loyalty punch cards

Loyalty Tactics: Loyalty Punch Cards

Punch cards are the simplest ways to enact a loyalty program for your brand or product. The premise is simple, you have a card that gets “punched” every time you purchase from the store and after a predetermined total of products is purchased, you get a reward. The concept revolves around rewarding repeat purchases with free products or services. Just about any brand or product can use the punch card concept, and its a predecessor to the points system which we’ve covered in a previous post.

Praises for Loyalty Punch Cards

The best reason to do a punch card is speed of implementation and low overhead monitoring costs. You can have a punch card system set up within days and have your customers cashing in on rewards. Its setup and management is low cost since you only have to create rules and rewards that are one-size fits all. The very nature of the program is all-inclusive, so you don’t have to deal with customer segmentation. And cards can be created with any online printer. Lastly, the concept is so widely grasped that your customers and employees will understand the process instantly.  Straight out of the gate, it is one of the easiest programs to implement.

Critiques for Loyalty Punch Cards

The biggest critique for punch cards is that it provides no data about the when, what, and why of a customer’s purchase. A punched hole in a card does not shed any light on habits or purchase history. Since a loyalty program should focus on the data you can mine from your customers, this point should not be taken lightly.  Additionally, cards are easily lost by customers, which means they lose the incentive behind the program as well. A lost card is a lost reward, which can be a negative on your brand experience. Lastly, purchases are unassigned to customers, making validation and follow up almost impossible. It’s a one and done operation, unless you plan ahead.

A New Type of Punch Card

If you do a punch card it will be easy to think around some of these issues noted above and plan ahead. For example, include a name, zip, and email form on the back of the card and require the customer to fill it out for the reward. You’ll get some customer information when you collect them to help with the data issues and give you a better picture of your customers. This will also allow you to put them on your email marketing lists, which allows for more touch points in the customer experience. You could look at other digital solutions for punch cards that might remove the “lost card” factor. Building a custom mobile app for punches might be a good solution, or tallying purchases to phone numbers would allow you to keep track of the user’s information for them, without being to intrusive.


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