Best practice loyalty emails

Our top tips for sending best practice loyalty emails that drive greater engagement and conversion with your audiences.

Harriet Bingham avatar
Written by Harriet Bingham
Updated over a week ago

In this article we’ll cover top tips for sending best practice loyalty emails that drive greater engagement and conversion. We will explore how to optimize different elements of loyalty emails including:

The most important loyalty emails to send

Loyalty emails provide a fantastic vehicle for more regular and personalized communication with customers.

The loyalty emails that we consider essential to any program are:

  • Post purchase sign up prompts

  • Welcome emails

  • Points statements

  • Reward available reminders

  • Points promotion announcements

We also actively encourage stores to incorporate loyalty emails such as:

  • Points expiry notifications

  • Reminders of how to earn points

  • Referral prompts

  • Review-to-referrer emails

Testing within loyalty emails

To create optimal loyalty emails, we recommend testing different elements exactly as you would within your wider marketing email strategy.

There are multiple elements that you can test within your loyalty emails including:

  • The time of day or day of the week that you send emails

  • How frequently you send emails

  • The sender name used within emails

  • The subject lines used within emails

  • The calls-to-action (CTAs) used within emails

  • The images used within emails

The best formula for each of the above elements will differ significantly from brand to brand . We recommend starting with the formula that has delivered the best results within your wider marketing emails and then A/B testing changes to that formula over time.

Loyalty email sending schedules

The best day of the week and time of day to send loyalty emails will differ for every brand depending on the products being sold, the promotions being delivered and the audience being emailed.

We recommend sending regular, repeatable emails such as points statements and reward available reminders at the same time every week or month. This is likely to increase email engagement as members begin to expect and anticipate emails at certain times and build those emails into their shopping schedules.

Loyalty email sender names

In most cases, we recommend using your brand name as your sender name within loyalty emails to ensure that members can quickly identify who the email has come from, and connect the loyalty program and related communication with your overall brand.

If part of your brand strategy is to actively promote your Founder and tell your brand story, then it may be worth testing some loyalty emails with the Founder’s name, or using a combination such as Name @ Brand Name within your sender name in order to support the wider strategy. Welcome emails and new product launches can be good places to test this.

We suggest running A/B tests using both your brand name and the name of an individual to investigate which resonates better with your members.

Subject lines

The best formula for loyalty email subject lines will vary depending on your audience and the devices they typically view your loyalty emails on.

The highest-performing email subject lines cater to both mobile and desktop and are typically seven words or 41 characters long. We recommend experimenting with the inclusion of emojis wherever possible to add personality to your emails and ensure they stand out in inboxes.

We recommend that loyalty email subject lines be informative, interesting and contain a clear call to action. Where possible, they should also create a sense of urgency. For example, if you are running a double points promotion you might consider a relevant subject line such as ‘Don’t miss out on double points.’

Where possible, we also recommend including personalization within subject lines, such as a first name, how many points a customer has earned, or which rewards they can access. For example, ‘Congratulations [name], you’ve got 850 points!’ or ‘[Name], you’ve just unlocked free shipping.’

We suggest familiarising yourself with this list of spam-trigger words to avoid.

Calls-to-action (CTAs)

The calls-to-action you use within your loyalty emails are of paramount importance because they will ultimately define your conversion rates and the performance of your emails.

CTAs should be continually tested however there are a few best practice guidelines to follow. Similarly to the CTAs you use within your wider marketing emails, your loyalty email CTAs should include words that inspire immediate action such as ‘now’ and ‘today.’ It can also be effective to incorporate relatable language such as ‘I’ and ‘Me’ - for example, ‘Show me my points balance.’

Examples of compelling loyalty email CTAs include:

  • Show me my points balance

  • Claim reward now

  • Unlock rewards today

  • Earn more points

  • Get your reward!

  • Your VIP perks

Typically, CTAs that are placed above the fold get the greatest engagement as members do not need to scroll to see them. However, some loyalty emails such as program updates or introductions to new tiers may require more explanation than others. Where this is the case, then we recommend placing the CTA after the text explaining the offer or change.

We suggest including minimal CTAs per loyalty email. If there are too many options then members can get overwhelmed and end up taking no action. If you do need to include more than one CTA within your loyalty email then we recommend introducing a hierarchy, giving your secondary CTA a different weight by using an alternative color, or placing it towards the end of your email.

Loyalty email images

The images that you use within your loyalty emails should follow the same look and feel as the images used on your website and within your wider marketing emails. This helps members to recognize the emails as coming from your brand even if they don’t feature your products.

Loyalty emails should follow standard best-practice email guidelines and contain a good balance between images and text. The commonly used ratio is 80 percent text and 20 percent images to ensure that emails are not marked as spam or images hidden.

We recommend experimenting with static images and gifs to understand which format you member base respond to best.

Data and hygiene for loyalty email performance

Your loyalty mailing list should be treated with the same care as your wider email marketing database, and regularly cleaned in order ensure maximum deliverability and performance.

There are three areas to monitor when it comes to loyalty email hygiene:

  • Email bounces

  • Unengaged contacts

  • Unsubscribe and spam rates

Email bounces

There are several reasons why a loyalty program email could bounce. Perhaps a member signed up with a professional email address and then changed company and the inbox was closed down. Perhaps they used an email address that they no longer access because of a phishing problem. Perhaps they have simply gotten a new email address and closed down their old one.

High email bounce rates signal a problem and can harm your domain health and your email deliverability which will create a problem for your loyalty emails, your wider marketing emails and your staff. To protect your loyalty emails from high bounce rates we recommend regularly cleaning out email addresses that have hard bounced, meaning that they have failed to deliver for permanent reasons. These emails should either be removed from your loyalty mailing list, or re-validated using an online tool.

Unengaged contacts

Unengaged contacts are contacts that have continually failed to open or engage with emails. The criteria for unengaged differs across email service providers, but continuing to email unengaged contacts can harm deliverability and make it harder to draw true conclusions from your email metrics.

We recommend ringfencing unengaged contacts and pausing their email sends to ensure that they don’t skew your email results and learnings. It can also be worth running a sunset campaign to either re-engage or remove unengaged contacts. Where appropriate it can also be worth attempting to reach these contacts via a different method such as via notifications or helpdesk to ask if they wish to continue receiving emails.

Unsubscribed contacts / spam reports

Unsubscribes are a natural part of any email marketing activity and should not be taken personally. However, should your unsubscribe rate rise too high then it can trigger deliverability issues.

We recommend continually tracking your unsubscribe rate and using all the A/B testing options discussed earlier in this article to keep it below 1%. Should you see it spike above this number, then we recommend doing some research amongst your customer base to understand what they would like to see you do differently with your emails.

New guidelines imposed by Google and Yahoo also require that no more than 3 in 1000 emails be marked as spam. We recommend using a tool such as Postmaster to monitor any spike in spam reports. Any emails that do trigger a higher than usual spam report should be paused, and analyzed to understand why.

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