How Loyalty Programs and Email Personalization Work Together

Loyalty programs provide brands with valuable data, which can be used to fuel email personalization. See how Nike, Nordstrom, Ulta and DSW do it.

Back in 1895, Italian philosopher and economist Vilfredo Pareto noted that 20% of Italy’s population controlled 80% of its wealth. That ratio lives on today in business; the overwhelming majority of a brand’s sales come from its top customers. For proof of the modernized Pareto principle, look no further than loyalty programs.

Loyal customers are the best customers. According to Accenture research, loyalty program members generate 12-18% more revenue per year than non-members. These programs also power personalization. Members give brands valuable data about what they buy, the types of promotions that appeal to them, and whether they typically shop online or in-store. Since consumers largely prefer to be marketed to via email, loyalty and email personalization go hand-in-hand.

1. Leverage Loyalty Program Data for Early Email Personalization

Every loyalty program has an onboarding process, where brands should learn about members’ interests and preferences before they start buying. Use all that data to personalize, creating the best possible experience for your most valuable customers from the very beginning.

Accounting for three times as many sales as non-members, Nike+ undoubtedly represents Nike’s most valuable customers. Early on, Nike captures data about members’ lifestyles and athletic preferences. That feeds into the sportswear giant’s mobile and email personalization in tandem, recommending different products for runners and basketball players, for example.

Email personalization
Remember: the better you’re at segmentation, the more accurate recommendations you can give.

2. Include Loyalty In Your Welcome Series

If someone signs up for your email list, they’re telling you that they want to hear from you. Naturally, welcome emails have sky-high open rates relative to other marketing messages. Your welcome stream is a perfect place to highlight your values and what sets your brand apart. The same applies to your loyalty program.

Nordstrom does this particularly well, introducing people to the Nordy Club as they’re learning about the brand. Perks of this tiered loyalty program include points and early access for everyone, and free alternations and in-home stylists for top customers.

Nordstrom email campaign
By highlighting the benefits in its welcome series, Nordstrom aims to lock in loyalty early, increasing engagement down the road.

3. Include Loyalty Everywhere Else, Too

Welcome emails are a great place for retailers to highlight their loyalty programs. So are every other kind of email, whether it’s a brief mention in your header or included in your order confirmations. This serves as a constant reminder for your program and what makes it special.

DSW VIP is a hallmark of the DSW shopping experience so naturally, it’s also a big part of the brand’s email personalization. DSW incorporates its loyalty program into every email header, including not only customers’ loyalty status, but also how close they are to their next reward.

DSW email personalization
Other information worth highlighting in the email header include the member’s available points, or even some of the rewards they can redeem with said points.

4. Use Loyalty as a Trigger

Triggered messages generate more than three-quarters of email marketing ROI. They’re also a hallmark of email personalization as behavior-based responses to specific customer actions, such as abandoning an online shopping cart or making a purchase. Loyalty programs provide countless triggers, such as points reminders, upcoming events for members, and even recaps, like those Ulta sends at the end of the year.

Personalization is exceptionally important in the beauty industry in general. And since personalization has been proven to boost sales and loyalty programs lead to retention, it’s also crucial for Ultamate Rewards. More than 95% of the brand’s sales come from members.

Ulta reward program
In November, Ulta acquired an analytics startup called QM Scientific, intending to enhance its personalization, which CEO Mary Dillon referred to as “the next frontier of loyalty” for Ulta.
Headshot of Mike O’Brien, senior writer at Sailthru

Mike O’Brien

A journalist-turned-content marketer, Mike O’Brien is a senior writer at Sailthru, seniorly writing blogs, whitepapers and best practice guides, sales enablement, social media posts, and everything in between. He is a passionately active loyalty member of both DD Perks and Nike Run Club.

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