How to Successfully Launch a Customer Loyalty Program: A Timeline

Launching a Customer Loyalty Program

Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business, but keeping a steady stream of customers coming through your doors can be a challenge. To drive repeat business, many brick-and-mortar merchants rely on loyalty programs to identify valuable customers and provide strategic incentives to keep them coming back.

An effective loyalty program becomes part of your brand identity. It’s ingrained in every routine and decision.

To succeed, you need a data-based customer engagement platform that provides a modern way to reach customers, provides a wealth of customer data and has a clear lifecycle that helps your brand focus on your most important customers.

The launch of a customer loyalty program is important. It can make or break the program. In this post, we’ll share a timeline for the first six months of your program from launch to optimization. 


Month 1: Train, market, educate

During the first month, you’ll train your employees, prepare marketing campaigns, and launch your new customer loyalty program.  

  • Train

Set aside time to teach employees how to engage customers and talk about your new program.

Employees should ask customers, “Do you have any points to redeem today?” By doing so, they’ll instantly know whether a customer is signed up and if they’re actively using the program. Employees can encourage signups at this point or thank customers for being a loyalty member.

Employees will encourage customers to respond to a one-question survey that asks them how likely they are to refer your business to friends. This survey question, commonly known as a Net Promoter Score, will help your company gauge customer satisfaction.

To encourage employees to speak to customers about this survey, consider rewarding the employee who gets the most responses in a month or a run a contest that makes the process fun.

  • Market

You’ll also plan marketing campaigns.

Schedule posts on social media to announce your new program, get print material set up in-store, and consider hosting a customer appreciation month that coincides with the launch of your program.


  • Customer education and sign up

It’s time to launch your program. Now, your main goal shifts to customer education. It’s all about generating excitement and getting customers to sign up.

One of the best ways to encourage signups is to offer an incentive. Give customers a free drink or a $5 off promotion to sweeten the deal.

You should mention your loyalty program at different touch points. When a customer checks out an employee can encourage him or her to sign up; when a customer walks into the store an employee can tell them about a cool bonus they’ll receive for joining the program; when a customer visits your website you can have information about the program. Check out how SusieCakes promotes their program.

Consider a customer referral program. Reward customers for referring a friend to your loyalty program. 

Month 2: Progress check

It’s time to see how your program is doing. Typically, Thanx merchants aim to get 500 customers to sign up at each location. Check your data to see if you’ve hit your goal.

Use the data to see which channels drive the most sign-ups too.

Thanx sign up dashboard

This insightful data can help you make better decisions. By knowing how most customers sign up, you can devote more resources to that aspect and less to efforts that aren’t doing as well.

In addition, you’ll start to see customer data stream in. At this point, some customers could be on their third, fourth, or fifth visit, depending on your business. 

At a glance, you see how many times your customers come in, what they typically spend, and what location they favor.

PHASE 3: Target specific customer segments

Month 3: Reward your VIPs

In a short amount of time, you’ll see who your most valuable customers are. These are customers that visit your business most often and spend the most during each visit.

It’s crucial to identify VIP customers. This is the group of customers that will likely fuel a large part of your business. Obviously, you want to keep them happy.

Know your VIP customers

This month, focus on your VIPs. Create a special offer just for them. Use your customer engagement platform to send a reward to your loyal customers via a push notification.

Thanx merchant, Pinthouse Pizza, extends their happy hour on Monday-Wednesday for VIPs. Try something similar. Extend sale hours, offer a freebie, or give VIPs a special offer.

Rewarding loyalty is a great way to keep customer satisfaction up and keep customers coming back again and again. The 80/20 rule applies to your VIPs since they make up a small portion of your customers but drive a significant amount of revenue. This is why it’s important to reward them and keep them happy. Focusing on the customers that make the most impact on your bottom line also keeps your program ROI positive.

Month 4: Drive traffic during slow times

Use your customer loyalty program to drive traffic during your slow times.

Let’s say you run a restaurant and Tuesday afternoon is notoriously slow. Thanx provides the data you need to encourage a certain segment of customers to come in at a time that’s different than usual.

Here’s the data you’ll see. You can send a promotion to all of the customers that typically come in during the evening shift (5pm-10pm) that encourages them to stop in for lunch on Tuesday.

Timeshift in the Thanx dashboard

The idea is to “Time Shift” a customer’s visit so you can drive more revenue during slow times.

Month 5: Target lost customers

After months of data flowing in, you’ll be able to identify customers that are “lost” or who haven’t stopped by in a while.

With the data provided by your customer engagement platform, you can identify those customers and give them a reason to come back.

winback campaign

Maybe you send a push notification that says, “Come back soon” and give the customer half off entrees or a coupon that’s good for the weekend.

Before implementing a customer loyalty program, you weren’t able to identify this behavior and work to bring these customers back. Now, you can take active steps to keep every customer – even those who stray for a bit – as active as possible.

PHASE 4: Optimize your loyalty program

Month 6: Review, adjust, plan ahead

  • Review

Take some time to review the success of your loyalty program and answer these questions:

  • How did VIPs respond to your reward?
  • How was business impacted during the “time shift” incentive?
  • How many lost customers came in as a result of your winback campaign?

Access how each campaign did, how customers reacted, and the effects it had on your bottom line. Thanx provides you all the robust data you need to see these results.

Thanx Campaigns Dashboard

  • Adjust

Now’s the time to think about the things you’d like to do differently. In particular, you may want to adjust your reward structure or the actual rewards you offer.

It’s a delicate balance to offer a reward that’s incentive enough to make customers act but doesn’t cut into your profits. Every business, even big-name companies like Starbucks, have to access their promotions.

Starbucks, a company known for its customer loyalty-driven marketing, recently decided to cut its Frappuccino Happy Hour after the promotion failed to live up to expectations. The coffee giant hoped the promotion would drive sales of frappuccinos up during the non-happy-hour time, but that wasn’t the case, according to Reuters.

Take a look at your rewards and make adjustments if necessary.

Now that you’re months into the program, you might consider scaling down your sign-up reward too.

  • Plan ahead

Using your data, make a plan for the next six months. What rewards will you offer to continue to drive repeat sales? How will you drive more traffic to your store during slow times?

Shenaniganz, a Dallas-based entertainment center offering bowling, laser tag, and other attractions, had a large population of customers (86%) that only visited once every four months. Using Thanx, they were able to target those customers and offer incentives to bring them back. The number of customers that visited every four months dropped to 37% after Thanx was launched.

Put your plans on paper and prepare for another six months of great customer insights and must-have rewards that increase your revenue and grow your business.

Wrap up

Rewarding a customer’s loyalty is a powerful way to drive revenue. Eighty-seven percent of consumers say they visit a local store more frequently because they belong to company’s loyalty program.

To be effective, however, you need a customer engagement platform that gives you the insights you need to reward loyalty. See how Thanx can help grow your business. Schedule a demo today.