Source: Shutterstock

At Think Summit Europe last month, one key trend (outside of how AI is changing CRM) was how brands are increasingly incorporating multiple first-party customer data points into personalised email. This is epitomised in the ‘year in review’ style CRM campaigns that brands from retail to gaming have been using to great effect.

Speaking at the conference, Asda’s Emma-Louise Birch, senior CRM and customer data leader, and Bria Edwards-Joseph, CRM manager, explained how the supermarket uses personalisation to enhance its email and mobile messaging for Asda Rewards members.

Asda Rewards ‘year in review’ email personalisation delivers 43% uptick in clickthroughs

The evolution of supermarket loyalty programs in the past few years has been spurred on by consumers seeking out value, and retailers pursuing first-party data.

Asda is no exception, having launched its own ‘Asda Rewards’ scheme in 2022. The omnichannel program focuses on “pounds not points,” allowing customers to build up a cashpot. So far, nine million customers have signed up, with five million members using the mobile app every single month, and customers earning £216 million in cashpot rewards.

Within the CRM team, Edwards-Joseph described Asda’s ‘year in review’ style Rewards emails, making use of this data, as “my favourite use case [of Movable Ink Studio].” Indeed, this was a theme throughout the conference amongst CRM teams, many of whom use this sort of data storytelling to deepen relationships with their most frequent customers, combining first-party behavioural and transactional data with dynamic email templates.

The first iteration of Asda’s campaign celebrated a customer’s initial six months of Asda Rewards, using key data points, as Edwards-Joseph explained, “in a fun and engaging way” such as “when that customer registered for Asda Rewards, how many star products that customer has bought, how many missions that customer has completed, and how much that customer currently has in their cashpot.”

“We’re also able to do some really fun, sophisticated things with the data by creating applications to allow us to surface, for example, on average, how long it takes that customer to completed a milestone mission.”

We saw a huge 43% uplift in direct click-throughs, compared with a non-personalised campaign.


– Bria Edwards-Joseph, CRM manager, Asda

Asda signed off each email with a thank you message tailored to the customer’s shopping segment; whether they were a loyal, frequent, or super-frequent customer.

“We saw a huge 43% uplift in direct click-throughs, compared with a non-personalised campaign,” stated Edwards-Joseph, again highlighting the marked impact of personalisation on customer engagement.

asda rewards year in review emails
Source: Movable Ink

Such was the success of the campaign, that Asda ran it again in celebration of the loyalty scheme’s first birthday. This time, Asda looked at data such as the most popular missions, and the most popular products bought with rewards, which were again highlighted for individual customers at the top of emails. The supermarket also undertook a like-for-like comparison with a generic version that only included certain key milestones. Birch stated that the personalised version saw a 179% increase in direct engagement rates.

“For us, that really does reinforce how valuable personalisation is at creating that customer engagement. In the future, I’d really like to focus on how we can bring this [level of] personalisation into different channels, for example, focusing on in-app engagement,” added Edwards-Joseph.

Simple personalisation as “drumbeat” of loyalty

Asda’s CRM team have also demonstrated how simple personalisation ideas executed well can have had a big impact on engagement, whether via mobile push or email. One such example involved creating personalised loyalty headers to sit at the top of all emails, replacing delivery-focused headers.

These new headers would be “a constant drumbeat,” said Birch, for customers to recognise their status in the loyalty program. Customers who haven’t yet downloaded the Rewards app are served a different header message to those in the ‘earn’ phase, who have less than £15 in their cashpots (“How do we… encourage them to complete missions and purchase star products?”), or in the ‘burn’ phase with a bigger pot (“How would we serve them that one-to-one amount that they could then create into a voucher and use on their next shop?”).

Conducting a series of tests, the team found that this new header strategy “resulted in an overall uplift in click-through rate of 138%.” Breaking this down into customer segments, Asda saw an 83% lift in click-through rate for the ‘join’ segment, 30% in ‘earn’, and a whopping 1,460% in ‘burn’.

personalised email headers for asda rewards members
Source: Movable Ink

Behavioural data and customer polling informs relevant future communications

Outside of its loyalty scheme strategy, Asda has also been working to improve retention for its clothing and homeware brand, George. “We wanted to start influencing the trade activity plan with elements of personalisation,” explained Birch. However, she caveated, “we needed to prove the value,” when allotting space to personalisation instead of product picked manually by the trading teams.

In order to do so, Asda utilised George website behavioural data, such as items added to wishlists, abandoned products in the basket, and product browsing.

“What we found from all the different tests was by having that web personalised data creative, we saw a massive lift in click-through rate of 379%, and we saw similar for including abandoned basket products and browsing products.”

We wanted to start influencing the trade activity plan with elements of personalisation.


Emma-Louise Birch, senior CRM and customer data leader, Asda

Edwards-Joseph also explained how Asda uses polling and progressive profiling, which she says is to “really help us understand what the customer is interested in [by] using customer click data… this includes emails, but also the content within those comms.” For example, Asda polled parents within email to find out what colours they are looking for, for their children’s back-to-school uniform, before “using this to inform the future communications that we send that customer, to make it more relevant [to] their child.”

Four key learnings to drive CRM success

Simple but highly relevant personalisation remains a most effective way to increase customer engagement. Emma-Louise Birch summed up the following key learnings from the breadth of their testing, to inform other CRM teams.

  1. Always set goals and metrics – measure your activity. “Now this might sound like a really obvious one, but we can’t stress enough the importance of setting clear goals to understand what it is your measuring, why you’re measuring it, and whether or not that activity will actually bring you closer to your targets,” said Birch.
  2. Create a test roadmap and regularly review it. “Even if you’re in an agile environment that is constantly changing, having a clear testing roadmap will really help, not only in understanding your goals but also helping you win the confidence of key stakeholders.”
  3. Always review results with key stakeholders. “For us, including Movable Ink as a key extension of our team has been invaluable, not only for helping us come up with ideas, but also helping us execute the campaigns and with measuring the activity properly and adding to our roadmap for future tests.”
  4. Always keep the business engaged with what you’re doing. “Share your test results, both positive and what you might perceive as negative,” added Birch. “Always celebrate the wins and don’t avoid communicating with failures. These failures are what lead you to learnings and iterations, which can lead to future successes.”

More on email and CRM

Explore Econsultancy’s articles, reports and microlearning on email and CRM.