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Engage Customers with an Incentive Program

By: SmallBizClub


Engage Customers with an Incentive Program

Have you wondered what you can do to add some spice to your business and get customers excited to come back? Maybe you should consider an incentive program. I recently had a chance to chat on the phone with Aron Ezra, the CEO of OfferCraft, an incentive program provider that incorporates cutting edge research and games to excite and engage customers. He had the following to say about incentive programs. The conversation below is based on my call notes, and not an exact transcript of our conversation.

Q: What exactly are incentive programs?

Incentive programs are all about companies or nonprofits giving their customers reasons to take some desired action. That could be to show up, spend more, bring a friend, spread the word, or buy a certain product or service. An effective incentive offer is all about changing customer behavior.

Q: Are customer rewards and loyalty programs different than an incentive program? If so, how?

Yes. A customer loyalty program encourages ongoing repeat business by rewarding customers who keep coming back. Marketing offers are about how to incentivize a certain action during a one-time transaction. So you might design a campaign that uses smart incentives, such as to play a game or win a chance at a discount, that are designed to get customers to sign up for your loyalty program. Offers are designed to move folks down the sales funnel; loyalty programs are about getting people to come back.

Related Article: Top 5 Secrets to Winning Customer Loyalty

Q: How can they benefit a small business owner?

Every business needs to be proactive about making sales. One way to do that, is to create specific experiences that drive customers towards making a purchase. That’s what effective marketing offers and customer incentives are all about. They’re critical to sustaining and growing any business. There are myriad ways in which a smart leveraging of human psychology and games, which is what our company specializes in, can help a small business owner:

  • Make people feel like they’re getting a bargain so they spend more
  • Differentiating your customer experience from that of your competitors
  • Getting rid of surplus inventory while raising your profile among prospects
  • Building awareness about your product or service

Q: So, can you give me an example of a traditional incentive strategy and how OfferCraft is different?

A traditional incentive strategy might be to give out 20% discount coupon to a customer when they walk in the door. We craft a different kind of strategy for the client. Perhaps they answer a question or play a game at the POS system to try to get discount. Or they can play a game or take a survey on their phone via your website or app. Everyone wins something just for participating, but the percentage is not static. It could be 20%, it could be 5%, or it could even be completely free. You can even include email capture, reward program sign-up, or surveys to get information for follow up. For instance, when they win their coupon, they can choose to have it texted or emailed to them, meaning your business gets their contact info.

Q: From your research, what do you find are the most important features of an effective incentive program?

Effective incentive programs have offers that are relevant, memorable, and easy to use. If you make it hard for your customer to understand or redeem an offer, they won’t.

Q: What is the single biggest mistake most small businesses make when creating an incentive program (or when implementing one)?

They don’t make it fun. If an offer is forgettable and boring, customers will move on. But if you can create an experience that’s engaging and enjoyable, customers will want to take advantage of it. And everybody wins.

Q: As a successful business owner, what is one piece of general business advice you would like to pass on to our readers?

Come at everything you do from your customer’s perspective. The reason most incentives fail is because businesses don’t sufficiently understand what motivates their customers both in terms of gains created and pains relieved. Work hard to make every aspect of the customer experience fun, interesting, engaging and memorable. You’ll not only make customers way happier, but you’ll get way better results.

You can find more handy tips for local businesses here.

Jason RuegerAuthor: Jason Rueger is an analyst and staff writer for Fit Small Business currently specializing in online and offline storefronts and product reviews. When not helping other small business owners Jason is busy running his own small business, Rueger Pottery, where he specializes in handmade, functional ware that he hopes will lead those who use it to find some meaning and beauty in the everyday moments of life. You can see Jason’s pottery at rueger-pottery.com and reach him at jrueger@fitsmallbusiness.com.

Published: October 13, 2015

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