No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts
How do you make a customer fall in love with your brand? And what part does email marketing play in creating a loyal customer?
This month, we asked email marketing experts from Campaign Monitor, AWeber, dotdigital, eFocus Marketing, Mailninja, Email On Acid, Email Uplers, emailmonday & Zettasphere to discuss how email marketers can leverage email to build customer loyalty.
Here’s what they had to say…
The Right Email Nurtures Create Loyal Spenders
Email marketing is an ideal channel when it comes to nurturing customers. And because you can set up your nurtures in advance, this also makes for a quick and simple lift.
Email nurtures take the traditional sales funnel and turn it into a lifetime cycle, using unique and automated messages, like anniversary emails, coupons, and personalized promos to turn first-time buyers into loyal spenders.
The way your nurtures look will depend on where the buyer is in the customer lifecycle.
If it’s a first-buyer who just recently subscribed to your mailing list, you’ll want to start off the nurture with a welcome email and then a few follow-ups on how they can get even more from your product.
Repeat customers, however, might benefit more from email receipts with upsells, or personalized cross-sale promotions. As for the less interested subscribers, you’ll likely lean on a re-engagement campaign to catch their attention once again.
Once your nurtures are created and turned on, the rest is up to your subscribers. Messages are triggered by customer action, so you can sit back on cruise control while automated messages make the sale for you.
CM Commerce customer Cafe Joe credits their success to a series of personalized emails that reach customers at each specific stage of their journey. By utilizing pre-made nurtures, Cafe Joe created an email marketing strategy that sees a $58 return for every $1 spent.
A Good Loyalty Program Combines Offers, Personalization & Information
A good customer loyalty program should regularly engage customers with exclusive offers, personalization, and helpful information.
Email marketing is the perfect tool to accomplish this for 3 reasons:
- With email automation, you can automatically deliver emails to your subscribers based on the actions they take, like clicking a link or opening an email. This saves time, but also allows you to send more relevant content to your customers.
- Through email, marketers are able to collect feedback from specific customers. When customer feedback is implemented, they know their opinions are heard and are more likely to stay loyal to your brand.
- Email marketing allows for deeper personalization than any other marketing channel. Send your customers a birthday gift, like a coupon. Thank them for their purchase. Recommend products that are similar to their prior purchases.
FabFitFun — a seasonal subscription box for beauty, health, and lifestyle products — offers its members frequent exclusive offers. These offers are open for a short window, creating a sense of urgency. They’re also only available to subscribers who have purchased the subscription box. This is a great way to build loyalty and encourage customers to purchase more products.
Loyalty Emails Drive High Tranasction Rates & Revenue
It is obvious that customer acquisition is far more challenging than retaining them. With intense competition in the digital marketplace, boosting customer loyalty programs is picking up pace. More and more customers want to be remembered and feel important and email can play an important role in the game.
Emails promoting loyalty programs drive higher transactional rates and revenue per email.
If you are planning to build an effective customer loyalty program, consider the dormant customers and remind them about your brand. Incentivize them through a win back campaign and entice them to purchase from you again.
For the active customers and frequent buyers, you can have an appreciation email that thanks them for being a part of your brand journey. Recently, I received this email from Jeni’s Ice Creams and I just could not stop myself from ordering their tempting flavors yet again. That’s the magic of an email.
You can send early and exclusive deals to the VIP customers to promote customer loyalty and garner conversions. Here’s an example by Cotton on & Co. Also note how they have created a sense of urgency in the email.
Why Customer Loyalty Needs Email Marketing
Customer loyalty is earned over time, and it takes work. Brands need to foster a loyal following of customers if they want to survive increasing competition. And email, used as part of a wider omnichannel marketing strategy, always delivers more bang for your bucks. Email ROI wouldn’t be 4100% today if not for loyal customers.
So how does email grow customer loyalty?
Repeat purchases. Whether part of an upsell program or replenishment series, this kind of email campaign hits the customer’s inbox at the right time. Just make sure you use purchase history to inform future automations and relevant product content.
Increased average order value. AI-driven product recommendations can increase ecommerce sales significantly. Including ‘best next’ or lookalike products in email – what similar customers went onto purchase next and products with similar attributes – helps drive higher order value.
Affinity and word of mouth. Referrals are the most important driver of new orders, and are built on loyalty. Putting your customers first means they’ll sing your praises to friends and family.
Build a loyalty program to boost these indicators. Never neglect customers after the sale. Send them relevant editorial content that helps them get the most out of their new product, like how-to tips and help guides. Gamify the experience with perks that customers can unlock the more they buy, adding more value to their relationship with you.
And always – always! – ask for customer reviews and feedback. Optimization is key.
Email is the Heart of a Good Customer Loyalty Program
Email is at the very heart of a good customer loyalty program. Through the effective implementation of automated campaigns, you can use the data at your disposal to target customers with the right message, sent to the right person at the right time.
For example, through RFM analysis (Recency, Frequency Monetary) you can ascertain segments of data that form your very best customers, through to those who are the most loyal and those that need to be saved from becoming inactive.
You could also take it one step further and build in eRFM – adding in engagement with your brand across your email marketing, website and other channels to further segment your audience and personalise your messaging.
When building and implementing your customer loyalty programme, make sure that you think about your messaging throughout the entire customer lifecycle: from making a great first impression with a welcome and on-boarding program, helping prospects make the decision to buy from you, ensuring the purchase process is really good experience for your customers, and of course, encouraging them to come back and buy again with offers and messaging personalised to their needs and situation.
There are various ways that you can do this such as celebrating an anniversary…
Offering an exclusive discount…
Or allowing customers to build points and earn rewards…
It’s About That 1:1 Relationship With Individuals
Think about the proactive application of email, how you can regulate behavior, grow behavior and build relationships in email in the same environment – the inbox – as the place where they get valued messages from their friends and family. That’s why email is so important for loyalty.
It’s about that 1:1 relationship with individuals. People recognize distinctions between a brand that is commerce-driven and one that means something to them. When a brand means something to someone, that’s critical in establishing loyalty.
Doing it right means recognizing their loyalty-related behavior, like repeat purchases, versus regular consumers with sporadic activity.
The best loyalty emails I’ve seen have been in travel and hospitality, where these verticals tie behavior to different motivators, like complimentary upgrades or purchases in the VIP club. One that you think would do better is charitable organizations, where they treat regular donors the same as everybody else.
What does all this mean for marketers? Your loyalty communications have to be very different from the ones you send to the rest of your customers.
Start Strong And Add Some Touches of Joy
I used to work at an agency that did a lot of specific customer loyalty and retention programs. When planning out a strategy, you have to lay out the puzzle based on the type of beast you are taming. Think for instance about the difference in treating your “best” customers versus your “most growable” customers or those with highest risk of churn.
The data can tell you who is who, you can use (e)RFM analysis, but it starts even earlier. If you want to have loyal customers, you have to get leads with the potential to be loyal and start all the way at the stage of lead generation and opt-in!
And it goes through all the stages of the customer / shopping journey.
If the goal is to retain more customers you should find the ideal combo of those elements and strike a balance. For instance Rational (with incentives, points, perks, discounts) and Emotional (fun, exclusivity, belonging, etc). so it is a very creative process and relies heavy on shopper email psychology.
One of the tactics I love in email marketing is the introduction of automated Customer Delight. Building in small surprises along the life of a relationship that will build appreciation and make it a joy to be a customer. Extremely important point is a first purchase program – to get someone from making one purchase to a second or recurring one.
Here is an example from Joe Malone London taken from our ecommerce email marketing guide.
Have a look at the “with our compliments” section. This is a list of benefits, and especially love the choose samples one, so people are delighted and can try out the rest of the catalogue. Make sure you craft your own list of Benefits, convey them through email and design what your extended product (including the experience) should look like.
Be Fun & Rewarding
Yotpo’s research survey into brand loyalty found that 36.5% of loyal customers said they would spend more on a product when it’s a brand to which they are loyal. But customers consider themselves loyal only after five purchases.
So how do you get the five purchases? Email of course – building loyalty and repeat purchase is the core strength of email.
Whether an airline or a coffee shop loyalty schemes are a winner, with email at the core of the loyalty communication.
Starbucks are experts in loyalty, as their Stardash campaign illustrates. It uses a touch of fun, intrigue and surprise. The first email announces their Stardash promotion. A chance to win extra star points and get to free drinks faster. But doesn’t give all the details.
The email kicks off with a popping star themed animation and a message that is quickly understood.
The neat four icon visual tells you how the promotion works at a glance. The interesting part is the gamification and intrigue they use. The email could have simply delivered the ‘challenge’ immediately – but instead Starbuck decided to get buy-in.
Behavioural science shows that we are consistent with our previous choices. By getting customers to engage and say yes to finding out their challenge, Starbucks are getting higher commitment. People that have said yes to being in are more likely to see it through and reach their challenge target – because they will be consistent with their previous choice.
A second email arrives instantly after clicking the button to take part.
The same branding as the first with a nice visual of the challenge. And you can bet your bottom dollar that when I hit the target there’ll be another email congratulating me on the success.
Fun and rewarding. That’s how to build loyalty.
Sell Your Brand’s Story & Personality
Email marketing has a huge part to play in building loyalty and trust between your brand and your customers. Turning customers into fans is a hard game to play, as it can sometimes come across as disingenuous, so you’ll want to reign it in a little and not push too hard.
When researching for this post, I found that nearly everyone is talking about incentives, coupons, offers, basically, any desperate attempt to squeeze a little extra out of your new customers. However, I completely disagree.
They’ve bought from you, they know what you do, that job is done. Your main objective is to sell your brand story and personality. By doing so, you create a loyal fanbase who will shout about you.
Take yourself back to the ‘Our Blades Are F***ing Great’ promo from Dollar Shave Club, right there they nailed it. They gave you an insight into who they were and how they thought. In a crowded market they cut through the noise and got heard. So much so, that Unilever decided to buy them out. Plus, as we’re talking about email, their welcome series (key to selling your brand ethics and tone of voice to new customers) is also pretty awesome.
Ask yourself; what’s your brand identity, tone of voice, what story can you tell that makes you unique to the world. Tell it. Create a welcome drip campaign for new subscribers and new customers, and sell your brand.
If you want to learn how to drive brand loyalty, talk to the Ninjas.
More No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts Coming Soon
Stay tuned, we’ll be posting more No Bullshit Advice soon. Read our last installment, Holiday Email Marketing, Are You Ready? or catch up on the entire series here: No Bullsh*t Advice From Email Experts.
And as always, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
Keep your list healthy and boost campaign performance by regularly cleaning your email list. We’ll let you know which email addresses are good, bad and risky, before you hit send.
Your first 100 verifications are on us. Verify for Free