Digital Marketing

Recession-Proof Marketing: Fuel Retention with Omni-Channel Personalization

Monica Mahale

Retention is always top of mind for marketers, and that’s all the more true in the midst of economic uncertainty. Worldwide, brands are looking to maximize their existing marketing channels by boosting efficiency and driving long-term loyalty. Whether marketing budgets stretch or diminish, virtually every marketing leader will be leaning into optimization above all else.

How can brands maximize the performance of their marketing channels to drive customer retention? The key lies in enhancing the customer-brand experience with automated omni-channel content personalization. By delivering engaging, truly customer-centric messaging that builds brand trust and affinity, marketers can solidify loyalty for years to come.

  1. Introduction
  2. Challenges in Capturing Customer Retention
  3. Invaluable Loyalty Programs
  4. Building Brand Trust
  5. Maximizing Automation Tools
  6. Conclusion

Challenges in Capturing Customer Retention

A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to more than double in revenue, while acquiring a new shopper costs 5x more than serving a previous customer. Loyal, returning customers are a brand’s most powerful asset.

Yet, customer loyalty is at an all time low, with the majority of industries reporting retention rates that sit below 20%. In the retail industry specifically, nearly 70% of customers admit that their loyalty is harder to capture than ever.

To overcome this challenge, marketers need to think long-term and ensure that all their efforts consider how to build lasting relationships with their customers. There are two main factors underpinning the retention issue:

Shifting Customer Behaviors

With economic uncertainty looming over every door, customers are growing increasingly cautious of their purchasing decisions, with nearly 70% actively managing their expenses to cope.

While less overall spending means a fierce battle for market share, customers’ low confidence in the economy isn’t the only factor marketers need to note:

  • Omni-channel shopping is the expectation for 75% of US consumers, with only 5% of consumers purchasing exclusively online and 20% in-person.
  • Consumers are more concerned than ever with ESG initiatives (environmental, social, and governance). While what counts as a crucial issue varies widely among consumers, it’s universally valued when brands are transparent with their claimed commitments.
  • The decrease in loyalty isn’t changing any time soon—90% of consumers are planning to continue brand-hopping.

Long story short, customers' preferences are ever-changing and their loyalty habits are just as turbulent. Brands need a way to not only keep up with customer expectations, but stay a step ahead to serve up the most relevant messaging to every individual.

Lacking Scalable Solutions

Customers’ preferences and values are in constant flux. And while brands may want to deliver the most relevant content, services, and experiences possible, executing on this proves to be a beast all on its own.

  • Customers want omni-channel shopping experiences, but executing that at scale can be a challenge. Not only are brands expected to meet customers in every channel online and off, but an engaging omni-channel experience requires each touchpoint to support one another and tell a cohesive brand story. Furthermore, without an automated content personalization solution, teams have to spend so much time doing manual, repetitive work to build cross-channel content.
  • Customers need personalization to re-engage, with 78% of customers expecting tailored experiences to make repeated purchases. Personalization has been a touted marketing concept for years, but 1:1, nuanced messaging is nearly impossible to accomplish manually.
  • Customers seek humanized brands, from creating an emotional connection to contributing to global good. Customers are willing to swing their loyalty to the right brand, but 68% of them seek a personal connection to the brand, which is difficult to to scale.

Despite these challenges, there are ways to capture customer retention in any economic climate. Here are three actionable solutions marketers can put into practice today: transform loyalty programs, build brand trust, and power digital initiatives with automated omni-channel content personalization.

Invaluable Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are non-negotiable. After all, brands report that 95% of their loyalty members spend more than non-members.

This is far from a surprise for marketers, as loyalty programs offer greater value with every brand interaction and encourage a continued relationship. But as competitors revamp their membership programs, marketers will have to act quickly and strategically to create a loyalty experience that stands out:

Communicate Value

Your existing customers all sit at different points along the loyalty journey, and need to be communicated to with this in mind. Customers also need to understand the value they receive before they make a move, and the loyalty program sign-up needs a clear incentive.

Here, Inkredible Retail’s email showcases personalized messaging that depends on where a customer sits in the loyalty journey. For customers that have yet to become a member, Inkredible Retail motivates them with the promise of free shipping. To further establish loyalty with existing members, customers are reminded of their benefits available on the brand dashboard. For customers that didn’t quite finish their loyalty commitment, Inkredible Retail sets up a fallback message to remind them to complete the onboarding process.

By automatically generating personalized content through the Movable Ink platform, this campaign doesn't require manual segmentation and the creative team does not have to create multiple variations.

Inkredible retail email including loyalty progress bar and tiers.

When a picture is worth a thousand words, the best way to encourage re-engagement is with data visualization. Customers want to be kept up to date, and there’s no better way to do that than with visuals that put their loyalty program status into context.

Here, Ulta displays both a personalized bar chart and circle graph to break down how much more the customer needs to spend to get to the next tier and the benefits that delivers, as well as how much they can currently redeem. This compelling, personalized content builds brand trust and reinforces the customer's relationship with the brand.

Email from Ulta with customer loyalty information.

Capture Data with Customer Profiles

Loyalty programs offer marketers a unique learning opportunity to understand more about their customers.

Make the most of a customer’s loyalty profile and leverage it as an opportunity to gather valuable zero- and first-party data for future retargeting. Shoppers want those tailored brand experiences; in fact, 90% of customers are willing to share this data for a cheaper or easier shopping experience. Marketers have an opportunity to leverage membership profiles to power one-of-a-kind experiences for every customer.

Inkredible Retail email showing next loyalty steps following credit card purchase.

Inkredible Retail does just that, here. After the customer’s latest loyalty step, the brand follows up with three key questions that not only captures data, but also ensures they communicate with the customer in exactly the way that suits their needs.

Add the Convenience of Omni-Channel Adoption

When 75% of customers express that they’d engage more with loyalty programs if the rewards were mobile-friendly, omni-channel initiatives are an undeniable necessity. To engage and retain customers, marketers must meet them in the channels they prefer:

  • Ensure consistency across channels. There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than mixed messages; turn your loyalty program into a seamless experience at every touchpoint.
  • Use digital follow-ups to retarget messaging after a customer has made an in-store visit.
  • Drive in-store foot traffic with personalized messages that get customers as prepared as possible for a brick-and-mortar visit.
  • Support mixed shopping experiences as the majority of customers are falling into this category. Capitalize on QR codes, mobile payments, buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS), and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options.

Here, Inkredible Eatery offers a QR code within their push notification; with this special offer, the brand successfully drives traffic to the customer’s nearest location for an optimal brand experience.

Inkredible Eatery push notification with a QR code.


Customers will only stick with a brand if the relationship is a two-way street. To evaluate whether a brand is worth engaging with, they need a deep familiarity with the brand’s unique value and commitments. For long-time loyalty, that needs to be coupled with messaging that makes customers feel seen, heard, and valued for their actions.

Customer-First Messaging

Customers don’t want messaging that reinforces what the brand thinks they want; instead, they want the brand to listen to their current needs and respond accordingly. The best way to learn those needs and preferences is by collecting zero- and first-party data.

Here, a haircare brand collects valuable zero-party data by asking customers to share their opinion via a poll. Polls are an optimal way to learn what’s top of mind for your customer—not only do they gather key data, the gamified approach adds a level of fun that results in high engagement.

Aveda email with a poll to gather zero-party data.

Collect first-party data by noting what’s catching your customer’s eye. Using behavioral targeting, Clarins sends an abandoned cart email complete with piped in customer ratings. As an added bonus, Clarins includes a bottom banner showcasing personalized product recommendations to enrich their purchasing experience.

Abandon cart email with product recommendations from Clarins.

Highlight Who Your Brand Is

More than ever, customers want to prioritize brands that align with their personal values. That means be clear with customers about the ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) initiatives your brand is committed to. Not only is this a best practice in terms of accountability and transparency, but customer-brand relationships thrive when mutual values are being acted on.

Infographic displaying how little fuel Inkredible Travel uses in comparison to other airlines.

Here, Inkredible Travel uses data visualization to show customers their progress on minimizing fuel emissions. By displaying it in a graph, customers are able to get the big picture at a glance, as well as contextually understand how Inkredible Travel is performing compared to other brands.

With the right platform, data visualization can be re-purposed across campaigns and channels—that means if there is a last minute content change, it can be made easily without needing to go into the delivery system, saving time and decreasing complexity.

Another way to reinforce value is by highlighting what your existing loyal customers are saying about the brand. By pairing products with ratings and reviews from other customers, your brand can grow a sense of community and authenticity.

Product recommendations email from Clarins.

In a case study with Clarins, the beauty brand spotlights their most-loved products at the top of the email, complete with glowing ratings and reviews that are seamlessly pulled in.

Build Lasting Customer Connections.

Take customer retention to the next level with the In the Name of Retention eBook.

Read the eBook.

Maximizing Automation Tools

From optimized loyalty programs to a growing customer-brand relationship, these initiatives are only possible with a powerful martech stack. Discover the powerful tools that will make retention-driving practices a breeze.

Up the Efficiency

As teams get leaner and bandwidth is tight, automation is a must for every brand. From getting campaigns out the door more quickly to offloading manual tasks, automation makes every member of the team more efficient than ever, leaving room for greater creative freedom.

It’s a digital-first marketing world, and data-driven campaigns are the expectation from customers. Leverage automation tools that can pull in data and activate it into content.

Make Omni-Channel Personalization Scalable

Personalization is at the heart of customer retention, but scaling 1:1 communications across channels is an uphill battle for most marketers. Building a campaign for every touchpoint proves to be a monumental task, and looping in the right data points for the communication is another issue altogether.

But with automated content generation, teams are able to quickly build out campaigns without having to rebuild their personalized sends for every touchpoint. Forgoing manual coding processes ultimately saves teams valuable time.

Marketers are also empowered to make the most of every customer interaction. Automation prevents data points from falling through the cracks, and every communication with a customer is an opportunity to learn more crucial information about them for future retargeting.

Enhance Campaigns with AI Powered Personalization

Marketers no longer have to rely on customers' most recent interactions alone. With the power of the right AI tool, brands can now use current data as a springboard to predict what will delight customers in the days to come. This predictive analytics approach means that marketers using AI powered personalization can send never-before-seen content that they know customers will love, ultimately encouraging long-term loyalty and higher lifetime value.

Convenience is King

Not only do personalized content automation tools make the marketer more agile, they save customers time by featuring content that is relevant and as up-to-date as possible. This adds a level of convenience that differentiates a brand from the pack.

Tactics like product recommendations, inventory notifications, and flexible payment options can help reassure, guide, and simplify purchasing decisions.

Mock up of low-stock notification for a magic mini drone.

With a reminder that saves the customer from missing out on a coveted product, Inkredible Electronics calls out the item’s low inventory to urge quick action.


Customer retention relies on building an optimal brand experience that remains a cut above the rest via scalable content personalization. The time is now to recession-proof your marketing and build long-time loyalty that stands strong in any economic climate.