By Rob Hill

Implementing a successful customer loyalty scheme is one of the best things a shopping centre or leisure destination can do to increase footfall, improve customer retention and enhance brand profile.

Can you imagine the impact of being able to invite thousands of loyal, pre-registered customers to launches, openings and other events?

My agency has created customer loyalty schemes for several shopping centres and leisure destinations throughout the country and can attest to the power of a successful scheme. We’ve actually experienced instances in which centres have struggled to comfortably cope with the volume of visitors — what a welcome alternative to the nightmare of poorly attended events!

In my experience, a well-managed loyalty scheme can significantly help to retain customers and secure new customers. The concept isn’t familiar to everyone, though, so I will explain the basics.

What is a customer loyalty scheme?

Most people are familiar with the basic concept of customer loyalty programmes through the use of major supermarket schemes such as Tesco’s Clubcard and the consortium style Nectar card.

However, ‘points and rewards’ schemes are usually not suitable for shopping centres as invariably it is not practical to record spend at each of the participating retailers.

Instead, I have worked on a number of schemes for shopping centres that have involved creating a consortium of the retail outlets to provide a range of benefits including discounts and special offers, largely supplied by the tenants of the shopping centres.

What are the main benefits of a good customer loyalty strategy?

• Added value for retailers. Tenants can make use of the database to promote their own offers.

• Reduce advertising costs. Although there is an upfront investment to implement a customer loyalty programme, future advertising costs will be significantly reduced.

• Market knowledge. Rather than carrying out traditional market research which is often only a ‘snapshot’ of customers’ profiles, the registration process and ongoing two-way dialogue provides a valuable insight into the centre’s visitors.

• Resale value. With a large database of customers, the value of the centre could be improved.

What are the key components of a successful customer loyalty scheme?

• The Customer Database. This is essential to the future success of the scheme and should be designed according to the specific needs of each centre or destination.

• Reporting. It is important to keep the client up to date with all activity.

• Email Marketing and Text Messaging. These cost effective methods can be used to inform members about offers, promotions and events.

• Website Pages and Data Capture Forms. These are additional web pages and forms which are integrated into the client’s current website to promote the scheme and capture new member data.

• Touch Screen Kiosk. Onsite touch screen kiosks provide an opportunity to promote the benefits of the scheme and offer an additional way for customers to join the loyalty program.

Implementing a customer loyalty scheme is not a quick fix, but it will provide a much better return on investment when compared to any other marketing initiatives in the longer term.

Rob Hill is the Managing Director of HMA Digital Marketing, which has offices in Yorkshire and London. HMA combines award-winning website design and marketing expertise to deliver powerful digital solutions that enhance online reputation and competitive advantage. HMA’s focused range of services include website design and development, SEO, PPC, social media marketing, email marketing, customer loyalty schemes and its very own CMS and document storehold. Please visit www.hma.co.uk or call 01226 209450 for more information.

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