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7 Smart Ways to Use Marketing to Improve Customer Retention

We’ve all heard the saying, “the customer is always right.” If you adhere to that motto, you know how important your customers are. To make repeat purchases, customers need to feel welcomed and appreciated—that’s retention marketing, a customer-first approach that helps you to build authentic, lasting relationships.


The goal of Retention marketing is to increase customer return rates and drive purchase frequency. After all, losing a customer costs more than acquiring a new one. Even a slight increase in your customer retention rate could dramatically boost profits. Your existing clients often represent your biggest revenue growth opportunity.

Great retention marketers understand what’s important to the customer and keep them engaged. A happy customer will share and engage others simply because of their excitement with your products or services.

4 Types of Retention Marketing Campaigns

  1. On-boarding campaigns are designed to welcome and engage new customers, creating a memorable first impression
  2. Active customer campaigns are used to maintain contact with and educate current customers
  3. Lapsing customer campaigns are meant to capture the attention of customers who aren’t as engaged and may be on their way out of the buyer’s cycle
  4. Reengagement customer campaigns target customers who haven’t returned to your business for more than one year

Improving customer retention is one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. Just a few tweaks to your strategy will keep your customers coming back.

Here’s the top seven ways to use marketing to retain customers:

Tip #1: Develop a communication calendar

A communication calendar will serve as roadmap for communication with your customers, ensuring that you are reaching out often enough, but not too often. Balance is key. If you don’t monitor the flow and frequency of communication, your customers may feel inundated and your communication tactics may have the opposite effect. The right amount of communication eliminates post-purchase doubts, builds trust and keeps your brand top of mind.

Tip #2: Leverage content marketing

Sharing content to keep your customers engaged across many different channels and mediums is key. For example, use blogs to keep your business top of mind, while also boosting SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Provide content that your customers need to make informed purchase decisions—content that differentiates you from your competitors. Coordinate your topics to flow out to target media outlets, social media channels, e-newsletters and podcasts or webcasts—all at the same time. That will ensure your branding is aligned while keeping your customers engaged and focused.

Tip #3: Send personalized messages

Email marketing is an essential part of your customer retention strategy. Strike a happy balance with useful information for your customers alongside your offerings. If open rates are low or unsubscribes are on the rise, don’t keep resending the same type of email. Instead, test and re-optimize your content.

When you send value-added educational emails to your customers, you are giving them reasons to buy from you. Get to know your customers and deliver what is important to them—anticipate their needs and provide timely solu-tions.

According to a study by Yes Lifecyle Marketing, when emails are personalized with the recipient’s name in the subject line, opens increase by 50%. In addition to using a customer’s name in an email, ensure that your customer’s biggest interests are put forward.

Tip #4: Use social media to remain engaged

There’s no better place to cultivate relationships with your customers than on social media. It may sound obvious but start by making sure your business is easy to find on social media. It is a cost-effective platform to create and improve relationships with your customers, prompting them to con-tinue using your products or services. Post regularly on the social media channels your customers use and engage with your audience. Create groups where prospects and customers can share opinions and start (moderated) conversations.

On social media, two-way communication is important to engage and connect with your audience. Be sure to respond to comments, thank new followers and reply to brand mentions. Take advantage of social media analytics that provide a deeper understanding of your customers’ behaviors and preferences.

Tip #5: Offer a broad range of customer loyalty rewards, resources

People support businesses they like and have a strong tendency to like people who help them. Think: mini-classes, free trials and webinars or consider offering a “freemium” version of your product. Or consider loyalty programs, rewards and discounts. Be sure to talk about your loyalty program on social media! Anytime you can offer a free resource to your customers, you are giving them something of value and something to talk about!

Tip #6: Host free webinars

Build a community with your cus- tomers that goes beyond the product. Webinars are a dynamic and effective way to support customer retention through an additional distribution channel. Offer them monthly as a way to engage with your customers. They provide a way for your customers to learn about your product or service offerings. Be sure to build in time for Q&A.

It’s been reported that webinars increase customer retention and loyalty by 69%. Don’t forget to create a webinar content library—another free resource for your audience!

Tip #7: Use automation to re-engage customers

Marketing automation should be a combination of software and strategy to automate marketing activities. Use it to make your touchpoints more relevant and to engage your customers on a personal level, especially those who are less connected or are on their way out of the buyer’s cycle. Automate email marketing, social media posts and digital ad campaigns. Marketing automation can also be used to send welcome emails, incentives and rewards, as well to collect customer feedback after a purchase as a way to improve the customer experience.

Measure Success

As with all marketing tactics, it’s important to continuously review and improve your customer reten-tion strategy—it has remarkable potential to deliver the highest ROI of all of your marketing programs. Take a look at your customer retention program on a quarterly basis. Which type of content or which tactics are getting the most engagement and generating valuable ROI?

If you aren’t retaining your existing customers, you are wasting valuable time and marketing spend. Your marketing efforts should focus on keeping your customers’ attention, so they are ready to return to your business when recovery comes. Now especially, it is critical to retain the customers you have because once they are gone, it’s going to be much harder (and costly) to replace them.