Loyalty’s secret ingredient: Email

The best loyalty programs create 1:You experiences for their very best customers. From earning to redeeming and everything in between, a good loyalty program listens to its customers. It creates the connections that deliver lifetime value to both the customer and the brand they love.

The best email programs do exactly the same thing.

Infusing strong email best practices into a loyalty program can produce powerful results. Why? Because email rounds out the customer experience. Then, leveraging robust data—including that collected through loyalty participation— brings that 1:You experience to wherever your customers are in the moments that matter most.

1:You is about creating a holistically individualized customer experience. A customer-focused loyalty program can get you to that level of personalization. An email program rooted in analytics and automation can also get to personalization at that level. Consider what types of customer experiences you can create by bringing loyalty and email together.

Here's a 3-step plan to align your email program with your loyalty program.

Take the Quiz: Forrester Loyalty Marketing Maturity Assessment 


1. Start with a template

As highlighted in 5 tips to fuse email creativity with data and technology, dynamic templates create efficiencies in the personalization game to connect on a 1:You level. Think of the template as a flexible journey where you can change the creative and messaging based on the individual and their previous brand interactions.

This means your email template should be built on a modular framework designed to ingest and activate loyalty data to streamline and automate 1:You personalization. Building this modular system takes time, but there are efficiencies that come into play for developing automation capabilities.

Once your template is developed, your focus can shift to strategic content development, storytelling and visual design.

2. Set customer expectations

You’ve designed your loyalty program to meet your customers’ needs; let them know! Use a real-time welcome email to acknowledge their opt-in. In Are you undervaluing trigger emails?, we explain that this is the first triggered email you should set up because the engagement rates are remarkably high.

The welcome sets the tone for the rest of your communications. It shows what kind of business your new customers have a relationship with and gives you a chance to highlight the many benefits of receiving email communications from your brand.

If your program is more complex, or you have more to say than is appropriate for one welcome message, consider an onboarding series.

An onboarding series can help establish that tone and give the newcomer a chance to better understand your program before diving right in. Put the same effort into evaluating the communication needs of your customers as you put into tailoring your loyalty program to those customers and decide if your program has enough information to demand an onboarding series.

Each touch in the welcome and onboarding series is an opportunity to educate your new member about the benefits of the program, the ways they can earn and redeem rewards, member exclusives, and more—before they move into the business-as-usual email stream. These communications give the customer the ability, over time or all at once, to convey their preferences either by sending them to a communications preference center or by collecting clicks through progressive profiling.

In this example, clothing brand Madewell uses one email to introduce the program, outline membership benefits and give the member and opportunity to learn more.


In this example, Spotify focuses on the exclusivity of membership by showcasing all the features a new member can now access.


3. Show, don’t tell

Storytellers know that you should show as much as or more than you tell. Data visualization helps your customers contextualize their personal journey, and it reinforces the value your loyalty program brings to their real life.

Loyalty dashboard:

Even promotional, non-loyalty-specific emails can be personalized for your loyalty customers with a simple-but-effective loyalty dashboard that acknowledges data points like name, member number, points earned and status.

Every email you send to customers who are in your loyalty program, regardless of whether that email is about the loyalty program, should include this loyalty program information. The dashboard on every email creates consistency, is an easy way to personalize and reminds them of their ongoing relationship with your brand.

Reminders & banners:

Visualize important data like near-tier and earned rewards in banner modules to extend value in any send and remind your customers that they can make it to the next reward or level.

End-of-year or monthly summaries:

A highly visual “look back” recaps their year or month in loyalty and highlights what you’ve achieved together with personalized infographics powered by data. Don’t be afraid to make this email celebratory and highly specific to their spend, rewards, earnings, perks they didn’t use, etc.

Here's how two brands use personalization to make a worthwhile summary. GasBuddy uses the monthly approach to show how fuel efficient the individual member was in the prior month.


Similarly, Spotify sends an end-of-year recap to show members what they listened to over the past year, top tracks and artists and more. They then offer even more value with a personalized and unique playlist based on the members' listening behavior.


Final thoughts

The right email strategy can boost the success – and experience – of your loyalty program and extend the lifetime value of the relationship. By activating the right data at the right moment, the right or relevant message lands in their inbox.

These messages help customers better understand the program they’ve opted in to, discover relevant ways to engage with the program and glean more value and celebrate their success along the way.

1:You is meaningful and powerful, and best of all, it’s achievable for every loyalty program through the right email program. Email can help you achieve 1:You dialogue with your customers when paired with loyalty data and powerful technology that enables you to reach your customers in real-time.