New customers are great. There’s something undeniably exciting about attracting someone to your business who might not have found it otherwise. That’s the reason that new customer marketing gets all the attention. It’s the glitziest way to grow a business.
But guess what? It’s not a very cost-effective way to grow a business, which is why it never ceases to amaze me that so many businesses ignore customer retention as a growth strategy.
If you’re wondering about the best way to increase your customer retention, look no further. Email is the answer.
Onboard New Customers and Subscribers
Your plan to retain customers should kick off at the beginning of your relationship. Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring customer retention until people are at the point of leaving. We’ll talk about that later, but for now, let’s talk about what you can do after someone buys from you for the first time or subscribes to your list. The first email you send should be a welcome email, but it can be more. After you’ve welcomed a new customer, you should consider getting them to engage with your brand in another way. Here are some examples.
If a subscriber does not open or engage with your welcome email, you can consider nudging them with a follow-up email. You can offer them a discount or coupon in that email, but be wary of doing that with customers who haven’t bought from you before. You don’t want them to think of your brand as a discount brand.
Send Emails Based on Customers’ Behavior
The question of when to email customers is one that looms large for small business owners. I think one of the best methods is to use a customer’s behavior as a trigger for an email.
For example, say a customer has just bought one of your products. You may want to consider sending a confirmation email that suggests up-sell or cross-sells products to them. If you choose your product recommendations wisely, you might end up with a bigger sale – and a customer who’s more committed to your brand than they were before you emailed them. Here are some other examples of behaviorally triggered emails:
Emails like these can benefit your business in several ways. First, they offer an affordable way to acknowledge a customer’s activity and let them know that you care about their business. Second, they can help you gather valuable information about what kinds of emails your customers want to get. And finally, each time you “touch” a customer via email, you’re solidifying their opinion of your brand and – hopefully – increasing their loyalty to you.
Segment Your Emails to Increase Their Appeal
If you send out a survey or behaviorally triggered emails, you can use the information you collect to segment your list. Then, when you reach out to subscribers, you can do it in a way designed to appeal to their individual needs and wants.
Let’s look at an example. Say you own a sporting goods store. If you collect information about which sports and equipment customers are interested in, you can use that data to send emails that will appeal to the personal interests of your customers. A customer interested in winter sports might get emails when you have a sale on ski gear or introduce skate sharpening to your store.
You may even market one product in three different ways focusing on other benefits and uses for it. The specifics are up to you, but the main point is that segmentation can help you provide relevant email content to your subscribers.
Send Re-Engagement Emails
What happens when a customer is at risk of abandoning your brand? You can get depressed about it, or you can look at it the way I do – as an opportunity.
Customers don’t always abandon brands because they’re dissatisfied. They might be cutting back on their spending, or they might think they have seen everything you have to offer.
Here are some suggestions for bringing them back into the fold.
If you can take a customer on the verge of leaving and re-engage them, you can give your sales a boost and improve your retention rate at the same time.
Send Exit Emails
What happens when you know that a customer is leaving? There’s nothing you can do to stop them, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and give up. What I suggest is sending an exit email. It may be useful to:
The last thing you want to do is make customers happy they’ve left. Be gracious and express gratitude for their business and let them know that you’ll be there if they decide they want to reengage with you.
I hope you see the benefit of using email to increase customer retention. Customer retention may be less glamorous than new customer acquisition, but it’s also less expensive – and it’s also the best growth strategy I know.
What is your biggest obstacle to email marketing? Consistency? Content? Technology?
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I help seasoned small business owners create marketing ideas and strategies that raise their visibility, broaden their reach, and grow their revenues.
As a business owner with 24 years of experience, I am the cure for you if you have run out of marketing creativity. I have a unique ability to sense or see the underlying scheme of things, whether it's like a blueprint to build something or an x-ray that shows hidden connections, and connect the dots at a deeper level. I make it really Easy. Enjoyable. Effective. Just like your marketing will be.