#AskSPC Loyalty – Gil Bathgate

Gil Bathgate, SPC’s Vice President of Loyalty, is here to help you unpack the world of loyalty direct marketing. How do the most successful brands engage and keep customers coming back? What are best practices for deploying customer data in ways that surprise and delight brand loyalists?

As part of our ongoing #AskSPC series, Gil will answer key questions about loyalty in our popular Q&A format. You can email him at gilb@specialtyprintcomm.com or post a question via Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #AskSPC. We’ll post the questions and answers here on the blog and social media.

1) What are some best practices for loyalty direct mail design?

Big picture, it’s important to make every direct mailpiece relevant through precise personalization, which will increase engagement and trigger both responses and purchases. Marketers should use personalization to speak to each member based on their current tier, including personalized offers that spring from collected data like preferences or purchase history. Choose a mailer design that can be executed, mailed and delivered to be in sync with other digital channels and marketing efforts. But it all begins with good customer data.

2) How do you suggest companies evaluate their loyalty programs?

Many marketers begin their evaluation process by studying and comparing their program’s features and benefits with those of competitors. If a refresh of benefits is necessary to make customers feel special, create a list of value-driven hard and soft benefits (within budget) and select the ones you’d like to test. Test those new benefits on a limited scale and evaluate the results. Adjust and test again. Rinse and repeat until you have a more concrete idea of what benefits connect with your audience.

3) What are your recommendations for beginning data collection efforts?

The essence of every loyalty program is the opportunity to collect and build valuable consumer “profiles” to enable future marketing communications that are increasingly relevant (and sticky) for customers. One proven tactic for collecting data is to create and mail new member welcome kits. Including special instant rewards like additional bonus points or dollar off coupons in welcome kits encourages members to go online and complete their “rewards profile”. The basic customer rewards profile info can include: current email & mailing addresses, preferred contact method and details about the type of products and offers they want to receive.  Once customers take time to share this personal info, it’s critical that marketers listen and follow through with personalized offers that reflect those updated preferences.

4) How would you differentiate between introductory offers and those to ongoing loyalty members in direct mail?

When loyalty members are part of a ‘tier’ structured program it’s important to personalize direct mail communications (like special offers) by stating the member’s status and reminding them of their benefits. An example might be: “Hey, Gil! As a valued VIP Gold Member, your next purchase will earn you triple points. This exclusive offer is only for Gold level members.” Loyalty members need to feel special, so it’s important to recognize their status and reinforce the values and rewards they qualify for. One tactic is to simply increase the value of the introductory offer to trigger a purchase because no rewards points are earned yet.  Another option is to sweeten the offer with an additional incentive for joining.

We’re so glad to share Gil’s insights into the world of Loyalty Marketing and look forward to his next installment. Next month, we’ll have more Q&A from the experts in our ongoing #AskSPC series.


Gil Bathgate
Vice President, Loyalty

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