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10 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty Without a Points Program

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Francesca Nicasio

Content Strategy Manager

Loyalty is everything. In an increasingly competitive ecommerce market, brands are constantly vying for customer loyalty, for good reason: loyal customers are often the most profitable. 

Plus, one of the best ways to tap into earned media (like word-of-mouth advertising, which most consumers trust above other advertising methods) is through—you guessed it—stronger customer loyalty. 

Perhaps the most common way businesses try to foster brand loyalty is through a points program. However, if companies simply provide a cut-and-dry rewards program and call it a day (as opposed to a spend-based loyalty program or VIP program), it can make customers feel unvalued or not like VIPs. 

In addition, if a program is solely about the points, it may fail to differentiate itself from other more competitive programs in the market. 

Industry data shows that just 18% of rewards program members actively engage with all the programs they're a member of, showing how some rewards programs may offer too little value to the customer. Oof. 

If you want to level up your customer loyalty initiatives beyond a points program, we've put together ten tips that can help.

Let's get started!

 


 

1. Set up email and SMS automations focused on bringing customers back

Email and SMS marketing are great ways to increase customer loyalty, as you can reach customers directly through their inboxes and mobile devices.

For best results, send triggered messages based on certain behaviors or actions your customers take. For example, you could send a message to a customer who hasn't made a purchase in a set amount of time or provide a voucher or discount as a way to say thank you after someone has made their first purchase. 

Pinjarra Bakery is an excellent example of a business putting email and SMS marketing to good use. The company uses Marsello to power various campaigns that entice people to come in.

“We send out an SMS blast to our loyal customers first or our loyalty customers first giving them first access to come in and try the product before we release it to the public,” Daniel explains. “And of course, we conveniently time the blast to go out around lunchtime so people are probably getting hungry that time of the day and so far the results have been great.”

Limited-Time-Pinjarra-Bakery-SMS-next-to-man-eating-a-pie-1

Another idea is to reward your customers' birthdays. You could track birthday purchases and the rate of redemption—all of which is valuable data that can be leveraged for more tailored marketing down the road.

Easy-to-implement options include sending a one-time special discount or a freebie via text or email. Just make sure to use unique codes to track the effectiveness of your automations.

2. Setting up targeted segments

Did you know that the average email open rate is just 21.5%? To make your emails more relevant, segment subscribers into different groups or categories based on criteria like location, age, or behavior. By doing so, you can better cater to each segment through the content and deals you offer, intrinsically creating more value for your customers. 

Oh, and as a pro tip, consider using your subject lines to gauge interest in new products and themes you're considering offering.

3. Foster a strong community incidental to your brand

A brand community, when done right, is a way to rally together your most loyal customers or people who are the most interested in what you have to offer. Communities bring people together, which drives loyalty through shared experiences, meaningful connections, and a sense of belonging.

Marsello customer Pace Athletic is a master at community-building. The company has a run club that includes social jogs for all fitness levels. These run events end at local pubs where members can socialize, relax, and build friendships over a meal or drinks.

See if you can implement similar initiatives in your business. If you run a game shop, you could consider running a monthly board game night at your location. Brewery? Maybe a recurring beer tasting event or a pub quiz. Whether you want to keep it casual or more formal, brand communities are a great way to tap into brand loyalty and customer advocacy.

4. Offer exclusive access and early releases

Never underestimate the power of exclusivity. By fostering a sense of unique value or desirability—either by offering limited availability or exclusive access—brands can tap into the age-old desire of customers wanting to get something that's hard-to-get. 

You can use this to your advantage by targeting your top spenders or frequent purchasers and creating a segmented campaign. Reward them with access to exclusive events, pre-sale access to limited edition items, or other similar events. 

Take, for instance, Nordstrom, which gives members of The Nordy Club (the company's loyalty program) early access and extra discounts at sales events.

the nordy club - loyalty example

5. Start a referral program

To start things off, assign each consumer a unique referral code. Then, when they share your business with their friends, you can see if a purchase or subscription was made through the code and offer the customer (and maybe even the referred person) a reward. We recommend offering rewards that aren't point-based, like a free product or exclusive discount.

Also, make it easy to refer others: consider including a template with their unique code that customers can copy and paste. By reducing the friction around referrals, you'll make it easier for your brand to harness the power of earned media.

6. Provide valuable content and resources

Another great way to build customer loyalty is by creating content that's both informative and helpful for your customers: all with your own branding, of course. 

Let's say you run a makeup or beauty company: you could do TikTok or Instagram user-generated reviews of your products, do tutorials on how to apply certain products, or make a Q&A video about frequently asked questions. 

When you offer tips, guides, and tutorials on topics your audience cares about, you position your company as an expert and drive brand awareness by playing the long game.

7. Collect customer feedback

The best way to improve and understand customer satisfaction is through feedback, and what better moment to get feedback than right after a purchase? You can consider offering a small perk like free shipping on their next order as a small incentive, but what's crucial is to make it easy for your customers to provide feedback and to ensure they don't feel pressured into doing so. 

Marsello's customer feedback capabilities allow shoppers to provide input with just a few clicks, so the experience is effortless.

Check out this example from Madame Fancy Pants, which uses Marsello's customer feedback capabilities to create a simple, visually appealing survey so customers can quickly rate their shopping experience.

Marsello-Madame-Fancy-Pants-Customizable-Feedback-Survey

Already have customer feedback? Be sure to act on it to improve your retention strategies. And don't forget to proactively inform your customers about any changes and updates you've made so they feel heard and seen.

8. Create a customer-centric culture

Improving customer loyalty isn't just about what you put out there—it's very much an inside job. The people in your business play a crucial role in fostering customer loyalty, so you need to instill the value of customer-centricity in your teams. 

You can do this by providing ongoing training and development focused on customer service to keep folks at the top of their customer support game. 

A great example of this in action comes from Zappos, which has built a reputation for exceptional customer service. The company provides extensive training for their employees, including a four-week program that emphasizes the importance of customer satisfaction. This commitment to training has helped Zappos achieve a high level of customer loyalty and a strong brand reputation.

Another example is Pace Athletic, who run a regular running club for their community. Why we love it? Pace Athletic live and breathe what they do - a running club is a natural extension of their brand, and a way to connect on a deeper level with their customers and followers. 

The Pace team don't organize a running club to generate sales (at least not directly). But it does drive brand awareness and sales as a result. When their community build deeper relationships with the Pace team, they want to come in-store and ask for the staff's recommendations, suggestions and pointers. They want to support their local business, and the people behind it.

If you are passionate about what your business sells and what you represent, building community will come relatively easily. But it does take time and requires a commitment, so don't be disheartened if you don't see the revenue impact right away.

 

9. Invest in unique products and services

People stick with retailers and restaurants that consistently provide products and services they won't find elsewhere. So, strive to deliver unique and high-quality offerings to all of your guests. 

If you're in retail, this can come in the form of trendy fashion or homeware products that enhance your customers' lives. If you're a restaurant, this could mean offering exclusive and innovative dishes, sourcing locally grown and fresh ingredients, or creating a unique dining experience with exceptional ambiance.

When you do this consistently, you build a loyal customer base and differentiate yourself from the competition.

10. Implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Doing good is good for business. Industry data shows that consumers are more likely to choose brands that promote CSR aspects like sustainability. According to Neilsen, "a whopping 81% of respondents said that it's extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. When it comes to action, 73% said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment."

To that end, it may make sense for your business to develop sustainability programs that focus on reducing environmental impact. This could include minimizing waste, using renewable energy, and sourcing sustainable materials.

Of course, CSR isn't just about sustainability. Social responsibility also encompasses societal issues like fair labor and community. So if these values align more with your brand, start exploring ways to support social causes. For instance, the brand TOMS partners with non-profit organizations that work on various societal issues, including access to mental health resources, community rehabilitation, and education.

TOMS initiatives - loyalty examples

Before you begin...

To ensure that your customer loyalty approaches are paying off, you must track key metrics regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing significant time and money for no result. While you may not need to track all of the data points below, familiarize yourself with them and check in with your marketing team to determine which ones are the best for your organization. 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This measures customer satisfaction and loyalty based on how likely customers would recommend a product/service to others on a scale of 1-10. Detractors are 0-6, while Promoters are 9-10. A score over 50 is generally good, while above 70 is great.
  • Customer Retention Rate: The rate at which your customers stay with you over a specific period, which reflects the effectiveness of your loyalty-building efforts. Make sure you balance this with customer acquisition strategies.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is an indication of the total revenue expected from a customer over their entire relationship with a brand. It's a great way to identify more valuable customers and assess the long-term value of customer loyalty programs.
  • Repeat Purchase Rate: The proportion of customers who make repeat purchases, which indicates ongoing customer engagement and loyalty. Customers with a high RPR should be targeted when launching new products or services.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This provides immediate feedback on customer experience and loyalty; it's the average score given when you ask customers how happy/satisfied they were with an experience.

While this isn't an exhaustive list, tracking some (or all!) of the above metrics will put you well on your way to quantitatively understanding how your brand loyalty efforts are paying off.

Final words

We've covered a lot of ground looking at the top ways your business can foster customer loyalty without needing a points-based program.

While you don't need to implement all of these at the same time, we recommend trialing out at least a couple of these methods and seeing what sticks. Most importantly, this shouldn't be a "set it and forget it" approach. You need to stay attuned to the feedback received and stay in the know on industry best practices. This way, you'll be ahead of the curve and continually improve customer loyalty. 

If you're looking to create an omnichannel loyalty program that offers real value, Marsello has you covered.  From SMS and email marketing to loyalty and referral programs, Marsello can help you from start to finish.

Speak to an expert today.

 


 

Need help? Get advice from a loyalty expert and start driving repeat sales.

Speak to an expert

 


 

Read more: 7 Steps To Building A Profitable Loyalty & Rewards Program

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    How to Collect and Manage Customer Feedback

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    Learn which methods of customer feedback collection could work best for your business and discover why you should consider this essential growth data.

    A Guide to Navigating Shopper Input

    A women leaves feedback on a wall-mounted tablet which prompts 'how was your experience'.

     

    Did you know that poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by U.S. businesses every year? 

     

    Gathering, managing, and analyzing customer feedback is a vital part of your customer success strategy, but is often neglected by businesses. In fact, a recent study by Hubspot found that 42% of businesses don't collect customer feedback at all. 

     

    If you don't know what your customers think or want, it's impossible to put them at the center of your growth plan. That's why a robust customer feedback management strategy is the key to fostering lasting relationships with your customers.

     

    In this post, we're going to:

    • Discuss why customer feedback matters
    • Identify key types of customer feedback
    • Talk about how to collect, manage, and analyze customer feedback

    Let’s dive in!

     

    Why is it important to collect customer feedback? 

    Let’s kick things off by discussing the benefits of having good customer feedback management practices in place. 

     

    It helps to refine your product/service

    Making the effort to collect customer feedback helps you to identify pain points, as well as gather suggestions that you can communicate to your customer success and product teams. In turn, this helps to enhance your product/service and promote a better user experience.

     

    Essentially, any omnichannel retailer should be making the customer the focal point of their business, and collecting customer feedback will enable this process. 

     

    It improves customer satisfaction and retention

    No matter what business you run, your customers want to feel as though their experiences matter. When customer service representatives take a long time to respond to concerns – or worse, don't respond at all – this can seriously damage the customer relationship. 

     

    On the flip side, when you make the effort to implement changes or updates on the back of feedback surveys, it showcases a customer-centric approach that aims to meet the expectations of loyal customers. And when customers are satisfied, your retention rates will soar.

     

    It strengthens your WOM (Word of Mouth) marketing efforts

    Here's a fact about marketing: We're far more likely to trust other people's perception of a business than what that business says about itself. In fact, 88% of consumers say that they trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

     

    With the rise of social media and community forums, we're no longer passive consumers of advertising. By making customer feedback a core functionality of your business model, you have a powerful customer acquisition strategy.

     

    Types of customer feedback 

    Customer feedback can be divided into two main types: Direct/solicited customer feedback, and indirect/unsolicited customer feedback.

     

    Direct/solicited customer feedback

    This refers to feedback processes that rely on the business reaching out to their customers for feedback. The advantage of this approach is that businesses can either tailor their surveys to specific topics, such as the usability of certain features, or they can ask about the customer journey as a whole. However, invitations for direct feedback often struggle with low uptake.

     

    Direct/solicited customer feedback methods include the following:

    • Customer surveys
    • Customer reviews
    • Focus groups
    Indirect/unsolicited customer feedback

    Conversely, indirect/unsolicited feedback is when a customer reaches out to a business with queries or concerns. It's within a business's interest to encourage this behavior, as unsolicited feedback can often bring up issues or opportunities they wouldn't have identified on their own. 

     

    The following can be considered types of indirect/unsolicited feedback:

    • Social media
    • Customer support centers
    • Live chat

    Note: It's a good idea to use a combination of methods to ensure that your business is getting impartial feedback data. In this next section, we're going to dive into some of these methods in more depth.

     

    How to collect customer feedback

    Now let’s look at the different ways that you can gather feedback from shoppers.

     

    Customer surveys

    Customer surveys are one of the most common methods for feedback collection. You can completely customize a survey depending on what your needs are, making it one of the best options for collecting feedback on a large scale.

     

    However, putting together a good feedback survey is a lot of work. Once you've chosen the area that you want feedback on, you need to decide what survey format is most appropriate.

     

    While a qualitative survey using free text fields is one of the easiest to put together, it can be a discouraging time investment for customers, and setting it up effectively could be time-consuming for you too.

     

    Instead, you could consider using some qualitative forms of customer satisfaction survey, such as:

     

    Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

    CSAT is a metric for determining how satisfied your customers are with different touchpoints in the customer journey. It captures customer sentiment when they're interacting with that stage of your offering i.e. "How would you rate your recent order or experience?"

     

    KiwiCo asks subscribers to rate their experience of using a specific product with 5 stars.

    CSATs usually give customers the choice of choosing a number between 1 and 5, with 5 being “very satisfied” and 1 being “highly dissatisfied”. CSATs can be single questions or use several back-to-back questions depending on how broad you want your survey to be.

     

    Net Promoter Score (NPS)

    NPS is another qualitative survey measure but it differs from CSAT. NPS measures long-term customer loyalty. It helps to benchmark a customer's willingness to recommend/promote your brand to others, which indicates their commitment to repeat purchases. So, if your NPS is low, this means your churn rate is likely to be high.

     

    Most NPS surveys use a 10-point scale, as shown in this template by Le Tote:

     

    Le Tote asks customers how likely they are to recommend the store with a 1-10 scale.

    2-choice questions

    In some cases, you want to make it as simple as possible for customers to provide feedback. This is why 2-choice surveys can be extremely useful when you want to gather a quick pulse from your customers. 

     

    The following example from Katie Waltman, which lets people indicate their feedback by simply tapping a happy or sad face is an example of quick and easy feedback collection.

     

    And in case customers would like to share additional details, Katie Waltman asks a quick follow-up question based on the shoppers’ initial response. Katie Waltman has a 97% customer feedback rating. Their customers have particularly positive feedback for KW’s product quality, customer service, and the value of their products. Keeping in mind that customers are most inclined to leave feedback when they are passionate, this makes praise that Katie Waltman has received all the more impressive.

     

    Marsello-Case-Study-Katie-Waltman

    Social media monitoring

    Did you know that 1 in 3 consumers would rather post service or product feedback on social media than contact a business directly? Quick and appropriate follow-ups to comments and mentions by your customers are vital on an open forum, and also presents opportunities to ask for feedback via polls and surveys:

     

    PlayStation uses Twitter to run a poll asking follower if theyll be buying a game this week.

    Qualitative customer interviews

    If you're wanting more in-depth customer insights, organizing a series of interviews with customers is a great tool for adding more context to NPS and CSAT surveys. Getting direct information straight from shoppers can help to highlight and create understanding around areas that are working well, versus areas of your business that could do with attention.

     

    This technique is best suited for interviewing long-term customers who can answer more in-depth questions about your product/service. It's a good idea to use your CRM to pick out loyal customers who can offer you the most valuable insights.

     

    How to manage customer feedback 

    Once you’ve collected a good amount of feedback, it’s best to set up processes for managing all that information so you can act on it. 

     

    Use the right CFM tools

    Feedback management tools are vital to getting the most out of your feedback collection. CFM (customer feedback management) software allows you to sort and analyze customer data effectively, rather than having your customer success team spend days or even weeks sorting through it manually.

     

    The right tools depend on how your business plans on gathering customer feedback. For example, if you plan on doing customer surveys on a regular basis, a survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform is a good investment. Likewise, you're a brand with a large social media presence, consider a social listening tool such as Brand24 that uses AI to monitor brand reputation in real-time, a popular technique with SaaS companies. 

     

    On the other hand, if you want to grab quick feedback on the product or shopping experience of your customers, then an eCommerce CRM like Marsello is a great option. Marsello’s feedback tool makes it easy to attach quick surveys to your transactional emails so customers can let you know how they feel.

     

    From there, you can get detailed reporting on customer satisfaction and find ways to improve. 

    Marsello-Madame-Fancy-Pants-Customizable-Feedback-Survey

     

    Learn moreStart collecting feedback

     

     

    Implement a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program

    The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a broad term referring to all of the data and metrics you've gathered from feedback management tools and unsolicited customer feedback. A VoC program collates all this data from across channels to identify emerging themes that indicate specific pain points, then develops a roadmap to address them.

     

    For a VoC program to work effectively, it can't be siloed just to your customer success division. It requires active collaboration with the product development, marketing, and sales teams to identify trends within their own workflows. For example, if the sales team keeps coming across a particular feature request, this can be passed onto the product team far more seamlessly.

     

    Close the feedback loop

    Once you've identified issues or opportunities and taken action in response, it's important not to miss out on informing customers what you've accomplished. This is known as “closing the feedback loop.”

    Unless customers receive a follow-up, they have no idea whether their concerns have been listened to. This leaves the feedback loop wide open and could affect your retention efforts.

     

    So, once you've decided to introduce a change in response to feedback, you need to think about the best way to communicate this. The appropriate channel will depend on the demographics of the respondents. For example, if your survey was hosted on social media, it makes sense to inform customers using the same medium. If it was an on-site survey, you could consider producing a webinar that discusses your initiatives.

     

    How to analyze your customer feedback 

    The best way to get the most out of customer feedback is to analyze it. Here are some tips to help you organize what you’ve collected and ensured that you gain actionable insights from them.

     

    Categorize your feedback types

    Once your data is in one place, assigning it to a specific group will help you get a broad overview of what areas are receiving the most attention from your customers. For example, you could use categories like:

    • Onboarding
    • Pricing/billing
    • Feature requests
    • Product/user experience
    • Technical support.

    You can also break these down further into sub-categories i.e. whether the feedback is negative or positive.

     

    This exercise will help you to highlight any overarching trends and “hidden” issues that your business might not have identified, such as confusing pricing structures or difficulty finding support documentation.

     

    Start feedback analysis

    While it's possible to analyze your feedback manually, this is a very time-consuming process and requires someone with strong expertise in coding and data analysis. Moreover, there's always the potential for personal bias to get in the way of finding actionable insights from your customers.

    Instead, consider using a tool such as Marsello, which can organize feedback data into graphs and tables that make it easy to analyze the information.

    Marsello-Feedback-ReportAs patterns start emerging, it's important to ask yourself some key questions:

    • Are these new or established customers?
    • Where are they located?
    • Who has been assigned to manage their account?

    This helps to add context to the results of your analysis – and may also establish some underlying causes for recurring issues.

     

    Present your results

    Once you have the results of your customer feedback campaign, you need to think about the best way to present them to your teams. This will depend on whether you're doing a relatively focused feedback survey or a landmark study on your product/service as a whole.

     

    If it's a small feedback project, you can likely present the results on a one-page that summarizes the key takeaways via bullet points or tables. In the case of large, multi-question studies, you will need to break this down in a lot more detail.

     

    Large-scale data visualization using line or bar graphs are a great way to communicate to your staff the changes to customer sentiment over time and provide answers to key questions. Check out this visualization by Thematic investigating the reasons behind a drop in NPS:

     

    Thematic uses a graph visualization to represent how a customer rating has dropped.

     

    Thematic not only displays the drop-in NPS rating over time but also offers the user detailed information that highlights why their performance could be taking a downward turn. 

     

    Final words

    Customer feedback has traditionally been one of the most neglected elements in customer success. It's easy for businesses to tell themselves that gathering customer feedback is too time-consuming or difficult to analyze to be worth the effort. 

     

    But at the end of the day, customer satisfaction is the key to long-term success as a business. If your customers are unhappy with your service or product offering, your churn rate is going to skyrocket. But by implementing a strong customer feedback program, you're in a much better position to foster retention and loyalty.

     

    Need to collect and analyze customer feedback? Marsello has powerful tools to help retailers gather input from shoppers and turn them into actionable insights. 

     

     

    Learn more about Marsello's featuresGET MARSELLO



     

    How to Improve Email Deliverability: 9 Proven Steps

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    Ensure your emails are delivering exactly how you expect and learn how to stay out of your customers’ spam folders with our 9 tips for deliverability.

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-banner.jpg

    We talk about email marketing quite a bit here on the Marsello blog, and for good reason – it continues to be one of the most effective ways to drive sales and engagement for retail brands. That’s why it’s so important to continuously build your list, optimize your copy, and run winning campaigns.

     

    However, all the optimization in the world won’t help you if your messages aren’t being delivered. And the truth is that a significant chunk (20% according to Return Path) of emails don’t even reach the inbox. 

     

    But you don’t have to be part of that statistic. By implementing the right steps and best practices, you can maximize your email deliverability and ensure that your messages actually hit the inbox of your audience. 

     

    Read on to learn exactly what you need to do. 

     

    1. Improve your email sender reputation

    Think of your customers’ inbox as an exclusive club that bans shady characters. When the gatekeepers deem a sender as having a poor reputation, their messages are sent to the spam folder. 

    When it comes to sender reputation, email service providers typically look at two things: your IP reputation and your domain reputation. 

     

    Here’s a breakdown of these two components and how you can improve them.

     

    IP reputation

    Emails are sent from an IP address – a unique identifier that ties a device to a specific network. Think of it a bit like a fingerprint for your emails. It tracks where emails come from, the reputation of that ESP (email service provider) and the email account itself. If you have a reputation of sending spammy emails, there’s a good chance that messages sent from that IP will be automatically flagged as spam and your emails won’t land front and center in your customers’ inboxes.

    In the world of eCommerce and physical store email marketing, brands can send emails using a customized domain name if their marketing provider has this function (Marsello makes this easy for retailers. Learn more here).

     

    How can you improve your IP reputation?

    Marsello-created graphic of a computer monitor with tick embedded over it

    Choose a good email marketing platform – If you’re opting for a custom domain (also sometimes referred to as a shared IP address), make sure you’re using a reputable email marketing platform. The best-in-class email marketing companies work hard to keep the reputation of their IP addresses in top shape by giving their users the tools and education they need to comply with anti-spam laws. 

     

    Most email marketing platforms also have systems that prevent abuse and spam. Marsello, for example, has an abuse-prevention system called SpamAssassin, which checks for spam traps, abuse complaints, and hard bounces.

    Marsello-created graph of inclining graph

    Gradually build up your IP’s reputation over time – If you’re using a dedicated IP address for your email marketing efforts, you’ll need to build and maintain its reputation yourself. 

     

    Much like with building financial credit, developing a solid IP reputation entails having a solid track record of sending high-quality emails. This means having high open rates and minimal spam flags from recipients. 

     

    If you’re using a new IP address for your emails, you can build up its reputation by only sending messages to a small but active list of people who love your brand. This will help boost your engagement metrics, which sends the message that you’re a high-quality sender.

     

    In turn, this boosts your reputation, which ultimately increases your email deliverability. 

    Marsello-created graphic. An outline of a person with a smiley-face in a conversation bubble.

    Monitor your reputation – If you’re suffering from poor email deliverability and you think your IP address is the culprit, then use a tool like Sender Score to check the IP’s rep. 

    Sender Score lets you enter an IP address, and its system will score it based on how reputable it is. The higher the score the better the reputation. 

    Sender Score's homepage allows you to check the sender reputation for your web domain

    Domain reputation

    When it comes to domain reputation, your messages are evaluated based on your sending domain, instead of, or in addition to your IP address.

     

    Email service providers have different metrics for evaluating messages, but Gmail (arguably the #1 email provider in the world) seems to favor domain reputation over IP. 

    How can you improve your domain reputation?

    Build up a good rep – A good domain reputation must be earned. Just like with building your IP rep, your domain needs to come across as reputable and high-quality for email service providers to not flag it as spam.

     

    You can do this by sending high-quality messages to an engaged user base and increasing your metrics over time. 

     

    Monitor your domain reputation – Check your domain reputation using a tool like MX Lookup Tool, which checks a domain against common blacklists. 

    MX Lookup also allows you to check your domain reputation.

    2. Steer clear of spam traps

    Spam traps are email addresses used by email service providers to catch malicious senders. They look just like a typical email address, but they’re not used by a real person. Their only purpose is to catch spam, so when a person or company sends a message to a spam trap email, the provider can flag or blacklist the sender. 

     

    There are a number of ways that providers can set up spam traps. They include:

     

    Pristine traps – A common one is called a pristine spam trap, which is an email address that is publicly displayed on a website BUT isn't visible to normal users. Pristine traps are meant to capture bots that are scraping the web for email addresses. 

     

    Expired or inactive email addresses – These are email addresses that have been deactivated by the company that issued them or by email service providers. In some cases, companies and providers may decide to reactivate these email addresses for the purposes of catching spam. 

    How to avoid spam traps

    Spam trap email addresses can sometimes end up on the list of senders with good intentions. Here’s how you can ensure that your list stays spam-trap free:

     

    Don’t purchase email lists – The email addresses that end up on lists for sale are often obtained through unethical means (like scraping the web). When you buy a list, you may end up with a handful of spam trap emails on your hands.

     

    Clean up your lists regularly – A great way to make sure that you don’t have spam trap emails on your list is to prune it. Identify emails that have no engagement over the last six months or so, then remove them from your list. 

     

    You should also clean up email addresses that have returned a hard bounce (i.e., when emails are undeliverable). Hard bounces indicate that an email address is no longer valid, and should thus be removed from your list. Some email marketing platforms do this for you automatically, so check with your provider to see if this is a feature they offer. 

     

    3. Make it easy for people to opt-out

    Giving people an easy way to opt-out seems counter-intuitive, because most email marketers want to keep people on their list. 

     

    However, making users jump through too many hoops just to unsubscribe is doing you more harm than good.

     

    Here’s why:

     

    When people can’t easily unsubscribe from your emails, they may end up marking it as spam – which, as you already know, will hurt your email deliverability. 

     

    So, resist the urge to hide the unsubscribe button. Instead, have a clear, clickable link on all your messages, and allow your subscribers to opt-out in just a click or two. 

     

    Check out this footer from the email of PetConnect. A standard location for the unsubscribe button is at the bottom of the footer, and PetConnect keep it simple. The last piece of their email gives readers the option to unsubscribe. While it’s not advertised and encouraging for customers, it is easy to find, underlined and simple to understand. Although with emails that cute, who’d really want to unsubscribe?

    PetConnect adds an 'unsubscribe' button to the bottom of their emails.

    4. Customize your ‘from’ name / sender field

    One of the reasons you may have poor email engagement rates is that people don’t recognize you when your messages hit their inbox. When users don’t know the sender, they’re more likely to delete the message without reading it, or worse, mark it as spam. 

     

    That’s why you should ensure that your sender name is consistent with your brand and is easily recognizable by users. 

     

    If you’re marketing yourself as “Bloom Skincare” then you shouldn’t send messages from “Jane Smith”. Instead, have your brand name in the “from” field of your emails – i.e., “Jane from Bloom Skincare” or “The Bloom Skincare Team”.

     

    This email from CAUSEBOX serves as an excellent example of a retailer that uses a real person behind each email, while still including their brand name.

     

    A CAUSEBOX email sent from Hannah at CAUSEBOX

    5. Avoid misleading subject lines

    Another temptation you may have is to write intriguing or exciting subject lines without having content or offers that actually live up to the hype. 

     

    Avoid this tactic at all costs. 

     

    While ‘creative’ subject lines may get people to open your message, they will likely mark your email as spam if the content doesn’t deliver on the subject line’s promises. 

     

    Instead, find ways to write exciting subject lines while still being upfront with the email’s content. 

    Take a look at the following email from GILT, an ecommerce site that sells luxury goods. The subject line – $99.99 Sunglasses SALE. Believe your eyes – is straightforward and tells customers exactly what they’re getting. But it’s also cleverly written and compelling because, well… who doesn’t like $99 designer sunglasses?

    GILT's sunglasses

    6. Don’t use spammy words

    Another subject line tip? Avoid spam-trigger words, phrases, and characters. 

     

    Hubspot and Simply Cast shared a long list of words and phrases to avoid, but here are the top ones that apply to retail and ecommerce:

    • Words like “FREE!,” “Guarantee,” and “Clearance”

    • Using ALL CAPS

    • Having “RE:” when it’s not a reply

    • One-word subject lines

    • Excessive use of exclamation points (!!!)

    • Excessive use of characters like “$$$”

    • Excessive use of emojis

    7. Stick to a consistent email schedule

    Irregular sending patterns can raise flags, so strive to find the best sending schedule that works for you, and avoid changing things up too often. 

     

    There are no one-size-fits-all rules when it comes to when to send emails and how often to do it. Since every company is different, you need to find a time and frequency that resonates with your audience. 

     

    One way to do is to gradually test out different sending patterns and frequencies, then measuring the performance of your messages. 

     

    When you find a good email sending pattern, stick with it. 

    8. Send emails that people love

    We’ve covered the tech-related side of increasing email deliverability, and while the tips above are solid best practices, they won’t guarantee that your messages will be seen and opened. 

     

    At the end of the day, the best way to boost the deliverability of your messages is to send emails that people open and click regularly. 

     

    How can you do that?

     

    Simple; send messages that your subscribers love.

     

    Create content that’s so compelling, people actually look forward to hearing from you. It’s a simple tip, but it’s not always easy to do, particularly when you’re competing with hundreds (if not thousands) of other brands for people’s attention. 

     

    Follow these pointers and examples on how to send messages that subscribers can’t help but click:

     

    Keep it super relevant

    Segment your customers based on their demographic details and shopping behavior, and use that data to inform your email marketing. 

     

    For instance, if you know that a shopper has kids, then you can send them mom-centric emails. Or, if you keep track of the purchase histories of your customers, you can leverage their data to craft email content and offers based on their profile. 

     

    Stitch Fix did this really well when it launched its kids line, Stitch Fix Kids. The subscription service reached out to members who ordered maternity clothes and sent them an exclusive invite to the service.

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-keep-it-relevant.jpg

    Ask for their input

    Requesting for customer feedback doesn’t just help you gather more intel, it also shows that you value your customers’ opinions. Most shoppers – 71% according to this study – are happy to offer their feedback when asked. So, these types of messages will likely generate higher engagement (which is great for email deliverability – yay)!

     

    Buda Juice, a speciality pressed juices distributor, puts this tip to good use. The company sends feedback requests to customers to measure their satisfaction. Buda Juice crafts messages that are easy to read and act on, so the whole customer experience is smooth and convenient.

    A BudaJuice email which contacts customer feedback prompts

    Send a timely message

     

    Use different events and holidays as opportunities to engage with your audience. If you haven’t done so yet, create a marketing calendar with events throughout the year, and then craft seasonal content for each occasion. 

     

    Need help doing this? We've put together a calendar schedule highlighting best days and times to send your holiday email campaigns to make sure you never miss an opportunity. Download it for free here.

    Marsello's holiday email marketing schedule

    Here’s another tip: keep track of each customer’s birthday and send them a timely perk that they can use on their special day.

     

    Australian clothing retailer, Búl, for example, sends members of its rewards program a $20 voucher 7 days before their birthday. To make sure customers don’t miss out on the deal, Búl also sends them an email on the day of the customer’s birthday and then a final email to remind them to use the $20 voucher. The final two emails of this flow also include product recommendations designed to pique customers’ interest and get the shopping. Read more on the success of Búl’s Happy Birthday Email Flow in their recent case study.

     

    marsello-blog-Improve-Email-Deliverability-bui.jpg

    Pro tip: did you know that you can use Marsello to reward your customers on their birthday? When you set up "Happy Birthday Rewards" on your loyalty program, you’ll be able to automatically award birthday celebrants with extra perks on their birthday!

     

    9. Analyze your email marketing reports

    You know what they say: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

     

    The same thing applies to email deliverability. If you want to increase your deliverability rate, then you need to track the performance of your campaigns. 

     

    In particular, you should keep an eye on:

    Open rates – This will shed light on the performance of your subject lines, so you can determine if your copy is getting people interested in reading the rest of your emails. 

     

    Click-to-open-rate (CTOR) – CTOR measure the number of unique clicks relative to the number of unique opens. It's a good measure of how an email's content has performed. A high CTOR could indicate that your subject line and email copy are working well together and reaching the right people. Conversely, a low CTOR could mean that your email copy isn't resonating with readers and there might be a disconnect between the subject line and content of the email. 

     

    Bounce rates – Pay attention to email bounces – particularly hard bounces, because these indicate that an email address is invalid. You want to remove those emails from your list ASAP to avoid falling into spam traps. 

     

    Final words

    You need to take a number of steps to improve email deliverability, and while some of them aren’t sexy, they are absolutely necessary if you want to land on your customers’ inbox.

     

    If you haven’t done so yet, take the time to evaluate your email marketing efforts. Check your reputation, clean up your email list, and review your content calendar to ensure that you’re sending top-notch messages. 

     

    If you do the above consistently, you’ll not only boost your email deliverability, but you’ll increase your reputation and engagement in the process!

     

    Collecting Feedback To Enhance Your Customer's Experience

    ClockIcon  READ
    Fun fact: a 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase your ROI. Learn about rewarding customers & discover the benefits of loyalty marketing. Read more.

    Marsello Feature Mini-Series. Boosting customer loyalty with birthday rewards.

     

    Did you know that you can use Marsello’s Loyalty Program to reward points to customers for making another journey around the sun? Follow the steps here to drastically improve your customer retention rate by helping shoppers feel special on their birthday.

     

    Improve your customer retention infographic

    Fun fact: a 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase your average profit per customer by 25-95%.

     

    Step 1: Collect birthday info.

    Before you can celebrate a birthday, you need to know when it is! If your customers sign up for your loyalty program online, they’ll have the option to add their birthday when completing their profile; if they subscribe to your mailing list via a signup form, you’ll have to include the option when designing your form.

     

    Step 2: Set up your Loyalty Program

    In your app navigation, go to ‘Loyalty’ and click on ‘Loyalty Widget’. Take your time here to design a really eye-popping widget that matches your branding, and gets your customers excited to sign up. Include your logo, choose photos that showcase your products, and select a layout that will look great on your website. Make sure to also customize the ‘Tab’ section here, as this is the first thing site visitors will see of your new Loyalty Program! 

     

    PRO TIP: try a tabless program and include more details and design.


    Learn how to create one here.

     

    Once you’re happy with the design, click ‘Save & Publish’ and check out how the live widget looks on your website.

    For more help setting up your program, check out this section of our Help Center.

     

    Step 3: Turn on Happy Birthday rewards
    Now that you’ve designed your widget, it’s important to decide what actions your customers will be rewarded for. Back in the navigation, go to ‘Loyalty’ and click ‘Earning Points and Referrals’. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the ‘Member birthday’ option, but read through each possible action and turn on whichever suits your business.

     

    PRO TIP: ‘Making a purchase’ and ‘Referring friends’ are two powerful options you should have turned on. 'Making a purchase' rewards customers for shopping with you; 'Referring friends' rewards them for bringing you more customers! Win-win.

     

    Next to the ‘Member birthday’ option, click the toggle to switch from ‘Off’ to ‘On’. Here, you’ll decide how many points to award for this action, and whether or not there’s a minimum enrolment period. Click ‘Save’ when you’re happy with your settings to set it live.

     

    If you ever want to see how many people have gotten points for their birthday, simply navigate back to this page and click on ‘See Activity’. This will take you to a list of customers who have received birthday points.

     

    Step 4: Market your Loyalty Program

    Your loyalty program can be a really powerful sales and marketing tool. Loyalty programs are proven to improve customer retention rates, and even a small increase of 5% in retention can boost profits by a whopping 25-95%.

     

    Now that you’ve built your program, this is where email, content, and social media marketing come in. Here are some of the most effective ways to market your new loyalty program, and let current and future customers know they can expect a truly rewarding experience with your business:

    When you add a new option for collecting points, such as the Happy Birthday reward, don’t be afraid to make a big fuss, and to use your favorite tactics from this list to get the word out. Remember: customers love to know what you and your brand can do for them, and the more opportunities you can create to help them feel special, the better.

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