Customer Retention Email Strategies
Last updated on July 4th, 2024

Top Customer Retention Email Strategies to Consider In 2024

Key points

  1. Implementing customer retention email strategies is critical for businesses as there’s up to a 70% chance of selling to an existing customer compared to just a 10% chance with a new prospect.
  2. Customer retention emails should be personalized, offer rewards or incentives, and ask for feedback to enhance customer loyalty and engagement.
  3. Effective customer retention tactics via email include celebrating customer milestones, expressing gratitude, creating community feelings, and providing valuable and high-quality content.

Despite the myth of perpetual growth, customer acquisition isn’t all there is to running a successful business. It is, of course, a major part—but client retention is just as important.

According to Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance, businesses have up to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer (as opposed to selling to a new one, which has a 10% chance of conversion).

One key ingredient to retaining customers is to rely on emails. Let’s look at a few customer retention email strategies that you can implement.

What is a retention based email?

A retention based email is a notification businesses send to their existing customers to incentivize them to remain customers. Most often, subscription-based businesses like SaaS or subscription boxes use this tactic to reduce churn and have better predictability for their revenue models.

However, it is not uncommon for eCommerce businesses, agencies and even large manufacturing enterprises to send similar emails. These emails’ cadence, style, incentive, and timing vary based on the company’s target audience, industry, and overall marketing strategy.

Customer retention email examples

Customer retention emails can feel challenging—you can’t force someone into liking you or buying from you. And you can’t spam your customers with irrelevant emails or risk ending up in the dreaded spam folder. So how exactly can you craft a customer retention email that works?

Here are a few examples to give you some inspiration.

SPP’s short and to-the-point retention emails

We’re not bragging here, but we can attest to one fact: this works.

SPP customer retention email

Felix Gray: The fear of missing out is real

Works well, especially when it comes to money.

Felix Gray fear of missing out retention email

Webflow offering a helping hand

This one is perfect for customers who are not using their trial.

Webflow helping hand retention email

Canva’s warm thank you email

Everyone loves some cool data that is personalized, right?

Canva thank you retention email

Tumblr celebrating milestones with their users

There’s nothing more charming than remembering someone’s anniversary.

Tumblr yearly celebration retention email

Top 16 customer retention email strategies to try

Not all customer retention email campaigns are created alike. For instance, if you have a foot-in-the-door offer, you need to ensure that your customers are subscribing to one of your productized services later.

Other customer retention programs are meant to keep people engaged with the brand (e.g., if you have a content marketing strategy, your retention emails might try to get people interested in newly published content, such as blog posts or case studies).

But regardless of what you’re using email retention for, there are a few customer retention strategies that can make it more effective and increase your chances of success.

Reward long-term clients

Showing long-term clients you’re grateful for their continued support is a great way to keep them loyal. Consider offering them exclusive discounts or free gifts as a thank you for their continued business.

Convert your clients into brand ambassadors with our affiliates feature

If you want to, you can even build a ladder of rewards, where the longer a client stays with you, the better and more valuable their reward becomes. This can create a sense of progress and incentivize customers to stick around for even longer.

Personalize emails

Generic, one-size-fits-all emails are as good as spam in the eyes of most customers. They aren’t just annoying, they make it less likely to resonate with your customers than personalized ones. Use their name, reference past purchases or interactions, and tailor the content of the email to their interests and needs.

Use data enrichment tools and personalization tactics to tailor your emails to each customer and make them feel valued. To do that, you need to make sure your email list is very well-structured and segmented, so you can target specific groups of customers with relevant content.

Use a catchy subject line

Your subject line is the first impression your email makes, and it’s crucial in getting people to open it. Use something attention-grabbing and intriguing that will make people want to know more. Avoid using clickbait or misleading titles, as this can damage your reputation (both as a brand and as a sender).

Some of the spam words to avoid include “free”, “discount”, and “limited time offer.” Instead, try to create a sense of urgency or exclusivity without being too aggressive.

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On the other hand, writing catchy subject lines doesn’t have to feel like rocket science.

Here are a few tips to follow:

  • keep it short and to the point

  • use action words or prompts

  • create a sense of urgency or exclusivity

  • instill curiosity

Automate the process

You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to retain a customer just because you forgot to send an email. Automate the process by setting up triggers and workflows that will automatically send emails based on certain actions or events, like a customer’s anniversary with your company.

To automate this process, you can use email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or ActiveCampaign. These platforms allow you to set up automated email campaigns and track their performance, making it easier for you to optimize your retention strategy.

Build referral programs

Creating a digital marketing agency referral program not only incentivizes your existing customers to help bring in new ones, but it also gives them a sense of ownership and pride in your brand. Offer rewards for sharing your product on social media or when a referral makes a purchase, creating a mutually beneficial scenario that aids in retention.

Convert your clients into brand ambassadors with our affiliates feature

Use Service Provider Pro’s built-in affiliates feature to handle your referrals. It allows you to decide if everyone is an affiliate, or only approved users. And you can easily pay out affiliates via the account balance feature, or externally through a bank transfer.

Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask customers for feedback. Not only does it show that you value their opinions, but it also gives you valuable insights into how to improve customer satisfaction: what is working well and what needs to change.

Plus, if a customer has any unresolved issues or concerns, this opens up the opportunity for further discussion, so you can better understand their frustration and address it.

gather client feedback

Remember that your feedback surveys shouldn’t be too long—people don’t have much time on their hands, so ask a maximum of 5 questions at once and make most of them multiple-choice or easy to answer. Include an open-ended question too, if you want to collect more qualitative data on your product or service.

Create a sense of community

People are more likely to stay loyal to a brand if they feel like they are part of a community. Use targeted email marketing as a way to connect with your customers and create a space for them to share their experiences, tips, and customer feedback.

The secret to successful business-related communities is very easy: focus on them, not you. The community exists to serve them, not to be another channel for you to drop blog posts in.

Gamify your customer experience

Gamification refers to the process of using game design elements and mechanics in non-game contexts, like marketing. By incorporating gamification into your customer retention emails, you can make the experience more fun and engaging for customers. For example, you could offer a loyalty program where customers earn points or rewards for completing certain actions or tasks.

Shein, for instance, has a spin the wheel game where customers can earn discounts and other prizes for spinning a virtual wheel. This not only encourages customers to engage with their emails but also creates excitement and anticipation for future emails.

Similarly, many other brands have points-based systems, where they reward customers for actions like signing up for their newsletter, making a purchase, or writing a review.

Use emotional triggers

Emotions play a significant role in decision-making, and by tapping into your customers’ emotions, you can create a stronger connection with them. For example, you could send personalized emails on their birthdays or anniversaries to make them feel special and valued.

Some of the emotional triggers used in retention emails usually include:

  • The fear of missing out: what will happen if a customer cancels a service or stops purchasing from your brand?

  • The feeling of exclusivity: offering exclusive deals and rewards only to loyal customers.

  • The sense of belonging: creating a community or loyalty program where customers feel like they belong and are part of something bigger.

Overall, the key to successful customer retention emails is understanding your audience and targeting.

Offer come back incentives

When people cancel their subscription, they haven’t been active for a while, or simply haven’t made a purchase recently, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gone for good. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge to bring them back.

Consider offering special incentives or promotions for churned or inactive customers. This could be in the form of a discount code or free trial offer to entice them to give your brand another chance.

Show appreciation

Let your customers know that you appreciate them and their business. Whether it’s through a personalized thank-you email or a small gift, showing genuine gratitude can go a long way in building customer loyalty and retention.

Remember, every customer is unique and may respond differently to different strategies. It’s important to constantly test and analyze the success of your customer retention.

Run customer engagement campaigns 

Sometimes, customers may become disengaged or uninterested in your brand for various reasons. Don’t just let them slip away without trying to win them back.

Run re-engagement campaigns where you offer something of value, like a free trial, to entice inactive customers to come back and give your brand another chance. This not only helps retain customers but also helps you build stronger customer relationships—and they are more likely to keep on buying from you.

Celebrate milestones

Has your client grown 50% year over year, or managed to sign a big contract thanks to your service? Whatever the milestone, celebrate it with them!

This shows that you’re not taking their loyalty for granted and that you appreciate their support. It also helps create a sense of community and connection between your brand and your customers.

Say thank you

You don’t have to overcomplicate things. The more you tinker around with your emails and try to over-engage, the more likely you are to annoy or drive away customers.

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple thank you to remind your customers that they are valued and appreciated. Include this in your retention emails as a way to show genuine gratitude for their support and long-term customer loyalty.

Wish them a happy birthday

If you have the birthday on file, why not send your customers a happy birthday email? It’s a personalized gesture that makes them feel special and valued by your brand. You could even include a small gift or discount as an added bonus.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

A discount code or voucher can bring back customers, but it needs to be significant enough for them to reconsider their options entirely. For instance, if someone is not necessarily 100% happy with someone’s perfume brand, a $10 discount may not be enough to make them return. But perhaps if you offered a free product or a significant percentage off their next purchase, they may see it as worth giving your brand another chance.

offer a coupon

Just remember not to offer these types of deals too often, as customers can start expecting and only buying from your brand when there are promotions available. Use this as a special deal to retain customers most likely to stick around, and only sparingly—you don’t want to damage your reputation offering perpetual discounts.

Offer quality content

Content is one of the most effective ways to keep customers engaged. By offering informative, relevant content through your retention emails, business owners ensure that your customers don’t forget about your brand.

SPP monthly newsletter March 2024

For maximum engagement, go for well-written long-form content. This could include tips and tricks related to your products or services, industry news and updates, customer success stories, or even fun and entertaining content that reflects your brand’s personality. Spruce it up with audio versions, videos, and other interactive content to increase the time spent on the page.

Frequently asked questions

How do you retain customers via email?

The main way to retain customers via email is by making sure their data is properly stored and structured. This allows you to target specific categories of customers in your CRM: the ones that haven’t bought in a while, the ones that haven’t used the product (and are at risk to cancel their subscription), the ones that need extra help to get on board.

How do you write an email for retention?

How you write an email to increase client retention depends on your business, target audience, and the message you want to convey. However, some general tips include personalizing the email, using emotional triggers, offering incentives or promotions, showing appreciation and celebrating milestones, and providing valuable content.

Improve customer relationships with retention emails

Customer retention is crucial for pretty much every business. It’s easy, say, when you’re the only bar in a three-mile radius and your customers are at home already.

Done right, retention emails can supercharge your entire business, help you increase customer lifetime value, and they can even help you bring more customers through referrals. And the best about retention: you don’t have to focus all your efforts finding new customers.

Avatar of Chris Willow
Founder of SPP
Chris started Service Provider Pro back in 2014 as a way to help automate a video production agency he was running at the time. Being early to productized services, he was frustrated with having to piecemeal different tools and services and ended up building an all-in-one client portal platform for himself and a few friends. That eventually took off and now Chris helps agency owners scale through software and systems.

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