Delight loyal customers with a VIP program: Best practices & successful examples

Profile photo of author Alexandra McPeak
vip reward program

VIP customers are 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, customer loyalty, retention, and brand affinity among these shoppers.

But how do you leverage different VIP programs through both email campaigns and SMS marketing? How do you segment with accuracy, and allow your reward program to grow?

Find out where to start with VIP segmentation, then discover three VIP strategies that will make your best customers and loyal brand advocates feel extra special.

Always start with segmentation and create a VIP email list

Unsure where to start with creating a VIP program?

First, create a VIP segment based on your brand and what you sell.

Identify your VIP customers:
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.

Brand example: 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.

Image shows a message from a brand inviting you to become a VIP member.

Create different tiers for the VIP program: 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 unique 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 and then create an even more exclusive tier for “high rollers” who hit a higher LTV.

Understand more about the basics of a VIP program for email marketing

Highly-effective VIP programs and rewards for email campaigns:

1. Create early access and exclusive events and send out those emails

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

Image shows a text from a brand announcing a semi-annual sale

2. Give loyal customers access to 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 running a successful 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.

Brand example:
Caraway, a seller of quality cookware without 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.

3. Start adding VIP tiers and points to your email rewards program

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 reward 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.

Brand example:
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. 

Image shows a rewards program telling the user how many points they get for different loyalty activities.

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.

This type of VIP program also works for different types of customers. You can still earn $5 or $10 without spending thousands of dollars. By setting up the new 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 exclusive rewards.

Image shows an email from a brand telling the user that their points are about to expire, motivating them to shop.

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.

Global VIP program examples from European brands

Create unique marketing 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.

VIP program FAQs

What are VIP rewards?

VIP rewards are unique prizes a brand offers to its most loyal customers. These can include gift cards, discounts, credit with a product or service unique to a business, and anything else that can be used to incentivize repeat purchases.

What are the benefits of building a VIP program?

A VIP rewards system is primarily designed to identify top-tier customers and encourage them to purchase from your brand again. As a result, the program helps maximize brand loyalty, encourage brand advocacy, increase sales, and boost revenue.

How do you reward VIP customers?

Some of the best VIP rewards you can offer to your loyal customers include:

1. Rewards cards and points

2. Discounts and vouchers for future purchases

3. Subscription upgrades

4. Special prizes for referrals

5. Exclusive contests and sweepstakes

Alexandra McPeak
Alexandra McPeak
Content strategist
Alex McPeak is a Content Strategist at Klaviyo. She helps entrepreneurs and small businesses grow. Before joining Klaviyo in 2020, Alex spent several years writing, editing, and podcasting throughout the Boston tech scene. Alex graduated from Emmanuel College. Outside of work, Alex enjoys traveling to warmer places, reading mystery novels, and eating sushi.