How To Improve Your Rewards Program With Effective Email Marketing

rewards program

It’s no secret repeat customers are responsible for generating up to 40% of your store’s total revenue. This and the climbing costs of digital ads should be enough to make you invest more of your marketing budget to retention efforts. Setting up a rewards program helps you do just that.

There is a direct link between customer loyalty and profitability. And it all starts with a healthy customer relationship which requires solid communication. Email marketing has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to communicate with your customers.

Studies have shown that segmented emails are responsible for generating 58% of all ecommerce revenue, and 72% of customers prefer to receive promotional content via email than any other social marketing channel.

When it comes to customer retention, the most successful retention strategy is without contest rewards programs. Rewards programs can take many shapes and forms, from on-page banner ads or a link in your navigation bar and on-site calls-to-action.

So there are multiple ways of getting your program in front of your customers. The more visible it is, the more likely shoppers are to engage. With the right strategy, that engagement will turn your rewards program into a profitable marketing tool for your brand.

Integrate Your Rewards Program With Email Campaigns:

1. The Welcome Email

This email is typically sent to customers after they’ve made an account with your store or subscribed to your newsletter. As the name implies, it welcomes your audience to your brand. It helps to build a customer relationship because after all, you only get one chance at a first impression.

It can include a highlight of a new product or upcoming events, information about your brand or simply thanking them for stopping by. This can go a long way to making customers feel truly connected to your brand. If you give shoppers opportunities to engage with your brand, it amplifies the chances of them exploring further.

As this first contact is part of the customer experience, an important step may I say, you should include your rewards program into it. It will make your customers excited about joining.

2. The Points Balance Emails

It’s inconvenient for members to keep track of the ins and outs of each of their memberships.  People might sign up for a program and never think about it again.

What you need to do is make your program more visible to both new and potential customers. Most customers understand the basic mechanics of a points-based rewards program (spend $ – earn points – redeem rewards). Even so, if they don’t know how many points they have and how close they are to a reward, what’s the point?

Points balance emails remind customers of the points they have, how they can earn more and what they can do with them. This makes it extremely easy for your audience to understand how to get the most out of the reward points they have and also replicate that value in the future.

Through these emails you encourage customers to spend their rewards on a regular basis. In addition, they increase the visibility of your program, making sure you stay top-of-mind for your audience.

3. The Bonus Points Campaign Emails

Points balance emails can be very demotivating if customers are shown rewards they can’t afford. 

Bonus points campaigns give customers easy opportunities to significantly increase their points balance. This increases the value of participating in your program by making your best rewards more achievable.

First you will have to decide how often you’re going to run the campaign. You can run it on the same day every week which encourages customers to spend more points on a regular basis. Or you can run your bonus points campaigns around certain holidays in order to build on the excitement customers already have for seasonal shopping.  

rewards program

4. The Redemption Campaign Emails

Redemption campaigns are the perfect way to work with points promotions for customers. At the end of the day, your program is successful only if customers follow through and actually redeem those points.

If they don’t, your rewards program is in danger of suffering a severe case of points breakage. It’s important to keep loyalty programs simple and effortless. Or else, they won’t be effective. You should base redemption campaigns around giving customers a particular way to spend rewards (e.g. free shipping) or increasing the value in their points over time.

5. Reward Expiration Reminder Email

This email creates a sense of urgency for customers to use their points, vouchers or discount codes.  You basically just let them know that their coupon expiry date is near.

The reward expiration email works well with such programs. Even better, automated emails can be set up to send messages to customers when the expiration date is approaching.

Be sure to send a few emails to give customers enough time to redeem their rewards. For example, you can send an email a few months before, one month before, a week before and then on the final day, before the rewards expire. Your customers will appreciate you letting them know so they don’t miss the opportunity to use their points or vouchers.

6. The Referral Program Promotional Emails

Referral programs help you get the most out of your loyal customers. It motivates them to actively recommend your brand.

The best way to grow more brand ambassadors is to simply let customers know about your referral program. By including your referral program in marketing campaigns, you put this program in front customers who have already expressed interest in promoting your brand.

Email your best customers highlighting how much you appreciate their business. After that, introduce your referral program and its benefits. Add a clear call to action inviting them to share your brand. Now the power of promotion is in their hands.  

By giving them all of the information about the benefits of joining, they are motivated to become better brand ambassadors.

7. The Points for Product Promotional Emails

No matter what it is, free feels good. You can incorporate the satisfying feeling of getting something free into your rewards program with a product reward catalog.

When customers can clearly see what they’re working to earn, the perceived value increases demand and motivates customers.

A rewards catalog is a dedicated page on your site that shows customers what rewards they can earn as a member of your rewards program.  It’s a great way to show customers how valuable your program really is. 

By offering customers exclusive product rewards, you provide them with value they can’t find anywhere else. In order to amplify your product reward appeal, incorporate your rewards into your regular points balance emails. 

8. The Birthday Rewards Emails

Birthday rewards are bonus rewards that customers earn every year on their birthday. These rewards further personalize your customer experience while creating a more genuine connection. They can provide your customers that personal touch which builds trust and positivity between them and your brand.

Sending customers a personalized email that wishes them a happy birthday with a gift of reward points makes them feel appreciated.  Moreover, your rewards begin to feel like gifts, which in turn will pull customers back towards your program and boost your engagement.

rewards program

9. Thank You Emails

Maintain positive customer relationships by letting them know they’re appreciated. These emails will increase repeat purchases, as well subscription rates. As a consequence, engagement levels and brand loyalty will grow.

An email campaign is the perfect way to thank your audience for being part of your brand journey. You should thank customers at least once a year with appreciation emails. You can thank customers in many ways, like adding a special note from the CEO or giving them a discount on future purchases. 

10. The Scarcity Email

All customers like saving money. One of the best ways to get customers excited about your rewards program is through providing additional value.

In fact, 55% of customers join rewards programs to receive discounts. No wonder discounts and free shipping are still so effective.  

People like getting something for nothing, which is why these types of rewards get your customers excited about the earning process. It also encourages them to continue making purchases in order to get closer to their first reward.

However, you can make these rewards even more effective by introducing an element of scarcity. When something is advertised “for a limited time”, customers feel the need to complete actions faster in order to take advantage of the value being offered.  

rewards program


Like any other retention tool, your rewards program needs to be monitored and optimized in order to get the most out of it.  Developing an effective email marketing strategy is the perfect way to make sure your customers know about your program and understand it. 

If your audience doesn’t know about your program, you’re already losing.

When assessing the performance of your rewards program, redemption rate is an important metric you need pay attention to. Knowing what percentage of issued reward points are being redeemed is a great way to determine if your customers are actually using your program.

Keep in mind your program is successful only if customers follow through and actually redeem those points. A low redemption rate equals low customer engagement.

Make sure you keep your rewards program top-of-mind for your audience with effective promotion. This is where email marketing comes in.

It’s the obvious choice when it comes to improving your rewards program’s engagement rate.  

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