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The well-known marketing adage says it costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.

Although acquiring new customers is important, ensuring you have a successful strategy to retain customers can lead to much bigger wins. Existing customers are more familiar with your brand, and are more likely to spend more, more often.

So, how can you use email to get first-time purchasers to buy again and potentially turn them into loyal customers?

How to get started…

The long-term strategy of your retention emails may be to convert one-time customers into repeat purchasers. But the long-term strategy should include short-term goals to build up to this.

For example:

Our research showed that 43% of email marketers felt their lack of strategy was a significant problem, so step one should always be to outline a strategy, and develop it over time.

Building a relationship takes time

Patience is key, don’t send the automated ‘Here is what else you might like’ immediately after the confirmation email.

Where possible, surprise your customer. You could send a follow up email after they have received their item with the subject line ‘Oh, and one more thing…’ Inside thank them for purchasing from you or better yet, offer returning customers exclusive discounts and offers.  CafePod tried this, and they achieved some great results.

Creating the feeling of a two way relationship will make a customer much more likely to interact with your brand in the future.

Encouraging interaction with your brand

Generally speaking, the motivation behind someone interacting with you on social media or commenting on your website publically is usually driven by a service or experience that was particularly remarkable – either negatively or positively.

Why not incentivize feedback by offering discount/offers to those customers who refer a friend? Or simply invite feedback on third-party websites – a simple email reminder can go a long way. For instance, if you’re a hotel you can invite a recent customer to leave a review on websites like TripAdvisor.

Offer something other than products

Content, content, content. There’s a reason the buzzword hasn’t gone away. Whether that’s a list of ‘The top books to read before you turn 30’ for publishing brands, or video tutorials for fashion and beauty brands – chances are you’re demonstrating your expertise in the field elsewhere online.

Delivering that content to your customers as part of your retention strategy offers an alternative to pushing your products, and helps to build your brand as knowledge experts.

It’s all about data!

Your data is so important and will be as unique as your brand’s USP so why copy other companies’ email send strategies? The time of day you send your post-sale emails or even how soon you follow up with a customer should be tailored to your existing customers.

Think about the daily 4pm lull when your inbox suddenly floods with countless emails all from similar companies vying for attention. With many retailers claiming to use only 40% of their ESP’s functionality, it’s likely they are following a one-size-fits-all advice and not using the valuable data available to them.

Taking retention emails to the next level

Personalized emails are proven to improve click-through rates – so they are worth the investment. Go beyond the average ‘Dear Peter’. Try inserting their company’s name if you’re in B2B, or their nearest branch if you’re in retail.

Show subscribers content based on their interests. The more targeted you are in your communications, the more chances you have of re-converting that customer.

You can also use automation technology to pull in upsell and cross-sell items to match something a customer has bought recently. Congratulate them on their new shoes, and suggest a selection of scarves and bags to go with it.

Excited to get started?

Make sure to check our blog during the coming weeks as we discuss different post-purchase strategies in detail. Up next, re-engagement campaigns.

Key takeaways

One size doesn’t fit all: using smart data for personalization