Here’s an unpopular opinion for you: Stop trying so hard to gain new customers for your business.
If your marketing strategy doesn't focus on customer retention, customers are simply pushed through your sales funnel and forgotten once the sale has been made. Many businesses make the mistake of putting too much emphasis on attracting new customers and prospects rather than nurturing existing ones into loyal repeat purchasers.
While most people associate "marketing" with acquiring new customers, progressive businesses are starting to realise that there’s much more to it. Real value and growth potential lie in not just getting new customers but also nurturing the ones you already have.
It's more cost-effective in the long run to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. By keeping current customers happy, you get revenue through repeat business without having to put in the same amount of effort or funds required to win over new ones.
If what we’ve discussed so far sounds familiar and you’re ready to redefine your marketing efforts, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about retention marketing: what it is, how it differs from loyalty marketing, its benefits, and some proven strategies for you to consider.
What is Retention Marketing?
Retention marketing refers to the tactics and techniques you employ to maintain and nurture lasting relationships with your customers. Contrary to popular belief, retention marketing isn't just for ecommerce businesses. From corner stores to large conglomerates, everyone stands to gain something from retaining customers.
For example, when Domino's hits you with that special “10% off your next pizza” offer, it’s flexing its retention marketing muscles. And when Uber sends you a £20 coupon for your next Uber Eats order—yes, you guessed right—it's retention marketing again.
In a nutshell, retention marketing refers to the methods employed by a business to increase the frequency and value of repeat purchases by existing customers. Customers that have churned and need to be re-engaged are also fair game for retention marketing efforts.
The goal of customer retention strategies is to raise both the average order value and the percentage of returning customers. Increasing any of these KPIs shows you're investing in the long-term success of your business rather than just in the short-term success of acquiring new customers.
Should Retention Replace Acquisition?
When done right, retention marketing will keep your leads and prospects actively engaged with your brand, which will increase the likelihood that they will become paying customers. Keep in mind, though, that it can never fully replace acquisition marketing; rather, the two approaches must work in unison.
Profitability problems arise when businesses prioritise acquiring new customers over retaining their current ones. Your company's usage of each approach will depend on your products and services, profit margins, industry, and, most significantly, your stage of development.
Your ideal retention/acquisition ratio depends heavily on how mature your business is. Are you a startup still trying to find a foothold in your industry? Without customers, retention is obviously impossible; thus, prioritise customer acquisition above retention efforts. Once customers begin to pour in, though, you can't afford to just accept their cash without making an effort to retain their continued patronage and devotion to your company.
How Can Retention Marketing Help you Drive Long-term Business Growth?
Retention marketing strategies aimed at keeping customers around are essential for growing your business. It allows you to maximise the return on investment of each converted customer.
It’s no surprise that repeat customers are nine times more likely to make a purchase than first-time visitors.
Some advantages of retention marketing include the following:
Finding fresh leads can be challenging. However, if a customer has previously provided their contact information, such as an email address or phone number, remarketing to them and keeping their business is a breeze. Additionally:
You can expect a 60% to 70% conversion rate when selling to an existing consumer. The percentage of new customers that convert is only 5-20%.
About 57% of shoppers will increase their spending on brands they are loyal to. An emotional relationship between a brand and its customers increases their lifetime value by 306%.
Considering that 80% of your future earnings will come from 20% of your current customers, failing to use retention techniques early on might have a negative effect on customers and sabotage your marketing ROI.
75% of repeat buyers will spread the word about your company to their friends and families. Customers who are happy with your service are more inclined to tell others about it.
They end up being brand ambassadors and might bring in new customers through free word-of-mouth advertising. This organic marketing strategy can expand your customer base and drive business growth. After all, 93% of consumers trust recommendations made by family and friends.
Meaningful customer relationships
77% of customers claim they have had brand relationships lasting up to 10 years. So what’s the secret? A robust retention marketing strategy.
Competitors will have a tougher time luring away devoted customers if you consistently exceed their expectations in terms of service quality, personalised offers, and other exclusive perks.
Retention Marketing v Loyalty Marketing - What is the Difference?
The terms "customer retention" and "customer loyalty" are sometimes used interchangeably, but while both are crucial to a company's success, they refer to different things. You can retain a customer with your core offering but fail to win their loyalty. This could mean the customer doesn’t engage with your brand beyond the sale, isn’t referring your business to others, and is willing to switch to a better offer.
Customer retention refers to the percentage of previous buyers who return for more. An unwillingness to switch to a rival brand typically serves as a sign of a customer's loyalty to that brand. Loyalty can be described as the propensity to respond positively and engage actively with a given brand or business over time.
Although differentiating between the two is important, so is understanding how they are linked. Improving customer loyalty is the first step in increasing customer retention. In the CRM field, these two ideas go hand in hand.
Financial sustainability, brand advocacy, competitive advantage, and long-term profitability all depend on a steady stream of returning customers. Buyers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to remain customers, which in turn increases the company's chances of long-term success.
Proven Retention Marketing Techniques to Drive Results for Your Business
Customer advocacy programmes
Motivate and reward customers for spreading the word about your business. Launch user-generated content campaigns or referral programmes to encourage satisfied customers to spread the word about your business.
A few examples of user-generated content are video testimonials, written reviews, social media posts, and blog articles. Allow customers to submit content easily by providing clear instructions. The best submissions should be highlighted and featured on your website, marketing materials, and social media channels.
Create a referral programme that rewards customers for telling their friends, family, and coworkers about your business. Give out bonuses or rewards to both the referrer and the customer who is referred. Make it easy and straightforward to keep track of referrals by using unique links or codes.
Customer education and onboarding
Educate your customers about the benefits and value of your products and services. This keeps people interested, draws attention to your dedication, and helps position you as an authority in your field.
To further familiarise customers with your products, think about creating instructional guides. A newsletter is an additional channel through which you can communicate with customers and address their concerns.
Educate customers at the awareness, consideration, and advocacy stages when crafting your content strategy. Doing this will increase participation and speed up their progression through the sales cycle.
Having a comprehensive onboarding process is another essential factor for retention marketing to be successful. It lays the groundwork for a satisfying customer experience and instructs buyers on how to get the most out of their money.
You can learn more about your customers' wants and needs, as well as any features they might be interested in, throughout the onboarding process. Their lifetime value can also be increased by providing more value through strategic upsell and cross-sell possibilities (more on this later). It's crucial to strike a balance between focusing on sales and giving clients what they really want.
Reward & loyalty programmes
Launching a loyalty programme is one of the most effective retention techniques you could adopt.
With a loyalty programme in place, 84% of customers are more likely to remain loyal to the business. More than three-quarters (78%) of customers also value loyalty programmes in their relationships with businesses.
Loyalty programmes that allow customers to earn rewards for repeat purchases actively encourage them to stay loyal. Up to 58% of online consumers feel that earning rewards is an important part of having a positive shopping experience overall. In general, it's a fantastic strategy for fostering customer loyalty and promoting brand recognition.
Customers are more likely to remain loyal and spend more money with you if you provide them with sufficient incentives to do so. In fact, 81% of consumers say they are more likely to spend more money on a brand when they participate in a customer loyalty programme. They are less likely to choose a rival brand if they can accumulate points that count toward relevant rewards.
Offering rewards to loyal customers also shows them that your relationship isn’t just a transactional one. It gives them actual value beyond the sale. This is important considering that 68% of consumers will leave if they feel like you don't care about them.
Use emotional triggers
Loyalty is primarily motivated by emotions. It's a wonderful strategy for retaining customers because 60% of them use emotional language when talking about their favourite businesses.
Treat your customers to unexpected freebies, discounts, or other perks once in a while. This strengthens their emotional connection to your brand and encourages more interaction and engagement.
Upselling and cross-selling
One effective retention marketing tactic is to upsell and cross-sell to current clients. Give customers more value and maximise CLV by spotting opportunities to promote relevant products or services based on their past purchases or preferences.
Here's how you put upselling and cross-selling to good use:
Identify customer needs: Analyse customer information and habits to learn more about their individual preferences. Examine the data for patterns, such as the kinds of products or services they buy together or those that might appeal to their interests.
Leverage personalisation: After identifying their needs, you can provide product recommendations that can genuinely enrich their lives. Make sure your upsell and cross-sell suggestions are unique for each consumer. Use segmentation and targeting strategies to improve the relevance of your recommendations.
Consider timing: Upsell and cross-sell possibilities need to be presented at the correct time and in the right context to be successful. When a client reaches a certain goal or has used your product for a given amount of time, you can reward them with an upgrade or new features. Think about where the customer is in their purchase journey and adjust your recommendations accordingly.
Communicate the benefits: The value and benefits that the upsell or cross-sell will provide to the customer should be emphasised. Show them how the supplementary offering enhances their experience and alleviates pain points. Clearly communicating the benefits of the deal increases the likelihood that they will take you up on your offer.
Offer rewards: Think about offering discounts or freebies to customers who accept your upsell or cross-sell offers. Value-added bundles, priority sales access, and other special offers are examples of this. Customers are more likely to act quickly in response to an incentive-driven offer.
Customer service programmes - offering tiered service
Implementing tiered customer service programmes can be an effective way to supercharge your retention marketing efforts. Providing service tiers to customers depending on their spending or engagement levels can improve your relationship with them and increase their loyalty.
Here’s how to get started with tiered customer service programmes:
Identify spending and engagement levels: Analyse customer information to identify the various engagement and spending habits of your clientele. The number of times they shop with you, the amount they spend, and the amount of time they spend interacting with your brand are all examples. Sort your customers into different levels according to these factors.
Define service levels: Establishing service standards for each tier requires clear benchmarks. It's only fair that high-spending customers get preferential treatment over others. Create a robust reward structure with a clear progression in the rewards available as customers climb up a tier.
Communicate the Benefits: Customers should understand the value and benefits each service level offers. They are more likely to spend more to access higher tiers if they are aware of the benefits available.
Partnering with other brands is a great way to give your retention marketing a creative boost. Customers respond positively to partnerships between reputable businesses. 68% of customers said they were influenced to buy after seeing partnership campaigns. By forming strategic alliances with complementary brands, you can reach more customers, engage them better, and deliver more value.
Try to find businesses that target the same demographic and provide services that complement your own. Think about how forming a partnership with these brands will benefit your customers. If you're in the gym and fitness business, for instance, you could team up with a nutrition business to offer your customers special deals and bundled packages.
You can also leverage your partners' capabilities and resources to better serve your customers. This might take the form of providing supplementary services, invitations to private events, or access to useful materials and support.
Always consider your target market, business goals, and core beliefs when forming brand alliances. By working together effectively, you can expand into new demographics, boost customer engagement, and improve your retention marketing efforts.
Customer feedback and surveys
Collect customer feedback to identify their pain points, needs, and preferences. Take this data and use it to enhance your offerings and the customer service you provide. Show customers that their opinions and criticisms are valued by conducting surveys and interviews, or distributing feedback forms.
For 84% of consumers, trustworthiness is the most important emotional factor affecting brand loyalty. Product reviews gotten through customer surveys are a great way to foster brand trust. Leads and prospects are more likely to trust your brand and make a purchase after reading about the positive experiences of existing customers.
Use consumer data and an in-depth analysis of their behaviour to deliver personalised product recommendations. Provide relevant recommendations based on a user's past actions and purchases. Gather and analyse data on their buying habits, browsing behaviour, demographics, and preferences. Using this information, you can create hyper-targeted recommendations.
Share the personalised suggestions on social media, in newsletters, or in your app. Encourage engagement and boost sales by sharing relevant offerings that complement a customer's prior purchases or items they have previously viewed on your product pages.
Retain, Reward, and Realise Your Growth Potential
Businesses can no longer afford to ignore the importance of retention marketing. You can't turn a profit if you can't engage your customers and keep them happy. Although retention marketing shouldn't be seen as a replacement for acquisition marketing, it is an integral component of any successful expansion strategy.
It's a great way to create an emotional connection and get customers to engage on a deeper level. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that they'll remain loyal and refer your business to others. Deeper emotional involvement with your products and services means repeat business is all but guaranteed. You also get a higher average order value, happier customers, and more revenue for your business.