Resources Hub » Blog » Why Personalized Email Marketing is Essential to Customer Retention

Article first published in June 2018, updated July 2019

Without a strong plan in place for retention, your business could be spinning its wheels when it comes to customer acquisition. It’s one thing to attract a customer, but keeping them by your side for the long haul is another story entirely.

When you’re ready to get serious about building long-term loyalty, look to personalization. With highly relevant emails sent to the right customer at the right time, you can build an audience of loyal customers who support your business time and time again.

How personalization relates to customer retention

Think modern shoppers aren’t loyal? Think again.

According to Adobe’s Digital Index, 40% of e-commerce revenue is generated by only 8% of repeat customers. With such a large portion of sales (almost half, in fact) coming from such a small segment of customers, it’s easy to understand why customer engagement and customer retention are essential to the long-term success of an online business.

The question is: How do you go about keeping those first-time customers happy, engaged, and loyal to your brand?

Personalization via email marketing is a big piece of the puzzle. By delivering hyper-relevant messages to the inboxes of the right customers at the right time, you show your customers you truly “get” them. And with smart, tailor-made campaigns aimed at driving loyalty and rewarding repeat purchases, you make buying from your company a no-brainer.

Read on to learn some of the ways you can implement advanced personalized email marketing right away.

Implement personalization: 5 strategies to try

Behavioral website tracking

With advanced behavioral tracking, you can create segments within your list of email subscribers that are sorted into specific audiences based around activities such as purchases, reviews given, rewards earned, etc.

Segment Email Lists by Behavioral Website Tracking

By reaching out to these specific groups of customers with targeted campaigns or customer journeys, you instantly increase the relevancy of your emails by showing that you’re tuned into each and every customer’s needs and can send the right message at the right time.

VIP segments

Setting up a VIP segment that adds customers who reach a specific spending threshold is a simple way to automate rewards for your most loyal customers. This can be easily accomplished by integrating your ESP with your e-commerce platform, like Shopify.

From there, you can launch specialized customer journeys for your VIP-segmented customers that include perks like sneak peeks at new product lines, early access to sales, special discounts, and more.

Cosmetics company Sephora uses this personalized email marketing tactic to take the legwork out of their VIP program, as seen below. VIP customers get one email, while non-VIPs get another:

Sephora - Personalized Email Marketing - VIP

Product recommendations

Putting product recommendations in an email setting is a largely underutilized personalization tactic. Data shows that only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations via email.

But by sending recommendation emails based on buying habits, you open the doors to advanced cross-selling opportunities. This can not only boost the relevancy within your emails, but it’s an easy way to increase average order value, too.

You can find ways to get product recommendations for your website visitors through:

  • Integrating an app or widget like Barilliance or Boomtrain
  • Recommending items that were abandoned in your online store’s shopping cart

Dynamic content

Dynamic content

 helps you personalize your emails based on subscriber data, such as gender or geographic location. You can dynamically alter entire sections of your email content to make the entire message more relevant to the recipient.

For example: Rather than creating two separate campaigns for male and female subscribers with product information, you could use dynamic content to show the appropriate material to subscribers based on demographic data, like Adidas did here:

Adidas - Personalized Email Marketing – Dynamic Content

Re-engagement Campaigns

For subscribers on your list who haven’t opened or clicked on an email from you in a while, you may need to send a personalized re-engagement campaign to get them back on the path to interaction with your brand.

Look for subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the last 12 months (these are your inactive subscribers) and reach out with a friendly message that says, “Hey, we haven’t connected in a while!” Include a special offer (like a promo code or discount, or even a request for feedback) and see if there’s any interest in re-connecting.

If not, consider removing them from your list, as this will help keep your list active and healthy.

Anniversary emails

Another powerful way of increasing customer retention through email marketing is by sending your customers emails on anniversaries. A typical example would be to celebrate a 1-year anniversary with your customer by giving them a gift. Here’s an example of how PS4 does it:


Another powerful way of increasing customer retention through email marketing is by sending your customers emails on anniversaries.

Source: Really Good Emails

Besides giving you an opportunity to touch base with your customers, anniversary emails also help you increase your customer retention rates by:

  • Expressing your care for your customers
  • Promote products that are relevant to them
  • Keeping you on your customer’s mind.

Remember, personalization is key here.

So, how do you manage to send anniversary emails to your huge list?

The answer lies in one word—automation. Automating your anniversary campaigns is simple with Campaign Monitor. You will never miss important anniversaries again if you set this important customer retention strategy in place.

Need some ideas for anniversaries you can celebrate with your customer? Here are a few for inspiration:

  • Birthdays
  • 10th (or any number that suits your business model) purchase
  • Your business’ birthday

Personalized email marketing is powerful. It’s even more powerful when you automate it to send relevant promotions and information to the right customers at the right time.

Feedback emails

Yes, feedback emails are a great way to retain customers—particularly if you tailor them to be hyper-personalized.

Yes, feedback emails are a great way to retain customers—particularly if you tailor them to be hyper-personalized. Source: Really Good Emails

Personalized email campaigns requesting customer feedback are important as they are a form of proactive customer support. Proactive customer support simply means reaching out to customers before they reach out to you. It’s a very effective way of gaining your customers’ trust and loyalty.

Apart from being a form of proactive customer support, feedback emails are also a good way of gathering data that:

  • Can be used to create more personalized campaigns
  • Improve your products or services
  • Create more effective customer journeys

All three are crucial to increasing your customer retention rates. While surveys can be dull, feedback campaigns are a very necessary and effective way of staying connected to your customers. However, when you do send feedback campaigns, make sure they’re easy to complete.

So, go ahead and design a personalized feedback email and send off a campaign to test how your subscribers really feel about your product or service.

Wrap up

With these advanced tactics for customer retention via email marketing, you can build a list of email subscribers that are engaged, that buy often, and that are evangelists for your brand—all because they’re getting the appropriate messages from your company in the right moments. No more one-size-fits-all messaging.

Because personalization is a strategy that has been proven to yield tremendous results, we have created a number of posts to help you succeed. Check out our ultimate guide to email personalization. You’ll definitely come away with many practical takeaways you can use to run successful personalized email campaigns that retain customers.

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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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