If you’re like most marketers, you’re always on the lookout for ways to acquire new customers and increase revenue (without busting your budget).

But in doing so, you risk overlooking the customers you already have.

According to a study by GetResponse, there’s a 32% chance your first-time customers will buy from you again.

But that’s not all. Second time customers are 53% more likely to place a third order, and by the time they’ve placed their tenth order, they’re 83% more likely to buy again.

This doesn’t happen automatically, though. You need to keep your customers engaged and encourage them to make that second purchase (and the third, fourth, fifth, and more).

That’s where email marketing comes in.

It’s no secret that email marketing is the most effective marketing channel with a 4400% ROI.

So, today, I’ll share the 5 best email marketing strategies for customer retention, including examples of follow-up emails, cart abandonment emails, reactivation campaigns, and more.

On the lookout for more email marketing inspiration?

I know how hard it is to find good inspiration (especially when it comes to creating effective email campaigns.)

That’s why I’ve compiled a swipe file with 41 of my favorite email marketing campaigns to help you increase sales today.

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1. Segment readers to reduce low open rates

Retaining customers is all about sending the right emails to the right people.

To do that, you need to segment your email audience based on their previous engagement with you.

A lot of the emails I receive in my inbox from businesses who I’ve previously engaged with are too generic and not relevant based on my previous interaction with the business.

These are two of the most recent retention emails I received from Duolingo and RyanAir respectively:

Duolingo Retention Email

Ryanair Retention Email

The purpose of these emails is simple: they want me to click through and engage.

However, they’ve missed the most vital part of retention emails: segmentation.

If Duolingo segmented their list for this campaign, they would know that I’m currently in the middle of learning French (still not very good at it, unfortunately), and should thus, not try to get me started on a new language, but rather encourage me to continue with my French lessons.

RyanAir, on the other hand, is obviously trying to upsell by asking me to try their car hire. However, they’re asking at the wrong point in time, as I haven’t booked a flight or in other ways used their service in more than four months.

Therefore a better way to encourage me to use their service would be to send me offers on cheap flight tickets to destinations similar to the ones I’ve already been to. That would make me much more inclined to purchase.

Once, I’ve booked my flight (or during the booking process) they can try to upsell and get me to rent a car.

This is why segmentation is so important in email marketing. If you send bulk emails to your entire list without targeting specific segments, you’ll end up with a massive unsubscribe rate.

Segmenting based on the previous actions of your subscribers and customers is a much better way to retain them, and keep them interested.

It’s all about relevance.

Let’s say you have a segment with inactive customers. How would you go about engaging them to prevent them from churning?

Customer Retention Harvey Spector

No two inactive customers are alike, so it’s not enough to segment; you need to segment based on their previous behavior.

For instance, if a customer’s last purchase was a book on a specific topic, then send them an email with suggestions for further reading.

Customer retention takes time and effort, and it’s not enough just to send one email. You need to keep your customers and subscribers engaged over time to convert them into brand loyalists and lifetime customers.

With the advanced technology we have today, there are almost no limits for how you segment your subscribers, so take advantage of that.

2. Use friendly reminders to retain customers

We’ve all heard about friendly reminders, right?

Well, they’re not that friendly because they’re usually not great news.

Maybe you have something in your teeth when presenting and a colleague offers a friendly reminder after you finish.

Friendly Reminder Ace Ventura

It’s not that bad, but you’re still not happy to hear about it.

Similarly, friendly reminders are necessary if you want to retain customers, especially if your products are subscription based.

At Sleeknote, we send a friendly reminder to customers whose credit cards are about to expire to let them know that they need to update it if they want to keep using our service.

The first email is sent seven days before a customer’s credit card expires and the last is sent 10 days after it’s expired.

Sleeknote Retention Email Credit Card Sequence

This is what the first email looks like:

Sleeknote Retention Email Credit Card Expire

This small email sequence has an open rate of 58% and a 25% click rate, which are customers we would have otherwise lost because they didn’t remember to update their credit card information.

A friendly reminder can also be an email asking customers to complete a purchase they abandoned.

This is an example from BarkBox:

BarkBox Retention Email

BarkBox knows exactly which buttons to push. They know their audience (dog lovers), and they’ve segmented me based on my previous action which was almost purchasing a BarkBox.

Abandoned cart emails are a necessity for any e-commerce store who wants to lower their cart abandonment rate and increase revenue.

3. Reward customers with a little something extra to boost customer loyalty

Your customers are the foundation of your business. But if you want to keep them, you need to reward their loyalty.

I’m not telling you to shower them with gifts and discounts—you have a business to run and you can’t just give away free stuff all the time.

However, you can give them a little something on special occasions.

Special occasions don’t necessarily have to be Valentine’s Day, Father’s day, Christmas, and so on.

These, again, are generic, and if you want to retain your customers, you need to make them feel something.

One way of celebrating unique occasions is to send a small gift on customer’s birthdays.

Yes, I know a lot of business already do this—but it works!

ASOS sent me this email 12 days before my birthday, and it resulted in me buying a new dress to wear on my birthday.

Asos Retention Email

They addressed me by name and encouraged me to make my day extra special by purchasing a new outfit to wear at a discount.

Granted, this email is automated, but it still made me feel unique because it was personal for a trigger email.

Showing your appreciation by making customers and subscribers feel special is a bullet-proof retention strategy.

Another option is to celebrate anniversaries.

Send your customers or subscribers a little something when they’ve been subscribed to your newsletter or loyalty club for a year, letting them know how much you appreciate their loyalty.

This is an example from Crocs:

Crocs Anniversary Email

Source: Return Path

Here, Crocs celebrate users that have been subscribed to their newsletter for a year.

This email is simple, eye-catching, and has a clear call-to-action: Buy!

Not only does this email congratulate the receiver, it also encourages them to make a purchase.

You can also encourage other types of engagement such as reviewing products or send them a small gift, or you can give them an overview of their purchases or progress with your product during the past year.

This is an example from Béhance:

This email is sent every New Year, but could easily be customized for anniversaries instead.

Lastly, you should remember to reward customers in your loyalty program.

Once a year you can show them an overview of what they’ve purchased, and then show them what that has earned them.

Perhaps they get a gift card with an amount based on how much they’ve purchased during the year.

Or maybe, you have a loyalty program where people earn points they can use towards discounts on new products.

Whatever your loyalty program is, remind customers why they joined your club, and give them an incentive to stay in the club.

4. Use Review to retain customers

Reviews and customer testimonials can be beneficial for your business in many ways.

They provide useful insights on your products, your service, and everything in between.

Here’s an example from Amazon:

Part of Amazon’s success is their ability to send targeted emails to their users and drive customers back to their site again and again.

This email is one of them.

They do not try to sell in their email, they encourage users to enter Amazon’s website, and review their products.

By getting users back on their site, Amazon stays top of mind, which can increase sales.

Give your customers some time to try out their newest product. This is, of course, dependent on the product and its use.

As a rule of thumb, you should give customers about a week to try it, and then send them an email like Amazon where you ask them what they thought of the product.

Even if they only have negative feedback and likely won’t return to buy again, you can use this information to improve and make your products, website, and so on even better.

Sending this email reminds the customer where they made the purchase and creates top-of-mind awareness.

If you stay top of mind in people’s head, chances are they will return to you the next time they need a similar product.

5. How a simple thumbs up can keep your customers on board

Retention Email Thumbs Up

That made you feel pretty good right?

A thumbs up or a pat on the back just makes us smile, and that’s exactly the reaction you want from your customers.

The most effective emails are those that evoke feelings in the receiver.

So, how do you give customers and subscribers a virtual thumbs up?

You send them an email, telling them how awesome they are.

At Sleeknote, we have an email sequence that we send to our customers every time they’ve reached a new milestone.

Once they’ve collected 100 new email leads, we send them this email:

Sleeknote Retention Email 100 Leads

The email has no call-to-action or hidden sales pitch. It’s simply there to tell our customers how great they are and encourage them to keep using our service.

This goes all the way up to 100,000 new email leads. The more leads they collect, the more excited we and (hopefully) our customers get:

Sleeknote Retention Email 100.000 Leads

While these emails don’t have a call-to-action, they still give us great value.

It reminds customers of their progress and the results that our product gives them, and as long as people are seeing great results, they’re unlikely to leave.

This tactic doesn’t just apply to SaaS business. It’s just as useful for e-commerce.

If you run an e-commerce with make-up and you have a line of products that help fight animal testing, you can send an email to people who’ve bought these products and thank them for contributing to the fight against animal cruelty.

Make your customers feel something and they’re yours for life (okay that might be an exaggeration, but you get my point).

On the lookout for more email marketing inspiration?

I know how hard it is to find good inspiration (especially when it comes to creating effective email campaigns.)

That’s why I’ve compiled a swipe file with 41 of my favorite email marketing campaigns to help you increase sales today.

Tap into your customers’ feelings

Retention emails are not about creating a great sales pitch. It’s about making your customers feel unique and appreciated.

And as corny as that sounds, it’s the truth.

Not all retention emails work for everyone, so make sure you test different emails to see which works best for your audience.

Coming up with the right email marketing strategy is hard work, but it pays off, and I hope this article gave you some inspiration for your new retention emails.

Do you use any of these retention emails and what are your experience with them? Or maybe you have some to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Rikke Thomsen
Rikke is Head of Email Marketing here at Sleeknote. Her expertise lies within copywriting, content marketing, and email marketing. When she’s not busy wearing down the keys on her keyboard, she loves getting creative in the kitchen, binging on Netflix series, and skiing in the Alps.

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  1. Great content Rikkie!

    We’re going to implement tip #5 (Giving a thumbs up)!

    BTW – great .gif of Chuck Norris!

    -Brian
    DMWeekly.co

    Reply
  2. Rikke Thomsen

    Thanks Brian!

    I’m glad you liked it. And nice to hear you’re ready to try a new strategy.

    Reply

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