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The Email Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty

October 11 - 2023

E-book 5 min read

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Do you have a favourite brand?

One that you turn to automatically, without even considering others? Regardless of price or promotions, a brand that you are simply comfortable and happy to purchase from again and again.

If so, then you’re a loyal customer. And chances are, you make a significant positive impact on your favourite brand’s bottom line.

In this guide we will explore how email marketers can foster precious loyal customers, just like you. Exploring the types of strategies, tactics, and emails that engage customers, make them feel special, and encourage them to purchase, regardless of the competition.

What is customer loyalty?

For businesses, loyalty refers to customers who not only make numerous, repeat purchases, but also choose their specific brand over all others. These loyal customers are the lifeblood of any successful brand, often forming the foundation of a brand’s sustainability and growth.

Let’s explore why.

Revenue drivers

First and foremost, loyal customers drive revenue. By consistently choosing a brand’s products or services, they provide a reliable income stream that isn’t reliant on selling based on discounts or offers. Moreover, they have been proven to spend 67% more than new buyers, offering financial stability and growth which is crucial for businesses. 

Easier to market to

Loyal customers also translate into less marketing spend. Think about the activity that goes into the initial stages of the buying journey – brand awareness through PR, PPC, events, discounts and offers, just to initially engage and build trust with new customers. 

In contrast, loyal customers are further down the buying journey. They are aware of your brand, familiar with your processes, and have already had positive experiences with you. 

Brand advocates

One of our favourite benefits of loyal customers is the advocacy they can generate. By nurturing brand evangelists, your customers will spread positive word of mouth, leave glowing reviews, and engage on multiple platforms. Organic endorsements like this amplify a brand’s reach and credibility, helping to attract more customers with little additional effort. 

Insight and feedback

And lastly, let’s talk about ongoing improvement. Loyal customers are an invaluable source of feedback and insight. Helping to drive ongoing innovation and refinement of a brand’s marketing and overall offering, and helping brands to meet rapidly changing consumer demands.

How to use email to improve customer loyalty

There are multiple channels that marketers can utilise to improve customer loyalty, but in our opinion, email stands out from the crowd. 

Let’s explore how email can act as a powerful tool in improving your customers’ loyalty.

Automated communications

Before we delve into specific email examples, we want to give a special mention to email automation. After all, no matter how beautifully crafted and personalised your emails are, if they aren’t well timed, they may not even receive an open.

All of the emails we’ll cover in this guide can be automated and triggered based on specific date parameters or behaviour. For instance, sending a welcome campaign when a customer makes their first purchase, a discount code on a customer’s birthday, or a win-back email when a customer hasn’t engaged in a specific period.

Long story short, sending out more emails doesn’t have to mean a lot more work. With the use of email automation, you can simply create the email templates, set up the campaigns, and let automation do the hard work with minimal manual input. 

Dynamic content 

Additionally, with personalised communications at the core of this guide, we wanted to give dynamic content a section of its own.

Because dynamic content is the secret to sending out the most personalised email campaigns and content possible; emulating a one-to-one experience with little extra manual effort, cost, or resource.

Dynamic content works by utilising individual recipient’s demographic, behavioural, and purchasing data, automatically pulling through imagery, copy, and products that will be of most interest to that individual.

ASOS offer a lot of options when it comes to clothing, so to make the browsing and buying experience smoother for their customers, they utilise browsing and purchasing history alongside dynamic content to provide recipients with a completely personalised ‘edit’, unique to each customer.

Relevancy and personalisation

Did you know that more than 333 billion emails are sent and received every single day? 

The key to breaking through the white noise of other email senders is to ensure that your communications are as relevant to the individual as possible, especially when it comes to their stage in their buying journey.

Here are some examples:

Welcome series 

Welcome emails boast an impressive open rate of 63.91%, but they also offer brands an opportunity to begin their relationship with new customers positively.

These emails set the scene for future communications and your future relationship; offering your brand message, contact details, useful next steps, and even a preference centre so customers can manage the type and frequency of these communications. 

Dropbox utilises a welcome series with a focus on getting their users up and running as smoothly as possible. Incorporating a clear log in, alongside how-to content for their most useful features and functionality.

First purchase or usage

Once a customer has made a first purchase or used your system for the first time, email provides the perfect channel to acknowledge their activity, encourage another purchase, and even offer thanks.

There are some basics which need to be covered in these emails, including purchase confirmations, relevant delivery information, and contact or support details.

You can get a little more creative with these emails too; getting the ball rolling on their next potential purchase or login by offering suggested products, or promoting other features and functionality of interest. And continuing this strategy with additional emails to encourage ongoing purchases and usage, such as with a first-to-second purchase/usage segment or automation trigger.

Vestiaire Collective provides a useful first purchase update in the form of delivery confirmation. We love the style and purpose of this email, but also appreciate the additional support information offered, and relevant product recommendations to encourage a second purchase.

Abandonment emails

70% of online baskets are abandoned without completing the purchase. That’s a lot of lost revenue.

Fortunately, marketers can utilise abandonment emails to re-engage with customers who have added an item to their basket, browsed a product, or started to fill out a form, but have not completed the desired action.

These emails act as gentle yet persuasive reminders, typically featuring the items they were engaging with, incorporating enticing visuals, and even incentives to reignite the customer’s interest. 

Below is an example from Mango that uses wish lists as an abandonment trigger. The email is simple but effective, incorporating a prominent visual of the item, alongside bold copy and call to action.

Win back campaigns

When customers drift away, there’s no need to panic, because email offers the perfect channel to rekindle their interest. 

Create a compelling re-engagement campaign that incorporates bold designs, engaging copy, personalised product recommendations, and enticing incentives.

And don’t forget to remind the recipient of your trustworthiness through positive ratings, reviews, and user-generated content (UGC). Or, offer a preference centre to empower them to choose email types and frequency, so they are in control of the relationship.

Below is a great example of a win-back campaign from The Alexander Hotel Collection. This email ticks every box; incorporating emotive language with “We miss you”, a £50 voucher to encourage booking, and enticing visuals of their beautiful bedrooms.

Being a useful brand

Once emails have been created and set up to engage with recipients at each stage of the buying cycle, brands can increase relevance and usefulness through content sharing.

And, as we’ll discuss, there’s more to content sharing than promotions and offers.

Educational content

To build a healthy rapport with customers, it’s important to offer them educational content that can support them in their purchases or product usage. Consider blog posts, how-to guides and videos, trend reports, tips and tricks, and even UGC from your own community. 

Even better, automate this content based on different segments or behaviour. Incorporate set-up or product videos into your first usage emails, UGC into your welcome series, or trend reports for your longer-term customers. 

Squarespace excels at educational content sharing to help their users get the most out of their platform, no matter what their abilities. The example below has a focus on their email offering; promoting the benefits of email, some handy tips, and a clear call to action to get users started.

Exclusive offers and discounts

With many industries facing an increasingly competitive landscape, sometimes an exclusive offer or discount is required to help your brand regularly stand out from the crowd, and make your long-term customers feel valued.

Simple demographic data can help to add an element of personalisation to your offers, for instance a ‘gift’ based on customers’ birthdays and anniversaries, or targeted offers based on customers’ purchasing behaviour such as using RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) segmentation to identify your biggest and/or most frequent spenders.

Sephora utilise date-based automations to celebrate their customers’ birthdays, both with a Happy Birthday message and a 20% discount to help them celebrate (and encourage them to make a purchase).

User-generated content

A recent survey by Power Reviews found that ratings and reviews are the most important factor impacting purchase decisions. Ranking above price, free shipping, brand, and recommendations from family and friends. 

With this in mind, UGC such as ratings and reviews, unboxing videos, or product photos have become essential for brands wanting to build customer loyalty and long-term purchasers. The beauty of this approach is the more of a loyal fan base you can create, the more access you have to UGC.

We love the below email from citizenM because not only does it promote online UGC in the form of ratings and reviews, but also offline examples from customers who have written thank you cards to their favourite staff members. Bonus points also go to citizenM for the emotive copy and visual examples. 

Personalised recommendations

Bands have a surprising amount of valuable data at their fingertips, including demographics, browsing history, and purchase data. Using this information, brands can automate personalised product, system, and service recommendations to not only increase sales, but also support customers in their purchasing decisions

Even better, these recommendations account for up to 26% of eCommerce revenue, and consumers that clicked a product recommendation are nearly twice as likely to visit the brand’s website again.

These recommendations can come in many forms. Consider related products, personalised edits, up-sell opportunities post-purchase, or add-on products and services that will enhance the customer’s purchase. 

Airbnb is fast becoming one of the best-known brands for personalised recommendations. Below is an example of a typical email from the brand, which utilises browsing behaviour to promote accommodation which is tailored to the individual recipient, and most likely to pique their interest. 

Measuring and analysing customer loyalty 

It’s all well and good crafting beautiful and personalised emails to keep your customers engaged, but it’s also important to understand the impact these emails have on customer loyalty and ROI on a long-term basis.

To measure and analyse customer loyalty, we recommend the following metrics:

Customer retention rate 

Customer retention rate, also referred to as ‘churn rate’, measures the percentage of customers who continue to purchase with a brand over a specific period. In a nutshell, a lower churn rate means that the brand is successfully retaining its customers and their loyalty.

To calculate your customer retention rate, take the number of customers at the beginning of a period, minus the number of customers acquired during that period, and then divide by the number of customers at the beginning of the period. 

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV, refers to the total revenue a company predicts they will generate from an individual customer throughout their entire relationship. A higher CLV suggests that customers are not only making repeat purchases but are also providing more value to the company over time.

The formula for calculating CLV will often be specific to each business, taking into account the customer’s repeat purchases, the average purchase value, and the duration of the customer’s engagement. 

Net promoter score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score, or NPS, refers to a customer satisfaction metric that gauges how likely customers are to recommend a company’s products or services to others. Generally, a high NPS suggests strong customer loyalty, advocacy, and satisfaction.

NPS surveys are simple, usually asking a single question “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company?” 

Then customers can be categorised into different groups based on their responses, these include: 

  • Promoters (score 9-10)
  • Passives (score 7-8)
  • Detractors (score 0-6) 

Brands can then subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters to generate their score.

Next steps

We hope by now you are sold on the importance of customer loyalty, and are keen to show your customers some extra love through email.

With the help of functionality such as email automation and dynamic content, offering an engaging and personalised email experience to your customers doesn’t have to be difficult. However, if you would like a hand getting started, or simply want to improve your customer loyalty, then we can help.

Get in touch with our friendly team of email marketing experts to learn how we can support you and your customers.

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