If you are a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, salon, spa or other retail store, you know one of the hardest part about running your business is bringing existing customers back into your store on a frequent basis.

One of the best ways to incentivize return visits is to reward your loyal customers through offers, special and deals.  Before the host of technological advancements, local businesses used to reward loyal customers with a clip card where they’d receive an item free after ten purchases.

However, a recent study by Forrester Research show that this method is fairly ineffective.Only 16% of consumers actually redeem loyalty rewards.  So how can you as a local business owner increase customer engagement and participation in your loyalty rewards? Here are 3 quick tips:

1. Use a Mobile-App Based Loyalty Program

One of the most common reasons customers don’t redeem rewards when it comes to clip cards, is because they most likely lose them or don’t want to deal with the hassle of holding onto those cards.  A great way to circumvent this issue to provide your loyalty rewards via mobile-app based loyalty programs.

One of the best mobile apps that comes to my mind is Belly. The Belly “Card” is a mobile app based rewards program that is quickly sprouting up in local businesses across the country.  It works very simply. The business provides a host of various rewards based on how many points the customer has accumulated.  The customer then earns these rewards by quickly scanning their mobile phone.  It’s super easy and reduces the need for the customer to hang on to a bunch of various loyalty cards from their favorite businesses.

2. Email marketing

Email marketing campaigns can be done extremely easy through tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact.  Be sure to acquire your customers’ email addresses by providing an incentive to do so.  Then, send your customers monthly e-mail incentives to get them back in the door.

3. Text Marketing

Test-based marketing campaigns have an ever higher redemption than email marketing, because consumers are more likely to open their text messages than their emails.  One product I like is VIP Texts.  They allow you to target customers with special offers and deals and then provide you with custom analytics on those campaigns.

Keep up-to-date with Sean Barkulis’s blog posts on local business marketing at UPlanMe Digital Marketing Consultants