I’ve been thinking about the provocative questions Chris Marriott raised in his recent Only Influencers post, Email Marketing’s Next Secret Weapon: Loyalty Programs to spur more email marketers and loyalty program managers to share data.
Two questions in particular keep coming back to mind:
- How can an email team turn subscribers into loyalty program members (and thus help themselves to more zero-party data!)?
- How can I use email to help create a more of a ‘want to stay in the relationship’ loyalty program?
What are brands doing now?
Specifically, how are brands using email to attract, retain and collect useful data from their loyalty program members?
Data, after all, is the key to both email and loyalty program retention and growth. Both programs might have been founded to sell more to current customers, thus reducing the repeated budget drain of constant acquisition.
But email and loyalty marketers are finally starting to explore the deep symbiotic relationship between the two. Marketers get the zero- and first-party data they need to personalize their messages all through the customer journey, while loyalty program members tap into the reach and power of email to acquire and retain more members. Everybody wins!
There’s another big upside to making email and loyalty programs work together: better email data quality. For email marketers, loyalty programs give new customers tangible benefits, especially tiered programs that boost benefits as customers buy more. As a result, customers may be more likely to share a primary email address instead of a less-valued or disposable one.
Email marketers can also use loyalty data to identify potentially inactive customers or those most likely to jump to another brand and launch retargeting or win-back campaigns earlier. With the impending degradation of open rates for large chunks of a marketer’s email list, this is a big benefit.
8 Tactics to Bring Email and Loyalty Together
These email examples show how some companies promote a loyalty program, what similar brands are doing and reveal the kinds of data you could discover when you finally break down the separation of email data and loyalty data.
1. Always be promoting.
Your customers might see your loyalty program when they visit your website for the first time or encounter it in a store, but mentioning it in every email campaign you send will keep it top of mind. Changing up the copy, offer and rewards will keep it fresh instead of letting it slip into the background.
To make this happen, do like many retail brands, post a promo prominently in your message template, as these emails show from Bed Bath & Beyond and LOFT.
2. Nudge new members to buy and engage.
Like a welcome email series, the first loyalty email you send to new members should let them know what to expect, what their benefits are and how to manage them. It should also give them reasons to go back to the website and buy or otherwise engage to begin earning rewards.
This email post-signup loyalty welcome email from Oshkosh B’gosh gets everything right:
- Shows the customer’s progress toward the first reward
- Sends a warmly worded personalized greeting
- Lists all the brands where a customer can earn points
- Has a big bright “Shop Now” button
- Lists all the benefits in an easy-to-scan combination of icons and short, snappy copy
- Includes a subtle upsell for the brand’s credit card
- Offers “Parenting milestones” rewards customers for non-shopping behavior and promotion app downloads and installs
3. Ditch the preferences request.
Your loyalty program can pull out all kinds of cool customer-volunteered info that adds to what you already picked up from their web and buying behavior. But who has the time or patience to fill out a lengthy list of preferences? So shorten it up and call it something else (like a quiz, a survey or game), as seen in Tuesday Morning and Extended Stay America‘s emails.
4. Send a monthly recap.
Use email to send your loyalty program members a monthly statement showing their activity, their progress to the next tier, the rewards they have earned so far, what they’ll get when they reach the next tier and maybe a suggestion or two that would help them get there.
Even if your loyalty program lives mainly in your app, a monthly statement email gives you benefits, too:
- It’s a value-added email you can send to increase frequency without sending another promotion
- You can track clicks to see what people do with your email
- It keeps customers informed and nudges them back to your website
5. Break up the email stream with a loyalty promotion.
For customers who aren’t in your loyalty program yet, add an email promoting it to your regular campaign schedule. Besides breaking up the routine, it can bring fresh eyes to your message.
Better yet: Create a series of email messages that change with the seasons or holidays, like this Dick’s Sporting Goods email. Or use different incentives or creative content to keep the message fresh.
Here’s another approach, this time from REI’s outlet division. It looks like a loyalty program email got sent to the entire email list, but it’s not an “oops!” email. Instead, members get a warm and fuzzy thank-you, along with a few benefit reminders and a nudge to buy, while curious nonmembers who click through get an offer to buy a membership along with a purchase.
6. Keep asking for relevant data.
New customers might be wary of giving up too much personal or identifying data before they get to know your brand. An alternative is to use progressive profiling, where you break up data collection into a series of questions, each of which gives you a little more insight into your customers.
In this email, Publix is asking its members to choose a local supermarket location. This data lets the chain know where their customers are and helps them personalize content for their locations. Bonus: It also prompts members to start or continue exploring the program rather than scaring them away before you’ve had a chance to earn their trust.
7. Keep promoting the points.
This loyalty email from Bruegger’s Bagels is all about the rewards. It lets customers know their real-time point totals, uses the concept of rewarding oneself for everyday accomplishments and gives customers multiple opportunities (scanning a code or clicking a link further down in the email) to check their reward status.
8. Use FOMO and urgency to let nonmembers know what they’re missing.
Fear of missing out is another way to show nonmembers exactly what they’re missing out by not joining your loyalty program. This H&M email does double duty – sending an offer to members and giving nonmembers a chance to get in on the action while also selling the benefits. Then it ramps up the action by giving members and nonmembers alike only one day to act.
As marketers, we’re always looking for ways to get more from the time and money we spend to reach out to customers, to acquire, manage and protect data and to grow our brands. Email and loyalty are a natural fit in that quest. When we work together, everybody wins!