My frustration with Starbucks’ marketing email

I am a regular coffee drinker who has been frequenting Starbucks for years. My regularity at Starbucks is not just because of the proximity to the stores (though that does come in handy), it’s also because of the quality of service, variety of drinks, special seasonal flavors, holiday music, and the general ambiance. Yet, as a long-term Gold member, getting one drink at the end of 15 transactions — not individual items purchased but transactions — is actually a pitiful “reward”. Yes, it is nice to have a free drink once or twice a month but in reality but it shakes out to be completely trivial.  And what’s more, each reward is accompanied by this email subject from Starbucks.

The next one’s on us. In fact, it’s already on your Starbucks Card.

Why, when Starbucks has an opportunity to email me so often, does it send me the same message week after week? Moreover, I use my Starbucks mobile app, which means that I know right as I am paying for that fifteenth transaction that I have a free reward. I can even set up a push notification. Surely Starbucks knows I use my mobile app. Why, then, must I receive the same message every other week?

Points programs are a remarkably inexpensive way of attracting and keeping customers. It gives consumers a frisson of winning.   So why not use the moment when the customer is feeling good to send me-mail (a personalized marketing message) instead of the same email? I think Starbucks is squandering a big opportunity to market to its customers that sign up for its Rewards program. Here are a few things Starbucks already knows about me:

- Which Starbucks locations I get my coffee from
– What type of coffee and snacks I purchase at Starbucks
– Whether or not I use my Starbucks mobile app

I believe that the company could use these data points to build a stronger and personalized marketing platform. For instance, if I am already using the mobile app, then don’t send me a generic email – send me details about new features on the mobile app. Similarly, if I frequent certain locations, Starbucks could email me about events that are taking place in that Starbucks (or nearby).  Or email me if I haven’t had my regular drink  in a while. Instead I get the following generic notification every two weeks (when I hit my 15 transactions):

Starbucks marketing message

Starbucks marketing message

This generic message just doesn’t do the company that made coffee drinking glamorous justice. Let “the next one” not just be the next reward, but the next cool message or offer too. Otherwise, can you please stop emailing me? I’ll be ordering a tall latte tomorrow anyway.

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