Recovery Planning: The 6 steps to restoring customer loyalty post COVID-19

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted loyalty. Supply and demand has meant that consumers have no choice but to shop around and try new products. Many of these will not go back to their old favourites.  This poses a huge issue for brands relying on consistent cohorts of their audience purchasing time and time again. On the flip side, brands will benefit from a segment of new customers, how do they ensure these new groups now turn into loyal customers?

What is customer loyalty?

Seth Godin says it the best. “Loyalty is what we call it when someone refuses a momentarily better option.”

This means that if you consistently offer the lowest price and have reoccurring customers, you don’t have loyal customers, you have smart ones! Loyal customers will continue to shop at your store despite you not having the best price and they’ll keep coming back even after knowing about other options.

There are two types of loyalty.

The first is out of convenience. You like what you have, may look around at the competition, but actually you won’t switch.

The second is “I’m not even looking”, this is when the consumer will absolutely not switch even if something better is handed to them on a platter.

The second is so much harder to attain, but it is stronger. It is a bond between the vendor and customer where there is a commitment to each other. This has to be earned.

The problem with COVID-19 is that consumers have been forced, out of necessity, to shop elsewhere.  A recent survey to consumers by Yotpo found that over 40% of consumers have considered purchasing products from brands they are less familiar with.

Not a single brand amid Covid-19 will be immune to the necessity of ensuring their marketing teams have a keen eye on building and rebuilding loyalty with old and new customers. In this guide we show you how.

6 steps to earning customer loyalty

1. Review the customer lifecycle

A customer’s lifecycle describes their journey from prospect to customer to brand advocate. It includes all of the channels and touchpoints a customer encounters during their time navigating your brand. In the same survey mentioned earlier, conducted by YotPo, it was discovered that the way consumers were shopping had changed for the majority. With a huge 60% changing their habits. More are looking at marketing messages. They are browsing more online and are certainly purchasing more through digital channels.

A digital first approach is ever more important now, although the plan for easing lockdown is laid out, promising the ability of greater mobility, the worry of going to crowded places for consumers will remain for a long time. The shift online will continue, which means that brands need to assess their digital customer journey, identify the gaps and ensure they deliver the best customer experience.

2. Data analysis – A time to reflect

Customers are more likely to favour your brand if you provide them with a good experience. They want experiences that are relevant to them, personalised to their behaviour and preferences, in fact surveys have shown that consumers will leave a brand’s website for a competitors because of a poorly personalised experience. To be able to deliver this, we have to start with data.

This is the time to take a look at your previous data segments, whether it is by spending behaviour, email engagement or even churn, it’s important that post COVID-19 you understand how these have changed.

Useful segments to look at might be:-

  • New Purchasers – Identify those who have never bought from you before February 2020.
  • Loyal customers pre and post COVID-19 – Understand if this group remains the same. This will help you identify if previous regular customers have dropped out of a purchasing cycle.
  • AOV – Has this changed? How has this changed?
  • Types of products sold – How has this changed? How has this affected the margins made on a particular basket? Are there products now that are obsolete?
  • Email Engagement – How have consumers engaged with your brand over the period to date? What is your new reach? Has this changed over time?

All the above will give you great insight into your new nurture campaigns and how you should optimise and change your lifecycle programs over the next few weeks and months.

If you don’t have the internal skills to be able to look at these segments, then speak to your email technology provider to assist you in getting these insights.

3. Welcome Series

When a consumer gives their email address to opt into a newsletter they are at the start of the lifecycle or even the relationship with the brand. Like any other relationship the better you treat the individual (remember they are humans and not just a number) at this stage, will affect how long they decide to stick around for.

A welcome email, or a welcome series, is the best way to kick off the relationship. Welcome emails have the highest rate of engagement, in fact many brands get an open rate of more than 55% and deliver some of the highest sales conversion rates.

Surprisingly they are one of the most overlooked touchpoints in the customer journey by brands who simply choose to add new subscribers to a list and wait until their next newsletter goes out before communicating with them.

There are some great welcome emails that many marketers can take inspiration from.

Aromatherapy Associates:

Why we love it: – This email immediately puts us into the ethos of the brand. By inviting us to step into their wellness community makes us believe they are looking out for our health and there is an air of decadence too. In total fitting with this luxury brand.

Feather & Black

Why we love it:- Feather & Black does well in their welcome email to introduce us to their mission and passion. This gives us a feeling that they care about providing their customers with the best products and services they can. The luxury imagery, which invites us in, is also in keeping with the brand. We also love how they set the expectations of the email journey we are going to get from them.

4. Birthday/Anniversary

What feels more personal than celebrating a birthday? Especially since lockdown, this is the time to make birthdays even more special.

Birthday or anniversary emails get triggered in the month the customer turns a year older. They are a really great excuse to get in touch to offer a treat to say thank you or offer a discount. It is these personal touches that help build brand loyalty.

It is, however, important to note that this type of basic demographic personalisation is not as effective as behavioural marketing. Research conducted by Pure360 uncovered that only 7% of consumers are likely to engage in marketing communications that reference their birthday in the subject line.

However, in contrast, almost 50% would be likely to engage with a retailer that sends offers that are personalised to them.

So ensure you marry the two – can your birthday emails be even more special this year? Make your consumer feel like you really know them and that you care.

5. Personalisation

Personalisation in marketing is important at any time, but in times of a crisis it needs to take top priority. It is the route to successfully building and regaining customer loyalty. (Remember earlier we talked about why this was so important)

Giving consumers the best experience whilst being useful and thoughtful can only be delivered with the right personalisation strategies and tactics.

With marketing automation tools personalisation can be really simple to implement across email and web – they just need to be planned.

Here are some great examples of personalisation across a few industries:

Very – Ecommerce

Netflix – Publishing

Netflix personalised email



6. Nurture Campaigns – Assess the old : Bring in the new

If you have old automated campaigns triggering from your email marketing tool, then now is the time to assess every single one of them.

Tip: Document all automations and nurture campaigns, this allows you to reference back in the future.

Assessment checklist:-

  • Content – Is the content right for the current times? Check the subject lines as well as the body copy.
  • Tone – Is the tone relevant to the brand today? If you have changed the brands tone in recent times, should that be reflected in your optimised nurture?
  • Imagery – Check the imagery being used – are you showing big groups of people gathering? Remember this isn’t sensitive or relevant to many people right now, so it might be worth updating them.
  • Check basket/browse abandonments – Do you have a basket abandonment set up for products that are in high demand?
  • Back in stock – Do you have a back in stock trigger? These are not only useful to customers, but help ensure the loyal customers know when products are back in stock.
  • New Customer Nurture – Are you nurturing new customers? Here you will assess your welcome email.
  • Lapsing Loyals – Are you addressing the cohort that used to be loyal and have a high value, but haven’t bought from you recently? Be transparent with this group – let them know you are thinking of them. If they haven’t been able to purchase due to high demand then let them know you’re sorry this situation may have occurred and you value their business. This might be time to give this segment priority access (if the products/services are not essential food and medicines). Think creatively.
  • Map out lifecycle – check for gaps in the lifecycle. Map out all your triggers and where they sit in the lifecycle. This will allow you to identify gaps and even where you are heavy loading your nurtures or triggers.


To find out more about how Pure360 can help with your email and marketing automation requirements please click here. We’ll get straight back to you!

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