Marketing is all about continuously drawing in new leads and convincing them to make the conversion to customer and ultimately brand advocate. Although moving each new lead through the customer lifecycle isn’t all that difficult, not every new lead is going to make a purchase and keep coming back for more.
Furthermore, not every email subscriber is going to stick around for the long term. Customer retention is vital throughout the customer lifecycle. When it comes to your email marketing efforts, there are several types of customer retention emails that can help you reduce churn.
Why customer retention is crucial
Take a minute and think about the customer lifecycle. You begin the cycle by bringing brand awareness to a new lead, start engaging with them until they begin to consider making a conversion (either to subscriber or customer).
The traditional marketing funnel ended right there, right after the conversion was made. However, it’s vital to point out that the customer lifecycle doesn’t have an end.
These days, the customer lifecycle is continuous. The customer lifecycle goes on to include a post-purchase phase and a brand advocacy stage before the cycle begins anew.
To move from the purchase phase through to the post-purchase and advocacy stages, you need to pay particular attention to your customer retention.
Customer retention is the act of creating return customers. However, contrary to popular belief, customer retention isn’t a singular action. It’s a collection of different marketing tactics that are used to:
- Bring previous customers back to your brand
- Re-engage your inactive subscribers
- Prevent customer churn
Since customer retention affects every aspect of your marketing strategy, it can be a bit confusing to keep all the terms straight. When it comes to your email marketing efforts, there are two terms in particular that you’ll want to know: customer retention and customer churn.
Customer retention vs. customer churn: What’s the difference?
We bring up these two terms because, oftentimes, people use them interchangeably. Now, the experienced marketer already understands that customer retention and customer churn are two very different things. That’s why we think a quick recap is in order:
- Customer retention in email marketing: this term is a part of retention email marketing, which utilizes various email campaigns to either reintroduce your brand to customers past or re-engage with those who have gone inactive.
- Customer churn in email marketing: churn in email marketing is often referred to as subscriber churn. This refers to the percentage of email subscribers who choose to opt out of your email list.
What gets many confused is the fact that both terms fall under the umbrella term of customer retention. Each of these methods is intended to help with your email subscriber retention rates by decreasing overall subscriber churn rates.
You work hard to build your email list, and subscriber churn is more than frustrating. Unfortunately, nearly 25% of your subscriber list will churn each year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize your retention emails to help reduce those churn numbers.
4 customer retention emails to help reduce churn
Customer retention is a process that needs to be practiced throughout the customer lifecycle. While it’s especially crucial after a purchase has been made when it comes to email marketing, it needs to be practiced as soon as your new lead makes the conversion from viewer to a subscriber.
The key to utilizing customer retention emails to help reduce churn is keeping your subscribers engaged with your content, and that starts from the very beginning. That said, here are 4 customer retention emails that your marketing team should utilize to help reduce subscriber churn.
1. The welcome email
When you think of customer retention from a sales standpoint, the process begins as soon as your lead makes the conversion to customer. With email marketing, that conversion is a little bit different. Instead of the action being the purchase, the action is signing up for your email list.
Now, if you’re referencing the customer lifecycle chart above, the next step is the post-purchase stage. In this case, the post-subscribe stage is the action that you take to engage with your new email subscriber. Email marketing best practices will tell you that your next step needs to be sending your new subscriber a welcome email.
Source: Really Good Emails
Sending a welcome email to your new subscribers is more than email marketing best practice; it’s a courtesy that’s now expected from consumers. On average, 74% of new subscribers say they expect a welcome message from brands they subscribe to.
Lush does a wonderful job with their welcome email by keeping it playful and easy to digest. Instead of bogging down the email with a bunch of information, they give their new subscribers plenty of CTAs to follow for more information about the brand, sneak peeks, and more.
2. Thank you emails
Frequently, thank you emails get crammed in with welcome emails. While a welcome email can be used to thank your new subscribers for joining your list, they also make wonderful customer retention emails. Think about it: When you do something for someone, you expect to be shown some gratitude. The same goes for your email subscribers.
The customer experience is vital to customer retention and reducing churn. In fact, 66% of adults state that the brands they believe provide the best customer experience are those that value the customer’s time.
Show your customers that you value them with a simple thank you email. These emails can be used in several different email campaigns, including:
- Welcome/Thank you campaign
- Post-purchase email
- For providing feedback
- For referring a friend
- General customer appreciation
Source: Really Good Emails
Tinker Watches does a wonderful job of utilizing their “Happy New Year” email to thank their customers for their continued support throughout the year. This email is purely for customer appreciation, something that consumers appreciate receiving after doing business with a brand.
3. Customer re-engagement emails
Now, what happens when you’ve built your email list, and you start to notice that your overall engagement numbers have started to decline? While you might not have noticed a significant change in your overall churn rate, that dip in subscriber engagement is a sign that you need to revisit your email list and check for inactive subscribers.
Inactive subscribers are those who haven’t interacted with your brand over a period of time. Before you go through and start purging these subscribers in the name of email list hygiene, you need to take adequate time to try and re-engage them. After all, it costs your team approximately five times more to acquire a new subscriber than it would to try and re-engage them.
This type of customer retention email is extremely versatile because you can use several tactics to try and get your inactive subscribers to re-engage with your brand, including:
- Sending a survey/feedback email
- Sending an updated email list opt-in email
- Sending a special incentive
- Sending a “what you’ve missed” email newsletter
- Sending a simple “we miss you” campaign
Source: Campaign Monitor
This example by Teespring is wonderful because it not only sends a “we miss you” message, but it shows the receiver that you’ve been paying attention to them and their activities. Not only do your customers want to be appreciated, but research also shows that 9 out of 10 customers highly value businesses who know their account history and their current activities with that company.
4. Birthday/Anniversary/Activity emails
You already know that customer appreciation goes a long way in customer retention. When your customers take the time to give you information such as their birthday, a great customer retention email concept to send is a simple happy birthday message. These messages are wonderful for celebrating your subscribers/customers and allows you a chance to thank them for their time and loyalty, while also giving you a chance to share special incentives to encourage activity on their end.
Source: Really Good Emails
We fell in love with this email from Outdoor Voices because not only are they celebrating their subscriber’s birthday, but they’re taking it to another level by celebrating their half birthday. This shows their consumers that they’re paying attention to their big day and that the brand cares enough to do the math and celebrate them multiple times throughout the year.
A few other ways you can celebrate your subscribers is by celebrating their achievements/activities or even celebrating their signup anniversary.
When it comes to customer retention emails that help to reduce churn, one of the biggest factors you need to consider is the customer experience. That means catering to your subscriber’s needs throughout the customer lifecycle, not just after they’ve made a purchase. Remember, the idea is to keep them coming back for more. That said, we covered four of the most popular customer retention emails that every marketing team should be using, including:
- Welcome emails
- Thank you emails
- Customer re-engagement emails
- Birthday/Anniversary/Activity emails
Once you’ve started planning out your customer retention emails, you want to take it a step further with personalization. Learn why personalized email marketing is essential to customer retention today.