Any entrepreneur worthy of calling themselves an entrepreneur can attract customers. Heck, even the kids out on the curb with a cardboard box, a Sharpie, and a packet of Country Time can make a few bucks. But the real trick is keeping them coming back. Street Fight has a handy list of seven loyalty programs worth considering, and they all eschew those outmoded punch cards for for something nearly half of all Americans have anyway: a smartphone.
Of the seven ones listed over there, Perka [http://getperka.com/] is perhaps the slickest. I'd never heard of it before, but it just seems the easiest to use and has the most advantages to offer customers and merchants. These programs are two-way streets, so it's important to measure what you're getting out of it against what your customers are getting.
If you're loyal to Foursquare, which is on that list, there's more information on how to integrate that into your loyalty program over on this Inc. piece from last summer.
And, for what it's worth, this didn't make that list, but another one worth considering is Groupon Rewards, which doesn't even require customers to have a smart phone. It syncs in with something else almost everyone has: credit cards.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.