Punch Card App: What Is It & How To Boost Customer Loyalty

Marketing 17 minute read 10th July 2023

Remember the days of those cardboard, flimsy punch cards? The little cards increase customer loyalty, but somehow you always lose or ruin them in the process. With a loyalty punch card app, you don’t have that issue. Punch card apps produce customer loyalty analytics from a mobile device and are a brilliant addition to your customer loyalty programs.

If you’re ready to boost customer loyalty - and who doesn’t want that - a mobile punch card is worth the investment.

So, what is there to know? There are a few factors to consider when swapping from physical cards to running a digital punch card program. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from a solid definition to the best apps for punch cards.

Get ready for a thorough introduction to punch card apps and the flurry of benefits they offer your business. A virtual punch card can be game-changing for your customers and your business.

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What Is a Punch Card App?

A punch card app is an application on a mobile device that supports digital loyalty cards. The term gets its name from when physical cards would actually be ‘punched’ with holes to prove a purchase. The customer would then collect ‘punched’ holes to redeem a reward once they reach specific numbers.

The physical card was a popular part of a customer loyalty program and a great way to increase regular sales. Customers no longer need to keep a physical card through punch card apps - instead, they just use a mobile phone.

The apps are downloadable on Androids or iPhones, and many options exist, including free apps. The customer opens the app when making a purchase or using a service. The app creates a barcode, which the staff member scans. Scanning the barcode successfully allocates a point to the customer’s loyalty card. Through this method, customers can quickly accrue points and claim rewards. And businesses have a reliable way of encouraging customer loyalty.

You can easily sync loyalty programs with digital punch card apps. Most apps have a sign-up section for businesses to input the rewards and manage the system. And getting customers to sign up is easy - just offer a captive portal WiFi login with a sign-up prompt.

Or run QR code marketing that directs customers to sign up. The options are endless for getting your virtual punch card strategy up and running.

Digital punch cards are the future of loyalty programs and one of the newest, most popular ways to collect points. Everyone has a mobile phone, so why not take advantage of that?

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Why Use a Punch Card App?

So, why use a punch card app? From the customer’s perspective, apps are much easier to look after and remember. Picture a mum scrambling to get three kids on the school run. She wants to get coffee after, but do you think she has the time to find her punch card? Or even the headspace?

For customers, punch card apps eliminate that pressure to remember. In the 21st century, your mobile phone is always with you. So you can carry digital loyalty cards wherever you go.

For businesses, scanning punch cards digitally is also really simple. And you don’t need to worry about physically providing cards - just create an account on the app. Not providing cards is a huge bonus. It also reduces waste when customers lose, damage, or throw away their loyalty cards.

Since people already have mobile phones, it is more sustainable to offer digital cards. That goes for customers, too; they’ll be happy not to worry about damaging or losing physical cards.

Punch card apps are reliable and easy to provide and use. If you consider that they are almost impossible to forget too, they’re the invention of the century. Digital punch cards are transformative for customers and businesses.

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Cons of a Mobile Punch Card App

Of course, not everything comes without a few cons. Let’s take an honest look at the punch card app strategy. What are the cons if you look very closely at the strategy?

  1. Digital poverty

Not everyone has a mobile phone, and not everyone has a smartphone version compatible with loyalty apps. The percentage is small but does make up a percentage of the population. Digital poverty is a very real issue.

To avoid excluding this demographic of people, it is essential to provide a physical card alternative. Research your customer demographic before introducing digital punch cards, too, so that you can give the correct number of physical alternatives.

  1. Certain demographics may struggle with technology

Similarly, certain demographics may need help with technology and setting up the app. Digital skills are demanding, especially for older generations new to phones. Can you help customers set up the app? A plan, instructions, or help area could alleviate embarrassment or stress in setting up the app.

While neither of these ‘cons’ are drawbacks of a digital punch card program, you should consider them beforehand. Your loyalty program has to be accessible for customers to work. So make sure to dedicate time to making sure it is a fit.

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Building Loyalty: Punch Card App Implementation in a Wider Loyalty Scheme

So you know the considerations to make and the benefits of investing in a punch card app. What else do you need to know? Implementing punch card apps into a wider loyalty scheme is one of the best ways to improve your results. So don’t just stop with punch cards; build a loyalty program around them for a more effective strategy.

You can get customers to subscribe to email marketing or SMS loyalty rewards. You could invite subscriptions through weekly roll-outs of new rewards - like coffees, discounted cinema tickets, and free ebooks. These emails are a friendly reminder that your business is still there, ready and waiting. And the reward prompts act as a temptation back into the loyalty program.

Hop on the opportunity that punch cards create and build on the loyalty that they provide. Use punch cards to invite more people to subscribe to other forms of marketing, like SMS or email strategies.

How To Find the Best Digital Punch Card App

There are a few things to consider when hunting for the best digital punch card app. Depending on you, your business, and your customers, you’ll have different needs. It is essential to set yourself up for success by researching before setting up punch card apps. If you want your punch card strategy to succeed, follow these 5 steps.

Gauge Punch Card App Interest From Your Customers

Gauging loyalty card interest from your customers is an essential first step. You can confidently roll out digital punch cards if loyalty card interest is already high. If interest is low, you must invest in proper card marketing. You may not want to invest much money upfront in the strategy either; consider free card apps.

Decide on Compatibility Requirements and Budget

Next up, decide on your budget. This will help determine whether you splash out on a paid punch card program or stick to a free option. It will also help you plan in terms of any necessary marketing. Compatibility requirements are also essential to note at this stage. Will you need an app compatible with a desktop and a mobile device? Specifically, Android devices? Or do you want a device compatible with everything to be as inclusive as possible for customers?

Check the Punch Card App Features

This is well and truly at the window shopping stage. Now is the time to browse tons of different apps and compare what features they offer. While the apps are based on the same concept, the designs may differ in features. Check for caps on the number of cards available to store and rules on online and offline use.

Check the Reviews of Each Punch Card App

Checking reviews is the final stage of narrowing apps down. Be merciless at this stage, and question the reviews you see. Do they appear fake or genuine? Check for robotic language, fake names, and similar review messages.

Organize a Trial

Finally, organize a trial. This is especially important if you opt for a paid digital punch card service. You want to give yourself a chance to try it and see if it works efficiently.

The last thing you want is to roll out one app and then have to remove it. Get friends and family to check apps for usability and all the basics before even considering introducing them to customers.

The Best Free Punch Card App for Business: Top 5 Contenders

Sometimes, the best things in life really are free. And if you are searching for the best free punch card app for business ventures, this is the section for you.

We’ve carefully picked the top 5 contenders offering the best free punch card apps. The winner? We’ll let you decide.

  1. Loony Loyalty

Loony Loyalty is a special platform that connects to other apps rather than being an app. You can add it to established apps like Google Pay or Apple Wallet. And the program appears like an actual loyalty card with stamps. For the business, you get customer data insights and engagement stats.

While not free long-term, Loony Loyalty offers a trial, so keep your eyes on this option.

  1. Stamp Me

Stamp Me is a simple app perfect for businesses looking to start a minimal-risk punch card journey. You can start it for free and get a real taste of its benefits without an upfront commitment. Features include customer data tracking and push notifications. There are even birthday rewards.

  1. Selyo

Selyo offers a free 14-day trial to get a zero-cost first experience of punch card apps. The app uses sonic technology to allocate points to the card at checkout - rewarding customers from up to 1.5 meters away. Talk about COVID-friendly (why didn’t we know about this in 2020 and 2021?).

  1. digiPunchCard

Finally, we have digitPunchCard. This free punch card is compatible with IOS, Android, and desktops. It is the most easygoing punch card you’ll find, and while relatively new to the market, a great choice. You can manage stats online and relax with a highly compatible, free punch card solution.

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Will the Punch Card App Craze Die Down?

A digital punch card app is a craze we don’t see dying down anytime soon. It is too convenient and seems too natural a progression from physical cards. Carrying all your loyalty cards on your mobile device is so handy for customers.

Digital apps dispel the hassle of remembering and keeping physical cards safe. While putting mobile phones through washing machines is common, it’s certainly less common than putting a loyalty card through. Social media and technology make mobile phones much closer to your mind. With apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay, people even pay using mobile phones now.

Investing in digital punch cards is definitely worthwhile. It is one of the best ways to increase customer loyalty for your business. If you choose a free app, it is also a minimal investment. Low risk and maximum reward - what’s not to love?

Do you want extra help setting up and marketing your punch card app strategy? At Beambox, we are always happy to assist you with growing and adding to your business. As experts in WiFi marketing and loyalty programs, we can help you in your journey to success.

Beambox offers the best all-in-one WiFi marketing platform. We utilize a multi-strategy approach to connect, attract, and keep customers. Start your Beambox free trial today, and let us help you maximize your customer loyalty potential.

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