The coupon phenomenon – from coupon to loyal customer

How often have you used a coupon to get a deal from a business, and then continue to go back, without a coupon?

It’s ironic, but clearly if I stumble across a restaurant or retailer, and go in and make a purchase without a coupon, I’m often much more willing to go back, as long as I had a good experience. If however, the first time I interacted with that business was because of the offer on a coupon I redeemed, I’m less likely to go back without a coupon.

I don’t think there is any official research on this, but I’m open to responses on this post. This line of thinking gets to my next point, how do you convert a bargain shopper into a loyal customer?

First and foremost, coupon or not, if you don’t provide a great experience for the customer, there’s not much of a chance that any marketing program, no matter how good is going to get that customer back in.  Let’s just say this first time, coupon customer did have a great experience, how do you overcome the coupon mindset to keep them coming back. Giving them a coupon each time just isn’t realistic, or is it?

I’m a strong believer in rewarding the loyal customers and integrating a loyalty program. Locally, Duffy’s Restaurants promote their MVP cards and reward loyal diners with a $10 credit, for every $100 spent. That customer that may have been lured in to try Duffy’s with a coupon, and had a great experience will be very receptive to ongoing discounts as part of a loyalty program.

Other than collecting an email address, loyalty programs are the golden chalice of customer retention. The only downfall of these programs are poor execution, or poor communication and understanding the value of being part of the program. If you have a CVS card you can probably relate. I mean, what do you really get with that card? Who knows…all I know is even if I don’t have the card, the clerk scans a code and I get a discount or something.

The other issue is how many loyalty cards is one person realistically going to carry with them? There are some new options but none have really caught on. An app in development by www.newtopalmbeach.com has shown some exciting promise. The app will organize all of the local loyalty programs into one app, so you just have to download it once, and you will get rewarded each time you frequent these establishments.

No matter how you choose to execute your loyalty program, it remains a key component to move your small margin coupon shoppers into an ongoing steady source of revenue and referrals for your business.