Email is the perfect home base for retailers to communicate about their loyalty programs. Not only is email where the average consumer wants to hear from brands, but loyalty programs inherently improve a message’s personalization and as a result, its impact.

Every year, Marigold Engage by Sailthru evaluates and quantifies 250 retailers based on their personalized marketing capabilities across website, email, mobile and even offline channels. We then cross-reference this data with customer sentiment, resulting in the Retail Personalization Index. Per our consumer survey, receiving personalized emails pertaining to loyalty programs was one of eight attributes most associated with customer satisfaction and purchasing.

As the Index’s three-time winner, Sephora does this particularly well. The beauty retailer incorporates its Beauty Insider rewards program into the entire customer lifecycle, from the welcome series for new customers all the way to winback messaging for lapsed shoppers. Here’s how.


New email subscribers are exceptionally engaged, with an average open rate north of 50%, according to MarketingSherpa. Welcome series are brands’ way to capitalize on that engagement and make a strong first impression. One way for retailers to strike while the iron is hot is to promote their loyalty programs, home to a brand’s best customers.

As people are learning about the brand, Sephora makes a point to introduce them to Beauty Insider. Basic loyalty program benefits include points, birthday gifts and free beauty classes. Higher-tiered members also get exclusive event invitations and a private hotline, among others. By highlighting these benefits during onboarding, Sephora aims to lock in loyalty early, increasing engagement down the line.

Cart Abandonment

Some customers are still making up their minds, while others are holding out for a better deal. Maybe they meant to make a purchase, but got distracted and then… just didn’t. Whatever the reason, the overwhelming majority of online shopping carts are abandoned. That means mastering these messages is a must.

Here, the beauty giant gets a lot right: deep linking to the customer’s cart, jogging her memory by including the items (and their strong star ratings), hedging its bets with other personalized product recommendations. However, Sephora’s decision to integrate the Beauty Insider program takes this cart abandonment email to the next level. “HURRY, or you might miss out!” creates a sense of urgency, which pairs well with the member-exclusive sale promoted right above it.


A purchase should serve as a trigger to pave the way for the next sale. Like new subscribers, recent purchasers have above average engagement with a brand. However, the latter group tends to provide brands with more data about who they are and the products they prefer.

Savvy retailers use that data to diversify their triggered messages, sending a mix of reactive and proactive messages. Cleverly using behavioral purchase data in tandem with its loyalty program, Sephora manages to send an email that’s both reactive and proactive. From past purchases, Sephora knows this customer is a fan of Tarte Cosmetics and makes sure to let her know when it’s one of the Rewards Bazaar’s featured brands. The Beauty Insider program is the hook; the subject line is, “You’ve been saving your 1134 points for tarte.”


Things are going great. You have an engaged subscriber list. People are opening and engaging with your emails… until they aren’t. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario familiar to any email marketer; Email Monks found that the average list decays by 25% each year. Strong winback emails are great for re-engaging lapsed customers, reminding them what they love about your brand.

Many retailers know these once-engaged customers have high likelihood to purchase, but may need a little nudge. During the holidays, Sephora offers one in the form of a time-bound discount, which creates a sense of urgency. At the same time, the discount was only for members, promoting exclusivity (“Come back to Sephora and enjoy our biggest gift of the season”) and reminding Beauty Insiders that they are insiders.