As we’ve discussed previously (and will probably discuss again) having a loyalty program is extremely vital to the success of your company. On average, loyal customers spend 60% more per transaction, buy 90% more often, and are 5x more likely to return to your business. For a small business that wants to save money on marketing and advertising, a loyalty program is your golden ticket.

You shouldn’t be using just any old loyalty program though. You need a loyalty program that has features your customers want. To cut to the chase, here is what your customers want in a loyalty program.

Easy Enrollment

Have you ever seen a cool product or program, go to sign up, only for it to be an extremely complicated registration process? I’m sure we’ve all been there. Having easy enrollment can really make a difference in the number of customers that end up registering with your loyalty program.

Most loyalty programs come with easy enrollment that typically only takes a few minutes to sign up. You might want to stay away from programs that require customers to sign up at the register with an employee. Not only can this put the customer on the spot, thus discouraging signup, but it can also hold up a line. Before selecting a loyalty program take a good look at how customers have to sign up.

If you have a hardware-free loyalty program this is even better. Not only does it save you money but it minimizes the room for error at the cash register.

Access to Exclusive Deals and Coupons

Customers want to feel special. Part of the reason why customers sign up for loyalty programs in the first place is to feel like they’re part of an elite group. This means you should be delivering this experience to customers that decide to register.

Look for a loyalty program that lets you offer sign-up and referral rewards. These are a great way to get word of mouth going and incentivizing customers to sign up. You also want a loyalty program that lets you offer specialized deals for holidays or other popular calendar days. Customers also want to receive coupons and deals not associated with earning points. This can be a once a month type thing where only loyalty program members receive a 15% off coupon every 1st of the month.

Having special deals that they can’t find in-store or on websites like Groupon or Retailmenot will make the loyalty program more exclusive. Consider setting up your program in tiers with increasing benefits. You'll be able to drive customers to purchase more often and in greater quantities to reach the next level.

Ease of Earning Points

Customers don’t want to sign up for a loyalty program where it’s next to impossible to start earning points. While some bigger companies have programs where you need to spend $500 dollars to reach a certain tier (not going to name names but…), this is a practice you want to stay away from depending on the size of your business. Let’s think about this realistically. If you’re a small pizza joint with one location, how quickly are you customers going to reach that high of a dollar amount? Some customers might not see this as worth it and not sign up. Worst case scenario, they don’t even return to your business.

Something that is popular among businesses with successful loyalty programs is offering double or triple point days. This makes earning points easier and can get customers to their first reward much quicker. By redeeming a reward faster, customers will want to spend more to get to the next one.

Ease of Redeeming Rewards

Another perk that customers look for is how easy it is to redeem rewards. Your loyalty program shouldn't be hard to redeem rewards from. Look for a program that doesn't require the customers to have rewards manually redeemed by cashiers. They should be able to get notified of a reward through their app and have it ready for the next time they make a purchase.

That being said, it should also be easy for customers to track their rewards. Customers don't want to rely on a punch card or having to save their receipts. Your loyalty program should have a dashboard where customers can view where they're at with the discount, and how many points until their next reward.

Ability to Choose Rewards

Giving your customers the option to choose their reward or discount makes your loyalty seem more exclusive. Not only do they get to earn points for their purchase but they get to choose what to do with those points.

You should have rewards that customers will find useful. Going back to the small pizza joint option, you don't want your customers to have the choice between a free t-shirt and 5% off a $30 pizza. Both of these rewards aren't exciting enough to keep customers spending money.

Aesthetic Layout

The way your loyalty program makes a big deal to customers. Nowadays, customers expect a beautiful, seamless brand experience when interacting with your business. You can start doing this by selecting a program name that evokes an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.

You can build on your program name by creatively naming your reward tiers and personalizing your icons for each level. Some companies also do this by clearly laying it out in an eye-catching infographic. E.l.f's beauty squad does a great job at doing this.

Here you can also include information that lets customers know what they will receive for joining the program, how they will earn points, and the rewards that they will enjoy after joining.

Ability to Save Money

Everyone is always looking for a way to save money. 57.4% of consumers have said that saving money was their primary reason for joining a loyalty program. The best way to do this is by implementing a points program. Giving customers points that can get cashed out for discounts creates a powerful switching cost. Many customers create systems that allow them to receive rewards by engaging with their store in a number of ways, including purchases, social shares, and customer reviews.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what your customers are expecting from your loyalty program. If you have yet to upgrade from an outdated system or implement a loyalty program at all, now is the time. Depending on your budget and customer base, there are programs that are bound to suit your needs. Before committing to one you'll want to make sure you do enough research and find one that is reputable.