Thrive Market and Sephora Tie for Top Spot: Thrive Market Wins with an Insights-Driven Approach to Email and Mobile, While Sephora Excels with a Robust Connection Between Online and Offline Channels

Liveclicker, a Marigold brand and the leading personalized marketing automation technology provider for retailers and publishers, announced today the results of the 2022 Retail Personalization Index. Thrive Market, the health-first membership for conscious living, and Sephora, global beauty retailer, have tied for the top spot in the 5th annual analysis. Thrive Market earned high scores for its sophisticated mobile app and email experiences using a data-driven personalization strategy that enriches the entire customer experience. Sephora saw success for its highly orchestrated online and in-store personalization approach based on loyalty and experiential marketing. DSW earned the third spot for its personalized communications during a customer’s first interactions with the brand and an online shopping experience that mirrors the one in store.

With a combination of DTC start-ups and large brick-and-mortar companies at the forefront this year, top performers prove that every type of retailer can use the zero- and first-party data they collect to create highly successful personalization strategies that deliver more value for customers and higher returns for brands.

“Over the past two years, brands have had to focus on short-term gains, whereas consumers have increased their expectations for meaningful personalization both online and in store. That means there is now a lot of work to be done in order for brands to meet these new customer expectations and see successful revenue generation at the same time,” said Jason Grunberg, General Manager at Sailthru. “With more retailers turning to zero- and first-party data strategies to drive the future of marketing, it is more important than ever to create value-driven personalized engagement with customers to collect insights that offer continuously better experiences – and revenue opportunities – across every touchpoint.”

The top five scoring brands in the 2022 Retail Personalization Index are: 

“We are thrilled to have been crowned as a top performing brand in this year’s Retail Personalization Index. Personalization is integrated into our entire customer strategy, from the moment someone lands on our webpage, to our ongoing relationship on email and on our app. Our approach to personalization creates incredible value for our members – and drives strong performance for the business,” said Lindsay McGovern, Senior Director of CRM & Lifestyle at Thrive Market. “We see an accelerated first-to-purchase experience, stronger repeat purchase rates, and higher overall lifetime value.”

While Thrive Market dominated the mobile category with its highly intuitive app that is driven by past purchases and preferences, Sephora topped the website category with a robust loyalty-driven experience that makes the beauty retailer’s vast product catalog feel relevant to millions of customers — and seamlessly connects online experiences to in-store shopping. 

Email also proved to be a top performing channel for DTC and native digital brands, such as 1stDibs, Wayfair and Fashion Nova, which jumped from 69th in 2021 to 12th place in this year’s overall ranking. Ranked sixth, Fabletics scored highest in email for its advanced product filtering and curated product recommendations among many features. Thrive Market also earned high marks for its email approach, in which the brand delivers an experience that is immediately personalized from onboarding data and continues to integrate even more advanced personalization elements over time. The brand also includes a combination of newsletters and triggered content in its emails that help gather additional insights and drive more sales. 

Consumers are aware of the value exchange that drives personalization and favor brands that offer personalized experiences. A study commissioned by Coresight Research and Liveclicker as part of the 2022 Retail Personalization index, found that 71% of consumers will shop more often with brands or retailers that personalize their communications. While the vast majority (98%) of retail marketers use some form of advanced personalization, many are not delivering personalized experiences that live up to consumer expectations. While 71% of retailers think they excel in personalization in marketing, only 34% of consumers agree. It is critically important for retailers to develop more value-driven personalization that encourages true consumer engagement across channels and supports zero- and first-party data collection to support personalized marketing and commerce in the future. There is ample opportunity for retail brands who rise to the challenge, as 80% of consumers noted that they would share data in exchange for deals and offers, while 70% would share data for loyalty points.

About the 2022 Retail Personalization Index

A team of researchers calculated the scores of the Retail Personalization Index, which come from a checklist of 80 attributes that a retailer could implement to personalize and/or enhance a customer’s experience across site, email, mobile, other digital channels (which includes in-store, social, and traditional mail), offline, and privacy. The 2022 Retail Personalization Index also includes findings from three surveys: 

Are your emails performing well relative to the competition? Which metrics should you focus on now that open rates aren’t as reliable after Mail Privacy Protection? And how can you work to improve those engagement-driven KPIs?

Marigold, our parent company, analyzed more than 100 billion emails sent through our platform in 2021. The findings are the most comprehensive email marketing benchmark data ever published.

Breaking Down Today’s Email Marketing Benchmarks

We’re constantly asked what a good open rate or click-through rate is for email. The short answer is, it depends. Key engagement metrics can vary widely based on your industry, and other factors — like industry, audience, etc.

email marketing benchmarks

Mail Privacy Protection’s Effect on Email Marketing Benchmarks

While it may not seem like much on the surface, recent swings in average open rate across all industries (up 3.5% year-over-year), and click-to-open rate (down 3.6%) are pretty significant! And it turns out, there’s a reason for it.

email marketing benchmarks

Released last September, Apple’s latest privacy feature effectively disables open rate tracking by pre-fetching (or downloading) an email and its images (including each email’s tracking pixels). By doing this, MPP is marking an email as opened, artificially inflating open rates for each user that has opted into the new feature.

When looking at the metrics year-over-year, it’s not hard to see how MPP is affecting open rates. But when you break it down on a month-by-month basis, it’s even easier to see.

email marketing benchmarks

Notice the small uptick in open rates once the developer beta of iOS 15 was released on June 7. Then again on June 30, when the public beta came out. Then, once iOS 15 was publicly released on September 20, we saw a huge uptick in open rates once again. 

This is something we’ll likely see more of as Apple Mail users continue to activate the feature, so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on throughout 2022.

The Most Successful Day to Send?

Every marketer swears that they know the best day to send emails, but do they have the proof to back it up? See if you’ve been sending on the right days this past year.

email marketing benchmarks

When looking at email statistics by day, there doesn’t seem to be too much variance in how emails perform on a given day. Overall, weekdays — as usual — tend to perform the best, with the lowest engagement numbers falling on the weekend.

So, how do you use this data to upgrade your email marketing benchmarks in 2022? Let’s explore six email metrics key to increasing customer engagement, customer loyalty, and sales.

Improve your open rate

While MPP now obscures the accuracy of open rate as a metric, that doesn’t mean marketers have stopped using it — or that anyone doing so should stop adhering to open rate best practices:

Improve your click-through rate (CTR)

Your CTR offers insight into how many of your total subscribers are visiting your website and ultimately converting through email. To maximize this year’s results, try these best practices:

Improve your click-to-open rate (CTOR)

CTOR is a good indicator of how interesting your content is to email subscribers. If your links, layout, copy, and overall content are interesting, then a greater percentage of your audience will want to click through to learn more. Especially after you do these things:

Improve your unsubscribe rate

While it may be counterintuitive, it’s actually better for your email marketing if any unengaged contacts aren’t on your subscriber list. They’re probably dragging down your email performance because they aren’t opening or clicking on your messages.

However, that doesn’t mean you want a mass exodus of subscribers from your contact lists. The goal should be to build your sender reputation while maintaining engaged lists. Here’s how:

Improve your bounce rate

Bounced email addresses can be one of the most frustrating aspects of email marketing. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your emails make it to your readers’ inboxes.

Improve your deliverability rate

Deliverability is the universal struggle among email marketing teams; you can get so many things right when developing high-quality content, but still struggle to get it in front of your audience.

Issues with ISPs, throttling, bounces, spam issues, and bulking hurt your deliverability and thus reduce the number of your emails that will land in your subscribers’ inboxes. Unless, of course, you’re following these best practices:


With these email marketing benchmarks and best practices, you can start building a better email marketing strategy. But if you really want to tap into this channel to maximize results, click here to see how Liveclicker can be the perfect partner for your brand!

Gen Z is rewriting the rules of engagement when it comes to technology, shopping, media, brand loyalty, and more. And marketers who aren’t evolving their strategies to engage this younger generation are already falling behind.

How Can Marketers Meet Gen Z Expectations?

A body of research is emerging that shows how Gen Z is different from their predecessors, but the nature of those differences and the implications for brands have remained largely hypothetical – until now.

To help marketers put the Gen Z difference into real-world context, Marigold recently partnered with F’inn on a cross-generational survey of more than 1,000 consumers, Marketing to Gen Z: A Fresh Approach to Reach a New Generation of Consumers.

For a sneak peek at the results of this study, check out the infographic below:

Gen Z

What do email and retail marketing have in common? Besides looking completely different from what they did a few years ago, both are on the verge of another fundamental transformation.

With 2022 on the horizon, retail marketers will depend on email marketing to achieve their goals and elevate customer experiences even more than they already do. Traditional lines between brick-and-mortar shopping and ecommerce will continue to blur, giving any brand that harnesses the power of dynamic personalization technology a huge advantage in growing audience engagement, loyalty, and conversions.

Especially if you combine tailored content with advanced digital commerce tools to stay ahead of next year’s strategic evolution. Now’s the perfect time to create a winning email strategy — so start by incorporating three key tips that will help you take advantage of tomorrow’s retail trends.

Tap Into Hybrid Shopping’s High Growth Potential

While millions of holiday shoppers were excited to shop in-store for the first time in a few years, a large portion of retail consumers elected to stay at home because they’re still weary about COVID-19 safety protocols. Add in the growing popularity of more customer-friendly fulfillment options like curbside pickup and buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), and all the trends point to a continued demand for hybrid shopping experiences fueled by email interactions in 2022.

With the support of AI and  data-driven tools like live video, localized weather forecasts and customized store locator information, email continues to be a top-performing tool for creating stronger relationships with customers.

Delight Your Customers with a Winning Email Strategy Using New Discoveries

A personalized product recommendation is always best. Smart marketers tap into data like browsing history, customer reviews, and click-to-reveal offers to create moments of delight for shoppers. Studies show that personalization can deliver an ROI of $20 or more.

After all, you’ve spent weeks, months, or years collecting data to learn everything about your shopper’s buying habits, brand preferences, and what motivates them to purchase.  

A “You Might Like These Items Too” list or a “Complete the Look” promotion is a fun, creative, and — most importantly — effective way to engage your email subscribers to capture customer preference data and make more sales online. Offering dynamic content to these interactions to make your hottest sellers easy to find — or to make finding that new item they didn’t know about five minutes ago a must-have purchase.

Deliver Exceptional Experiences on Every Channel

Email is even more powerful when you pair it with mobile and social commerce channels. But no two shoppers are the same.

For someone looking to comparison shop safely from home before visiting their favorite store to complete a purchase, a store locator embedded directly into your email experience alongside driving directions, hours of operation, and live inventory level displays, is an engaging way to bridge the gap between in-store and ecommerce experiences.

Meanwhile, others may be looking for a brand that makes it easy to browse and buy from anywhere at any time. Personalized video content, subscriber-sourced social media posts and product reviews, and integrated mobile app download messages are all excellent ways to extend your reach and keep loyal customers connected.

Today’s powerful AI technology gives retailers several mission-critical advantages to know your customer better, and to be where your customers are in real time.  Liveclicker makes it easier than ever to enhance your email marketing strategy and work alongside your existing martech platforms and products of choice.

Ready to greet the future and change the game with a winning email strategy in 2022? Check out our latest round of Email Innovators Awards Winners to see how a more engaging email experience is only a few clicks away!

The media and retail worlds have more in common than ever. Between Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates, impending doom for third-party data cookies, and a headstart to the holiday season, the moral of the story is that similar changes are occurring across both industries.

For members of both marketing crowds, this means audience data is no longer nice to have — it’s a must-have. Today, the value exchange you create with every reader, consumer, and email recipient is what separates your brand and makes your content stand out from the competing noise.

And that’s a huge advantage when it comes to creating stronger reader relationships. Especially if you’re laser-focused on engagement and able to take a page or two out of retail’s top-performing playbooks. After all, these companies have been using low-effort, high-impact email tactics to enhance reader experiences for years!

Exclusive access, more personalized messaging, and interactive email content can make any media or publishing brand’s marketing experiences more satisfying. These tactics can deliver:

What are you waiting for? Level up your email engagement rate and reader relationships now by downloading What Media and Publishing Can Learn from Retail’s Top Performers!

The workhorse of the marketing world—personalized email newsletters—are winning respect again from media brands and publishers that want to expand their subscriber bases and gather more first-party data.

These benefits haven’t changed over the years. What has, however, is the industry’s approach. Today, personalized email newsletters are one of the most effective ways to engage your audience, capture their attention, and deliver unique digital experiences that are personalized for each subscriber.

Are you ready?

Don’t Call It a Comeback

In many ways, Morning Brew is the standard-bearer for this new phase of personalized email newsletters across media and publishing. After all, it grew from a single newsletter in 2015 to a household online brand featuring a stable of seven daily marketing, tech, and finance newsletters that deliver an ever-changing array of original content.

Soon after, other media and publishing groups like news website Axios began adopting personalized email newsletters focused on general news content, special topics like business, politics, sports, or culture, local news, or some mix of all four.

Deliver Dynamic Content to Your Personalized Email Newsletters

To win in this new-age, hyper-competitive media environment, publishers will need innovative tools like dynamic content to make personalized email newsletters part of their subscribers’ daily routines.

Done well, dynamic content turns a static email full of manually curated content and hours of work into a perpetual, breaking news click-inspiring machine. Combined with live data feeds and personalized messaging, your brand can even update newsletters between the time you press send and your subscribers click open—making your email experience even easier and more valuable than your website’s homepage.

Save Time and Choose the Perfect Stories for Every Subscriber

Personalized email newsletters help media brands expand their audiences—without the need for new content. Using real-time engagement data and audience feedback, you can use the stories you’ve already produced to create even more brand loyalty, affinity, and (ideally) revenue.

They’re also a rich source of first-party data collected straight from the same subscriber base you’re working hard to learn more about every day. Data powers these ongoing interactions—paving the way for deeper, more meaningful email experiences and dynamic content updates down the road.

Want to make email newsletters work for you? Download our What Can Media and Publishing Learn from Retail’s Top Performers Guide for a few fresh ideas you can borrow from ecommerce’s proven, engagement-driven email strategies!

Personalizing a prospective customer’s first visit to your website can give them a memorable customer experience. As long as you don’t cross the line from “Cool, this is what I’m interested in,” to “I’ve never been here before, why do you know so much about me?”

A few well-chosen data points can help you personalize first-time shopper experiences to serve up relevant content. And that’s even before your first-time visitors click around your site, use your search function, or sign up for your emails. 

Start at the source for web and email personalization

How someone found your website or email program is a data point many marketers overlook. Did they click from an organic search listing, a paid search campaign or an Instagram campaign? Did they opt in from a Facebook or LinkedIn post, find you on Pinterest or opt in at one of your stores? 

All of these give you context and first-party data you can use to show first-time visitors copy, images or offers that are relevant to that source. One example: an opt-in invitation tailored to first-time visitors who click to your site from your Instagram page can convert better than a generic pop-up.

Cookie data gives you useful data you can convert into personalized content, even in this era of default cookie-blocking. Help wary users feel more comfortable about enabling cookies—and sharing their first-party data—by showing first-time shoppers what they’ll get in exchange for opting in.

Personalize first-time shopper experiences by building an email onboarding journey that nurtures newcomers

Once your first-time site visitors find your site, your next job is to bring them back. Call on your email messaging program to keep your brand name in front of your customers in the inbox, to give them reasons to come back to your site, and encourage them to buy.

The onboarding or welcome series is your first step in that relationship. After all, it can help you achieve some key marketing goals:

Once again, your acquisition source is a data-driven starting point to personalize first-time shopper experiences—as well as the rest of your onboarding or welcome series messages for other audiences. Using dynamic content, you could send one version of your onboarding journey to subscribers who signed up onsite and another to people who opted in during checkout or when creating an account or registering for an event. 

It’s really just good old-fashioned drip marketing, in which you assign customers to different messaging tracks, each with its own set of emails. 

A welcome message for a non-purchaser, for example, could deliver an incentive intended to drive a first purchase or invite the newcomer to open an account. Customers who opted in during checkout, however, don’t need that extra discount. Instead, you could promote your mobile app or invite them to follow your social accounts. Later on, circle back after the purchase with a special offer to drive a follow-up purchase.

Want more data? Ask for it!

The preference center should be your gold mine of valuable data to personalize every first-time shopper experience—from web visits to email messages. But all too often we see classic examples of a good idea executed badly. 

Sure you want to serve customers a lot of highly relevant, personalized products and services. But do you really want to make customers scroll through a long list of options on your website? That’s a nightmare for time-pressed users, especially if they’re peering at tiny mobile screens. 

So, do the work for your customers instead. Ask for data gradually, over several emails. Begin in your onboarding series and then mix in preference-data request emails with your regular promotional campaigns.

The Thrive Market email below matches up a data request with customer interests. Sent as one email in a four-message onboarding series, it begins with a survey invitation. Note how the wording addresses one of the objections to doing surveys: “We promise it won’t take longer than slicing an avocado.”


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Then, Thrive Market links directly to 12 different interior sites within its website. Click data on those links reveals their interests without asking for it outright—enabling the brand to drive dynamic content in future messages, too. What better way to make a first impression?

Trade freebies for data to personalize first-time shopper experiences

Your VIP treatment can make first-time customers and loyal buyers alike feel special. So special, in fact, that it nets you even more valuable data. The birthday-request email Sephora sends is a great example of this something-for-something value exchange.

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One key feature in Sephora’s data-driven email program is the birthday email, which gives customers in its rewards program a gift on their birthdays. The email asking for birthday info generates a wealth of data (as you can see). And all for the price of triggering a sweet little freebie for the recipient.

Besides asking for the user’s birthday, however, this email also collects their personal brand and product preferences indirectly. By giving customers the option to choose their own gift, Sephora can find out which brands they like to shop, or if they prefer products or loyalty points over discounts. All of that data helps Sephora understand its customers better, improve messaging precision, and ultimately create some of the most personalized first-time shopper experiences in retail.

Ramp up personalization on triggered emails

Tailoring email content to reflect web behavior is another best practice, especially with abandoned cart and browse abandonment emails. It can also help you resolve an age-old email question: when (and if) to add an incentive to encourage never-before-seen buyers to finish checking out.

Using dynamic content in combination with email triggers, you can automatically serve a discount or other personalized incentive to first-time buyers. Making them much more likely to buy from your brand—while simultaneously preventing every shopper from scoring a sale price or snagging up all of your deal sweeteners.

Personalize the post-purchase email experience

After securing a shopper’s first purchase, your next task is to ask for a second purchase. The faster you can bring first-time buyers back to buy again, the sooner they’ll become regular customers. That shortens the next-purchase cycle and decreases churn—a two-for-one winning tactic. The catch: it takes a highly personal shopping experience to do consistently.

If you’re not doing this yet, start small. Blend in personalized recommendations with your regular promotional content in a broadcast email. A “curated for you” approach that uses dynamic content to spotlight products based on each customer’s purchase history is an easy way to boost clicks, conversions, and engagement.

Unfortunately, the common assumption is that email only works for retail and media’s biggest brands. Many owners make the mistake of believing that small business email marketing success isn’t possible—or, at the very least, won’t work as effectively for them.

But that’s not even remotely true!

In fact, many marketers cite email marketing as their most lucrative channel for online engagement. After all, for every dollar your small business invests into email your team creates the potential for ROI of $20 or more. Giving your budget the most bang for its buck—no matter how big or small it may be.

That said, this investment takes time to pay off—and your company expects results now. So, here are four tips to inspire small business email marketing success right away!

Excite first-time shoppers with small-scale personalization

Right now, you’re seeing more online traffic from first-time shoppers than any other time of the year. But if you’re not personalizing these engagements based on where new visitors are finding your brand from, you’re leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table.

For example, if you know a user came from a specific paid media campaign, personalizing their shopping experience to incorporate consistent messaging between their onsite, email, and mobile interactions increases their likelihood to convert—as well as your ability to take a running start to new, long-term customer relationships that keep them coming back for future purchases.

small business email marketing success

Social media channels are another increasingly popular small businesses are using to inspire email marketing success. By incorporating the same influencer, Instagram post, or a social media ad that brought someone to your site into their welcome experience, you create a highly relevant first impression that makes them much more likely to take advantage of future updates, offers, and exclusive opportunities like loyalty program membership.

Combined with a data-driven ESP, first-time shoppers can even be tracked via cookies on your site experience whether they sign up to receive your emails or not. But when they do, all of the collected first-party behavioral data can be used to personalize your messages on a one-to-one scale.

Optimize your CTAs for small business email marketing success

Your email experience should feel like a gift: thoughtful, personalized, and surprisingly delightful. But without an equally impressive CTA, even the most carefully planned interaction isn’t likely to lead to small business email marketing success.

small business email marketing success

Adding an eye-catching CTA is one of the easiest ways to supplement your spot-on marketing messages and boost campaign conversion rates. So, before you send your next email, here are a few tips for crafting irresistible CTAs that convince your customers to buy:

Know the value of every email subscriber

While ROI is obviously an important metric to help you gauge small business email marketing success, there’s an equally important—yet much less talked about—benchmark to consider: subscriber value.

After all, an accurate estimation of your email subscriber value lets any small business marketing team know how much it costs to acquire an engaged recipient, how much they’re potentially worth, and how many resources you should put into finding and retaining them. Once you have an understanding of these figures, it becomes much easier to make informed decisions about your strategy—and where you can make the biggest impact for the smallest investment possible.

Test rendering across devices and ISPs to ensure small business email marketing success

Did you know that ESPs and third-party email services will often change your email’s code as you send messages out? After all, adding tracking pixels, removing unnecessary code that’s likely to get your interactions stuck in the spam filter, and rewriting links are standard ESP practices.

Left unchecked, however, these positive-minded changes can be bad news for your email rendering. Especially when you consider that email clients like Gmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo!, and Outlook play by their own rules.

For example, these companies make the decision to either enable or block email images by default—creating two very different renderings of your campaign (or more if you create additional personalized versions based on individual user preferences). And if you’re not aware of these issues due to lack of pre-send testing capabilities, you risk losing the impact your campaign could have had because your messages will appear broken to anyone that opens them.

small business email marketing success

Sure, you could put in hours of extra work testing every email across every browser, email client, and operating system your customers could potentially use. But teaming up with a powerful ESP or email partner is the most effective way to eliminate email rendering issues before they occur. These solutions put robust design tools and testing mechanisms at the tip of your fingers, allowing you to preview your email campaign across any device or ISP with a single click—before you press send.

Plus, many of these email partners will deliver an abundance of responsive, code-free email templates ready to use and email builder tools to automatically optimize your messages. Not to mention access to industry-leading reporting systems that shed light on the real-time strengths and weaknesses of every campaign.

No doubt about it—retail customers love to click and collect. Cleaner stores and more crowd control? Great! Same-day delivery or free expedited shipping? Bring it on!

In all seriousness, a quick ramp up to new ecommerce services and pandemic-friendly fulfillment options helped retailers survive the last 18+ months. But going forward, these same tactics will inspire enough customer loyalty gains to become a standard part of any customer experience—especially for the buyers that didn’t (or couldn’t) make it to your stores in 2021.

No matter how much customers value these added services, however, they can be expensive to run. They also require extra attention and more personnel in order to give customers the immediacy and convenience they expect. This is a major challenge given ongoing staff shortages, especially going into the holiday shopping season. 

So, where will the money come from to meet these higher customer expectations? Many retailers, whether they’re exclusively brick-and-mortar, ecommerce-only, or a hybrid operation, are hoping higher retention will cover these added expenses. 

While many have refocused attention on personalization and email marketing to help them reach out to their most devoted customers, other, more savvy retail marketing teams are looking at new ways to capitalize on customer loyalty instead.

Dealing with shifting customer loyalty

Customer loyalty, whether measured informally or through a tiered or VIP program engagement level, has always been a key driver for retention. However, retail customer loyalty strategies have shifted markedly since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

According to Clarus Commerce, nearly 70% of consumers say their loyalty is more difficult to maintain today. And while product quality and price still impact customer loyalty in some cases, the picture has become undeniably more complex.

A new kind of customer emerged during the pandemic, which Accenture christened the “Reimagined” shopper based on its 2021 consumer survey. These shoppers are less tied to price and product quality and more concerned that brands understand and respond to their needs, especially during economic or social disruptions.

customer loyalty strategies

In fact, Accenture’s study revealed that 57% of consumers would switch retailers if their regular brands don’t meet their expectations for health and safety, protect their data privacy, or align with their personal beliefs. 

3 customer loyalty strategies for 2022 success

Customer loyalty programs are a good jumping-off point for building retention because they pay off.

“Top-performing loyalty programs can boost revenue from customers who redeem points by 15% to 25% annually, by increasing either their purchase frequency or basket size or both,” McKinsey reports.

Restructuring your customer loyalty strategy can help you incorporate these new customer expectations in more effective retention programs that don’t prioritize purchases, points, or prizes like the loyalty programs of yesterday.

customer loyalty strategies

But you don’t have to turn a loyalty program into a cost center instead of a revenue generator. Anything from a little fine-tuning to a reimagination of rewards, along with a healthy dose of employee empowerment, can turn a minor producer into a customer-retaining powerhouse.

So, don’t wait—take advantage of these 3 customer loyalty strategies now!

1. Go omnichannel

Call on all of your marketing channels to promote offers, notify members about rewards, and collect data you can use later to go deeper into personalized messages. This fits with another customer expectation—a seamless experience no matter which channel they choose to connect with your brand.

Email can remain your loyalty flagship because of its wide reach, personalization potential, and economical distribution. If you need proof, look no further than this noteworthy example from women’s apparel retailer Torrid.

Torrid sends each loyalty program member a detailed monthly statement that shows how much she earned in the last month, how close she is to the next highest rewards tier, and what rewards she can spend now. Giving this brand’s triggered loyalty emails a chance to supplement regular monthly reminders that encourage customers to spend rewards, move into a higher loyalty tier, or take advantage of a limited-time offer it expires.

customer loyalty strategies

Cheetah Digital’s Digital Consumer Trend Index 2021 found email outperforms SMS by 92%. But that doesn’t mean SMS can’t (or shouldn’t) still play a key role in your customer loyalty strategy. SMS or push notifications through a branded app can be just as effective as email for alerting VIPs to reward or tier expirations, short-term offers only for VIPs, or even reactivation pings for program members who haven’t purchased lately.

2. Enlist your employees in the loyalty cause

Nobody knows your customers better than your front-line store personnel or customer service specialists. Do they know your loyalty program as well? 

Retail workers know how fast a casual mention of an unexpected loyalty perk, VIP discount, or other reward can turn a “just browsing” customer into a first-time buyer. Or appease an unhappy one enough to re-engage with your brand. 

But if your employees don’t understand your customer loyalty strategy or can’t access it to suggest purchases that result in rewards, they can’t leverage your efforts to encourage more customers to buy or to redeem their rewards.

Lucky for you, three marketing tactics can turn your employees into loyalty program ambassadors:

3. Think beyond points and discounts

Shoppers certainly are, anyway.

“The heart of loyalty is not merely the cheapest price-point, but a brand that can foster community, recognizes the customer as an individual, and delivers content and product recommendations that reflect this,” according to Cheetah Digital’s Digital Consumer Trend Index 2021 report. 

Most loyalty programs reward on purchases, but if customers aren’t in the market for products all the time, this strategy causes your loyalty program to lose value and meaning over time. So, use email to offer incentives or tier points for completing preference profiles, taking short quizzes, submitting personal data like birthday or postal address, or making friends-and-family referrals. That way, you can give your customers something no competitor can deliver or compete with: a highly personalized, engaging email experience. 

Conclusion: your customer loyalty strategies can (and will) make all the difference in 2022

The ripple effects of the pandemic—staffing shortages, supply disruption, channel-shifting for purchases, and continued economic uncertainty for many consumers—will continue to challenge retailers into 2022 and even beyond. 

Building up an effective customer loyalty strategy is a key first step in retention. And not just to persuade them to buy, to buy more, and to buy more often—but also to give you many more ways to show them how much you value them as customers and people. That might be the ultimate tie that binds someone to your brand long-term.

For any media brand, your biggest competition to hook new holiday readers won’t be another network or news outlet. It’s all those holiday emails filling up your readers’ inboxes.

But don’t close the book on email until after New Year’s Day! Instead, check out these tactics that top retailers use to cut through the clutter, grab readers’ attention, and move engaged subscribers to act. 

In other words, you can beat them at their own game. And if you keep reading, we can show you how.

Email connects you to your audience and new holiday readers

As a media brand, email can connect your audience (and hopefully, a lot of new holiday readers) directly to your latest  books, news stories, TV shows, streaming platforms, or subscription models. But a strategically designed newsletter can also move your audiences to your platform permanently—increasing their daily brand interaction and likelihood to buy.

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So, instead of waiting for them to discover your content, use a well-timed, personalized email to nudge them into action.

Remember the days of  “appointment TV?”

A well-timed email can remind your new holiday readers when and why to tune in now instead of waiting to catch your shows later. Got breaking news? Share it fast in an email bulletin, and track individual engagement and responses to learn which content gets your audience excited.

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You can even use the data you’ve collected directly from your readers or viewers to create highly personalized messages featuring dynamic content that looks as if you chose it just for them. This season, don’t be afraid to call on the power of email—and your audience’s propensity for checking their inboxes regularly—to stay in touch, to persuade them to engage with your emails, to reward them for viewing or reading your newest content, and to whip up excitement about new programs and whatever’s coming next. 

Another bonus to hook new holiday readers: reliable first-party data

Publishers will be among the most affected when Google’s plan to kill off third-party cookies in its Chrome browser goes into effect sometime in 2023 (or later if another delay happens). After all, every other browser is likely to emulate that move sooner or later. 

Today, media brands are ramping up efforts to collect more first-party data before they’re forced to make any changes due to outside factors. And the email address is both a solid piece of first-party data by itself and the gateway to a reservoir of activity tied to it—from predicted future subscriber engagement levels to preference, interest, and behavior data tied to these unique digital identifiers.

Apple’s MPP ups the engagement ante for everyone

Amidst all this email optimism, however, publishers share a data privacy concern with their retail compatriots. 

They’re also figuring out how to grapple with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature in its iOS 15 update, which masks the open rate in an effort to block the kind of tracking email senders rely on for engagement. (Click here to learn more about these changes and make your email marketing evolution possible.)

Today, one important question remains unanswered: How can publishers create engaging content that helps them attract and retain audiences and stand out in busy inboxes? Our answer: Watch what top retailers do and see which three of the following tactics work best for your brand.

4 tactics top retailers use to snag attention and drive action—and how you can use them to hook new holiday readers

1. Automatically pull live web content into your email messages

The secret to email marketing success in media and publishing is efficiency. And one of the best timesavers you can implement is automatically sharing out the content you post on your website with targeted audience segments who are most interested in it—and therefore the most likely to engage with your emails as a result of this addition.

Your subscribers and hew holiday readers alike will see your news as it happens. Tempting them to click through for the full story on your website. You won’t have to wait for them to discover your content on their own ever again.

You could create dozens of individual email newsletters with bits and pieces of fresh web content—but if you’re in the news business, that’s like writing newspapers one by one or hand-crafting a news broadcast for each viewer. It just doesn’t scale.

And sending one-message-fits-all news updates to everyone in your audience will turn off people who aren’t into what you’re sending. Especially new holiday readers who can find similar content in thousands of other places with a simple Google search.

Dynamic content implemented directly into your email experience through real-time data feeds or web scraping tools is the best way to avoid leaving new holiday readers out in the cold feeling disengaged. By using subscriber or viewer behavior, preference, and interest data to select and load content into designated modules in your email template, you can identify any audience perfect for a targeted campaign and maximize their engagement level through highly relevant messaging.

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Bonus 1: If you’re tracking breaking news, trending articles, score updates, or any other dynamic content on your site, your emails will automatically update every time your subscribers open the email with a live scraping tool or data feed’s support—no need to keep sending emails every time something changes.

Bonus 2: Add live video from your event right into new holiday readers’ email experiences. If your subscriber’s browser supports it, they can watch your interactive content right in their message. If not, they’ll see an optimized static image they can click to view on your website.

2. Season static content with 1:1 personalized material

Emails from top retailers often include a mix of general news, like sneak-preview sales announcements, with content based on individual subscriber data from previous web behavior, email activity, or submitted content preferences.

This tactic combines discovery—showing your subscribers something they might not find on their own —with personalized content. And together, these two forces create a feeling of serendipity. The personalization you can offer may not be as obvious as it would be in a transactional email, for example, but it definitely has a more relevant look, feel, and message than a generic news roundup.

You can see this serendipitous mix of static and dynamic content subtly at work in the Food Network’s Recipe of the Day daily email below. Look for modules of dynamic content based on the recipient’s browsing or download history sandwiched between layers of static content.

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 3. Turn new holiday readers into first-time attendees with live calendar reminders

Remember the old days when you had to park yourself in front of your TV at a specific time to watch the latest episode of “Survivor,” “Blue’s Clues” or “Seinfeld?” If you missed it, you were out of luck until the next broadcast.

Today, streaming and live content have just about destroyed this concept. While it’s good to give your audience viewing options, wouldn’t you like to send them a reminder to tune in at a specific time so they can see your shows roll out in real-time?

A live calendar element helps you build engagement for any exciting event: whether that’s a season-opening TV show, movie premiere, book launch, and or special educational webinar. And by making your invite as easy and engaging as possible to act upon, you increase the chances a new holiday reader becomes a first-time event attendee.

Retailers use calendar invites to remind customers about new-product launches, big sales, store openings and other can’t-miss events. Here’s how it looks in a new-collection drop-date announcement from Tommy Hilfiger:

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This year, invite your viewers from the same email you inform them about a new event by introducing “Add to Calendar” buttons and links. That way, subscribers have a one-click process to register for any online experience that’s automatically updated to their calendar app of choice—so when the big day finally arrives, a reminder email can automatically be sent without building, updating, and sending any follow-up messages manually!

4. Count down to the season’s every can’t-miss event

A customized email countdown timer is one of the most versatile retail personalization elements  you can use to inject real-time anticipation for any kind of topic, article, or newsworthy event. Use these simple-yet-sophisticated elements to build excitement before an event—or to let new holiday readers know how much time is left before their first invite expires. 

On its own, this is a popular tactic among retailers to let customers know how much time they have to shop before a juicy offer ends. But for even greater impact, combine your email countdown timers with any of the dynamic personalization tactics we’ve already covered in this blog.


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In this email, Disney combines video and a countdown time to promote its programming for International Friendship Day. Just imagine the urgency and FOMO you can add to any email experience with the simple addition of a timer.