receipt marketing

How to Use Receipt Marketing to Promote Your Loyalty Program



On a mission to help all businesses profit from passes.
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For a long time, receipts were merely a means for confirming transactions. Retailers had their turnover registered and ready for reporting. Customers had proof they had paid for the goods before leaving the store.

Receipts nowadays also help consumers exercise their rights. Retailers require proof of purchase for most post-purchase services, such as product return or refund, replacement, and repair.

In the early 21st century, receipts turned from boring, frequently thrown away paper slips to a powerful marketing tool that customers engage with. It has a lot to do with the advent of digital receipts for online purchases, but paper receipts can contain marketing messages too.

Receipt marketing is good for promoting many activities, such as loyalty programs, surveys, cross-sales, special offers and deals, to name a few. In this article, we will cover the use of receipt marketing for promoting loyalty programs. 

We will also share how businesses leverage receipts to get into customers’ smartphones – using customer loyalty software such as PassKit. PassKit helps companies turn plastic loyalty cards and paper coupons into digital passes that customers can store in the mobile wallets they trust. We will even show you how you can try it for yourself today. Start your free trial to test PassKit and see if it is a good fit for your business.

Before we take a deep dive into the rest of the article, let’s first explain receipt marketing and how it helps your overall marketing efforts.

What is receipt marketing?

receipt marketing

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With receipt marketing, you can use receipts as a medium to deliver promotional messages. It’s also known as register tape advertising because it started on paper slips. It is a good option for any business because, legally, every transaction has to be documented in most countries. A transaction happens, you issue a receipt, and your customer can either throw it away or keep it for future use, which creates an excellent opportunity to make sure this customer comes back.

You can use defined space on your paper slips or digital receipts to place relevant promotional content. If done correctly, your customers will notice the message because they expect the receipt and receive it straight after purchasing. Receipts can be an effective medium because you hand them directly to the customer when they expect to receive them. I.e., it’s not like cold calling advertising.

This context makes receipts unique compared to other marketing channels, where businesses struggle to identify and reach out to the right people at the right time. Receipts eliminate a lot of guesswork because it’s obvious who the customers are and what they expect.

Why is receipt marketing a good idea for your business?

Receipt marketing is an excellent idea because it’s so accessible and affordable. Issuing receipts is mandatory, and the marginal costs for customizing your receipts are low.

Here’s an outline of the eight benefits of using receipt marketing:

  1. Increased customer retention
  2. Medium ownership
  3. Optimal exposure
  4. Added value
  5. Low cost
  6. Multi-purpose usage
  7. Suitable for print and digital
  8. Great for cross-channel marketing

Note that we didn’t order the list above by importance. We don’t aim at rating the benefits precisely. We want to explain why receipt marketing can be good for your business. Let’s share a few words about each of the advantages.

1. Customer retention

With receipt marketing, you are targeting people who are already your customers. It means that your conversion effort has already paid off. You don’t have to guess what information channels your customers are using. You don’t have to figure out how to bring them to the shop. They are already there, handing you money.

Using receipts to promote activities that increase retention and generate additional revenue makes sense. You can offer related products to boost cross-sales, request feedback, or promote your loyalty program. In general, receipts are great for post-purchase marketing.

2. You own the medium

Modern-day receipts are highly customizable. You can configure receipt printers to print anything, but you need to consider physical restraints like the roll width and black and white printing. Nevertheless, with a crafty message complimenting the mandatory info, you can turn the boring slip into a powerful marketing tool.

Digital receipts delivered by email are even more customizable. Emails support HTML formatting for a long time. You can design anything and embed images and rich media.

Last but not least, with receipt advertising, you don’t pay for space on other mediums. You don’t have to rent a billboard, pay for digital ad space or buy a time slot on TV. You have freedom and flexibility because you own the medium. You don’t have to settle with the terms of a third party.

3. Exposure at the point of purchase

Finalizing a transaction is a part of the shopping experience. The smoother and faster it goes, the better. Combine this with product satisfaction, and you get a perfect opportunity to capitalize on this positive outcome.

Receipts allow you to deliver marketing messages to satisfied customers at the point of sale. They enable you to make a customer experience more engaging and make a lasting impression by handing out receipts that stand out.

4. Added value to the customer

A message of value delivered in a non-intrusive manner can make a huge difference. Receipts can be tedious, and for a long time, they were. However, an already established consumer habit of receiving receipts helps your promotional effort with receipt advertising.

5. Very low-cost

Receipt marketing can cost less and provide a higher ROI than your overall marketing stack. Setting up a POS device to print a QR code for a promotion is neither costly nor difficult. Email receipts are also relatively cheap to set up and deliver.

With this approach, you don’t have to worry about targeting the right audience. The people you give receipts to are already your customers. You can focus on retention rather than acquisition.

6. Usable for multiple marketing initiatives

Receipts are a suitable medium for a variety of marketing activities. They are equally good for additional revenue generation and customer engagement. Here are some areas where the payslips can prove rather useful:

  • Customer loyalty programs – instead of handing leaflets during the checkout process, you can print a QR code on the receipt with a link to your digital loyalty program.
  • Customer feedback and surveys – again, a QR code can quickly get your clients online where they can rate your product or service or answer survey questions.
  • Promotions and other campaigns – purchases are often a qualifier for certain promotional benefits.
  • Cross sale – use receipts to promote related products. It is suitable with digital receipts that can accommodate formatted content.

Clearly, with the help of modern technology, the good old receipt has become a versatile tool that can assist in your marketing effort.

7. Works for offline and online stores

Digital transactions leave a trace, just like regular purchases. Clients receive order confirmations via email and use them for progress tracking while awaiting delivery. Depending on the time it takes for the package to arrive, the client may open the email receipt several times. We can hardly think of a better opportunity to promote other products.

Brick and mortar stores are not at a disadvantage either. A QR code and a short call to action on the payslip are enough to direct people to online channels. Also, retailers have been offering both print and digital receipts for over a decade now. 

The New York Times reported this to be a trend back in 2011, so it’s no longer news.

8. The catalyst for cross-channel marketing

Messages in receipts can help you get your customers from physical locations to digital ones. The example with a loyalty program sign-up is relevant here too. All it takes for the users to get to the sign-up form is scanning a QR code. The effort is insignificant, the result is almost immediate, and the long-term consequences are positive.

In addition, once a client signs up, you can use the provided details to distribute marketing messages in the future. The contacts are verified, and you can have confidence your messages are getting to the right audience.

Digital receipts vs paper receipts for receipt marketing

digital receipts vs paper receipts statistics

Reasons to prefer paper receipts, according to a Green America survey. Image source: Green America.

To be clear, both a printed and digital receipt can work well when you want to encourage repeat business. Also, both are expected by the customer as transaction confirmations are mandatory. Most of the differences stem from the way of delivery and the ease of future interaction.

Email receipts are a quick gateway to all sorts of activities in the online world. They can easily accommodate “similar items” or “you may also like” proposals. Placing a call to action is a piece of cake. Links to surveys and loyalty program pages are easy to integrate. Most importantly, the custom design and personalization options are better with digital receipts.

Printed receipts from cash registers or credit card terminals also have their advantages. They can help you direct existing customers to your social media accounts or other online channels. There you can expose the users to all sorts of promotions.

Handing paper receipts includes a personal interaction. Therefore they provide an excellent opportunity for your staff to leave a lasting impression. Also, they are a great addition to in-store displays that promote your loyalty program. The customers that don’t interact with other printed material in the store can still have the information on the payslip. Despite the movement for replacing paper with digital, printed receipts are still considered better by many people.

On the downside, paper receipts are easy to get lost. Furthermore, many people throw them away as soon as they leave the store. A survey by Green America revealed that 37% of respondents throw away or lose nearly all or all of their paper receipts. It is especially valid for purchases of high turnover goods.

Paper receipts may have a limited time frame to provoke user action. Also, they have less available space for marketing messages and fewer customization options than digital receipts.

Printed receiptsDigital receipts
Encourage customers to switch to digital channelsSafe and fast
Good for small local businesses with a limited online presenceEasy to integrate calls to action
A way to make a lasting impressionOffer measurable and trackable user actions
Available and universalGood for time-sensitive promotions, easy to follow up with reminders
Physical copy may feel more secureEasy to store, hard to lose, and eco-friendly
Easy to get lostExperienced customers may ignore them because they trust the brand and don’t need to check the receipt.
People tend to throw them away

What kind of customer data can you get with receipt marketing?

Every receipt contains transaction information that might not make sense separately. However, specific patterns or trends might emerge when you aggregate the data. Summing up transaction information can give you valuable insights into what you are selling, how much of it is being sold, and when. Other information, such as preferred payment methods, is also available.

You can get all sorts of insights from summed-up receipt data, and you can also get a sense of how your sales fluctuate over time. You can predict peaks and drops in workload and plan supplies and promotions.

With receipt marketing, you can take this a step further. For example, if you have a loyalty program and your clients submit receipts to get points, this can be an actual gold mine. You would be able to link certain products to specific customer demographics or behaviors. It unleashes unparalleled power by using the habits of your consumers for better sales and promotion planning.

In addition, when used to conduct surveys, receipt marketing can fuel your decision-making with honest product reviews and genuine feedback from clients who care.

How to explain your loyalty program on the receipt

Depending on the available space on the receipt, you can introduce your loyalty program differently. Electronic receipts give you more flexibility because of the better customization options. Don’t underestimate paper receipts, though. They can facilitate onboarding too.

We recommend following these three basic rules for using receipts for loyalty program onboarding:

  1. Let the receipt serve its primary purpose.
  2. Be clear and to the point.
  3. Allow a smooth transition.

Let’s elaborate on why we think the three points above are essential.

1. Do not let it hijack the receipt completely

Your loyalty program is important, but don’t forget that the receipt serves a primary purpose – to document a transaction and show purchase details. Always present the primary information first.

You can explain your loyalty program below the transaction info. It is a common approach for paper receipts that have limited width. You can use different layouts in your digital receipts as long as you display the purchase confirmation as the primary info.

2. Present the loyalty program shortly and clearly

It is critical to make it clear how to navigate to the onboarding page. Use prominent elements, such as buttons, text links, and QR codes. Always include a self-explanatory call to action. It is especially valid for QR codes on printed receipts because the code itself is not readable to the person.

Also, think of some key benefits of your loyalty program to list on the receipt. It would reaffirm the advantages of signing up. Don’t overwhelm the user with lengthy explanations and phrases here. You don’t have that much space on the receipt, and the user doesn’t have the time to read.

3. Ensure a smooth transition

Your clients would appreciate a smooth onboarding with well-explained predictable steps. Technology nowadays allows quick transitioning from one medium to another. However, keep in mind that this transition requires user trust, and you have to work for it.

Make sure everything is tested and works reliably. Setting an expectation with clever marketing is good, but your effort would be in vain if it simply doesn’t work for technical reasons.

Use PassKit QR code distribution to promote your loyalty program

PassKit QR code distribution receipt marketing

Many local businesses are too small to consider investment in building an app or creating a proprietary loyalty program. It is where PassKit comes to the rescue. 

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, most customers are now fully familiar with and use mobile wallets like Google Pay or Apple Wallet daily when paying for a product or service in-store. They also use Google Pay and Apple Wallet to store and quickly access payment cards, loyalty cards, membership cards, coupons, event tickets, boarding passes, etc.

Digital passes are non-payment cards that are stored in Google Pay and Apple Wallet.  Using digital passes to integrate your loyalty program with a popular digital wallet can help you get the best of the digital consumer trends without risky investments. With PassKit, you can easily create these digital passes, which your customers can then use every time they purchase in the future.

Here is how PassKit works:

  1. The customer receives a QR code on a printed or digital receipt.
  2. The customer scans the QR code or taps a link from an email or social media.
  3. The pre-generated digital pass (loyalty card) is displayed on the screen.
  4. With a single tap, the customer adds the pass to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay.
  5. The customer is now part of your loyalty program and incentivized to return to your store.

The best thing is that neither you nor the users are required to install an additional app. You can generate digital passes with the PassKit web app and then use QR code distribution to allow easy onboarding. No login is required, so feel free to check our digital pass tool and play around with its features or go ahead and add a sample loyalty card to your phone.

QR codes can be either printed or digital. You can place printed versions on receipts, in-store displays, or shop windows. You can publish digital QR codes on your website, on a social media platform, or in another online place where your business has an established presence.  

With PassKit, you can use QR code distribution to turn offline interactions into digital experiences. The process is straightforward and doesn’t require too much effort from the user. Also, the integration with trusted mobile wallets helps you boost user trust for an easier transition.

Other ways how PassKit boosts your loyalty program

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We talked a lot about receipt marketing in this article. It is just one way to promote your loyalty program. Regular emails, online ads, or social media posts would also work. With PassKit, you will get QR codes that you can post online or print for in-store placement. You will also be able to generate enrollment links for emails, social media or online display ads. Also, you can upload your customer contacts to PassKit and then send emails with personalized loyalty cards.

Another significant advantage is the easy integration with POS devices and CRM. You don’t have to replace your existing software.

PassKit provides an API that allows data capturing and analysis even without integrating into your app. That’s ideal for businesses that don’t have their retail application and don’t plan to make one.

If you are looking ambitiously into the future, you are probably considering or already supporting contactless payments. PassKit loyalty points will be updated automatically if your devices support the required Apple and Google protocols.

You may also want to grab the user’s attention at the right moment with location-driven or time-driven messaging. PassKit can display lock screen notifications when clients pass a nearby shop with near field communication enabled. Also, customers can receive discount offers on the spot while in the store and reminders for expiring deals. You can also send birthday greetings with a reminder to redeem loyalty points.

To summarize, PassKit can help you get your customers on board and keep them engaged with personalized offers.

How to motivate customers to engage with your receipts

Here again, it’s good to distinguish between paper receipts and digital ones. With email receipts, you can use captivating designs to keep the user’s attention and provoke action. Paper receipts are riskier because not all clients have the consistent habit of keeping them. Here are some hints for making your receipts more engaging:

  • Talk to your clients – when handing out payslips, direct the customers’ attention to the deals they can grab. A quick mention of a deal and a reminder to keep the receipt could be enough.
  • Use enticing calls to action – this is useful everywhere else. Receipts are not an exception.
  • Promote time-sensitive discounts – adding time constraints makes users alert because they don’t want to miss those deals. It contributes to the habit of paying attention to the receipt.
  • Make the users feel important – when promoting surveys, ask your customers for feedback in a way that makes them feel their experience is important to you.
  • Promote relevant products – make sure the deals you offer are for products your clients would be interested in.

Last but not least, remember that receipt marketing is just one channel of many. Ensure all deals and promos you are offering are consistent across all media. Otherwise, your clients may completely disregard a given medium in favor of another.

Receipt marketing example to get you inspired

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Image source: QR Code Generator

Here’s a short example of a message on a payslip that prompts customers to rate service. We can see a clear call to action. It is followed by a brief explanation of what the client has to do. Everything is short, simple, and placed near the total price, ensuring the message is in a space the customer would be looking at.

Receipt marketing is still relevant

Receipt marketing is a relatively affordable way to use a known convention to deliver commercial messages. It has entered the digital era confidently, and online receipts have taken the promotional potential to the next level. We can say that receipt marketing is here to stay. 

In this article, we explored how your receipts can help boost your loyalty program. We also explained how PassKit integration could help your business increase customer retention and loyalty. If you want to spice up your receipt marketing and help your customers jump from offline to digital experiences, PassKit is the right solution. Start your free trial today!

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