You've implemented a loyalty program at your C-store. Customers are signing up in droves and the promotions are increasing your sales. Great! You've crossed the finish line! Right?
A loyalty program is like a living thing. It's a way to interact and engage with your customers daily, and because of that, you can't set it and forget it. Your loyalty program needs care and "feeding" if it is going to continue to grow and thrive.
One great example of this is Keith's Superstores, a chain of 39 c-stores based in southern Mississippi. Keith's implemented Simpliconnect's loyalty program a little more than a year ago, and within a nanosecond (OK, maybe a bit longer than that), they had enrolled 25,000 customers. According to Brian Lee, Keith's director of operations, they put a lot of effort into the front end of the program, pulling out all the stops to get customers interested in enrolling. They set up tents outside all of their stores, where employees would help customers download the loyalty app, generating excitement about the program in the process.
But the work didn't end when they saw those enrollment numbers rising. With 25,000 people enrolled, now it was time to engage them. At Keith's, they learned through trial and error about how many offers and promotions to run at one time. When they started, they dove in with seven or eight promotions, but found that was simply too much to maintain. Now, they stick to a quarterly promotional calendar, which has proven to be the right cadence for both Keith's and its customers.
Getting the most out of your loyalty program depends on the thought you give to it at all stages of implementation: before, during and especially after. A points-based discount on gas is a powerful reward for loyalty customers but if that's all your program consists of, you're missing out on the opportunity to run in-store promotions to get them away from the pump and inside the store. A recent study in C-Store Shopper Report found that, while most c-stores have some kind of loyalty program in place, most haven't maximized their programs to encourage spending and foot traffic.
Read more about it in Report Shows Convenience Stores Are Not Maximizing Loyalty Programs
Why aren't c-store operators maximizing their loyalty program? One reason could be time. The last thing you need is another task siphoning time out of your already-busy day. Here are some ways to maximize your program without killing your schedule in the process.
Track your results. Knowing how well your program is working is one of the keys to its success. Which promotions drive the most sales? Is the program attracting new customers? Are you overwhelming your customers or not giving them enough to engage them?
Use those results to create a promotions calendar. How often your promotions should change is up to your needs and your customers' preferences. Monthly? Weekly? Quarterly? The cadence is up to you. But it will entail sitting down and deciding what types of promotions to run, based on the results of past promotions. Take advantage of the customer data your program provides.
Change course if necessary. When your program has been humming along for a few months, you'll see what's working and what isn't. You'll be able to narrow your focus to the promotions that are most popular with your customers. Don't be afraid to change course, and don't be afraid to try something new. Keeping it fresh will add a little sizzle to your program, rather than offering the same discounts or promotions over and over.
Take advantage of account management. At Simpliconnect, we know that busy c-store owners and operators don't have the time to devote to maintaining their loyalty program. That's why we work closely with you to create promotions and communications, conduct monthly and annual reporting, and set goals for your loyalty program.
To learn more, download our new whitepaper: 2020 Marketing Trends for Convenience Stores.