You value all of your customers, but some of them are your very best, and they deserve special treatment. Maybe they buy often from you or they spend a lot when they buy (or both). Perhaps they’re your biggest advocates in social media, shop with you across all your touch points, or rank in your highest lifetime value segment.
These people deserve a little extra love. And email can help you surprise these “best customers” with special offers designed to express your appreciation for their interactions with you, make them feel genuinely special and retain them as high-value customers.
A “best customer” email program has three key elements:
- Methodology that sets thresholds and identifies qualified customers
- A sincere and appreciative email message with a reward your customers will value
- An integrated automation system that can trigger the email message when the customer meets your thresholds
For this article, we’ll focus on using purchase behavior to drive your best customer program, and we’ll assume you have the proper integrations in place. Let’s jump in.
Finding Your Best Customers
When using purchases to define your best customer segment, a smart approach is to use an RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) model. This will help eliminate outliers and reduce the risk of non-VIPs landing in your best customer program.
An RFM model, run continuously and in real time, will help you identify your best customers according to how recently and how often they buy and how much money they spend in a specific time period. Here are the key factors to consider for each aspect of the model:
Recency: When does the clock start ticking after purchase? Your business rule here should allow enough time for the customer to receive and experience the product. Seven days is the standard, but you should test and tweak your rule to find the optimum time.
Frequency: Run an analysis to determine the typical purchase rate among your email subscribers who have made at least one purchase. It could be five purchases or, if you sell mainly high-ticket, high-consideration products such as luxury vacations, designer clothing and high-performance sports gear, it could be closer to two.
Some companies deliver best-customer rewards after the first purchase. That's probably a little early in the relationship, especially when you consider the old retail maxim that the most important purchase isn't the first purchase, or even the second, but the third purchase.
Monetary: This also will vary according to your products and pricing. If you can determine what your top 10 percent of customers spends in a specific period, for example, that number can become your baseline.
What’s the Surprise?
Many companies delight their best customers with higher-value incentives than those in welcome, birthday or reactivation emails or regular broadcast messages.
Adventure outfitter evo sends its best customers a code good for $50 off any purchase over $50:
That seems like a big chunk of change. However, as I discuss in this video, company reps say it more often drives sales of pricier items, not smaller purchases where customers are getting something almost for free:
In addition to (or in lieu of) offering coupon codes and other monetary discounts, consider premiums that add value to a current or future purchase or don't require an extra purchase, such as the following:
- Preseason purchases on apparel, sporting goods and other seasonal merchandise
- Presales, VIP access or free seat upgrades on event tickets such as concerts, games and shows
- Beta-tester access to new programs or videogames
- Exclusive or early access to premium content
- Private meetings with company VIPs at trade shows or company events
- Enough bonus points to boost the customer to a higher tier in your loyalty program
- A signed copy of a book written by the keynote speaker at your company conference or Webinar.
6 Tips for Your Best Customer Program
Your customers are going to love getting this email – everybody likes to be thanked and appreciated! – but they'll love it even more if you follow a few pointers. Use these tips as a guide to optimizing your program, and tweak according to your unique business situation.
1) Add Some Version of "Thank You" to the Subject Line
Mention the incentive or premium; test to see whether specifying the premium or just hinting that it's inside will drive more conversions.
2) Make It Personal
Personalize the message with the recipient’s name, and considering signing it from someone in the company, such as a top executive. Add the signer's photo as appropriate.
3) Loosen Up the Language
Write the message as if you were speaking to a friend, using "I/we" and "you."
4) Showcase Your Brand Personality
Add personality that reflects your corporate culture, such as appropriate humor and illustrations.
5) Experiment with Design Approach
For this special message, designing your email to look more like a thank-you note and less like a standard broadcast or company email may be more effective. Test different approaches to see what works best.
6) Use Dynamic Content
If you opt for a more standard template, include dynamic modules that suggest purchases based on the customer's most recent or typical purchases or include references to the customer's personal information you have in your database (company, title, etc.).
Ready to Surprise and Delight?
This is just one get-started approach to building a best customer program. Use it as a launching pad for creating your own program that will surprise and delight your prime customers and ensure their loyalty for the long haul.
1) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue”
2) Blog: “7 Tactics to Generate Content for Automated Emails”
3) Video: “Leveraging Post-Purchase Emails to Drive Engagement and Revenue”