When it comes to customer retention, retailers make for great case studies, as they leverage data from their in-house loyalty programs and credit cards to create direct mail efforts that drive repeat store/online visits.
One such type of program is the “secret sale.” Macy’s makes heavy use of this model, such as in a recent self-mailer that teases, “SECRET SALE. Exclusive savings for our best customers” (Archive code #910-171661-0609C). The discounts, which range from 10 percent off housewares to 20 percent off “fashion,” are tied to using a Macy’s credit card to pay for the purchase and presenting the wallet-sized savings card that is perfed to one interior panel of the mailer. To further incentivize purchases, using both the credit card and savings coupon will earn the customer an additional $10 gift certificate for every $50 she spends.
Catherine’s, a national chain specializing in plus sizes, was another retailer that mailed a “secret sale” offer in September (Archive code #910-697948-0609B). This 6˝ x 9˝ postcard mailing offers an extra 20 percent to 50 percent off for the holder, and an additional 5 percent off when she uses her Catherine’s credit card. The mailer also features a scratch-off chance to win a $100 shopping spree; the catch is that a store associate must do the scratching, which requires a customer to come into the store to see if she won.
Sometimes, a retailer’s “secret sale” is so personal that only a few best customers are entitled to it at a time—birthday clubs. Sigrid Olsen, for example, recently mailed a 5˝ x 7˝ postcard in September inviting a customer to “Celebrate your birthday in style! Bring this card in the month of your birthday and receive 15 percent off your regular-priced purchase” (Archive code #910-703852-0609). Sunglass Hut is another retailer to offer a birthday program; the Archive received an envelope effort featuring a birthday card and a $20 gift card back in May (Archive code #910-179778-0605).
Finally, retail loyalty programs often include special premiums, such as the free gift with purchase. A September self-mailer from Hallmark includes an offer exclusively for Hallmark Gold Crown members: a free “haunted candlestick” Halloween decoration with a $30 purchase (Archive code #910-694582-0609). Members also are given the opportunity to purchase the candle for $9.95 when they buy three Hallmark cards; the retailer regularly makes such offers to its Gold Crown members. American Eagle is another to offer customers freebies; a recent 4˝ x 5-1/2˝ mini-catalog for its Aerie intimates line invites customers to visit its Web site to download free songs, a gift that certainly will appeal to the retailer’s younger demographic (Archive code #910-172081-0609).
One to Watch: Save for the occasional product loyalty club—such as a buy six pairs of stockings, get one pair free program—most retailers mail offers for immediate savings to their best customers. The Archive recently received a mailing from Men’s Wearhouse, however, that borrows more from supermarket and credit card loyalty models (Archive code #910-655573-0609).
The 5-1/2˝ x 8-1/4˝ envelope effort is a welcome kit for the retailer’s Perfect Fit rewards program. Perfect Fit works like this: The customer receives an ID number and a plastic ID card, similar to those given out by supermarkets. Just like in the grocery store model, the customer is to present this card and have it swiped every time he makes a purchase. Once he has tallied $500 in purchases on his card, he will receive a $50 reward certificate, a process that has more in common with a credit card loyalty program than the typical retailer. Speaking of credit cards, the mailing also includes an upsell offer of an additional 5 percent off of every Men’s Wearhouse purchase for customers who sign up for the Perfect Fit credit card.
All of these details are outlined in a one-page letter signed by founder and CEO George Zimmer, who prospects will recognize from the retailer’s TV commercials. The mailing also includes a six-panel brochure that outlines the fine print of the rewards program and highlights some of the club’s other benefits, such as special sales, free pressing and free wardrobe consultation, as well as two Perfect Fit customer cards—one wallet card and one designed to fit on a keychain.