Loyalty programs, if done properly, can transform customers into long-term fans of your business and boost revenues. Rewarding frequent shoppers with points, coupons and freebies is a great way to start. However, with so many loyalty programs out there, how do you make yours stand apart?
The key is to deliver an amazing customer experience that creates positive and reasonable customer expectations. In fact, according to HubSpot, 83 percent of customers report that a great loyalty program can persuade them to continue doing business with companies.
Email is the most effective way to deliver information about retail loyalty programs. The marketing channel not only allows you to share enticing offers and promotions, but also manage renewals, reinstate lapsed members and improve customer satisfaction.
Building Better Loyalty Emails
According to Forbes, 2018 will be all about customer experience for the retail industry. So how can you use this trend to create loyalty emails that engage and attract customers?
1. Tell a great story.
Marketers know that people love good stories, and storytelling is essential to brand building. Most businesses display a standard summary of loyalty points, with a few promotional offers, in their loyalty emails.
Go a step further and share a story about your customer relationship history. Remind them how they came to love your brand in the first place.
For example, retailers can send customers a history of how their loyalty points have grown over time, with all their purchases, along with recommendations on their favorite items. Instead of only showing their loyalty points, give them a personalized narrative around their purchases and loyalty rewards.
Ensure that you make it easy to share the emails to popular social platforms. Doing so will result in a viral email with a personalized story.
2. Provide up-to-date account information.
According to Marketing Sherpa, nearly 72 percent of people like to receive brand-related content via email. However, email hasn’t been effective in providing the latest loyalty point information.
This is mainly because marketers found it difficult to access customer data scattered across various systems. Furthermore, pulling that data automatically in real time wasn’t easy. As a result, customers would get confused by the outdated loyalty status in their emails.
Using API-driven data, retailers can ensure that they provide up-to-date loyalty status by automatically pulling the rewards information into their emails. This way, when customers re-open their emails, the data is refreshed and they see the latest information.
3. Make it easy to redeem points.
According to a study by Colloquy, the No.1 reason people give for continuing loyalty programs is that they’re easy to understand. On the other hand, complex rules and difficulty in point redemptions can cause customers to drop off.
So keep it simple. In addition to displaying loyalty information in your emails, list only the products eligible for redemption based on customers’ latest loyalty point totals. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing products you can’t afford with your current points.
4. Show them the big picture.
The use of data visualization in marketing (e.g., infographics) has soared over the past few years, and will continue to grow in 2018. It’s not surprising to see why. Graphics are more engaging and easier to understand than traditional text-based content.
Enrich your loyalty emails by adding relevant data visualization to them. You can easily create infographics using free tools like Canva or Piktocart and include them in your email template.
For example, a pet store can send visual content in emails that show customers’ loyalty statuses. Using real-time APIs, you can also show recent purchases, from food to toys, using customized and animated charts, as well as how close the customer is to reaching the next loyalty tier. This will trigger additional purchases.
5. Incorporate interactive features.
Every loyalty program depends on the engagement of its members. With contextual marketing, brands can keep customers excited about their loyalty program and boost their engagement.
Adding gamification elements such as polls and interactive games in your loyalty emails can increase engagement by 100 percent to 150 percent, according to M2 research. Some marketers even use live and progressive polling to keep their audience hooked.
For example, a coffee shop can send email polls asking customers about their favorite coffee style (latte, espresso, cappuccino) that can be answered right from within the email. It also provides a great opportunity to store preference data about each customer, allowing you to personalize your future emails, as well as your service.
You can also add live social media feeds to your loyalty emails. This will make your emails look fresh and compel customers to open them more often. It will also make users feel that they're a part of a larger community.
Marketers that send static, text-based loyalty emails with outdated content are missing out on a big opportunity to grow loyal customers by providing a fantastic customer experience. Starting in 2018, make it a point to include storytelling elements, real-time data, interactive features and data visualizations to build a loyalty program that engages customers and compels them to purchase from your brand again and again.
Sreeram Sreenivasan is the founder of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based business intelligence platform for SMB and enterprise businesses.
Related story: Revamping Retail: Loyalty Pain Points and How to Solve Them
For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of BI, Sales & Marketing Strategy. He’s the Founder of Ubiq BI, a cloud-based BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. He also runs Fedingo blog that covers a wide range of business growth.