and all dude, but punch cards are the only cheap option out there. I can't afford the alternative. My hands are tied!"

Wrong, your hands are not tied. However, they WERE tied for quite some time. Up until recently, you only had two (not good) alternatives:

  1. Build Your Own App
  2. Digital Loyalty Program

Building your own app is generally not an option for SMB's. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars up front than more after. And if you go cheap, you will have a very crappy app that does more bad than good. If you don't believe me, I have thousands of examples.

A Digital Loyalty Programs is a more realistic option but still not the best. They cost $300 /mo not including the set up fee. You also have to enter into long, risky contracts and implement new, unreliable hardware into your store. It's not fun.

So yes, your loyalty game has been off for quite some time. However, a bunch of people saw that and went out to fix it. They spoke with hundreds of restaurant and retail owners, raised a lot of money, and built a new loyalty solution that businesses would love AND not have to pay for. Here's what they came up with:

Loyal: A New Loyalty Solution

It's fast, easy, and completely free. NO catch. They even managed to get rid of the hardware, integrations, long contracts, and even the pushy salesmen. It's a self service model that takes less than 5 minutes to setup. And again, it literally costs $0.00. Don't even bother taking your credit card out.

Digital loyalty programs are out. Building your own app is out. Punch cards are out. This new loyalty solution is the faster, easier, and cheaper way to go. Technology is hitting the customer loyalty industry with full force! This is something completely new and different. Thousands of your customers will be able to come in, redeem points and other rewards, and come back with excitement to use those points they earned. You will build your brand, boost growth, and increase in sales. Loyal truly is making this a win win for businesses.

It was expensive and took a good amount of time to build but they are finally opening up a beta in August. If you are interested in joining the beta, you can pre-signup here.

Conclusion

So no, you shouldn't use the traditional punch card system, digital loyalty programs, or build your own app. It's not necessarily because they don't work - because they do, but its that there is a way better option that works a whole lot better.  

Like I said before, we are in a new age of customer experience where the consumer has higher expectations than ever. They want experience, quality, and custom personalization. And this new loyalty solution does it all!

Now don't just take this and leave it, go do some research to see for yourself. Get started soon and move fast! If you have any questions or need help at all, reach out anytime!