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Ben Austin

10 Ways Email Marketing Retains Customers

Ben Austin
10 Ways Email Marketing Retains Customers

When it comes to boosting business profits, the knee-jerk reaction for many of us is to pick up the phone and introduce ourselves to new potential customers. Our natural assumption being that this fresh blood is the perfect soundboard for our sales spiel without any complicated history or preconceptions of our brand.

In real life, though, the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, as you get a little closer, you’ll see that, much like AstroTurf, these customers take longer to secure and cost significantly more. With this in mind, showing your existing customers the care and attention they deserve is not only more cost-effective, it’s also a great way of shaping your reputation online.

Email marketing is a great way of achieving this. Here are 10 tips for retaining customers using this channel.

1. A strong welcome email

Your customer has just signed up for your email thread, made a purchase or become a member. Therefore, for the next few minutes your brand is at the front of their minds; you have their undivided attention which is why every word in this first email counts. Make a decision on the tone of voice that best represents your brand and stick with it.

2. Introduce a rewards program

Loyalty programs work, it’s as simple as that. People like to feel that their faithfulness will be rewarded and no one turns down a free lunch (even if they have to pay for five full-priced ones first). It’s a great way to put yourself in front of your audience again without being too intrusive.

3. First peeks

From a consumer point of view, one of the best things about receiving emails from a brand is the exclusivity it offers — you’re in on something other people aren’t, such as the first glance at a new product or service before everyone else gets the opportunity. Not only are these recipients more likely to make a purchase, it also gives you a valuable insight into how your new product or service is likely to be received.

4. Birthday freebies

An email addressed to you, sitting unopened in your individual inbox is always much more personal, not to mention enticing, than a message relayed across social media or a banner on a webpage. Exploit this. Everyone is touched when someone remembers their birthday, even if it is a company selling vacuum cleaners. An exclusive discount or small gift is always well-received and may even be enough to keep them hanging around in time for next year. Just make sure it isn’t a new filter bag; that’s only one step above your partner buying you a new ironing board for your anniversary.

5. Share your knowledge

While we all love a good bargain, these shouldn’t be the only emails you send your clients. Intersperse this mail with useful content offering actionable tips, advice or insights from your industry. This helps build up a base of loyal, long-term customers who pick up the phone or visit your site because they love your brand, not just because it leaves them with extra change in their pocket.

6. Promote products based on activity

If there’s one company that truly knows how to harness the power of email marketing, it’s Amazon. That’s because they understand the importance of personalization.

It’s 2014, and personalized content should go beyond simply including your customer’s name at the top of the email. Using analytics software you can take valuable information on your customers’ activity on your site — from their last purchase to the last webpage they visited, and present them with content, products and deals accordingly. Looking for a new nozzle for your high-tech vacuum? Amazon would have your inbox filled with desirable options before you’d even left their site.

7. Friendly reminder

If you sell replenishable goods, a friendly nudge to stock up can work wonders if timed correctly. The same principle works for reminding customers that their membership or subscription is up for renewal. It may be simply that your customer had not realized the date was fast approaching.

8. Ask for feedback

….just know that the truth sometimes hurts. Positive or negative though, people love to feel that their opinion is valued. And if there is something about your service they’re less than happy with, knowing that their advice is being taken on board might be enough to convince them to stay. Asking for feedback and reviews or sending surveys also gives you valuable insights you can use to shape future decisions, so it works both ways.

9. Optimize for mobile

This is essential for meeting any objectives, not just when it comes to retaining customers. People check their emails anywhere: on the train on their smartphone, at their desktop at work, on their tablet at home in front of the TV, etc. So it couldn’t be more important to ensure your email renders properly across all devices and browsers.

10. Target those about to leave

Again, data is essential here. If you are familiar with your customers’ normal habits on your site, then you can recognize what isn’t good behavior and identify signals that they may be about to leave. Don’t be afraid to send them a friendly email, and a special offer or discount wouldn’t go amiss here either.

Your existing customers have already placed enough trust in your brand to make a purchase, and it makes sense that it will take less work on your part for them to make another. A little yellow envelope in their inbox could be all it takes.

Ben Austin is CEO of Absolute Digital Media, an award-winning agency specialising in SEO, PPC, social media and web design. Inspired by all things digital, Ben can be found on Twitter and Google+. His last article for SEMrush was "10 Ways Email Marketing Retains Customers."

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