3 Ways to Delight Your Best Customers With a VIP Rewards Program

VIP reward program

VIP customers are the lifeblood of your direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand—think of them as your ride-or-die customers who are the most excited to hear about company updates, sales, promotions, new product launches, and special events. 

This is also why you should have dedicated marketing strategies in place to engage directly with them. For DTC businesses, loyalty and VIP programs are commonly used to influence repeat purchases, retention, and brand affinity among these shoppers.

But how do you leverage different VIP reward programs through both email campaigns and SMS marketing? Find out where to start with VIP segmentation, then discover three VIP strategies that will make your best customers feel extra special.

Start here

Unsure where to start with creating a VIP rewards program?

First, create a VIP segment based on your brand and what you sell. To do this, you have to identify your VIP customers. Your VIP segment might account for placed order count, average order value (AOV), or customer lifetime value (LTV), to name a few. 

For example, a VIP segment for a DTC jewelry brand might be based on LTV, whereas an apparel brand might look at placed order count.

Alternatively, you could create a VIP or loyalty program that customers opt into, similar to Death Wish Coffee where, once someone joins, they’re automatically entered into a dedicated segment.

You may just have one segment of VIP subscribers, which is a great place to start, but you can also create different tiers or create a points-based system (more on that later) to create different rewards for different levels of activity.

A jewelry brand, for example, might want to create a basic tier for people who register as a minimum LTV then create an even more exclusive tier for “high rollers” who hit a higher LTV.

Once you have your VIP segment or segments, you can look at implementing these three, highly-effective VIP rewards campaigns:


1 | Early access and exclusive events

Your VIP customers are spending more money and time with you than other customers, so why not reward them by letting them know about exclusive promotions and perks? 

Sales, extra discounts, upgrades, and events are all possible ways to provide value to your customers. Push exclusive events like members-only sales to your VIP customers or send a flash promotion for free shipping to show them that you appreciate their loyalty.

Any time you can make your shopping experience feel more exclusive to your most loyal customers, the better.

Plus, making promotions only available to VIP members gives them a reason to spend more with your brand directly through your store in order to cash in on extra savings later.  

Pro tip: Send early access events to VIP customers over SMS. Since they’re most likely to see and open these messages immediately, as opposed to email, letting them know about exclusive access to a sale an hour early will be most effective through this channel. Otherwise, if they check their inbox after the hour has passed, they might be disappointed they missed out.

This is is a win-win strategy for you and your VIPs because early access promotions capitalize on campaigns you already have in place, such a sitewide sale, to make it feel more exclusive without much extra effort. 


2 | New collections and sneak peeks

Your loyal customers will be the most excited when new colors, collections, and styles are available from their favorite brand—you! 

Do your VIPs a favor and tell them first when you have new product releases, whether it’s as simple as a new size that’s been restocked or as significant as a new product launch. This will also help you prioritize how you show your most loyal customers any new low-inventory items to make sure they sell out.

Additionally, you may also consider giving your VIP customers exclusive sneak peeks at new collections before you release them.

Pro tip: Make VIPs feel extra special by using SMS to communicate with them more immediately. If you’re using sneak peeks or new product launches as a key to your VIP program, then SMS is the perfect way to let your customers know about them.

A text message is more immediate and more personal than email, which makes an SMS loyalty program the best way to let your customers know about new sales opportunities and new products.

Caraway, a seller of quality cookware without the chemicals, asks subscribers for both their email address and phone number in exchange for advanced alerts about new products before they launch to everyone else.

True fans of the brand will want to be the first to get their hands on new products. Using this enticing reward, Caraway can collect both an email address and a phone number from their subscribers. 

To apply this strategy to your DTC store, create a signup form targeted at your current email subscribers and collect their phone numbers in exchange for advanced notice about new products. Then, use SMS to alert subscribers when a new product arrives. 


3 | Tiers and points

Even with your most loyal customers, there can be different levels of fandom. Use this to your advantage by creating a system where your customers can sign up to accumulate more points. Once they have a certain number of points, they can redeem gifts, discounts, or other offers. 

Not only does this give you a way to further segment VIPs into different tiers, it also encourages customers to make their next purchase with you in order to earn points for their purchase.

Swimwear brand SwimZip created a simple system where you earn points for completing activities. You can earn 1,000 for referring a friend, 100 points for following their Instagram account, and five points for every dollar you spend. You can then redeem those points for future SwimZip purchases. 

This is an easy system to follow. If you’re a big fan of SwimZip, then you can quickly earn points from making purchases and telling your friends about the brand. It also encourages customers to shop on the brand’s DTC website rather than seeking out the brand’s products on other channels.

The program also works for different types of customers. You can still earn $5 or $10 without spending thousands of dollars. By setting up the program with some lower reward tiers, SwimZip also encourages repeat customers who could become the brand’s most loyal fans in the future.

Pro tip: Setting an expiration date creates a feeling of urgency that will often push a customer to claim their points instead of sitting on them and collecting them over a long period of time. 

Similarly, HYLETE lets their customers know how many points they have and how much time they have left to use them so they don’t miss out on rewards.

You can incorporate SMS marketing into your points-based system this way, as well. Send a text to subscribers who have reached a certain points threshold to tell them how many points they have and direct them to the web page that explains what they can redeem them for.

Unique experiences for unique customers

All your customers aren’t the same, so your marketing shouldn’t be the same for them either.

Your VIP customers are your most valuable subscribers. Think of little ways to make your customer experience unique for these shoppers through your marketing campaigns and they’ll thank you with brand loyalty.

Interested in more ways to maximize your VIP email subscribers? Check out these tips based on data collected from over 250 DTC ecommerce stores.

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