Most business owners know that keeping an existing customer is far more cost-effective than trying to rope in a new one. Existing customers are the lifeblood of every business. So much so, that businesses go out of their way to keep them coming back, and for good reason.
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers. Furthermore, it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retarget an existing one.
Surprising? Not really.
Retention emails that work
Human nature is to stick with what we know. Familiarity is key, and brand loyalty is much akin to the loyalty we have for an old friend. Much like that old friend, our loyalty and relationship with a brand are based on the efforts they put into staying in touch with us.
That’s why sending the right customer retention emails is so important for your bottom line.
It’s crucial that you keep contact with your former customers via email marketing and that you adjust the messaging in those emails accordingly in order to keep them coming back.
So here are five emails you absolutely must make part of your customer retention campaign.
1. Welcome emails
The first step to keeping your customer is to greet them. Whether they’ve just placed their first order or simply signed up for your newsletter, your customer has shown you that they’re interested in establishing a relationship.
Now, it’s your turn to make a move.
Use welcome emails as a way to incentivize prospects to purchase or offer a recurring customer discount to previous buyers. It’s tempting to make welcome emails generic, but adding some sort of call-to-action or personalized offer is important in order for your welcome email to make an impression and inspire action.
Welcome emails also provide an opportunity for you to learn more about your customers. You can use them to ask their shopping preferences so that you can further personalize future email campaigns.
They also allow you to invite your customer to connect with you in other ways. You can plug your social media accounts or invite them to follow your blog, giving you even more ways to interact with them.
Welcome emails generate 320% more revenue than generic promotional emails. Much like a firm handshake, your welcome campaign is the first step to forming a positive first impression—and a lifelong relationship.
2. Abandoned cart emails
On average, approximately 70% of shoppers abandon their cart. No matter how big your customer base is, that’s a huge number of people. However, those customers and their carts aren’t a lost cause.
Set up an abandoned cart campaign through your email service provider by creating a trigger for people who add products to their cart without completing the purchase. It’s best to send two emails and space them out, sending the first one three hours after abandonment and the second 24 hours after.
Don’t wait too long or people could decide not to purchase at all. Instead, strike while the iron is hot.
When composing your abandoned cart campaign, make sure to keep the messaging conversational and light-hearted. Phrases like, “Wait, you forgot something!” or “Are you sure you want to leave this behind?” are tried and true.
Indicating a little bit of urgency in your second email (i.e. “Your cart is about to expire!”) is effective, but make sure not to sound too over-eager. Today’s prospects don’t appreciate the hard sell.
Include an image of the product(s) in their cart, along with a link to return to it. That way, they can pick up where they left off and move straight to the checkout.
If you have time to create only one customer retention email, let this be the one.
3. Thank you emails
Just a simple thanks is all it takes sometimes.
Reminding your customers that you appreciate their patronage and dedication to remaining on your email list (because let’s face it, unsubscribing can be tempting sometimes) is all they need to keep coming back for more.
And they work: Thank you emails generate double the CTR and triple the open rate of regular emails, meaning the best part about these emails is that the opportunities for engagement are endless.
In fact, there are three kinds of thank you emails that are sure to generate results.
A simple note
Try an email with no fancy design aesthetics, no shameless plug, just a plain-text “thank you” note to everyone that has been a long-time subscriber and buyer. Your customers will appreciate a personalized letter that has no ulterior motives and will be sure to remember it when the time comes for their next purchase.
Or maybe just maybe, they’ll realize they want to buy something now.
Thank you discount
Freebies and loyalty discounts are always a welcome way of saying thank you.
Make it clear that this is an exclusive offer to only your most loyal customers, and make sure your appreciation shines through.
Plug a media mention
Thank you emails are a great way to plug a recent mention in the media, be it a TV spot or news article. Tell your customers how your success wouldn’t be possible without them and make sure to include a link to the mention.
Showing them your brand is recognizable will affirm their loyalty and will make them feel pretty good for helping you get there.
Forbes says that 68% of customers leave a business because they feel neglected and they feel like the company is indifferent to them. Don’t let your customers fall into this statistic.
4. Happy birthday emails
Birthday emails are one of the best email marketing campaigns you can implement. They generate 342% higher revenue than regular promotional emails and 481% higher transaction rate.
Birthday emails make your customers feel special and remind them this is an offer only available to them. It gives the transaction a different connotation than their usual purchase or the usual promotional email. Even though they’re giving you their business, it feels like they are the ones being given a gift.
And everyone likes to get gifts on their birthday.
Don’t underestimate the efficacy of birthday emails. Throw in a special coupon or even a freebie. To maximize the impact, send the offer on their actual birthday. They’ll be keeping an eye out for goodies, and it’ll show that you know them well.
If the customer doesn’t act, don’t be afraid to send a reminder.
It’ll improve your odds of making the sale, while also keeping the celebration alive for your subscribers.
5. Customer re-engagement emails
It happens to everyone. Your customers lose touch, undergo a major life change, or decide they want to budget their money differently. No matter what your customer’s reason for slipping away from your brand, you should always try to win them back.
The re-engagement email is your last chance to retain those long lost customers, so make it poignant and worthwhile. This should be a pull-out-all-the-stops campaign.
Set up a two-part flow for maximum effectiveness. In order to do this, you’ll want to figure out what your buying cycle is. In other words, determine how long the average customer takes between purchases. The first win-back email should go out shortly (though not immediately) after the end of the average buying cycle.
So, if most customers take 120 days between orders, send your win-back email 150 days after no purchases or email opens have been made. A simple “Let’s reconnect” or similar message that features your most current items is all you need. You don’t want the message in this one to be too aggressive.
If no purchase has yet been made, or if the email has not even been opened, trigger a follow-up approximately 60-90 days after the initial win-back email. With this one, you’ll want to use more personalized messaging. Phrases like “We miss you” or “We want you back” are sure to tug on the heartstrings.
Pro tip: Cute visuals like the one in this example email are always a plus.
At this point, offer an incentive. Offering free shipping or 10% off on their next order will usually be enough to spark your subscriber’s curiosity. If there’s still no response, it may be time to let them go.
Use these outcomes to re-evaluate your customer retention email campaigns and see just where people might be losing interest.
No matter the results with this campaign, remember to exercise patience. In fact, 45% of win-back email recipients open a subsequent email. Of those, 75% read the subsequent message within 89 days. This means that you should always give inactive subscribers a 90-day grace period (if not longer) before purging them from your subscriber list.
Customer retention should be a primary goal of every business’ email marketing campaigns. Without a doubt, existing customers are your most valuable patrons, so keeping them engaged and at attention is essential to your brand’s success.
Ellie Batchiyska is a PR Coordinator for Conversion Giant, where she is in charge of email marketing, link building outreach, and blog management for a number of e-commerce clients across the U.S.