More marketers are turning to direct mail to drive repeat business and increase customer lifetime value. With average response rates beating digital efforts by a landslide, postcards are a solid medium for retention marketing.
But marketers who focus on retention may overlook the fact that with direct mail automation, you can do more than just retain customers: you can turn repeat customers into loyal customers.
What is the Difference Between a Repeat Customer and a Loyal Customer?
Wait a second. Isn’t a repeat customer a loyal customer? Not necessarily.
Many direct mail customer loyalty programs really fall under the retention umbrella. If your messaging aims to close a sale or prevent churn—but fails to build a deep, emotional connection with the customer—it’s pure retention.
Retention is a measure of whether existing customers continue to purchase from you, while loyalty suggests a customer will consistently prefer to purchase from and engage with you. It is a slight and valuable distinction, and a whopping 82% of American adults say they are loyal to brands.
Think of customer loyalty as a bond that must be nurtured, while retention is simply nudging a customer to make a purchase by offering a benefit.
While retention is certainly important, it should not be mistaken for genuine customer loyalty. Loyal customers can be critical to a brand’s success and longevity. Loyalty isn’t easy to achieve, but if you’re sending smart direct mail, you don’t have to settle on retention alone. You can craft strong retention marketing strategies, while building loyalty via trust and customer connections along the way.
3 Ways to Foster Customer Loyalty with Direct Mail
Direct mail is perfectly suited for customer loyalty initiatives because it elicits a much stronger emotional response than digital communications. This is simply due the very nature of mail. When you want to build a connection with your customers, send them something tangible—send them a postcard.
With Inkit’s modern direct mail software, you can capitalize on the already high emotional impact of direct mail by personalizing postcards and even triggering them directly from your CRM.
Since lifetime customer value and business goals differ significantly from brand to brand, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to direct mail customer loyalty marketing. However, the three postcards below should help foster loyalty for any brand.
1. The Helpful Reminder or Invitation Postcard
Provide value and stay top-of-mind by mailing personalized reminder postcards or invitations for seasonal purchases, scheduled services, upcoming events and special dates. Studies show that most American consumers not only read and sort their mail, but that many people look forward to doing so. This makes reminder messaging ideal for the mailbox versus (or in addition to) the inbox. Sending your customer a truly valuable reminder or special invitation can help them feel both appreciated and appreciative, allowing a more loyal connection.
2. The Brand Advocacy Postcard
Send a special offer inviting customers to refer their friends, or to simply review recent purchases or engage in a customer community online. You should also enable and encourage brand advocacy on all of your mailers, by making it easy for your customer advocates to share information and thoughts about your brand. Do this by including CTAs to like or comment on your social accounts or to join customer communities.
3. The Cross-Sell Special Discount Postcard
This is where “turning repeat customers into loyal customers” comes into play. While a repeat customer isn’t necessarily a loyal one, the more a customer purchases the more likely they are to become loyal. This is especially true when they purchase a larger variety of products across your portfolio.
Direct mail is a strong medium for encouraging cross-sells. According to the USPS Household Diary Study, the majority of households with incomes over $65k make purchases as a result of direct mail.
Need ideas for cross-sell postcards? Use purchase history data to encourage customers to try a new product based on what you know about their interests. Or, send a postcard offering existing customers a special discount on a new product launch. Another tried and true method is to simply offer a hard-to-resist discount on the next purchase, with a minimum order qualification. Choose the minimum order amount strategically so that the customer must purchase a variety of products. Check out this Tea Collection postcard below for an example of a special offer + minimum order qualification.
Of course, you can’t turn every customer into your biggest fan no matter how awesome your marketing may be, but with loyalty campaigns like these, you can definitely convert more of them.
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