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From Feedback to Rewards: How to Build a Loyalty Program that Resonates with Your Audience

Learn how to build a loyalty program that puts your audience first. We also discuss strategies for creating a customer experience that secures repeat...

Francesca Nicasio

Content Strategy Manager

Fact: Loyal customers are some of your most reliable income sources during uncertain times. 

We can see this in action in some of the top brands in the market.

Starbucks, for example, was one of the companies that quickly recovered after the Great Recession. Despite the economic downturn, Starbucks continued to invest in its loyalty program, enhancing its value proposition by offering free refills, free Wi-Fi, and special offers.

Or consider Sephora, which launched its rewards program, Beauty Insider, in 2007, and has since expanded and diversified the program to include personalized offers, exclusive events, and early access to new products. Today, the majority of Sephora’s sales come from Beauty Insider members

All this to say that rewards and loyalty programs can unlock lasting customer retention and revenue.

But there’s a catch: you’ll only achieve these benefits if your loyalty program stands out in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

In today’s crowded market, consumers are bombarded with them left and right. That’s why we’re big believers in customization—tailoring your program to meet your target audience’s preferences and needs.

In this article, you’ll learn how to build a loyalty program that puts your audience first. We also discuss strategies for creating a rewarding customer experience that secures repeat business.

 


 

Importance of customer insights in developing notable loyalty programs


Guesswork often influences strategies when developing loyalty programs. So before proceeding to launching or overhauling your loyalty program, make it a point to challenge your views.

Start with a hypothesis. Let’s say you assume your customers are motivated by discounts. Consider the variables that made you think this way. Is it based on sales performance? 

Next, look at your data and analyze your sales trends. What impact do discounts really have on your sales?

Maybe you discover that discounts do work, but not as much as they used to. Poring over customer insights may show you that many of your customers favor tangible freebies, such as complimentary samples.

In this instance, you may need to discard your original hypothesis. Markets adapt, and customer preferences shift. Use your assumptions as a framework, but refer to actual insights as you tailor your loyalty program accordingly.


Loyalty expert Rory Moss talks about getting data & survey results to customize your loyalty program and appeal to higher value customers.

 

Benefits of insight-driven customer loyalty programs

 

Learning to fine-tune your customer loyalty programs directly translates to concrete benefits for your business. These include.

  • Higher customer engagement. By basing loyalty programs on real insights, you can design initiatives that resonate with your customer base. They’ll feel a deeper connection with the tailored rewards and incentives. The more relevant you are, the better your customer relationships will be.
  • Better resource allocation. Insight-driven loyalty programs help your marketing team manage resources. You’ll avoid spending on generic incentives that may not align with customer expectations. Instead, you can direct the resources toward more enticing initiatives, maximizing the loyalty program’s long-term impact.

Customer insights ensure program success with strategic implementation. Here’s how to leverage this data to build customer loyalty programs that stand out and connect with your target demographic.

 

6 steps to develop a successful customer loyalty program

 

From getting customers on board to measuring performance, launching and managing loyalty programs take work. Follow these 6 steps below to start and gradually increase signups and engagement levels.

1. Conduct customer interviews

 

Shoppers stay loyal to brands that understand them. To get to know your customer base, conduct direct surveys and interviews. Talk to a sample of 10 to 20 customers in person or on the phone, varying between regulars and one time/new customers.

Regulars are the most engaged audience with repeat purchases. Use the interview to identify what they want from a loyalty program. 

One-time/new customers are not as engaged–at least not yet. Take the interview as an opportunity to learn their preferred incentives, offers, or experiences to keep them coming back

Keep the questions consistent across both groups to get a well-rounded perspective. Here’s a set of potential questions you can ask these individuals. 

  • How often do you purchase from our store?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to participate in our loyalty program?
  • What types of rewards or perks would motivate you to join the program? (e.g., discounts, freebies, cashback promos, special offers, exclusive event access, early access to sales)
  • How important is it for you to feel valued and rewarded for your loyalty to us?
  • Do you prefer tiered membership systems or ​​points-based loyalty programs? (i.e., point-based voucher amount vs. bronze, silver, and gold tiers with more valuable rewards as you progress)
  • How likely will you recommend us to others if we offer reward/referral programs?
  • Are there any specific products or categories you’d like to see in the loyalty program rewards?
  • What communication channels do you prefer to receive loyalty program updates and offers? (e.g., email, SMS, social media, in-store notifications)
  • How do you typically redeem loyalty rewards or benefits? (e.g., online, in-store, mobile app)
  • Would you be more likely to participate if the program offered early access to new product releases or exclusive benefits?
  • Do you have any concerns or reservations about joining a loyalty membership program?
  • How likely will you continue shopping at our store with vs. without a loyalty program?
  • What additional features or benefits do you want to see in our loyalty program?

Regular and one-time shoppers have distinct preferences, motivations, and expectations. Engage with both ends of the spectrum to know what drives each group from a 360-degree standpoint. 

Pro-tip: Gather contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers, should you require a follow-up.

2. Collate survey and feedback responses

 

You can also use surveys to get more quantitative data on your customers. The goal here is to organize and analyze customer feedback to identify recurring patterns. 

You can do it in a formal, informal, or a hybrid approach.

Formal surveys are recommended for large-scale operations. Here are the approaches to implementing this method for a more thorough understanding of survey responses.

  • Use advanced software to categorize feedback systematically. For instance, you can implement customer feedback management platforms that tag and sort responses based on common themes.
  • Statistical analysis. If you have the resources, consider applying statistical methods to identify patterns quantitatively. It involves frequency calculation of particular keywords or sentiments expressed by customers.

Informal surveys are best for small businesses with limited resources. They’re more qualitative in nature and require first-hand assessment to understand your customers. 

  • Manual review. Evaluate customer comments, emails, or survey responses. The goal is to absorb the qualitative aspects that may be overlooked in strictly quantitative analysis.
  • Key learnings. As you review feedback, jot down a few bullet points that summarize key learnings. These could be recurring themes, noteworthy suggestions, or significant areas of concern raised by customers.

You can also combine formal and informal approaches (hybrid) to maximize both methods’ strengths. Doing so balances qualitative findings with objective insights in a more accessible yet scalable manner.

3. Review and act on the data

 

Knowing what appeals to new and existing customers helps ensure your loyalty program aligns with your overall brand identity. It helps craft your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), which you can use to reinforce your brand message and create a cohesive experience across all touchpoints.

Review the preferences and needs you’ve discovered from feedback responses. Then be sure to offer customers enticing rewards to meet those needs. 

Take Amazon Prime’s paid loyalty program, for example. Industry data shows that 71.8% of its loyalty program members find the $99 annual pricing worth it for all the shipping, shopping, streaming, and reading perks. 

How does Amazon know this? Simple. The company actively creates, distributes, and collects online survey responses.

amazon prime example

Not many businesses have the same resources as Amazon. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have enough data to analyze in your hands. 

Sports retailer TennisGear actively observes their database to understand customer behavior. They grow and keep it accurate through complete visibility across their sales channels and prompts that reminds staff to update or add customer information.

Maintaining a continuous feedback loop with your customers is key to creating a loyalty program that resonates. Send out regular surveys or perform ongoing database analysis to stay current with changing preferences and market trends.

Additional tip: Look at review sites and Google Reviews to draw information about what customers might appreciate seeing more in your programs.

4. Design and optimize the program based on feedback

 

Now that you know your rewards and incentives, optimize your program’s structure and mechanics to incentivize customers to spend more. 

Choose between non-tiered and tiered programs. Non-tiered appeals to a broad audience, whereas a tiered point system suits a diverse customer base with varying spending levels.

Balance the program’s exclusivity and inclusivity if you opt for the latter. Introduce exclusive high-value perks for top-tier loyalty cardholders (e.g., premium rewards, VIP events) and accessible rewards for those in lower tiers (e.g., birthday discounts).

Lastly, decide if your customers prefer simple or gamified types of loyalty programs. Gamification adds interactive elements but often requires more resources in terms of design, development, and ongoing management. 

In Sephora’s Beauty Insider Challenges, for instance, members must first complete a series of tasks to earn rewards. Some tasks don’t involve a purchase but require active engagement. The first challenges include checking out online, picking up orders in-store, signing up for text alerts, and trying Sephora’s in-store shade-matching tool.

If you’re still testing the waters, a straightforward loyalty program can be equally lucrative. 

Melbourne-based fashion label ALPHA60 exemplifies this with a simple earn-and-redeem model: spend a thousand dollars, earn a thousand points, and receive a $50 voucher.

ALPHA60’s Brand Strategist, Kelvin, explained that ALPHA60 customers prefer simplicity. Just by understanding this tendency led to the brand enjoying a high repeat purchase rate.

Alpha60 earn options


Find what works best for your audience, and consistently seek feedback for future adjustments if needed.

 

5. Make communication personalized wherever possible

 

Before you roll out the loyalty program, establish customer-centric communication channels. Identify where they prefer to receive updates and redeem rewards. Do they prefer traditional in-store redemption like punch cards or through handy technology like an app or a digital card?

If customers raise concerns or suggestions, acknowledge and address these in your response. Show that you value their input and actively strive to improve their experience.

A one-size-fits-all approach in communication may alienate customers who seek tailored interactions. Don’t lose your regulars to more attentive competitors. Pay attention to customer behavior when launching or announcing loyalty program updates.

 

6. Choose technology to run the loyalty program

 

Invest in user-friendly technology to simplify the implementation process. It’ll help your staff to adjust fast, minimizing the learning curve and likelihood of errors.

Loyalty program software like Marsello features seamless integration with ecommerce and POS systems (e.g., Shopify, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, and Lightspeed) to leverage data analytics.

Syncing in-store and online transactions generates insights to help you deliver consistent loyalty experiences. It’s a hands-off process you can leverage to offer custom-tailored promotions, point earning, and reward redemption across all platforms.

With the right tools, tracking your loyalty program’s performance becomes easy. Take note of the key metrics and indicators to measure in the next section.

How to Measure Your Program’s Success

 

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals to gauge initial success. Some KPIs to consider are customer retention, referral rates, average order values (including credit card transactions), and customer lifetime value. These metrics measure the program’s overall contribution to your revenue stream.

Tracking KPIs is more efficient with Marsello’s dashboards and automated reporting. These tools feature real-time updates with charts, graphs, and other visual elements to interpret complex data patterns. You can also set up predefined schedules to receive detailed reports.

scottys-makeup-and-beauty-insights-dashboard

Invest in technology to keep your efforts on track. Let your staff focus on refining your marketing strategy rather than spending significant hours on data gathering and reporting.

 

Streamlining Loyalty Programs with Marsello

 

The best customer loyalty program prioritizes the customer experience. So, rather than rushing to launch your rewards or loyalty program, take time to solicit shopper insights, analyze data, design a responsive program, personalize communication, and use technology wisely.

Loyalty programs shouldn’t remain static. Keep ongoing customer engagement by regularly evaluating and updating your program.

If you’re ready to reward customers on their next purchase, start with Marsello’s free trial. Build your loyalty program today while synchronizing your omnichannel strategy.

 


 

Join a community of 5,000+ retailers building sales with Marsello's customer loyalty software

 

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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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