By Ian Marsh, UK MD, payleven

It is no hidden secret that with the recent economic uncertainty and an increasingly competitive landscape, businesses have suffered. Customers are becoming less willing to part with their hard earned money and many brands are turning to new methods to ensure that customers return and remain loyal. For example, numerous businesses have looked to secure long term customer growth through implementing a loyalty programme. These can often prove to be hugely successful whilst also having a recognisable identity; think Tesco Clubcard.

The reason that Tesco Clubcard is so effective is because it is able to tailor the rewards and incentives on offer to specific customers’ needs; a term labelled emotive loyalty – understanding individuals’ desires and emotions. Having loyalty programmes will give businesses the ability to gain key insight into their customers’ behaviour which can then be channelled towards tailoring incentives that make customers return repeatedly. However, this sort of data analytics has often been the preserve of large companies with large budgets to match. Furthermore, smaller operations are becoming increasingly pressured by the proliferation of larger stores on the high street and the increasing dominance of ecommerce. Smaller businesses therefore need to take a creative approach to ensuring customer loyalty.

The increase of mobile technology; or more specifically the changing nature of mobile payments, has opened up space for this sort of loyalty programme that also captures that much needed customer data. Furthermore, mobile technology has the advantage of being flexible – a valued asset for small operations that need to be agile in how they do business.

This flexibility also translates into the structure of the loyalty schemes themselves. Mobile payment technologies offer scope to alter how they engage with their customers and the specifics of the loyalty scheme. For example, a start-up coffee shop might offer the 6th coffee free, or a beautician could offer a free manicure after the customer has visited five times. This is a vital element for the entrepreneurial small businessman who doesn’t have to be tethered to restrictive pre-set incentives. Pairing this with in-built data capture functions, mobile payment technologies offer brands a way of engaging with customers on an emotive level; tailoring their offering and increasing the likelihood of ensuring customers return again and again. This results in a loyalty programme that is completely usable and seamlessly integrated with the payment system.