Using Email & SMS to Drive Loyalty: 4 Questions with Omnisend's Jon Knott
Omnisend’s Senior Partner Manager, Jon Knott, stops by to reveal the most successful email strategies for building a strong customer loyalty program. Jon’s experience stems from his impressive work at Omnisend, an eCommerce-tailored email & SMS marketing automation platform built to help nimble teams drive more revenue without increasing their workload. The discussion covers the importance of opt-in channels while privacy continues to tighten, how to strike the right balance between email and SMS flows, and the difference between rule-based and machine-learning personalization.
Cohley: Let's unpack the process and build-out of a loyalty program. Jon, what is the next layer of a loyalty program’s build-out beyond the initial capture of that first-party data?
Jon: Thinking about it from what data points brands are able to leverage makes it easy to see how you might be able to use them. So, for instance, with a few of our loyalty providers, we have data points like the number of points available, the number of points spent, the date enrolled in the program, or their birthday. These are all different inflection points where you, the brand, might be able to interject this data in a meaningful way and say, “here's relevant data that is interesting to you.” You're creating urgency somehow and then a clear call to action. Loyalty is all about personalization, right? If you have 924 points, there are probably not too many other folks that have that number of points or exactly the same birthday. There are probably only like a couple of thousand of you. And people like to feel like you, the brand, know them, right? It's like a relationship in a sense. And so whenever you're able to interject with these relevant data points in an interesting way, you're able to capture their interest and hopefully get them to go into whichever desired path that you have for them.
Cohley: What do you feel like the state of discounting is as it pertains specifically to loyalty?
Jon: I think there's been a little bit of an about phase from five years ago when everyone was discounting always. And then you obviously have Amazon entering the space and always being at a discount. So I think for a while, brands were really quick to auto-discount and give away house and home and a lot of their margin. Whereas now, I think brands are starting to come around to the idea that there are plenty of other ways you can incentivize folks without having to discount. You can give them free shipping. You can give them VIP loyalty access by letting them in on new products or let them in on a sale early. There are plenty of value-add things you can do without having to discount in every campaign or every automation.
Cohley: As a marketer, you could say using someone's birthday or simply including their name is personalization. But, I'd argue that personalization goes much deeper than that. What actually is personalization? And what are the different things that you can actually personalize to make that experience more relevant to the recipient?
Jon: I think personalization is different for every brand. The more that your product is leaning towards, like health and beauty or apparel or something where taste level is really prevalent, the more personalization is going to be something that you should really have locked down. So if you're a beauty brand where makeup and cosmetics are all that you're selling, you're going to want to capture data before folks even know about you. You want to capture zero-party data before they even opt-in because you want to know what their skin type is, what products they have used previously, and what they're looking to purchase prior to you showing them certain products.
But for a brand where taste level is not as much of a factor, there are plenty of ways that you can personalize the customer journey without having to know too much about the products they're looking for. What I mean by that is more or less a customer lifecycle matrix. So, how often is this person spending? How much is this person spending? How many times have they purchased from me in the past 90 days to plot your customers in a way where you know, you know about their behaviors and you can actually target them based on where they are in your customer journey. You want to build that funnel so you can personalize the messaging to resonate with where customers are and get them to continue to move down further and further down the funnel. So there are two sides of personalization - one is super heavy on what that person is most likely to purchase and the other is personalizing their actual experience with you shopping as a customer.
Cohley: If I'm working with Omnisend or any other provider that does similar things, what is the right way to balance automated SMS and automated email flows?
Jon: So one of the beauties of Omnisend, is that our clients are able to leverage both or all three of those opt-in channels in one place. So if they're building out a campaign newsletter or a cart abandonment series, they can slot in email, slot in SMS , slot in push notifications all into one flow. The nice thing is that it's all there in one in place. A single source of truth for tracking and reporting. And for the folks that aren’t 100% sold on SMS, SMS seems to only be growing. From 2019 to 2020, we saw 300% more SMS were sent by our customers. And this year it's looking to be about 200% more than 2020. With SMS and email together, that's when we're seeing even higher conversion rates than just email alone. Building those multi-channel campaigns and automations is definitely a winning combination.
For a while, there was an impenetrable feeling like, “Text messaging is my safe space.” But it's also where you are already. So of course this made sense. You already have all your cards preloaded on your phone and you can purchase right there. I enjoy shopping on my phone more than I enjoy shopping on my desktop because my phone knows me better than my desktop does.
Written by Parker Dietz
Parker is a staple in our marketing team - Our Marketing Manager brings with him an intimate knowledge of the platform, and is our go-to on technical topics, and user behavior. With a wealth of knowledge about competitors and pricing, Parker is all about exploring the best way to communicate Cohley's benefits. Outside of work, Parker enjoys poorly playing guitar at parties, watching every Adam Sandler movie ever made, and eating Arabic food.