Nearly every company depends on repeat business. Getting customers to visit your business or site once is great. But getting them to come back again and again is critical.

Customer acquisition is costly. It costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. Not to mention, repeat customers spend on average 67 percent more than new ones.

So how can you get customers to come back again and again? With an effective and engaging loyalty program.

Despite what you may think, loyalty programs aren't just for airlines, hotels and grocery stores. While these are some of the most well-known forms of loyalty currencies, anyone can use loyalty to make their products - be it apps, products or services - more sticky and keep users coming back.

Keep in mind these three considerations when implementing a loyalty program.

1. Leverage Other Loyalty Rewards

Developing a loyalty rewards program can be expensive and time-consuming. Offer rewards that customers are sure to love by leveraging rewards from well-known loyalty programs.

By offering points or miles from globally-recognized brands--such as Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards or InterContinental Hotels Group Rewards Club--you can reward customers with a currency they are already familiar with and emotionally tied to.

It would take a lot of individual purchases or app downloads for you to afford to send a customer on an exotic vacation. But by plugging into programs your customers already use to collect points, you give them even greater incentive to engage with your brand. If you opt to leverage loyalty from established brands, consider offering a variety of options and letting customers choose which loyalty currencies they want to earn with each action or transaction.

2. Personalize Offers

Offering a loyalty program doesn't mean you can send customers just any kind of promotion. Customers want to know they're valued on an individual level. The best way to accomplish that is by offering rewards and earning opportunities based on personal preferences.

One study found that only 11 percent of loyalty programs offer personalized rewards based on a customer's purchase history or location data. And that's a huge missed opportunity! The more personalized and relevant loyalty offers and rewards are, the more likely customers will take action and keep coming back for more.

3. Use Gamification

Turning a task into a game always makes it more appealing. The most effective loyalty programs use game-like attributes that encourage participants to rack up points and ultimately redeem them for prizes.

Gamification has three main benefits:

  • Keeps users engaged on a specific platform (website, app or mobile device)
  • Brings out a customer's competitive side
  • Keeps users entertained

Through gamification, consumers are challenged and incentivized to share more of themselves - be it time, information or money through subsequent purchases.

Getting customers is no easy task, but keeping them around can be even more challenging. Considering the difference it can make in a company's bottom line, boosting customer loyalty should be a priority for every business.

This story first appeared on Women 2.0