Use Email Marketing to Grow Your Rewards Program & VIP Customer list
The key to any strong marketing initiative is awareness, and the best way to create awareness online is with email marketing. Users that subscribe to a brands email list are in the consideration phase, and ensuring that you retain those customers and nurture their loyalty is an optimization best done through email automations.
Email automations or flows are created within marketing automation platforms and allow businesses to scale and measure their email marketing program. Features for such platforms include (not limited too) segmentation, personalization and retargeting with a social audience lookalike builder.
One segment that brands need to focus on is their VIP customer. A VIP customer is your most engaged customer and creating a VIP program that rewards their loyalty, is a retention strategy that can make your email marketing program stronger.
A VIP rewards program is no different from any other initiative, and you need to make sure that customers are aware of it to maximize its effectiveness. Combining your VIP rewards program with your email marketing creates one streamlined powerhouse marketing strategy.
Who are your VIP customers?
VIP customers are the segment of your marketing subscribers that are the most engaged, spend the most money and are the most loyal. They are identified through the number of repeat purchases they make and their engagement with your marketing emails.
VIP customers are, for the most part, a familiar concept to ecommerce marketers. Identifying your email VIP customers, creating a segment for them, to allow exclusivity of information, is a key component of customer retention. It builds brand loyalty and customer advocacy.
Offering VIP customers special offers, not only rewards them for their business, but it also encourages other customers to strive to reach VIP status to reap these benefits.
So, you should have a program in place to handle your VIP customers.
How to Identify Your Email VIP Customers
There are two main ways you can define who your VIP customers are:
- The number of purchases they make in a specific time period
- The total amount they spend on purchases
On one hand, you might want to target “big spenders,” or those who spend a certain amount of money over a short period of time. On the other, you might prefer to target those with a high cumulative spend, or those who are loyal and consistent customers.
To meet somewhere in the middle and avoid extending VIP offers to inactive customers who were once very engaged, you should define your VIP segment as those who have spent X amount of money in the past year. What you determine as the cutoff spend will depend on your particular ecommerce store, product offering, and the VIP benefits you’re going to give.
How to use email marketing to create exclusivity for your VIP segment
There are a number of offers and incentives you can give to your VIP customers, and coming up with ideas to let them know their importance to your business is a great chance to get creative.
Here are some ideas to get started with:
- Run exclusive sales for VIP customers
- Open sales early to VIP customers
- Have a points system where customers accumulate points with each purchase — once they’ve accumulated a certain number of points, they can redeem a gift
- Give birthday gifts to VIP customers
- Offer benefits like free returns or free shipping to VIP customers
- If you’re an ecommerce store that sells items like clothing or shoes, send VIP customers your products to try on before purchasing them
If you make your VIP benefits policies clear, you will also encourage regular customers to strive for VIP status. One point to keep in mind is that your VIP segment should be exclusive, otherwise it might end up costing you.
The nature of a VIP program, after all, is that it is selective.
Why you need to create a VIP segment for marketing
By rewarding loyal customers and letting them know you appreciate their business, you strengthen your relationship with them. This is a critical part of customer satisfaction and retention, and turning customers into advocates is one of the best ways to market your brand.
By providing an excellent experience for your customers, they’ll do some of your job for you by raving about your business on social media, in reviews, and elsewhere online, contributing social proof.
VIP programs increase customer satisfaction and encourage customers to purchase. So, VIP programs can both boost sales and fortify customer engagement and retention.
Here are some of the reasons this strategy works.
Creating VIP email segments creates a sense of exclusivity that helps grow your loyalty program
When you consider the number of unused loyalty cards in your wallet, it’s not hard to imagine how many mediocre reward programs are out there. These programs don’t encourage you to engage with them in any other way than making purchases – leaving your most loyal customers wanting more.
If you build a program that offers points for writing reviews, following your brand on social media, or creating a store account, your customers want to know about it. And email is the best tool for the job!
Combining emails that are jam-packed with value with your rewards program is the perfect recipe for making your program more fun, accessible, and valuable.
Getting customers excited about your emails is the first step towards ensuring that they will engage with your program and, as a result, your brand.
Brand Example: House of Lashes understands that simply offering attractive rewards isn’t enough. With this welcome email they’ve ensured that I know about their program’s offer for free gifts and special discounts without having to hunt for additional information.
It makes their program stand out from the rest, and definitely earns ongoing business.
Email marketing VIP programs drive and inspire subscriber engagement
One of the best things about emails is that they allow you to keep in touch with your customers.
These touchpoints help keep your brand top of mind, and solidify your brand as the obvious choice when customers make another purchase.
You can leverage your rewards program to further encourage email engagement and excitement.
When you run a rewards program, you have the opportunity to remind customers of their membership in your program, and to motivate them to re-engage. With a rewards platform like Smile, you can quickly and easily incorporate loyalty point balances and VIP tiers directly into any of your email marketing campaigns.
This simple step pays huge dividends over the long run by making your rewards program visible in every email you send. Whether it’s for a product launch, newsletter, or abandoned cart notices, customers will always be able to see where they stand in your program and get excited to engage as a result.
By reminding your customers of their loyalty point balance or VIP tier in all your communications, you are able to turn a one-time shopper into a repeat purchaser.
Knowing how close they are to their next reward or the benefits waiting for them at your store pushes them to visit, explore, and complete their next purchase — three highly valuable actions.
Brand Example: Spireside Candles clearly displays each customers’ points balance at the bottom of each of their emails. Even though this isn’t an email dedicated to rewards program members, including my balance reminds me that I have points that can be spent on rewards.
By redeeming 500 of my 752 points, I can receive a $5 coupon that makes me much more likely to purchase this new “Snowy White” candle.
Even if I don’t use my reward on this particular product, the promise of extra value gets me excited to see what else they have to offer.
An email reminding someone they already have a balance in your rewards program can be the difference that makes a member purchase from you instead of a competitor. A points balance establishes a switching cost that makes abandoning your brand much more difficult, and emails allow you to effectively communicate this psychological cost.
Email campaigns that target only your VIP customers
When one of your customers spends over $300 with your brand, how do you reward them?
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then your customers are probably not getting the recognition they deserve. A rewards program that identifies your VIPs by dollars spent or points earned allows you send them emails to make them truly feel special.
Staying loyal to a brand is easy when you are recognized as part of the elite and are rewarded for it.
Providing exclusive benefits is important here, and emails allow you to send bonus points, free products, or invites to special events.
Brand Example: inkbox has organized their VIP program into three “chapters” that become progressively more exclusive and rewarding as customers collect more “inkbucks.”
By the time a customer has earned 1,000 points, inkbox recognizes they are an extremely valuable customer and congratulates them with prestigious rewards.
Creating an email workflow that sends a congratulations email to a customer who moves up a tier allows you to automate your customer recognition, while ensuring they remain one of your loyal customers.
Personalizing this type of email with the name of the VIP tier they’ve just entered will make your customers feel even more valued, and keep them excited about their position in your program.
Reward program email reminders show VIP users they are important
A rewards program helps you build strong customer relationships by creating positive feelings towards your brand.
A great way to do that is by congratulating customers after they have earned enough points to redeem a reward, or thanking them for their purchase and ongoing loyalty.
Brand Example: Sunplay sent me this email after I collected enough points to redeem a $5 gift card. This made me feel awesome because it was much more personal than a promotion offering every customer a discount.
With this email, I was proud that I earned this and that it’s specific to my account. My efforts in their rewards program paid off quickly, and showed me that Sunplay is serious about giving back to me and their other customers.
Sending personalized emails avoids the dangers of discounting your products too often, while simultaneously engaging with customers on an individual basis.
This individualized attention will strengthen the positive associations’ customers have with your brand and motivate them to engage with your brand to unlock valuable rewards.
Email campaigns help you stay in touch with customers
Customers who’ve agreed to receive your emails create a great opportunity to increase your brand exposure.
However, many businesses mistake this opportunity for a sign that customers want an inbox full of your emails. This will not only tarnish the brand image, but will also lead to many unsubscribes.
Having a rewards program in place alongside your email strategy allows you to send welcomed and valuable communications.
By sending emails containing bonus points, birthday rewards, or a welcome gift, you’re delivering real value that customers will appreciate.
Customers reciprocate this generosity by staying engaged with more of your emails, giving you better open rates and click-throughs that ultimately lead to more revenue.
This is a less “selly” approach to email marketing that makes your communications feel more authentic.
Brand Examples: ivory ella rewards their customers 300 points and 20% off their order on their birthday. Once I received this email with my personal coupon code, I immediately visited their website so that I could spend my “gifts” on a variety of different rewards!
This memorable experience is now something I associate with the ivory ella brand, and the positive brand association keeps me excited to receive messages from them in the future.
Email Marketing + Your VIP Rewards Program
Emails and reward programs go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Emails are capable of bringing your new loyalty program to life, creating excitement, giving recognition to your best customers, building personal relationships, and helping you stay in touch with the people who love your brand.
Our tech stack integrations allow you to link your rewards and email strategy together. Want to learn how to grow your email program? Learn about email segmentationBack to Blog Home