Want to learn how to easily get your first 5,000 subscribers? Download this free eBook to learn how.

How to Turn New Customers Into Repeat Customers (customer loyalty secrets)
Last Updated May 22nd, 2012

The other day I walked into one of the local spas by my place…

…and I realized how clueless small business owners are when it comes to using the web to market their businesses.

They thanked me, and they also said they hoped I came back again soon.

And that’s it.

They didn’t ask for my email address.

They didn’t offer a loyalty program


Now take a guess what I said…

“You guys are crazy! You’ve got customers who come in for massages, and you’re not building an email list?”

“Let me ask you a question: Do you find that most of your customers are regulars or one-offs?”

And they said “We have a lot of regulars, but we also have a lot of one-off customers.”

I went on to say “how awesome would it be if you converted more of those one-off customers into regulars?”

Naturally, they were interested.

How to Convert One-Off Customers Into Regular Customers

So, I went on to tell them the perfect email marketing strategy for a spa.

(If you’re not building an email list, i highly recommend AWeber. It’s who I use. Here’s my affiliate link).

I told them to get the email address of every single customer that enters their doors.

Then, I told them here’s what they should do:

  1. The day after the massage, send a helpful reminder email reminding them that it’s important to drink water after a massage. And that’s it.
  2. 1 week later, I told them to send an email where they just check in with the customer. No sales pitch. Nothing. Just a simple email asking them how they’re doing, and then share some data / research about the importance of getting a massage regularly.
  3. 2 weeks after that second email, I told them to send one more email where they offer a loyalty program…

…but not just ANY loyalty program!

Here’s How To Create Loyalty Programs That Work…

I told the spa to structure their loyalty program like this:

If the prospect scheduled an appointment today, they’ll gain access to a special loyalty card that would work like this:

For every 10 massages, get one free.

But here’s the kicker!

To entice them to schedule the appointment right away, I told the spa to tell them this:

Get the appointment now, and we’ll punch your card for this session, the session you already did, and we’ll give you a free punch too.

That way, if people come in for a massage during that week, they get 3 massage sessions of credit…

…and they only need another 7 massages to get a free one.

Why is this KEY?

I’ll tell you why.

How One Car Wash Implemented A Loyalty Program

I wrote about the car wash loyalty experiment a while ago, but here’s a quick refresher.

Two researchers, Joseph Nunes and Xavier Drèze, conducted a customer loyalty experiment with a car wash…

…and they found that “artificial advancement” increases customer loyalty 82%.

What’s artificial advancement?

I’ll explain.

On two consecutive Saturdays, they gave out loyalty cards to car wash patrons. Half of the cards required 8 car washes to earn a free car wash. The other half required 10… but instead of requiring the full 10, the car wash gave a 2 car wash head-start as a free bonus.

In both scenarios, the patron needed to buy 8 car washes total to get a free car wash.

However, in the second example, people received a 2 car wash head-start, which is deemed “artificial advancement.”

But here’s what happened:

During the next 9 months, 28 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they didn’t receive artificial advancement. However, 51 out of 150 people earned a free car wash when they did receive artificial advancement.

The same 8 car washes… one slight tweak… customer loyalty went up by 82%.


But why? Why did artificial advancement increase customer loyalty?

People are more likely to complete tasks when they’re closer to the finish line.

When you start with a loyalty card, and you only have 1 car wash punched, that means you’re 12.5% complete.

But when you start with a loyalty card that has 3 car washes to start, you’re 30% complete.

Even though the patrons need the same 8 car washes, in one instance they’re 70% away from the finish line… whereas in the other case they’re 87.5% away.

A nifty little behavior trick, right?


But there’s one caveat:

The artificial advancement only had that drastic of an effect when there was a clear reason why people were receiving the artificial advancement.

In other words, you couldn’t just give it to people for no reason.

Instead, you’ve got to give them the artificial advancement for a real reason… like a sale… or new customer appreciation… or anything like that.

Now let’s take this back to the spa

Do you see what I did there?

Based on the car wash research, the data says that they’d be 82% more likely to complete the loyalty card when they have the advancement.

So, when you offer the new customer a loyalty card with the opportunity to have 3 massages, you’re giving that customer 30% completion, meaning they’d be 82% more likely to complete the card.

But it gets better…

If these one-off customers didn’t have a massage habit, after getting that many massages, you can bet they’ll develop one.

And all this spa has to do is send out 3 emails after a new customer uses their services.

God I love marketing. 🙂

Let’s take this back to you and your business…

How do you follow-up with new customers?

What do you do to try and turn new customers into repeat customers?

Smart email follow-up is the KEY.

So, if you’re not putting your customers on an email list, start doing that.

And if you’re not following up with new customers, start doing that too.

And in those follow-ups, you should approach them as a friend who’s trying to help.

Show them data, give them research, and explain why they made a smart decision. This shows your new customer that you have their best interests in mind, while simultaneously alleviating what’s known as buyer’s remorse.

Then, to get customers to continue buying, using loyalty programs, like the car wash experiment, or the massage card, is just the beginning.

But the reality is…

Running a business is TOUGH.

You’ve got to:

create something people want to buy

… and then get them to buy it.

Fine-tune the thing you created

…and then get more people to buy it.

Now the creation part is on you.

If your product and service sucks, human behavior tricks on a customer loyalty program won’t work.

But when it comes to getting people to buy..

You know, marketing your business… that’s something you should invest in (both time and money).

I’ll explain.

The Secret to Selling More Of Your Stuff…

When you’re running a business, your job is to make sure your products and services are the best they can be.

And that’s a full-time job.

But if you want to sell more, you’ve got to learn how to market your business, and that’s ALSO a full-time job.

And as you just saw, there are little hacks—just like that customer loyalty hack—that makes marketing your business that much easier.

How can you learn more about marketing?

You’ve got to invest in your marketing skills.


Well, of course, you should continue reading Social Triggers (get free email updates, and you’ll gain access to never-before released content from Social Triggers).

Here, I pride myself on the fact that much of my free content is better than what most people sell.

I always knew that, but what really nailed that home was when my friend Ryan stumbled on my podcast “Social Triggers Insider” and said, “dude, I can’t believe you’re giving those master classes away. I know people who would sell each one for $97”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do have a premium training class that more than 1,000 students have enrolled in, and they lov eit.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t create awesome content that helps you… and give it to you for nothing.

(As long as you don’t turn into the “I can get it for free guy,” I don’t mind helping you out :-D)

Because in 2012 and beyond, I believe the companies who focus on helping their ideal customers the most, will win the most business.

“Companies who focus on helping their ideal customers the most, will win the most business.” – Click to Tweet

And I like to practice what I preach.

So, on that note, I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’d love to hear what you think.

Source: Nunes, Joseph and Dreze, Xavier, The Endowed Progress Effect: How Artificial Advancement Increases Effort. Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 32, March 2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=991962

Spread the love!

Join OVER 200,000 subscribers


Click here to sign up

Need more? Choose your path below

209 comments Leave a comment
Jeff @ Acobs Global

Nice blog! the content which is mention in this blog is really understandable and informative. I really like this blog and thanks for sharing.


A brilliant article and some great tips that we can all begin applying today.


Learn more about what PerkPanther.com can do for your business.
Reach your customer anytime,anywhere with your own loyalty automation platform.


Great article! Great tips! I’m going to implement them right away.




Breaking down complex things into simple!!! Awesome!
I began to read with a lot of prejudice, expecting some complicated boring gyan, but I’m awed by the way you put it so succinctly.

How about relating this to service marketing?

Wendy Reese

Derek – Thank you for the great advice! I haven’t added loyalty cards or program, because I never follow through with them myself OR I don’t want to carry a million cards in my wallet. Has anyone else thrown away punch cards for this reason? What about online punch or app?


I had my first Spa Party with 11 female friends. I hired a professional massage therapist and a make-up guru. I didn’t turn a profit from it- but the professionals did. I followed up with each of the ladies to see how they were getting along and how they liked everything- they LOVED it! For many of them it wast their 1st SPA experience. I even made my own colored and scented bath salts and sent each guest with them. They are asking me about the NEXT Spa Party!!! Yay! How can I make a little money by hosting the spa parties? I have a few ideas- but, I’d like to know what you think.

    Peggy McMahan

    It would be fair for you to ask for a commission from the professionals who are reaping the rewards of your hard work. It would also be fair for you to offer free samples of your wares as a gift, and also offer those items for sale in larger quantities. Look at it as doing something good and nice: you’re offering your friends the opportunity to buy some nice hand made stuff that they can give as gifts. They’ll appreciate that.


Makes total sense. It’s funny, I’ve never had anyone give me an artificial advancement on any punch card…and I’ve never completed one. But I would say, that if someone gave me something like that – I probably would be more apt to return and actually turn a card in. Interesting psychology.

Definitely applying this somehow. Thanks!


Curious how you might apply this to churches. I’m sure the general principles are the same, but is there anything specific you would offer in light of this particular context?


    We offer a free coffee card and a free small new testament bible for anyone who is new and you get to jump to the head of the coffee line. Plus we follow up in the welcome lounge to meet and greet you. Get peoples details then.

Janie Coulson - Realtor®

Hi Derek, I found this site, you have great advise, tips, on marketing! I am a real estate agent in Las Vegas and need some ideas I have tried many things. If anyone has ideas for me to grow my business more let me know. Thank you.


Derek – thanks for this article, couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Will definitely circulate it with my service-based industry colleagues.

As an aside, it always surprises me how often businesses *don’t* collect email addresses. There are always SO many businesses for the consumer to choose from that you’d think each business would try their hardest to make the consumer a life-long customer.

Thanks again!


Great practical points about creating a loyalty program. I want to take this back to the interaction at the spa.

If someone offering a personal service doesn’t ask for my email address, I am unlikely to return. Why? They’ve just communicated there’s nothing special about them, that their product and experience is generic. It says a lot to me about how they view their own business and that they’re not interested in creating a customer relationship. It’s as if they don’t want to form a relationship with me.


Thank you, Derek, this is perfect advice for massage therapists and any other complementary health care provider. I’ll pass it on to my massage therapist friends.


So true,

I started a business selling customer loyalty on behalf of beauty therapy companies. I couldn’t even get people to go into a different salon for 3 free visits to try all the services that they offer. People wouldn’t go, maybe it was the, ” it’s to good to be true” or “what’s the catch,” but in terms of market research for the industry I now realize people are not looking to get a massage, hair cut or highlighted or teeth whitened… they can get those services anywhere.

What they’re looking for is a relationship and they won’t leave their current salon because of the relationship… their stylist is their friend that they can divulge all their dark secret to. YOU so right when the one-off customers come in they’re looking for a relationship and you have to display why they would want to keep coming back.

Great article!


Great article. thanks for sharing


You know, Derek…

I’m thinking you could be like the “Kitchen Nightmares” for non-food businesses here. I live in a very rural area and one thing I see over and over is that people go into business doing something they love but don’t learn the business end of it and end up in failure a few years later.

If there’s an audience for TWO shows about a big-time chef coming in and helping owners revamp and troubleshoot their restaurant, I bet there would be an audience for a show about a big-time marketer doing the same for little businesses!


Hi Derek, love this idea! My only problem is my current
“reward” system is built into my cash register which keeps track of
everything automatically–for example, if a customer spends $30 or
more they get a “star” on their receipt, and after they accumulate
5 stars, they can choose a service at 50% off. I don’t have a way
to override the system and add stars at my whim, if you know what I
mean. I’d prefer not to go back to the “manual” punch card system,
is there a way I could do this with an automated system?


This post couldn’t have come at a better time, thanks Derek! I’ll be getting on this for my acupuncture and skincare services right away. I actually already do a buy five and get one free with all my waxing clients (which they love) but I hadn’t really sent any follow up emails.

Shane Powers


You’re the man! I was just having a similar conversation with a client recently. Is the car wash example from Cialdini’s Influence? I know I’ve heard this specific example somewhere but can’t remember…

The content’s great as usual.


Great post Derek, really enjoyed the way you took a concept that feels overwhelming to small business owners and made it so simple. Totally agree with everything you’ve written, especially with regards to follow up and timing. It’s important to keep up the engagement with customers after a purchase — the more recently they have heard from you, the more likely they are to do business with you again. And even more importantly, the follow up content should make sense as it relates to the latest experience they have had. Especially online business owners can take steps in the right direction by using simple tools for automating follow up activities. Thanks for sharing.

Trevi Lim

Well done! Love the information you are sharing. Too many people forget about the importance of repeat purchases by customer is how you grow your sales revenue quickly. Love the idea of artificial advancement.


Hey Derek,
Thanks for a great post. I really love you ideas and for sure I have to start my action about this.
I am wondering, I am selling natural cosmetic and souvenir packs and 98% of my customers are tourist customers. Do you have any advice how can I turn my tourist customer into my repeat customer?



This is great, i work for a Spa and been wondering how we can keep our clients.

Maegan Anderson

Great article Derek!Implementing this kind of strategy will surely gain more money to your company. The only question now is how will you handle a huge number of customers? You should hire additional workers for that:)


    Hi Maegan,
    Great question. There are lots of tools out there that can take away the labor burden of following up with all of your customers. Some work is required to kick it off, but after that it is possible to achieve automation and personalization with smart software tools.
    Good luck!


Great concept!! Genius!! We have a window tinting business for 27yrs. in Delaware for residential and commercial buildings. No cars.
Most of our res. clients are well to do. On the back of our business cards we give $20 referral fee if they call in. That didn’t go over to well. Many have referred us but did not call in for their $20. Your article gives me some idea how to capture repeat customers… now I need to figure out what they really want..(Get 4 windows tinted and get 1 Free) Perhaps- Your feedback is truly welcomed!

Lennart Hiemstra

Derek, got here from your Webinar. Still listening; I just love your speed of talking. On any other podcast I drift away, but your loud, obnoxious hyper speed voice keeps me totally focussed!

Great content, I am spreading the (your) word!


Rebecca Bondurant

I like the way you presented this. You seem like a smart, nice guy and it seems you used your own tactic nicely in the end – offering free information, but teasing us all with all your other great products that aren’t free. Psychology and marketing are fascinating! Love it!


Mukesh I agree with you… loyalty programs make the customer feel as though they are getting more value by returning to your store and will make them want to give their business to you as well.

Mukesh @ geniuskick

Great idea to get repeat customers. It seems loyalty reward programs are a must for restaurants, spas, and retailers to remain competitive and increase sales.
Thanks for the excellent post!


One of the most illuminating things I ever learned/read was:

If you run/own your business you probably eat/drink/sleep it – you NEVER forget that it exists but your customers can and often do until you remind them of it.

So those follow up e-mails or loyalty cards in their wallets can be GOLD.

Ehsan Ullah

I’m never gonna turn into “I can get it for free guy” because I need more of your help like this. I really love what you do Derek.


Hi Derek! wonderful post. One of my favorite ways to re-target people time and time again is via e-mail lists. E-mail lists give small business owners a more personal way to stay in touch with past customers.


Excellent post! Nothing more to say 🙂

Bob Young

Derek, I am enjoying being a subscriber. You provide great info that is practical and easy to implement. What amazes me about loyalty programs is how few people use them effectively.

Shaun Emerson

Awesome post! The whole thing about adding the extra punches is a great piece of advice!

The fact of the matter is that people love getting things for free. Even if you’re just making them feel like they’re getting something for free, it will make them want to come back. It’s pretty much the same principle as the little kid in the neighborhood who gives his toys away to the other kids in order to “buy” himself some friends. And usually it works!

People are usually looking for a reason (any reason) to give their loyalties to a business. The fact is that we don’t like to have to shop around, this is the reason that stores like Walmart get so much business. So the moment a new customer walks through the door, that is the point of sale and is where the business should be trying everything they can to make a great first impression (without smothering them,) in order to convert the new customer into a repeat customer.

On another note, I just discovered this site through a referral link, and I have to say that you have some of the best marketing content I’ve seen from any blog. Totally bookmarking this site, and I will definitly be refering others here.

Kris Atkinson

A fantastic read, Derek. I stumbled upon your site by following a link in one of your articles on DIYThemes.com (“How to Design a Professional, High-Converting, Minimalist Site In Minutes”, also a great article), but sneaky-sneaky, driving traffic to your site by posting content on others… although I’m sure you’ve written about that one too at some point! 😉

You’ve got yourself a new subscriber, and I look forward to your updates.

Keith McDorman

Derek, this is money. (Quite literally actually.) I know a bunch of massage therapists who are gonna love this, for whom this is gonna keep them in business. Thanks!



I just came across your blog a few days ago and I’m excited about all the information here. But I do have a question . . .

Does all your tips and advice work for every type of blog? I’ve noticed a good deal of your blogs are about selling stuff and what not, but what if someone’s blog is not totally about selling products and assistance. My blog is geared towards politics, religion, history and etc. I’m just wondering if your advice works also for blogs focused more on the writing?


nancy fox

Great tip, Derek. I have a new chiro client who offers a suite of services – some profitable, some spotty. Here’s a great way to build consistency into the most promising divs.

Whoo hoo.
I also noticed that when you blog you write each point/sentence on a sep line. Easy to read.

Susan Moody

This tip, along with some of the suggestions in previous responses, has made such a difference in my getting clients to rebook! I always asked people if they would like to book their next appointment, but offering them ways to make it a habit like extra “punches” and discounts has dramatically increased repeats. I have partnered with a few local business people who also offer health/wellness-related goods and services to give $15 gift certificates to their customers, and clients are happy to go patronize them for the discounts. I also give “punches” for online reviews at sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List, purchase of gift certificates, and one for booking online (it is a new service). Thank you so much for this article and the helpful responses!


That really is a great article. Concise and to the point but loaded with great information. Enjoy reading your posts, keep them coming!


Hi Derek,
I would simply like to say ‘I am glad I have found you’ and leave it at that but I can see you want more!
I have b&m stores and launched a website dec 11. I have been collecting emails for years so have quite a list. I also have a loyalty programme which rewards my very best customers 3times per year. And of course, those top 20-30 customers are invariably the same, so customer loyalty still does exist.
What excites me most about your blog is
1. It is easy to read – love the layout plus the language ( you WERE talking directly to ME weren’t you?)
2. The titbits of ideas are so useable and achievable. I will be implementing one today, and others in the next week.
3. It all simply ‘makes sense’

And of course – its free! And I dont quite get that!

I’ll be back!


Hey Alan,

I want to take a stab at answering your question – I’m a freelance NGO consultant.

I’m cautious about introducing rewards for donors or volunteers for NGOs.

There is research that suggests that rewards shift our motivation away from doing something out of care,  intrinsic joy, and wanting to contribute towards doing something for personal gain.

I worry about how rewards in this context shifts our values, and how this could be counter-productive, undermining the donors and volunteers intrinsic motivation to contribute.

The key question seems to be:
how do you persuade volunteers and donors to continue to give you their time and money?

Instead of applying the ideas in this blog post (which work for businesses) I would take a different tack.

First and most important, I would have an emailing strategy that builds connection between the donors/volunteers and the NGO.

This would include emails that didn’t ask for anything. 

They would be thank you messages (Oxfam does this). Fun and insightful inside stories to the organization (like Reclaim on Twitter). Profile of volunteers and what they get out of being involved (Samaritans do a great job of this). Updates on success stories and research that backs up the NGOs work (like Restorative Circles sharing that they were identified by the NESTA thinktank as being ‘radically efficient’). Revelations of mistakes made and what you’ve learned (GiveWell lead the field on this). Share any resources that would help other NGOs – and ask people to share them out (Acumen Fund totally rock at this).

That’s the core of how an NGO can build trust and loyalty.

On top of this you can:

In the first email you send to new supporters say something that grabs them.

It could even be totally silly (CD Baby are the classic example): 

“Today our Chief Oracle called a staff meeting.

He revealed that you had signed up to support us and then asked us all to gather round to gaze into the Oracle Orb. A hush fell on the circle.

And Wow! Were we amazed.

We saw a rapid-fire montage of all the incredible things that came from your support. What’s more, we were blown away by how happy and fulfilled this made you.

It was unanimous: we quickly agreed to gold-plate your name onto our Volunteer Hall of Fame.

We want to thank you in advance for the magic that we are going to cast together.”

Two more suggestions:

Ask your biggest donor to make their donation a matching donation pledge – for every dollar someone else gives, they will match it dollar for dollar up to how much he was initially planning to give.

Donors love it when they are told that their money goes twice as far (Tim Ferris does this successfully when he gives away money).

And lastly, ask for help to achieve amazing, fantastic goals. Say you have this huge goal that you want to achieve but you have no idea how to do it and just put it out there asking people to help you.

For example, you could email that you want a 1:1 meeting with the governor of your state to ask them for some support. Say you have no idea how to do this and ask supporters to contact you to help you realize your goals. [Dude Perfect have done this to great effect – managing, amongst other things, getting to play basketball with the President Barak Obama.]

I would love to hear some feedback about whether any of this ideas would help your NGOs. I offer these ideas as spring boards for further, better ideas.

If you contacted with with more specific information about who these NGOs wanted to build a rapport with and what they want to achieve I could offer more tailored suggestions.

Alan Wilson

Hi Derek,
I greatly appreciated this article. I will be referring it to several friends and business associates. I work with (and volunteer and/or donate) to a number of charities, churches and Not-for-Profits and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations providing food, education, medicine, medical care & dental care, etc.)
Although some of them have a few items, products or services for sale, most don’t have anything to sell or earn revenue from. How would you and/or your readers design and implement a loyalty program that works for their donors, volunteers, staff, board members, advisory council and the like? Also, what would you do to attract new supports, donors and/or volunteers?
Does anyone have direct experience with a successful program that they would be willing to share? I would enjoy talking to you and learning what works and what doesn’t.
I look forward to any and all feedback!
Alan Wilson

Owen McGab Enaohwo

Derek I just got lunch from the Quickfire Japanese Hibachi Grill and they have a loyalty program that applies what you covered in this blog post. When I paid the cashier asked me if I love to earn a free dish an then she gave me a stamp card and stamped two points for me even though this is mu first time here, now I have to come here 3 more times to get a free dish. Impressive, I recognized it because I read your post. If only she took my email address!


I’m wondering how this can be applied to counsellors and psychotherapists. Where I live, psychologists can’t give away free sessions (it’s regulated by the psychology association).
But, maybe… I can give a special workshop for “loyal” patients??


    You definitely wouldn’t want to mess with regulations, but from what I understand of the industry (my dad’s a psychologist, and we talk a lot about the differences between marketing massage and mental health), patients are less likely to “hop around” once they are on a treatment plan, particularly with a network provider. Are you having trouble getting clients to return? Special workshops for new patients, rather than loyal patients, might be helpful. Providing resources for them to understand and manage their conditions (via resource pages and links on your website) could also be good. Loyalty is better earned by building a relationship of trust –they already completed an eval with you, and should be committed to their own health enough to want to continue–than offering discounts or punch passes. just my two cents.


Hi Derek
I find your articles very helpful. I am struggling trying to find ways to get people to interact on my facebook page, and my Blog. I have taken countless marketing courses and social media course and nothing seems to work. I have a Travel Agency…Frustrated!



So, basically you are saying that companies should spam the hell out of their customers? Yes, stupid emails from companies lose my loyalty to them.


Or even better than a loyalty card what about a random chance game of getting a free massage?

Instead of say 6 massages till you get a free massage you have 1/6 die chance of getting a free massage each time you go (or lower odds and a a very slim chance of winning a super-deluxe option).

Unpredictable rewards are highly motivating.


    This is a great idea!

    I actually saw this being used at a pizza place here in town. If you bought a slice, you rolled a d 10. If you rolled a 10 you either got a free medium soda or a free slice.


Brian Nelson

Any advice for using these techniques on kickstarter campaigns? Or in emails contacting blogs/ groups etc.



This is insanely helpful. The more I read your content the more obvious it becomes why I have to learn more and more about marketing. There are so many small things that one can do that make a HUGE difference.

I am very new to blogging and am just learning the ins and outs of it all. Content like this is extremely helpful. It helps me brainstorm new ways to reach out and connect with customers. Very powerful.


I think you kick-a$$. #nuffsaid.

Thanks for bringing your best every time, Derek.

Donovan Owens

Derek, you’re freakin’ maniac with content, my man.

This article is amazing and the concept contained within it is a no-brainer.

Thank you for the simple break down.



Love the article. Glad I found your blog. We were looking for new marketing ideas and have new found a lot of good ones. We’re going to try and figure out a easy way to keep track of a loyalty program for a online Biz. Thanks.

Annie Andre

I like the artificial advancement trick. I’m going to try that on my kids at home too with their allowance.

Alan | Life's Too Good

Another wonderful article Derek, thanks for sharing this.

Like most great advice – it’s simple. Simple works on so many levels and this idea is no exception.

Not only that but you explain it very well.

One thing I’d love to get your take on is the ‘click to tweet’ idea, or ‘Tweetables’ as some people are calling this kind of thing, or ‘Look how easy I made it for you to retweet’ – I’m sure you know the numbers on this and it probably works but it doesn’t match the understated nature of everything else (which I far prefer) – if it works fair enough. I always click the Tweet button anyway, I just find these tweetables etc a bit too in your face for my liking…

superb superb article though (as always)

Nitin Aggarwal

Great Post. I also ran a retail outlet for around 3 year and close it out due to not doing well. We were also not able to compete with the big brands. I can now think what mistakes we did not building a list of customers. Also we never tried to convert customers into loyal customers. Great post and insights. In the next venture i must be much better with all these great insight and experience. Thanks Derek.


I’m the same way Derek – I grind my teeth and pull out my hair every time I patronize a local business and see that they could be doing a few small things differently or a tweak here and there to make a huge impact in their customer base and revenue.

It slowly kills me….

Katherine Purvis

Wow Derek- thank you! I’ve been following you and your marketing insights for several months now and I’m not even a blogger but a salon & spa owner located in Berlin workinghard toincreasing sales online. I loved this post! I will implement your idea right away because it makes SENSE! I would LOVE to share my inspired strategy and results with you.


This is perfect! I’m running a Groupon for my massage business in exactly one week. “Deal seekers” are known for their tendency to not return and I’ve been trying to think of offers and follow-ups that will encourage loyalty. I’m going to try to implement the drip-marketing you laid out STEP BY STEP and see how I do!



    Amy…. absolutely get contact info and be sure you’ve already got the compelling reason to come back plus the follow-up done beforehand. Most biz that offer Groupons don’t seem to do that (in my experience as a customer).


Derek, BAM! You did it again! Awesome!

One question: even being less pratical, probably a physical punch card is fore effective than a “digital” program, that runs the same way. What do you think?

I’m going to work on that an offer to local shoppers. Brilliant post. (and I know that you LOVE to hear all this compliments!!!)

Randy Wilburn


First off, Great Post! I really enjoyed how you broke down the loyalty program and those figures do work. I was recently going to approach a few local businesses, like the spa you went to, who don’t have a clue. I appreciate the blueprint you gave in this post and I plan on using it to help some folks out. Keep the great insight, research, and examples coming. I appreciate all that you do to help us little guys and girls get our “Stuff,” off the ground.


Nick Tart

Hey Derek, I like how you used the spa and car wash companies as examples to back up the benefit you drove in the headline. Most people would’ve titled this post, “How a Spa Can Use Email Marketing to Get More Customers” but that headline would’ve repelled your entire audience. Instead, as I was reading, I put myself in your shoes and thought about what I would’ve told them. (Yours was better.) Then I put myself in their shoes and thought about how I could use your advice to better what I’m doing. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter what the business was. Nicely done.

Carrie Smith

Oddly enough I walked into a spa last week to get a spray tan for summer. As I was paying for the session, I half expected the girl to get my number, email or to make a follow-up appointment (which I actually wanted). But NO, she didn’t say anything but “Have a nice day”. I even asked, “So should I just call to schedule another appointment?” which she replied “Yes.” And that was it. She didn’t give me a business card with information to call either.

I thought it was a golden opportunity completely missed. Like you point out here, the spa or local business could have followed up a few days later with an email or phone call. But since I was trying this new place out for the first time, I will probably not go back. There’s no incentive for me.

Dan Gheesling

Man – great article. This one is printer paper worthy to read back again and again.

Brain is ticking on how to implement this into my niche business.

Have you checked in on the Massage Place lately?

Veselin Mitev

Very good article Derek!

Although it’s probably known to most people in the marketing area, it’s always good to remind it. Especially in well laid out format 🙂

In my experience, when people get the email address, they usually “brick it” by spamming, directly selling or talking about irrelevant stuff.

It’s difficult for us humans to think in advance and thinking in advance is required for building a successful relationship with the client.

I’ve seen big, very big companies to make short term gain decisions and lose clients in the long term. Yes, the 3Q report is showing increase, but the yearly? the next year’s report? They lost significant market share. They even made a mirror company in hope to “get” some of the lost clients.

Paul Tyrrell

Thank you, your post is really actionable, understandable and enjoyable. We just started to market our field service management SAAS product it has been two years in development, but we sort of forgot about marketing early on and are playing catchup. I really appreciate your insight into the marketing mindset and skills.


    Derek Halpern

    What’s your SAAS product?

Emily Wessel

Hi Derek – Thanks for the all the fabulous free advice – I have recently revamped my blog to support my knitting design business, and offered a coupon and a contest for email sign-ups. I designed the sign-up process following your suggestions, and I’m at 500 subscribers after the first month, quadrupled my average monthly sales, and I am quitting my part-time job to go full-time!

I was wondering what sort of incentives to offer after the coupon/contest promotion was done, to keep the sign-ups rolling in, and while I don’t think increased advancement will work in my case, we do have an opportunity to send follow-up emails to every new purchaser, so I think reaching out and giving them links to useful tutorials which accompany our patterns would be a way to make that connection; and offering them a new-subscriber coupon would also be a way to turn them into fans rather than just one-time purchasers.

I’m so glad my social media savvy friend recommended I read your blog! Thanks – Emily Wessel

    Derek Halpern

    Hey Emily,

    That’s GREAT.

    Can you email me more details about what you did to get those 500?

    Also, email the question.

Joe Boyle

Derek, fantastic post, reminds me of all of the trips to RadioShack I take. RadioShack doesn’t offer a discount card, but they certainly know how to latch on to their customers. They’re pretty genius in their methods, too. When you make a purchase, they ask for your email address and will, then, send you coupons, deals, and upcoming sales.

The genius in that is simple – the majority of the people who go to RadioShack aren’t too old to be functional with email. Offering electrical components, phone accessories, phones themselves, and many other associated products, it’s safe to assume that the customer will have an email address. Most customers won’t say “Oh, I’m not comfortable giving out my email” at checkout, and then they earn the customer’s email – it’s so easy.

From there, they can send coupons and bring the customer BACK FOR MORE, all by asking for a simple email at checkout.

    Derek Halpern

    That works, but that’s more old school. The barrage with coupons and discounts model.

    I think we’re getting past that a bit though. I think you need to educate and sell at the same time.

Designer Rob Russo

So simple it’s scary. But pretty brilliant. I’m going to utilize this somehow soon. Oh, so very soon…

Thanks for your insight, Derek. I appreciate all that you share. And awesome blog here… And I keep coming back WITHOUT a punch card!

    Derek Halpern

    Imagine if I had a punch card…


This is great… I first heard about this method from Susan Weinschenk’s book “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People”. In the book she discussed pre-punching a loyalty card & the benefits of it, but adding a “reason” to your client getting the card pre-punched is a great idea!

It’s one of those small ideas, when applied consistently, can grow your practice 10% per year or more.

    Derek Halpern

    I totally agree.

    I haven’t read Susan’s book 100 things every designer needs to know about people, but I did read her other book, the neuroscience of web design.


Great article Derek! I’m struggling with something… I want to share this awesome article but then again, I don’t want anyone who might be competition to know where all the true marketing genius is at! What should I do? 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    Heh, I hear that a lot.

Natalie Alaimo

Hey Derek
As always an excellent article. I found you from Smart Passive Income and have been reading everything you write and listening to your podcasts.
I’m so annoyed that I missed your webinar and your paid program. Are you planning on doing another one soon?
Keep up the great content.

    Derek Halpern

    I will be releasing it again soon.

Edward Antonio

Great post man keep it up your one of the only guys I follow for marketing and strategy.

-Edward Antonio

    Derek Halpern

    I’m going to quote you on that

Vicki Goebel

I’m designing a website for selling original paintings. (No, not mine – I don’t have the talent.) I used to sell sparingly on ebay in 2002 to 2005, and had repeat customers. Several who were not buyers sought me out after I closed the ebay store, buying paintings they had seen even three years earlier — apparently having made copies of the listing or something.

I’ve known that contacting these old customers should be a ‘must’ when I go live with the website (hopefully most of their emails are still active), but this gives me a wonderful incentive program to offer on contact for ‘loyal’ customers. I’ve been wondering what to do, and here is the perfect answer. Also implementing this with new buyers is a no-brainer, and maybe with those that sign up for the newsletter — as a bonus towards their first purchase — would be wise. Interesting. Just have to figure out the “what, when and how” for the best value…

Yes, I know I am already predisposed to getting repeat customers because of the aesthetic and emotional value my items give the customer. But offering this little something extra to actually allow my buyers to ‘steal’ from me is a remarkable insight.

Thanks, Derek. I love your newsletters and articles. May my customers forever HOARD many paintings from my collection in their homes and offices! 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    That’s a good goal to have… to have your customers hoard your paintings. 😀

    And you’re right. Contacting existing customers is a must. Your existing customers are often your best source for new sales.


Great tips Derek! I just met with a potential client today who owns a local nail salon. Something like this could definitely help them out! I love how it seems so simple yet so many are missing out! I hope to be able to help out as many small businesses as I can! Just started our own online marketing business and I’m super excited about it!

    Derek Halpern

    Awesome Rachel.

    If you share it with the Nail Salon, and they use it, do let me know how it works out for them.

    Maybe I can feature them as a case study 😉


      I would love to. I’ll keep you posted!

Tanya Smith Lorenz

A brilliant article there Derek, and LOTS of takeaways for our own businesses and those of our clients! I love that idea of artificial advancement with the loyalty programme – very simple to implement, and it immediately puts customers into what I call the ‘goodwill zone’!
I did something a little similar with a client recently – made them a video for their business – we hadn’t talked about it – it was a complete surprise bonus for them, and they loved it. It really did create a lot of goodwill, and now they’re very happy to recommend me to others.
I’m constantly amazed (or should I say horrified!) at how many offline businesses never think to collect emails and use them for creating loyalty with offers / customer specials etc.

Keep rockin – I often tell people to read your blog 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    It’s funny how a surprise bonus like that can make someone feel great about you and your work…

Everett Tucker


Thanks for the post. I am building a inbound content hub to house my videocasts, curated news and articles, and original articles. Above-and-beyond using calls to action, featured boxes, and mini-featured email CTA’s, what can I do to implement a loyalty program?

I am also working on a social strategy for a brick and mortar business/ storefront, and I think a loyalty program would work well for them. How would you implement one for a promotional products / printing service? {wearables, giveaways, branded chotchkies, etc}



    Derek Halpern

    That all depends on what you’re selling…

      Everett Tucker

      Part 1: The minimum viable product for my project is a device agnostic article/video delivery application, funded by donations and affiliate linkage instead of monetized traffic. Other peers, like truth-out.org, incentivize donations with alt-media books and promo merchandise. I guess the real question is how to implement loyalty programs with donations.

      Part 2: The client I am building a social strategy for primarily works as a distributor of promo merchandise for local companies, does creative, and facilitates bringing digital campaigns into analog mediums.

      Is there something more exotic than a discount after x amount of orders?


Can this work before the first purchase as well? Like if they sign up for freebie?

    Derek Halpern

    It can, yes.

Greg Traver

How ironic! While visiting a new indoor range today they asked if I had ever been there before and I replied “no” then they had me fill out a brief customer info form – with a spot for my e-mail- and a promise to send me updates and discounts. Then I got a free lane for my time! Think I am going to go back? You’d better believe it! When I was done I decided to try their restaurant since I had missed lunch. The food was so-so, nothing to rave about, but when I checked out they gave me a simple business card with five squares on the bottom and told me that when I bought five $5 meals I would get $5 off the next one. And guess what? They market off two spots for me. Will I eat the net time I go to the range? Yeppers. What would have been an average take it or leave it experience was turned into a very enjoyable experience and you bet every time I open my wallet and see that card it will go through my mind. Great job again Derek!

    Derek Halpern

    What a great story. What was the new of that place?

      Greg Traver

      Thanks Derek,
      I can’t believe I missed your comment! The name of that business is Range USA, Inc. in Memphis TN. The name of the diner there is called The 1776 Cafe.


Great post, Derek … Thank You!
Reading your content for a while and learn a lot from it!
If I’m in Local Stores in my place I’m also thinking a lot about how they could improve their marketing. It seems sometimes so easy for people in the marketing space – like us … and shows how much opportunity is there and work yet to be done …
Again, thanks for your inspiration!

    Derek Halpern

    I actually refrain from dispensing advice to most local stores, but when I really like the place… and I would be upset that they went out of business… I always try to give them my unsolicited advice, h aha.

Derek Fredrickson

Great post. Love the concept of artificial advancement. It goes to show that it’s the small subtle things in something like this which give way to huge breakthroughs when it comes to marketing and growing an online business. I love it…


Derek: Clear and well explained idea as is so much of what you post.

I find it interesting to observe how often it is not the big and complex things that make a difference in business but rather it is the relatively simple and easy things that we so often miss, overlook or claim “that wont work for my business” that, in fact, not only will and do work as you have shown in these anecdotes.

Reminds me of one of the first things I heard from Peter Drucker: “Much has been written about motivation but, in fact, nothing is less understood than motivation”! Same can be said about marketing but you are helping to fill that void.

I wonder just how many businesses come close to not only missing survival but also to failing to reap the whole enchilada simply by not doing the obvious, easy, simple things as John Corcoran has suggested regarding his local Health Food Store and as you have laid out here?

    Derek Halpern

    Well, what’s obvious to us right now, isn’t always obvious to other people. We suffer from hindsight bias.

    Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.


Great post. I need to try this. May be a bit tougher for design/illustration. I’ll have to think on this a bit…

    Derek Halpern

    It’s tough to implement for services, but for that, I suggest you check out the original article I wrote about this experiment.


Great post, Derek! Salons are the worst at this, in my opinion. Quick question- you’re right in advising them to set up a drip email marketing program to nurture customers but what about offering the loyalty program to them right away, when they pay for the service and explain to them that the first three holes on the card are already punched!

    Derek Halpern

    If you offer the loyalty program right away, that works too (that’s how the car wash did it).

    I’m suggesting tod o the follow-up, because the way I look at it is this: if you get a customer to come back a second time, they’ll be more likely to come back 3/4/5/ times.

    So, I wanted the second time to be as persuasive as possible.

Sandra LaCroix

Derek, that is excellent advise. I grew up in the days when many banks, gas stations gifted their customers for their loyalty. At every bank visit, you were encouraged to reach a savings amount and were rewarded with a toaster, coffee pot, etc. The gas station was a piece of china, really, at every fill up until you had the whole set. Then, there were eagle stamps. I cannot remember which stores gave them out, but again it was a reward for loyalty. When you filled your stamp book, you received a gift. We lost the art of appreciation some time ago. Glad you are restoring it.

    Derek Halpern

    A lot of people stopped doing it mainly because it became noise. However, now that few places use a real loyalty program… one that actually gets people to take action… it’s now a differentiation strategy.

atoya sexauer

you seriously kick ass…every article…everytime.

    Derek Halpern



Hey Derek,

This was indeed a great post ! Just to pick your brain further How can you use the same concept for webinarbridge ? You might not need to but just in case…

Your response will help


    Derek Halpern

    With Webinar Bridge, we’re focusing on a one-time sale.

Scott Hoggard

can this work for a mobile practice?

    Derek Halpern

    I have no idea what a mobile practice is.

    As in, a mobile massage practice?

Mark Conger

I love the sound a bat makes when it hits the ball really hard at a ball game.

You just knocked it out of the park with this one, Derek.

We are about to build a website for a local wholesale furniture maker and this one marketing tip will go a long way towards convincing them they need an e-mail list too.


    Derek Halpern

    Awesome Mark.

    Glad you liked it, and do let me know what happens with that furniture retailer.

      Mark Conger

      Will do!

      Actually, the owner of that company has several other companies that can benefit from this and many other tips at Social Triggers. In a sense, ST is becoming our secret sauce. 🙂

Dallas Hardcastle

This is just a golden post. I cannot think of any business I currently
patronize that would not benefit from a program like this.

Love the “82% increase” study. That will make it’s way into my
site with a creative twist very quickly.

Great work on this, Derek! Very well presented and my chiropractor
will be thanking you too!

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome Dallas. Do let me know how your chiropractor reacts to it!


Hi Derek,

Great post! I just contacted one of my acquaintances at a local massage parlor and they are down to getting this implemented.

I think I’ll line them up with email autoresponder as this is what I’m most familiar with in terms of doing follow-up sequences and long-term nurture campaigns.

Anything else you think I should pitch to help out some more local car washes and massage parlors in my area would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for your wonderful blog posts. They are an absolute joy to read.

I just wish you wrote more often!

    Derek Halpern

    Yea, I should write more often.

    I keep hearing that, heh.


I have to add this. I actually get annoyed when spas/salons DONT try to either rebook me or stay in touch. I feel like they don’t care about me. I am
An avid massage-getter, but have literally been to dozens of various spas bc it seems like no one really cares if I ever come back anyway! Same with salons.

Great advice!

    Derek Halpern

    Right? RIGHT?

    I’m with you there.


Great insight! I can see how this could translate easily to private coaching clients as well. I’ll put this to work immediately, if only my list were larger!! Thanks again for the great material you post. – Jeremy

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome Jeremy!

Jay Rosenberg

Great post.
We tried the punchcard at a salon giving three punches on first visit, with a good reason for each punch. It worked very well. Free hair color after card completed. People felt committed, came back, didn’t want to miss out since they were already 30% of the way.
Here’s another that works very well. Offer walkins/customers a 25% discount, today only, for services/mdse other than they came in for. Write 25% on back of business card, sign it, and hand to them. It’s good in a salon, but it’s killer in a jewelry store.

    Ronja Venus Andersson

    Hey Jay,
    What was the “good reason for each punch”? Just for inspiration.

    Derek Halpern

    That’s an interesting idea… offering walkins… to get people in for the first sale.


Hi Derek,
Why don’t you’ve donation button on your site… ppl like me may read free stuff & donate…
Give guys like me a chance to give something back to you freely..


    Derek Halpern

    I don’t run donate buttons… I sell things.

Gregory Ciotti

Heh, you already know I love this one. 🙂

Nunes also believes (I think he’s currently running another study on just this matter) that loyalty programs work much better when there are two classes of people, ie, “Gold Members” become much more loyal when they learn that there is a “Silver” class of people below them.

Wrote about that here: https://www.helpscout.net/blog/how-to-create-customer-loyalty-programs-that-stick-give-them-a-head-start/

Says a lot about human nature. 🙂

So does the head start thing, without the pre-stamped progress, our brains classify it as being more work, something to take away when structuring your own system for productivity, I think…

    Derek Halpern

    Yea man, it’s a good study. I had wrote about it like a year ago, as one of the first posts on ST, and I thought I’d rewrite it today to share it with all the new ST readers.

    Plus, it helps that I had that interesting conversation with the local spa owner.

    With regards to the Gold Members vs Silver Members, that’s absolutely right. Make people feel proud that they’re in the ingroup… and that the ingroup is better than the outgroup… and they’re more loyal.


Don Campbell

Fantastic article Derek. As someone who has worked with a lot of small businesses I can vouch for how well this works. You’ve even improved on it by providing the loyalty program plan – I love how simple and effective it is. Thanks!

    Derek Halpern

    Awesome, great to hear it!

Johnn Four

Great advice, Derek. Do you have any thoughts on wrapping this into a larger, goal-based system with customers?

For example, customers getting a free massage and forming a habit is awesome. But, what about also creating some kind of wellness program where the customers get on a trackable path of wellness and the spa helps them reach the customer’s goals? The massages feed into a higher customer purpose now.

Do you think this would help convert new customers into repeat customers, or would it be too much effort on the part of the merchant/marketer?

With your car wash example, maybe you could create a car safety and savings program with customers. Things like low tire pressure costs you tangibly in fuel consumption. Wrap a cleaner, better-maintained car into something like higher resale value goals or annual money saving goals or some kind of safety threshhold rating (here’s my risk tolerance – how do I stay above it?)?

    Derek Halpern


    Wrapping your product and service into what Simon Sinek would call the “Why” is vitally important in 2012 and beyond.

    If you haven’t read Simon’s book “Start With Why,” go grab it.

Ash Ambirge - TMFproject

Halpern –

You have a killer way of taking intangible concepts and bringing them to life using real examples and research, brotha – all I wanted to say was NICE WORK.

    Derek Halpern

    Thanks Ash, really.

    That’s why I do this… I like making sense in a world that doesn’t make sense… to the untrained eye anyway 🙂


This is exactly what I’m focusing on is offline businesses that can dramatically improve their bottom line with just a little creativity “online”.

    Derek Halpern

    Smart move Mike.

    And it’s true.

    Local businesses do stand to gain a ton from online marketing… and they don’t even have to do the advanced stuff.

Chris Brisson

Anyone can build an entire business off that one strategy. Use AWeber for email and for kicks Call Loop for SMS (had to throw that in) and manage it for them. Charge a setup fee and an ongoing monthly fee to manage and even send the emails for them.

Create one-size fits all marketing campaigns that are universal to any business, tweak the messaging, and walla – you have a potential 6-figure business.



Great article!

– C

    Derek Halpern

    Thanks Chris, and your’e right. There’s a lot of opportunity in serving local businesses.

    I wasn’t trying to point that out in this article, mainly because that wasn’t the point of the article. But you’re right!

Tony Escobar

It’s amazing how that works. I’m addicted to coffee, so when a cafe offers a punch card reward program with a free cup at the end, I’m all in! Just looking back at the different occasions, everything you mention here is spot on.

Email lists are definitely crucial. Although, auto-responders often give me an artificial taste in my mouth. I kind of feel like there’s nothing personal about it. Any thoughts on that?

    Derek Halpern

    You like coffee… you were going to buy the coffee anyway… you might as well work towards something.

    With regards to autoresponders, you’re right. Bad autoresponders do make people feel that way.

    Good ones, and most people won’t even know the difference. But be open an honest about it, and you’ll find people won’t mind at all.

      Tony Escobar

      That makes sense. Am I throwing generic sales pitches, or making connections and building relationships? Good stuff.

        Derek Halpern

        What do you mean?

          Tony Escobar

          In reference to autoresponders, being open and honest about the follow up offer rather than simply throwing a robot-like sales pitch (which gives the artificial taste I mentioned).

          As you pointed out, it’s really an opportunity to build repeat and eventually loyal customers.

Andrew Richardson

I’ve also asked myself this same question. Why do so many brick and mortar businesses fail to create loyalty programs and market to their existing customers? It’s so easy to walk in and out of these mom and pop stores (Which I LOVE) and simply forget about them because they aren’t getting any of my information and aren’t staying on my radar…

People set up brick and mortar shops because they want to see a steady stream of foot traffic from the road traffic, but they fail to understand that those customers driving by are really expensive to get in the store and the ones that have already walked in the door are far cheaper and far more qualified to get back inside.

    Derek Halpern

    Dude, I know.

    Brick and mortar stores don’t realize that they need to grab every person who walks in the door and keep em forever.

    They are expensive.

    They’re paying thousands of dollars a month for a storefront too (I live on Long Island, in New York. It’s real expensive here).

      Andrew Richardson

      I think it’s too easy to jump from the problem. “I’m not making as much money as I should be” to the solution “I need more customers!”, when it might actually be far easier to serve the customers you already have.

      I like how Ramit does this, he actively excludes customers by refusing to sell things to them while constantly improving the value of what he is creating for his current customers.

        Derek Halpern

        Selling online really is a game of who you won’t sell to vs who you will sell to.

        There’s an unlimited amount of people online, you might as well do business with people you want to do business with.


Very interesting idea. Do you think a punchcard concept would work as well with, say, handmade jewelry (which I sell)? I am scared to discount its perceived value – I wouldn’t want people just to hoard my jewelry to win something, and then not wear most of it – maybe I need to create some “disposable” products, or perhaps portray future jewelry purchases as gifts for others, rather than the client herself. Hm! 🙂

For my situation, perhaps if she refers a friend & that friend makes a purchase, that would also count toward her loyalty punchcard.

Also- I love the idea of data in the second email. I’m excited to research what stats are related to jewelry purchases, something I’d never considered! 🙂


    Perfect! One jewelry compadre has a limited-edition bead club (she makes beads and charms). I can adapt that idea to my own business.

    And I just thought of a new reason for an extra punch. I am really looking to build a section for satisfied customers on my site, as well as a gallery of finished pieces… I will still give returning customers an extra “punch,” but then if they send in a picture of them wearing the piece they bought from me, I will give them an extra punch. Now to find a way to explain this simply 🙂

    Thanks Derek!

      Susan Moody

      I am still fairly new to my profession and need to build my client list, so I am all for giving away “punches” to sell even a few full-priced massages. Your brainstorming has given me a couple ideas for extra “punches”:
      -Count one for each referral who buys a massage
      -Count one for each Gift Certificate purchased
      -Count one for each online review at popular review sites like Yelp, etc. (limit 3 total, 1 per review site.)

      Fine Print:
      Free massage time equal to the shortest of the 10 purchased, not including New Client bonus, Prebooking bonus, Online Review or Referral bonuses. (That way, they can’t buy gift certificates for half-hour massages to earn a free 60- or 90-minute massage.)


    Derek Halpern

    What you can do is something like:

    If you buy 5 pieces of jewelry, they’ll get a special piece… that only people who buy 5 pieces of jewelry can get…

Matthew Jeschke

Thanks Derek! Every post you’ve made has got me immediate results. It’s AWESOME. Now I just need more time to implement all your ideas 🙂

I’ve wanted to implement the car was experiment with my Massage DVD. I don’t really have a repeat customer scenario though. However, I do have a secondary goal which is to opt into my email list & get people to continue checking the messages. I’ve just been trying to think how I could use it 🙂

Maybe if they send me the headlines from 5 previous emails they get a discount or additional bonus when they buy? Has anybody tried something like that before?

    Jamie Bowers

    With my business, I’m able to send videos to customers emails and I receive a text and email saying the person has viewed the video. Its awesome! After I see they watched the video, I follow up with them and see what they liked best! Follow-up’s are key!


      Oh great idea! I’ve been mulling this over, reading the comments… I sell coffee mugs, so while I can get repeat customers for gifts and whatnot, it isn’t really a “consumable” so I don’t know how I’d do a loyalty program. Doing something like this I think would work really well though!

    Derek Halpern

    That’s an interesting idea… and it rewards people for reading your email… and saving them.



Thanks a lot. We will put in to action.

    Derek Halpern

    Hey Jeroen,

    Glad that you liked it, would love to hear more about what you plan to do though


Hey Derek,

Agree the mechanics of this make a great best practice when cultivating customer loyalty. I don’t even feel like anyone can “abuse” this system, since you’re either giving something away for free, or you’re not. Whether it’s 8 or 10 car washes. Know what I mean?

    Derek Halpern

    Yep. Exactly. Either way people are getting more of what they already wanted in the first place.


One of our Accounts offers 2 Car Washes for the Price of one. So every other car wash is FREE then will text them only to remind them of the FREE Car washes they are owed and does not try to push the par for washes.

Thoght that was Clever. 😉

    Derek Halpern

    That’s an interesting little experiment, though giving away 50% of your product is a sure-fire way to kill profitability.


Hey Derek,

Fantastic article! The loyalty program study blew my mind, while also making me think about loyalty programs that I am a part of. Even just the simple refill punch card brings me back to the same gas station every time, and they give you two punches on your first card too!

I’m trying to figure out how to apply this to a consulting business. Punch cards work for some things, but I feel wouldn’t be the right ticket for Consulting. Besides generating results for a client, what things could a consultant do to facilitate more client loyalty?

Any suggestions from anyone?

    Derek Halpern

    For consulting, you’re right.

    A punch card wouldn’t work.

    But let’s say what you do is something that you can do monthly, and they only hired you for one month.

    To reactivate that customer, you can say, since you were a first time customer, I’m giving you this particular package.

    I don’t offer this to anyone else other than first time customers.


      Awesome insight, you’ve definitely got me thinking about how to craft an offer to get them coming back. Creating scarcity is something I haven’t tried yet, hadn’t even thought of it. Thanks for your help Derek!

Joshua Black


This is genius.

Not only is email critical to the lifeblood of a business for getting repeat customers, but your added info about the artificial advancement is KEY. I think that it makes people feel like they have an inside track, and like they’re doing something a little naughty by getting extra punches on their cards.

It’s kind of a similar thing with charging higher prices, but giving even more value. When a customer feels like they’re stealing from you just a little bit, I’ve found that it seems to be just about enough value to command a higher price.

The people that don’t understand that feel as though their customers are just being cheap, when it really means that the business owner just isn’t giving enough.

Thanks for the powerful post.

-Joshua Black
The Underdog Millionaire

    Derek Halpern

    There’s an article I’ve sat on for a while… that I Haven’t published… but that whole idea of “customers getting away with something” is interesting psychology, and I may write about it in the near future.


      Derek, I think you should write that article. On Friday, I went into Safeway to buy two shish-ka-bobs… one beef, the other pork. Well the guy behind the counter came around to my side and pointed out that the beef one was cheaper but if I was okay putting them in the same brown wrap he’s charge me as if they were both beef. He said that “no-one else was there” so he could do that if he wanted.

      As a biz improvement advisor, I found my reaction interesting. I thought “jeez, there goes the consistency factor… and… if every employee gave stuff away because no-one was around, there goes the profit margin. However, I also thought… this guy just gave me a deal, brought me into his little secret and I’ll look for him when I go back.

      I always talk about the customer experience and how employees are your competitive advantage. I talk about hiring right, training well, and then letting them do their job. It wasn’t until this experience that I realized that part of the “empowering” employees is to give them the freedom to “wow” in ways beyond simply providing great service. Instead, by permitting them to “wow” in a way that is individualized to a certain $ value, along with the great service is far more powerful. Of course, what he did wouldn’t work if there was a huge line of people waiting because then we’d all expect a “deal” but it certainly worked for me in this case.


Awesome application of online principles to an offline business! I only have 9 customers so far, but I e-mailed them a little extra bonus gift and then later touched base with each one personally. Also I only have one product, so it remains to be seen if they’ll buy my next one!

I do have a large list of subscribers and am trying to develop products and services that’ll meet their needs and turn them into customers. I feel like that hurdle may be harder to cross than the customers –> repeat customers one, but I’m just getting started so I can’t speak from personal experience… yet 😉

    Derek Halpern

    Turning customers into repeat customers is hard, though.

    There’s something called Net Promotor score, and I may write about that at a later date 🙂

Howie Nguyen

That’s the first time I’ve heard of Artificial Advancement and I’m glad I did. You’ve always got good information here. Good work Derek!

    Derek Halpern

    Thank you Howie

Stephanie, Fairground Media

Right on, Derek. I have felt myself falling into sales funnels this way before. Happily.

And with regards to a lot of industries– like the car wash and the spa– consumers don’t WANT to find somewhere different to go. It’s a hassle to do that, so they really do want to like the one they choose. If that’s your business, you deliver as promised, and establish even the loosest relationship with them, they are yours forever.

*Cue the opening monologue from “Hitch”*

    Derek Halpern

    You and me both. I fall into sales funnels like that and I’m ecstatic. I’m going to buy, might as well get some benefits associated with it.

    And did you just make a Hitch reference? Awesome!

Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

Your posts are always so awesome. Derek, I can’t tell you how much your tips have changed the success of my food blog, it’s just mindblowing.

I think your developed plan for the spa is genius! I bet they’re over the moon that you walked in, haha! Free massages for life? LOL.

    Derek Halpern

    They were.

    Though I’m sure they won’t implement it because they weren’t sure about email marketing and didn’t know how to get started.

    I wasn’t going to walk them through it… I mean, this was just some random free advice heh.


      Loved the idea, don’t know how to make it work with a monthly newsletter where I basically charge by the year. Maybe I need to implement it with a monthly subscription at a higher price than the yearly.

      Question is why when you give random free advice why you don’t give them a business card/punch card and offer them a product or service? LOL


      Isn’t that the most frustrating thing? I’ve wrestled with the idea of starting my own consulting business focused only on helping businesses set up an email marketing program but I can’t believe how many people see the value but are unwilling to pay for someone to hold their hand through the process.

      Every time I have a really bad service experience, I always think how easy it would be to open shop and eat their lunch and wonder why someone isn’t.


This is very interesting. I’m just trying to figure out how this might work with online continuity programs.

You always make the think, Derek [groan]
But I like it 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    That’s the point.

    That’s why people read the blog here, too.

    I write things people don’t often write about ;-P

Sean Davis

That’s a great experiment. And it’s so true. I can remember every single time I’ve received a punch card with no punches and thought to myself, “I will never fill this thing up.” 🙁

I can also remember times when I received a punch card with a few punches and thought to myself, “I canNOT throw this away. I’m almost there.”

Crazy how that works.

    Nick Tart

    “I canNOT throw this away.” – Made me chuckle because I’ve had the exact same thought. Also, good grammar. Thanks, Sean.


      Okay I had to reply to this comment thread cause I have at least 3 punch cards in my wallet still waiting to be used, and likely…they won’t. Why? Cause I didn’t get the head start, apparently. Very funny beyond true. You definitely gave me a few ideas to start offering clients as well as gaining that email list! Thanks Derek!

    Derek Halpern


    I know how it works… and it works on me.

    And I don’t care either.

    I want the car wash anyway… might as well get there faster.


This is a different kind of article.

It’s still good, it still has something to take and learn, but it’s different.

Are you testing something here Derek?

    Derek Halpern

    What do you mean by different?

      Robert Stover

      “trying something different”

      Let’s see. …

      Derek gave a tangible marketing idea.

      He backed it up by research.

      Then he explained the rationale, the why, behind the research.

      Then he gave more examples of how these principles could be used in different context.

      Yep, Derek is definitely up to something very, very different here.


I hope that spa gave you a free massage in exchange for that piece of advice!

Great post! 😉

    Derek Halpern

    I know, right?

    I just made them a ton of money.

    I should get a free massage for that.

      John Corcoran

      problem is, they’ll say you have to give 8 free pieces of marketing advice for a free massage. ; )

        Derek Halpern



      Great post! And I agree – it should make some $$ which is why I am going to implement it in my clinic. (Derek, if you’re ever in the Mpls/St. Paul area look me up and I’ll have one of my massage therapists set you up with a free massage)

        Derek Halpern

        im going to take you up on that 🙂



perfect timing on this one, as I’ve got a potential massage therapy client who needs a strategy just like this for their business. Great job of breaking it down and explaining exactly how it works. Saved me the trouble of writing up something similar for them!

    Derek Halpern

    Look at that. I just made you money.

    Ha ha 🙂


      Let’s hope so:)

Mike Cuesta

Awesome insights Derek. It sounds like simple game mechanics can play a large role in sculpting human behavior.

Keep up the great content.

    Derek Halpern

    Thank you Mike.

    And yes, simple game mechanics can sculpt human behavior… for good and for worse.

    Obviously I’m approaching this as a genuine marketer, but I’m sure there are some sleazy marketers out there who will try to abuse it.

John Corcoran

Excellent post, Derek. I did an interview with Ben Settle a little while ago, and he had a great little anecdote about a small health foods store in his hometown that went out of business. He was really bummed because he liked the store a lot and wanted it to stay in business. He said if they had been collecting email addresses and perhaps sending out weekly emails with certain coupons, it could have saved them because it would have meant more people in the door.

He was sincerely frustrated – because he liked the store and felt it was too bad they went under. He probably has to restrain himself from evangelizing every time he goes into a store and likes the store but fears it isn’t doing a good job of marketing itself.

    Derek Halpern

    Dude, I’m the same way.

    I shop at local stores all the time, and I’m always offering them advice on how to get more sales into their business… to future proof them.

    Not because I’m a nice guy but because I like going to the same places all of the time. 🙂

Leave a comment