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4 Customer Retention Strategies That Work

As marketers, we're always looking for new and exciting ways to introduce our brands and products to prospects in hopes that that experience will end with a purchase or conversion. However, as we all know very well, acquiring new customers or leads isn't as simple as it sounds. Acquiring a new customer takes time, consistency, legitimacy, reassurance and building trust. Your marketing strategy must be able to touch on all of these factors in order to compel a potential customer to feel that you're not only the best decision for them, but the only.

It takes nearly 5x the marketing dollars to convert a new customer as it does retaining current customers. That number can be quite staggering when you consider how much budget you spend to convert new customers or clients. It's also proven that retaining customers, through strong relationship marketing, is far more beneficial to a brand or business than solely focusing on new customer acquistion.

Consider this post from Invesp that shows the following stats:

  • 44% of companies focus on customer acquisition while 18% focus on customer retention
  • The probability of selling to a current customer is 60-70% while selling to a new customer is 5-20%
  • Current customers are likely to spend 31% more than new customers
  • Current customers are 50% more likely to try new products

Those are some eye opening statistics. It's even more eye opening to read that the probability of selling a product to an existing customer is about 60 - 70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is about 5 - 20%. What this tells us is that substantially more marketing effort needs to be placed in growing our relationships with our current customers.

With these statistics in mind, I wanted to write up a post that showed a few different areas you can look at in your marketing efforts to begin building a rock solid customer retention strategy. Let's jump in.

Email Marketing

According to the same study from Invesp, marketers find email marketing to be the most effective digital channel in their customer retention strategy. The reasons for this are simple: email marketing allows you collect, segment, target, and automate messages to your email list to increase engagement and to make sure the right people are seeing the right messages and offers at the right time. 

There are tons of email types you can leverage:

  • Welcomes - Send leads an introduction email to brand after they give their email, as well as what they can expect moving forward. 
  • Cart Reminders - If customers have an item in their cart, send them a followup to remind them!
  • Product or Feature Updates - If new products or services are coming out that are relevant to a customer, let them know!
  • Post Purchases - Send an email about their purchase and resources how it can be used most efficiently!
  • Related Products - Think there's another product your customer will enjoy? Tell them about it!
  • Renewals - If a product, service or contract is up for renewal, send them an email ahead of time reminding them!
  • Discounts on Next Purchases - If they haven't purchased in awhile or visited the site, send them an offer or discount to get them back and engaging or converting.

And much more. Customers love getting email updates and offers from brands that they trust and have purchased from, so it's important that a well thought out email marketing campaign is part of your ongoing customer retention strategy. They especially love receiving emails that help them use your products better and update them about new features or news ways to use old features. Send them user guides and videos on how to use your products or tools to get them off on the right foot and further build trust in your brand!

You can also regularly survey your customers to see if your product helped them or if their purchase experience went and ask how the process could be improved. It's also a good idea to ask users their email preferences so you can send them messages that are relevant to their particular needs. Doing so will not only help segment your lists into different marketing groups, but it will also ensure that you are giving those on your email lists only what they want to receive from you so as not to overstep your boundaries. But however you use this channel, make sure it's consistent, true to your brand, and provides actual real value to the customer.

Social Media Marketing

So many businesses and brands neglect their social media presence for alot reasons, usually it's because they don't see any value in it or they simply don't know how to do it. But it's more important than ever that brands focus on this channel and begin to tailor a social media strategy that keeps their name and products in front of their audiences. As with any marketing channel, how you use your social media platforms comes down to relevancy and creating engaging content.

To do this, you'll need to:

  • Find the Platfom Customers Use Most - Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Google+? Pinterest? Go where they are!
  • Setup Your Profile - From your logo to contact information, make sure you setup your profile with the correct information!
  • Share Your Content - Share content that's relevant to the audience and provides them real value.
  • Be Engaging - Follow up on user posts and reviews on your profile - be engaging and join the discussion. People love communicating with humanized brands!
  • Use Social Ads - Use paid ad features on social media to target audiences and prospects with relevant messaging and offers. Use your customer email list to find "look-a-like" audiences so you can target people just like your customers!

With social media, you can continually serve content that both suits your prospects and your clients. For instance, when a customer posts a review or a testimonial that puts your brand or product in a positive light, be sure to share that publicly. This not only reinforces your product as beneficial or solving a solution, but it also showcases your customers and their experience with you. Have contests or offer discounts in exchange for email signups that you can then put into your ongoing email campaigns. Already have their email? Provide discounts to customers who share about sales or limited time offers!

Social media, when done correctly, is an invaluable customer retention tool that can help you build brand loyalists through a simple, but targeted, ongoing engagement and retention strategy.

Content Marketing

Now, I'll make this short and easy because "content marketing" means a lot of different things to a lot of different brands, and creating too much of it can actually backfire on you pretty easily. For this blog post, I simply mean content marketing as anything that helps your audience use your products, services, and yes, expertise, more efficiently.

For instance, content marketing in this sense can be:

  • Blog Posts - Blog posts can be anything from new features and updates to a product or service, or news about the goings on at your business. It's also a great place to build thought leadership and provide your expertise for your audience and customers.
  • FAQs - If your business gets a lot of questions, compile them and build a FAQ section. Not only is this great from a search engine traffic standpoint, but it's awesome to provide users on your site so they can quickly find and answer their questions.
  • Webinars - Hosting webinars to demo or show product / service features is not only great for prospects, but also current customers, especially if it helps them use your product more efficiently than before! It's also a great opportunity for customers to chat with your team and experts.
  • Videos - You can do literally anything with video, from how to guides to demos and more. Having videos that can be referenced not only on your website, but YouTube and Vimeo, is an invaluable tool to provide to your prospects and customers.

Of course, these are the only types of content. Content is an ever evolving and breathing thing, so when you create it, make sure that the end user seeing it is provided with real value that inspires action or offers a solution in a format that they engage with most. If you do this, you'll build credibility with your customers as helpful, insightful, and impactful. Lastly, be sure to share this content (when relevant and useful) in your various marketing channels such as email and social marketing above, as well as other marketing channels. Doing so will ensure your audience sees it and engages it when you post or share.

Referral Marketing

One (usually) untapped tactic I love when it comes to customer retention is referral marketing. The reasons for this run the gamut but a great referral marketing campaign usually does one of the following:

  • Incentivizes Customers - Gives them something in return that they feel of equal (or exceeds the) value of sharing their experience with your brand and product to their friends and families. 
  • Creates Brand Advocates - When a customer refers a friend or prospect, they are vouching for your brand. This is type of advertisement is priceless and, as shown by the stats below, works and leads to more customers.
  • Reintroduces Your Brand - If you haven't heard from a customer in awhile, offering a referral opportunity to them will positively reintroduce them to your brand and get them back to being engaged and thinking about you.

Your customers know a lot of people and nothing is a bigger pitch to a prospect than a friend or trusted peer vouching for you and your product or services. In fact, word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of purchasing decisions with referrals being 4x as likely to convert! And what's more, customers who are referred to you are 5x more likely to use your referral program themselves! All of this adds up to developing a referral marketing strategy that truly incentivizes your customers, continually creates brand loyalty, and builds your customer base!

To do this, offer up a referral discount to users after they convert or become a customer via the thank you page of a purchase or a followup email with their purchase details. Make the call to action obvious so they can see it and make it easy to use so they can quickly take action and not have to search for it if it were hidden. No matter how you look at it, developing a strongly incentivized referral program that builds brand advocates is a business move you just can't afford to pass up or at least test out!

This is only the beginning! If you're having trouble building a strong customer retention strategy, or keeping your customers engaged after they convert, the digital experts at Marcel Digital would love to be considered to help you! From Search Engine Optimization to Paid MediaConversion Rate Optimization, and more, we've created digital strategies for hundreds of companies to both retain and acquire customers. We look forward to hearing your story and how we can be a part of it.

  • Digital Strategy

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About the author

Tom Kelly

Tom has worked in digital marketing since he started his career over a decade ago, working across the project and account side of the business.