To state the obvious, Starbucks has had great success with their loyalty marketing programs. In addition to in-store discounts and complimentary beverages, members of the Starbucks loyalty program also earn free WiFi hours with the use of a pre-loaded Starbucks Card. Just six months after the program launched, Starbucks already had close to 2 million registered Starbucks Card holders – an impressive (and growing) number of loyal customers.starbucks-logo

I have been a Starbucks card carrier for some time, but had never bothered to register my card. Being in the email marketing and customer loyalty business, I’m inundated with email offers on a daily basis and try to keep the inbox clutter to a minimum.
I was finally convinced to register the card by my local Starbucks barista, who outlined some of the basic advantages.
Since I have my “grande one-pump vanilla soy latte” daily, I always pay extra for the vanilla and the soy. When you use your registered card to purchase the specialty beverage, Starbucks waives the fees for the “upgrades”. So every time I order, I now save .80 cents, which doesn’t seem like much but when you drink them as often as I do, it adds up!

In the process of registration, they requested my birth date (and being smart marketers, Starbucks knows well enough to send me a triggered campaign on my bday with a promo offer).

But here is the “pleasant surprise” part of the story. Approx 10 days later, I received a direct mail piece from Starbucks, in the form of this postcard complimentary drink offer. (odd fact—it was mailed from Belgium!)

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It was coincidental that my birthday occurred shortly after the card registration, but a very pleasant surprise that the direct offer arrived literally within days.

For years, Starbucks has used high-touch methods to build and maintain a loyal customer base. Back in September of 2009, they announced the release of its second iPhone app, the “Starbucks Mobile Card” app. For iPhone users, they can now check their card balance, reload it and pay using a 2D barcode.

Anne Saunders, the former svp of marketing for Starbucks, once said that customer loyalty starts with just one thing: a really great coffee house.

I’d advocate that of equal importance are offers that resonate with their customers/card holders and touch programs that connect with their needs and usage.

If you are a registered card member, stay tuned for their NEW “My Starbucks Rewards“, launching on December 26th.

So far, I’m impressed. And I very much enjoyed my FREE birthday beverage 🙂