Case Study: Loyalty Program, Targeted Emails Lead to Daily Sales Spikes

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GFMerchant: Gelato Fiasco
Market: New England
Size: 2 Retail Locations, 300+ Wholesale Locations
Platforms: NCR Aloha, MailChimp
Bottom Line: Merchants are looking for better ways to analyze the data they gather from their digital loyalty programs.

The more ways a business can slice and dice the customer data it collects from a loyalty program, the more useful that program ultimately becomes. At Gelato Fiasco in Portland, Maine, director of marketing and public affairs Bobby Guerette says his team initially developed the company’s digital loyalty program — dubbed the Red Spoon Society — as a way to promote individual Gelato Fiasco locations. What they later discovered was that the card-less program could be useful in promoting the wholesale side of Gelato Fiasco’s business, as well.

“Now that the grocery store business has grown, we are starting to look at how we can use marketing tools to reach people in areas who aren’t familiar with us yet,” said Guerette.

The Red Spoon Society is a digital loyalty program that allows customers to earn points toward free gelato, powered by an enterprise suite from NCR Aloha POS. Although the Red Spoon Society is primarily focused on promoting Gelato Fiasco’s two retail locations, Guerette has also found a way to use the program to benefit the company’s wholesale business. Guerette takes the email addresses and physical addresses that customers submit when they join the Red Spoon Society, pushes that information into Mailchimp, and then uses the email platform to send targeted messages to people living in cities where Gelato Fiasco’s products are sold.

“When we do move into new areas with grocery stores, we have that base to reach out to immediately and say, ‘Hey, we just came into your area of Connecticut or Massachusetts,’” said Guerette. “If you’re somebody who travels to Maine in the summer and you care enough about our gelato to sign up for our loyalty program, but you live in Connecticut, chances are you’re going to be pretty excited that we’re at a grocery store nearby.”

Deeper Analytics
Although Guerette is able to collect plenty of customer data through his digital loyalty program, he has struggled to glean intelligence from the information he collects. “We do have all this information, but running analytics on it is not something that we’re particularly strong at, which is something that I think various providers of some of these services could do a better job of helping with,” said Guerette.

If Guerette could have his way, the Red Spoon Society would be an integrated loyalty program, and he’d receive daily marketing communications comparing actual sales results with projections. Also on Guerette’s wish list would be better analytics detailing the differences between loyalty customers and non-loyalty customers, in terms of the frequency of visits, purchase histories, and survey responses.

Despite the lack of analytics, Guerette can still tell that his loyalty program is driving sales based on anecdotal evidence alone. “It’s a pretty substantial return if somebody uses their loyalty account every time. It’s basically a 12% to 15% discount, if you were to calculate the prizes,” said Guerette. “What I really have noticed is when we use the email list, which is quite large now, we can actually move numbers in our stores. If we send out an email on a Thursday or a Friday, we definitely see a spike that weekend.”

Gelato Fiasco’s store staffs submit online reports every night detailing which flavors were the most popular that day, along with sales results, weather patterns, and any important customer comments. “Virtually always now, we have guests who were mentioning they saw this flavor in the email and came in because of that,” said Guerette. “I can’t give specific numbers because, like I said, it’s hard for us to analyze that data. But I would say there’s a definite spike every single time we send out an email.”

The Takeaway
By parsing his customer database by location, Guerette has found a way to double down on the usefulness of his company’s digital loyalty program. Not only does he now use customer email addresses to promote in-store events and weekly specials, but he also uses the information to promote the company’s wholesale business by reaching out to people living in areas where Gelato Fiasco is sold.

Despite the effectiveness of Gelato Fiasco’s loyalty program, Guerette still sees room for improvement. He wishes vendors would provide businesses with a deeper analysis of the data they’re able to collect, since this information would be useful in making more strategic decisions, as far as online marketing is concerned.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.