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There are two things that drive any business: customer acquisition and customer retention. In a nutshell, customer acquisition refers to turning complete strangers into purchasing customers, and customer retention is about turning those first-time customers into repeat purchasers.  However, while these goals have often been viewed as two sides of the same coin, retention marketing has steadily been gaining the upper hand over the past couple of years.

This marketing shift is the reason we’re all here.  Customer retention is all about giving people a reason to return to a brand. As a merchant, you want to present yourself to customers in a way that let’s them know why you’re their best option.

Having exceptional customer service, a great email marketing strategy and an engaging loyalty program are three great ways to really boost your customer retention. Using any of these individually is fine, but using them together will do wonders for your customer retention efforts.

Why is loyalty a great choice?

Above all, customer loyalty increases revenue. It works by encouraging repeat purchases, which in turn increases the lifetime value of customers and boosts sales overall. Loyalty gives visitors a reason to purchase, which turns those purchasers into repeat loyal purchasers and those repeat loyal purchasers into brand advocates.

Why does it work so well with email marketing?

There are many components of a loyalty program that are already well suited for email marketing.

First of all, it creates an effective call to action. It’s an easy way to get customers to become even more engaged with a brand by letting them personally benefit from it. Email marketing was designed with calls-to-actions in mind, as it’s another outlet for customers to be reminded of what they can do to get something they want.

Second, email notifications are something that are already built-in to most loyalty programs. Reminding customers how much of an investment they have in a brand and what they can do with it is a constant conversation to be had with customers, and emails keep that conversation going.

What does loyalty email marketing look like?

Many brands are already tapping into this loyalty marketing potential.  For example, Canadian lifestyle retailer Indigo will send out limited time offers to customers that indicate their loyalty accounts have been topped-up with bonus points. This motivates customers who haven’t purchased recently to come back quickly so they can take advantage of the extra savings the points provide.

Bonus offers isn’t the only way you can use your rewards program in email marketing, however.  You can also remind customers how many points they have in their account, or even how close they are to a certain reward. Tiered loyalty programs work incredibly well in this case. Programs like Starbucks’ My Starbucks Rewards or Sephora’s VIB Rouge allow customers to unlock new benefits by spending more. Email marketing gives you the chance to remind your customers what they stand to earn for free by doing something very easy, creating a valuable reason for them to engage with your brand.

Why Loyalty and Email Marketing Go Together

Great Advertising

Rewards programs and email marketing are both self-promoting in nature. Email marketing goes out of it’s way to remind you what you’re missing and urges you to come back and get it. Similarly, a good loyalty program gives value back to its customers when they act on that urge. Email marketing is essentially an advertising outlet that can be used to promote anything, and when that something is a differentiating factor of your brand that recognizes customers and gives them something they want – well, it’s a win-win.

DAVIDsTEA does this really well. They’ve built a program that is easily accessible to their customers by continually weaving it into their email marketing efforts.

This is only one example of a marketing email dedicated exclusively to their Frequent Steeper program. They tell you about a specific, time-sensitive promotion to redeem points. This creates an urgency to engage from customers. It also outlines very clearly (and simply) what steps a customer must take to reap these benefits (including how to create an account – how convenient).  

By putting their loyalty front and center in many of their marketing efforts, DAVIDsTEA increases the visibility and influential power of their program, ensuring customers will both notice and engage with it time and time again.


Designing an awesome loyalty program is never enough.  The real trick is getting people to engage.  But how do you do that?  Surprise, surprise: email marketing!  Including a call to action in your regularly scheduled marketing emails puts your valuable program in front of customers who have already expressed a desire to engage with your brand – your subscribers!  

Knixwear does a great job of this. As if the CTA wasn’t explicit enough, they also included a countdown clock.  This puts the customer under a little bit of pressure, subliminally encouraging them to act fact!  These types of prompts are a great visual that spurs action.

The fact that this call to action is sent directly to customers in an email as opposed to on their website also gives it a certain personal touch. As a customer, I feel like this is deal is just for me. This personalization increases the implied urgency, and I may even feel like I’m letting someone down if I don’t act on it.  These considerations are what ultimately prompt customers to engage and participate in a loyalty program.  Score another one for loyalty email marketing!


Not only can you amplify your existing promotions by adding a loyalty incentive, but you can also create entirely new loyalty promotions and use email marketing to get people engaged with them.

Offering a double-points event or bonus points over a certain basket size are two great examples of how to incorporate a loyalty-exclusive promotion into an email marketing campaign. As we’ve seen, promotions typically work well when the customer feels like the value will be lost if they don’t act immediately. Loeffler Randall  has incorporated all of these elements into the following marketing email.

Here you can see that they’re encouraging customers to make a purchase within 24-hours in order to get bonus points. Again, the time constraint pushes us to act immediately in order to take advantage of this loyalty promotion in a very soft and playful way!  Hello increased engagement rates, and goodbye to low loyalty participation rates!

Loyalty and Email Marketing: A Killer Combination

Email marketing and loyalty both work to accomplish the goal of increasing customer retention, so it should be a no-brainer that they can work in tandem. Great email marketing all starts with knowing your audience and what they want. Then all you have to do is hand it to them on a silver platter, and what does that platter look like?  Customer loyalty.   So if you’re looking for a way to refresh your email marketing strategies this year, look no further than a rewards program that keeps customers happy and success strong!

About the Author

Elaine Sloboda manages agency partnerships at Sweet Tooth – the most used platform to build stunning online loyalty programs.



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