5 Best Customer Loyalty Programs for Small Business

Customer loyalty program

Big businesses have been banking on customer loyalty programs for years. Companies like Starbucks, Best Buy, and even online retailers like Amazon have benefited from rewarding returning customers for their loyalty. But these incentivized programs are not just beneficial for big name brands. Sixty four percent of small businesses surveyed reported their customer loyalty programs as being efficient, meaning they produced more money than they cost to maintain. If you’re a small business owner, this just goes to show that you can scale your company and boost your sales with the right customer loyalty program in place. Here are 5 types of customer loyalty programs perfect for your small business.

Your customer loyalty program should be incentivized in a way to make customers want to make more purchases with you, and also brag about you! Social media based customer loyalty programs allow you to achieve both — encouraging repeat purchases and turning your customers into brand ambassadors. Best of all, they cost very little to maintain.

You’ve likely seen examples of social media customer loyalty programs without even realizing it. Social media loyalty programs often involve asking your customers to post something about your organization to their social profiles, then rewarding them for their shout out. You could ask customers to take a picture of their food/drink, post it to Instagram with a specific hashtag, and tag your business in the picture. At the end of each day, you can select one customer’s image as the winning picture and give them a free appetizer, coffee or some other treat as their reward the next time they come in. This makes your returning customers happy and gets people talking about your brand online.

Rewards for purchasing milestones

This is probably one of the most frequently used customer loyalty programs and it’s easy to see why — it’s simple and straightforward for both businesses and customers! When customer loyalty programs have too many steps they can become confusing for both parties and discourage participation.

With this type of customer loyalty program, your business rewards customers when they reach certain marks, such as earning a free meal or getting a 50% discount on their next purchase when they spend $50. You can keep track of their milestones with punch cards, store loyalty cards , or via a loyalty app.

Premium Access Programs

Take a lesson from the big guys, like Starbucks and Amazon, by setting up your own premium access customer loyalty program. Both companies offer special rewards for premium members, although both achieve this a bit differently.

Starbucks is free to enroll in and has 3 tiers customers can reach to unlock more rewards. Every time a customer makes a purchase at Starbucks, they earn a star — and more stars means more rewards. All customers who register with the program are enrolled in the Welcome level, which gets them a free birthday beverage. Five stars later, they achieve Green level — earning them free refills, free trial offers, a free beverage when they buy whole bean coffee and more. Once they hit 30 stars, they reach Gold Level. This earns them a Gold Card — a token of their preferred customer status, and a free item at every 15 star mark, along with customized specials and discounts.

Amazon’s reward program is a pay-to-access loyalty program but earns members special discounts, exclusive access to movies and books, free shipping and more — all of which can pay off when they’re making lots of repeat purchases.

Both examples of these premium access programs extend a level of exclusivity to loyal customers that encourage repeat purchases and save the customer money over time. This makes this loyalty program type a great way for your business to stay competitive and keep customers engaged and returning frequently.


Strategic partnerships are a great way for your company to leverage a customer loyalty program to expand your customer base and encourage repeat customers. Align your company with a similar, but different company that will also help your customers satisfy their needs in some way. Maybe that means allowing your customers to pool their rewards when making purchases with your company and with the companies you partner with so that they can see the benefits of your loyalty program quicker. Either way, this type of customer loyalty program will encourage repeat business at your organization and can even earn you more customers via your partnerships.

A great customer loyalty program shows your customers how much you appreciate them. Saying thank you with a reward is always appreciated and will get your customers returning to your organization again and spread the word about you.

With all the increased purchases your customer loyalty program will produce, it may be a good time to take a second look at your payment processing costs. If you can cut down on these, you can keep more of the profits that will accumulate from your program.

At Fattmerchant our goal is to save businesses from greedy payment processors by eliminating costly markups and hidden fees. We save merchant on average 40% on credit card processing when they switch! That means keeping more of those profits you worked so hard for. Find out just how much you could save by taking our free and fast Business Savings Assessment.

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