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 more local businesses ignore customer retention as a growth strategy.
If you’re wondering the best ways to increase 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. A lot of 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.
- Offering them a discount code or coupon to get them to make a follow-up purchase.
- Ask them to respond to questions, so you can segment your list and send emails that feel personalized.
- Ask them to write a review
If a subscriber doesn’t open or engage with your welcome email, you can consider nudging them with a follow-up email. Sometimes it can work to offer them a discount or coupon but be wary of doing that with customers who haven’t bought from you before. You don’t want them to think of yours 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 If has just bought one of your products. You may want to consider sending a confirmation email that suggests up-sell or cross-sell 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:
- When a customer reaches a given point in their journey with you, send them a survey to ask for their opinion so far.
- Ask them to review your product or service.
- Send an email reminding them that they have items in their shopping cart.
- Send an email suggesting products based on their previous purchases.
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 that’s 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 your customers’ personal interests. A customer who is 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 different 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’ve seen everything you have to offer.
Here are some suggestions for bringing them back into the fold.
- Offer them an upgrade or a freebie. Sometimes, injecting a little bit of excitement into the relationships is the way to go. A customer who’s using a basic product may appreciate the added features of an upgrade and reengage with your brand.
- Solicit feedback. A dissatisfied customer may need to know that you care about their business, and the feedback you collect can help you improve your products and services.
- Offer value. Sometimes, a long-term customer might need a reminder of why they bought from you in the first place. Let them know about updated features and products or give them some tips for using the products they’ve bought.
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 do nothing.
What I suggest is sending an exit email. It may be useful to:
- Collect information about why the customer is leaving
- Keep the door open for a future relationship
- Leave things on a positive note
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. 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.