3 Ways to Earn Customer Loyalty through Direct Mail

November 2nd, 2022 | Nicole Bond

During a time when consumers may be looking to cut costs and ease financial burdens, brands leveraging meaningful loyalty strategies will remain in good standing. In fact, recent Mintel research shows that just over 60% of US adults with a financial service or product expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to financial services companies. Loyalty is rooted in a brand’s ability to create an emotional, two-way connection with its consumers. It’s driven by a brand’s emphasis on bringing a standing relationship to life with tangible value-add opportunities. It is fueled by reassuring one’s customers that choosing to do business with your brand is the best possible decision they can make for their lifestyles. 

By analyzing Comperemedia direct mail data on loyalty communications, it is clear that brands are catering to the importance of loyalty during economic downturns. Notably, brands across industries have ramped up their 1:1 efforts in consumers’ mailboxes to drive impactful connections through loyalty in 2022. When comparing loyalty direct mail activity through the first three quarters of 2022 to those in 2021, cross-industry volumes are up 23% year-over-year.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

On the industry level, Comperemedia direct mail volumes point to boosted efforts from banking, credit cards, mortgage and loans, telecoms, and travel. The overall increase in loyalty mailing reinforces the importance of driving meaningful 1:1 connections with consumers through value-add opportunities.

Here we have outlined three ways brands can activate the tried and true 1:1 channel of direct mail to foster and achieve an enhanced sense of customers loyalty:

1. Leverage the power of “surprise and delight” opportunities when reinforcing value beyond the transactional nature of one’s products and services.

Across many industries, the relationship between a brand and a consumer is strictly transactional. Brands should work to establish an emotional connection with consumers that deepens that relationship in a meaningful way to drive a heightened sense of loyalty. In order to do that, brands must find ways to tangibly bring their value-add to life. Consumers love freebies; they love when a brand brings something additional to their values without asking for anything (or much) in exchange. The gesture can be simple in nature, but should not require customers to go out of their way to activate or obtain the offer.

Southwest delivers a yearly “surprise and delight” to its Rapid Rewards members in the form of four free drink coupons to be used on any Southwest flight throughout the year. The sentiment of giving your customers something “for free” goes a long way, and doing so on an established cadence creates a moment for your customers to look forward to. Not to mention, Mintel research shows that nearly three-quarters of consumers who are part of a frequent travel program agree that a great loyalty program improves their opinion of a travel brand.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

DIRECTV reinforced the value of its customers’ loyalty as it delivered a year of NFL’s Sunday Ticket Max for free—the best part of its surprise and delight opportunity was that it also reassured customers that its freebie came with no catches and required no action from the consumers.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

Brands have the opportunity to reinforce their value proposition through offers in direct mail that bring their core product or service to life for customers. “Surprise and delight” mailers allow customers to truly experience the value-add from the existing relationship, fueling loyalty without the brand requiring extensive customer action in return.

2. Craft exclusive, timely opportunities for engagement that clearly meet consumer needs.

The more a brand can integrate itself into a customer’s life, the deeper a sense of loyalty it can create. Brands should use direct mail to continually ingrain themselves and their value-adds within a customer’s lifestyle by crafting compelling opportunities for interaction. Brands need to continually find ways to differentiate their product, service, and experience in the eyes of their customers to keep them engaged. Crafting exclusive or limited offers solely for one’s customers allows a brand to bring that differentiated experience to light, over and over again. These offers and moments should aim to be timely and agile in order to meet consumers’ ever-changing needs. Brands cannot look at loyalty efforts as a one-and-done task; they must continually bring their value to life in a way that shows a continued enhanced value on the customer’s life. 

American Express achieved an opportunity to reinforce value as it offered a helping hand to its customers during times of heightened financial pressures with a break on interest rates for a nine-month window.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

Citibank crafted a limited-time opportunity for its customers to earn 5% back in statement credits on eligible purchases in timely categories such as gas and groceries when its customers were facing the peak of rising prices.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

In both cases, the brands showed they understood what their customers needed from their relationship in the moment, and crafted valuable opportunities that delivered tangible impact.

3. Keep extended brand benefits front and center to reinforce true value and establish relevance.

According to Mintel research, nearly one-third of US adults who have a credit card are not aware of all the benefits their credit card offers. Consumers are looking for brands to deliver additional value and brands are meeting that desire with bolstered perks, loyalty programs, and reward opportunities. The downside is that consumers can’t buy into something that is hidden, hard to navigate, or comes with endless underwritten clauses. Loyalty and perks must be easy to understand and redeem, or else consumers may forget they even exist. The informational nature of direct mail will allow brands to clearly communicate the unique components of their programs and products.

Amazon took lapsed usage of Prime Video as an opportunity to reengage current customers by reminding them of their access to exclusive content, leveraging key titles as a way to reinforce true value.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

Aetna ensured its Medicare Advantage members were getting the most out of their plans by sending a detailed mailer that highlighted extra benefits at no cost to the member and pointed them in the direction of helpful resources to tap into each unique component of their plans.

Source: Comperemedia Direct [01/01/2021-09/30/2022] as of 10/24/2022

Direct mail serves as an optimal channel to bring these value-add components to the forefront of customers’ attention, and brands allowing their perks to go unused are missing the opportunity to drive a deeper connection with their customers.

Why this matters for brands right now:

Loyalty will be paramount in customers’ decisions throughout the economic uncertainty in 2023. They will lean on brand experiences and evaluate the value of their standing relationships to determine where and how to adjust their spending in order to combat financial pressures. Not only do brands need to keep loyalty at the forefront of their communications, but they must also ensure they are differentiating their delivery channels to separate from the rest of the competitive landscape. The efforts brands take over the next year will drive customer sentiment for years to come, as they will remember the brands that went the extra mile to provide value and show appreciation during trying times.

Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond is an Associate Director - Marketing Strategy, interpreting cross-channel marketing and consumers trend with a focus on telecom and financial services. She identifies consumer drivers and helps clients develop omnichannel marketing strategies.