Resources Hub » Blog » How Email Marketing Can Build Your Small Business’ Cult Following

Loyal customers are worth 10 times as much as their first purchase. While you need to focus on building your small business, you can’t afford to neglect the customers that have already purchased from you. Focusing on how to build a cult following full of brand ambassadors doesn’t just build your bottom line; it is your bottom line.

Moving your customers from a single buy to a cult following isn’t easy, but it can be worth every ounce of effort you put in.

One way to improve customer retention and loyalty is through a few well-placed, thoughtful, and compelling email messages.

How email marketing can build your small business’ cult following

Read on to learn how email marketing can build your small business’ cult following and your bottom line.

The art of the retention email

It might not be obvious that your customers’ inboxes can drive customer retention and give your brand followers cult status. However, successful emails are one of the most effective digital marketing channels for your small business.

Make every message count by following these guidelines:

Add the personal touch

It’s not enough to use your customer’s name anymore.

Pinpointing customer segments is often the difference between an email that gets opened and one that ends up in a customers’ trash folder. Segment your audience based on demographics, buying and shopping history, purchase frequency, and any other factor that could be relevant to your business to really impress your subscribers.

Focus on the customer

Your ultimate goal might be to make a sale, but that isn’t the primary purpose of your email marketing program.

Instead, think of your message as an opportunity to engage and connect personally with your customer. Use your email as a way to create top-of-mind awareness, making your business the first one they think of when it’s time to buy.

Keep in mind you are selling customer service—not just a product—when you’re trying to build a cult following for your business.

Delight, don’t bore

Do you want your emails to surprise and delight your customers or put them to sleep? While the answer may seem obvious, there are plenty of lackluster emails that get sent every day.

With customers getting bombarded with content daily, you and your emails need to stand out from the crowd. Get creative with your messages and your customers are more likely to look forward to seeing them in their inboxes.

It’s all about the feels

You won’t compel a customer to action by focusing on their sense of logic. Customers become loyal to a business when they feel valued and appreciated.

Appeal to their emotions and keep your message positive. If a customer feels good when they engage with your business, they are much more likely to keep coming back for more.

Include a CTA

It’s easy to simply toss in a “read more” or “buy now” CTA as a last step at the end of your email, but creating an effective CTA is a step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

This essential step transforms your message to a tool that spurs your customer to take the next step.

Whether you want your customer to subscribe to your service, open your eBook, or take advantage of your latest special, your CTA should let them know what comes next.

7 ways to communicate with your customers

The best way to create your cult following is by connecting with your customers, subscribers, and followers on a personal level. That means sending emails that anticipate your customers’ needs and share a human connection.

Don’t have time to send all these emails? The great news is you can set up an automated series—also known as a customer journey—to reap maximum rewards for your small business while saving time and money.

Here are 7 emails you should send to develop the personal connection your audience needs to become a dedicated and loyal cult following:

1. Welcome them

When your customer wants to establish a relationship with you, take advantage by connecting right away. Nothing says hello like a warm welcome email, particularly one that has an added enticement at the bottom, like this one:

A welcome email helps you build your cult following

Source: Campaign Monitor

The welcome email provides an ideal opportunity to show your customer the different ways they can communicate with your business. It’s also a way for you to learn more about your customers by asking about their shopping preferences and habits.

This is the preliminary step toward creating precise, personalized messages in the future to take retention to the next level.

2. Celebrate with them

Holidays and other milestones provide the perfect touchpoints to stay in contact with your customers. Whether it’s your customer’s birthday, the anniversary of their first purchase, a national holiday, or a new season, take the opportunity to celebrate with your customer with a unique email designed for the occasion:

Noe Valley's email is clean and vibrant. You instantly know the specialty item being offered for the week, and the email efficiently creates urgency by setting a deadline and using the phrase, “Last Chance.”

Source: Campaign Monitor

Celebrations deserve a gift, so include one in your email whenever possible. Discounts on seasonal items or a one-time discount exclusive to your customer is a great way to give back while cultivating customer loyalty.

3. Pat them on the back

Everyone loves to hear how awesome they are, so don’t neglect the chance to tell a customer just that. In addition to thanking them for their business, send notes to acknowledge various milestones with your business and remind them of the benefits that come with those milestones.

Reminding your clients of the progress they are making—without trying to sell them any additional features in this message—goes a long way in building your relationship with your customer.

This can be especially beneficial if your customers are Generation Z consumers that care as much about doing good as they do about purchasing the latest trends, as one young entrepreneur and CEO discovered.

An email reminding them of how much your customers benefit a population, animals, or the environment will encourage repeat business and build your word-of-mouth customer base as well.

4. Remind them

Touchpoints with a purpose help to maintain your connection with your customer to drive loyalty and compel customers to take action when appropriate or necessary.

Nearly 70% of shoppers fill a cart and then abandon it. Of that number, nearly 60% abandoned their cart because they were only browsing and were not yet ready to make a purchase. A friendly reminder is often all it takes to get that shopper to take the next step, especially if you can anticipate their concerns and urge them to take the next step.

But abandoned cart emails aren’t the only kind of reminders you can send. Customers might also appreciate reminders of limited-time specials before the offer ends or when a customer is about to run out of your product or needs to renew their subscription.

It’s always a good idea to send an event reminder, too. Your subscribers are busy and it’s easy for something to slip by.

This event invitation from small business Parnassus Books adds a personalized touch to increase engagement and connect with their audience.

This invite delivers personalized content specific to the reader’s interests and is sure to make them feel known.

To be effective, reminder emails need to be positively worded and engaging for customers. Any business that is serious about increasing revenue by lowering cart abandonment rates needs to get these messages out to their customers consistently.

5. Invite them

Who doesn’t like to be included in the next big event? A personalized invitation goes a long way in making your customer feel special and included.

You might be planning an exclusive event for VIP customers, introducing a new product or service, or celebrating a company milestone.

Whatever the cause for a party, make sure your customer gets an email invite like this one:

Girls At Library teamed with Catbird Jewelry to benefit Women's Prison Association and sent this invite to their cult following.

There is simply no better way to indoctrinate your customer into your cult brand than by including them in an event for your business, especially when it benefits a cause you and your following care about.

Whether you create an invite that is elegant, educational, or just plain fun, make sure the message matches your brand and the event.

6. Thank them

Customers love businesses that notice their purchases and their efforts. You can easily acknowledge their value with a thank you email.

Thank you emails can be sent after a purchase, on an anniversary date, or to follow up after an event.

These messages let your customers know they are a valuable part of your company, which, in turn, nurtures loyalty and encourages subsequent purchases.

7. Let them know you miss them

It is not unusual to lose contact with your customers in the fast-paced world we live in. However, you don’t have to write those clients off completely. Let your customers know you miss them with an email message and an invitation for re-engagement.

Perhaps you have some new products or services to share, or you’ve revamped your website, and you want subscribers to take a peek. For maximum effect, time these emails according to your customer’s unique buying cycle, sending them out within a set period after their typical purchase timeline.

This “win-back” email needs to resonate, with an enticing offer or other compelling reason for your customer to return to you. Think of this message as your last chance to bring this customer back and make the offer as sweet as you can.

Wrap up

A cult following for your business is the healthiest way to a robust bottom line. Brand ambassadors can help you bring in revenue not only through their purchases but also by encouraging their friends and followers to discover your brand, too.

Customer retention is exceedingly more cost-effective than acquiring new customers, so don’t forfeit the former for the latter.

Follow these simple steps to use email marketing to drive customer retention:

  • Send emails regularly
  • Personalize emails to precise segments
  • Email with a reason (welcome, thank you, invite, etc.)

Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate and build customer relationships, so make them count.


Are you worried your customers aren’t opening the emails you send them? Take a look here to find out how to write emails that will get noticed.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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