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Today’s B2B brands invest huge amounts of time and money on perfecting their lead generation, nurturing and customer acquisition strategies. That’s all good because every business needs a healthy stream of new customers coming in – but many brands overlook the importance of customer retention during the constant chase for new buyers.

What’s wrong with that?

Well, research from Invesp has found customer acquisition costs 5X more than customer retention. That means you could be paying 500% more to sell the same product to a new customer than you would spend on selling it to an existing one.


This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, either. A customer who has already bought from you once should be more likely to buy from you again than a fresh new lead off the press will be. Likewise, you’ve already spent most of the money it took to get this customer on board and nurture them towards the initial sale. Customer retention expenses should be minimal at this stage – especially if your strategy is largely automation (and it should be).

The power of customer retention

Above all, existing customers should already have enjoyed a positive experience with your brand and be more loyal to you than people who are yet to trust you with their money.

Herein lies a problem, though. How can you build this kind of trust and customer loyalty if your customer retention strategy sucks?

The answer is simple: you can’t.

Without customer retention, your customers are going to become disinterested with your brand, look elsewhere and, ultimately, end up with one of your competitors that has a solid customer retention strategy in place – all before they ever get the chance to develop loyalty with your brand.

Every customer that gets away is a lost opportunity to develop a lasting, highly-profitable relationship.

Research conducted by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profit by anything between 25% and 95%.

Customer retention should be a priority for every business and, in this article, we’ve got seven email marketing strategies that are going to help you turn more buyers into loyal customers who buy from you time and again.

#1: Nail your welcome email / first response

The first email you send to new leads/customers sets the tone for everything that follows – so make sure you get it right. Now, how this is going to work exactly will depend on how you capture leads and customers and there could be some overlap here (hence why I’m talking about leads and customers).

If you’re an SaaS company, for example, many of your leads might be customer right from the start if they’re signing up to your services or starting a demo/free trial.

Think of a company like Dropbox. In many cases, its first dealing with a new lead/customer is going to be when they sign up to the free version of its platform and then the focus is on turning them into paying customers.

Now, Dropbox knows people aren’t going to become long-term, paying customers if they haven’t even got the app downloaded on their devices and this is why the company sends out emails to new customers prompting them to do just that (if they haven’t done so already).

This is a great example of an automated welcome/first response email strategy.

Here at Venture Harbour, most of our leads come in the form of email sign-ups and inquirers so we still have a bit of work to do before turning them into customers. We also have a lot of different leads types that require us to send out different responses, depending on what each prospect is looking for.

So we use Leadformly to get information about what potential customers need from us and automate our responses, based on the data they give us.

Another great example of an automated welcome/first response email marketing strategy.

Bonus tip: Make sure you respond to new leads/customers within the first 24 hours of them converting (or sooner) because leads turn cold fast in this game – as you can read in our How Fast do Marketing Leads Turn Cold? article.

#2: Keep customers engaged with ongoing campaigns

Once you’ve turned leads into solid customers, you need to keep them engaged with your products, services and brand. Software companies have an advantage here as you can look user data to see how much they’re using your platforms and create engagement campaigns each group – e.g.: daily users, weekly users, monthly users, not used in the last 30 days.

For the rest of us, we have to take a more strategic approach to keeping customers engaged and this is where your email content really needs to add value to their lives and experience with your brand.

ProCopywriters sends out regular email designed to help its writers improve their skills and get more work. This includes free webinars from industry experts, recommended tools and business advice.

We also do a similar thing with our engagement campaigns here a Venture Harbour.

The key thing is to know what problems your customers face in their professional lives and provide content that’s going to help them overcome those issues. These problems need to be relevant to your brand, product or services in some way, of course, and you need to be able to establish yourself as an authoritative source of reliable information on these problems.

By adding value to your customers’ lives, beyond what you’re selling to them, you’re building a bond that established trust and loyalty.

Now you need to turn that loyalty into ongoing purchases.

#3: Maximise customer value with upselling / cross-selling campaigns

The entire purpose of customer retention is to maximise the lifetime value of each customer by turning them into repeat buyers. Two of the most important tactics in achieving this are upselling and cross-selling – both of which should feature heavily in your email marketing efforts.

Just in case there’s any confusion about these terms, here are a couple of quick definitions:

  • Upselling: Encouraging customers to purchase a more profitable product or service than their usual/recent purchases.
  • Cross-selling: Encouraging customers to buy additional products or services, based on their previous purchase decisions.

Common examples of upselling would be a SaaS company trying to get customers to upgrade to a more expensive software plan or an insurance company tempting existing customers with more comprehensive coverage.

An example of upselling from video online video platform Vimeo

Cross-selling generally involves targeting customers with products related to the purchases they’ve already made from you. So a web design agency might offer customers hosting management or content writing services, for example. Whereas a B2B e-commerce brand might want to use a product recommendation engine to tempt customers with related products in a similar way that Amazon does.

#4: Reward customers with gifts & offers

If you want loyal customers, then it makes sense to reward them with customer loyalty incentives. Whether it’s money-off deals on their birthday, the occasional freebie to thank them for all their business or rewarding them for referring new customers to you, there are all kinds of rewards, gifts and offers you can send customers’ way to increase loyalty and boost sales.

A referral programme once run by TransferWise that rewarded customers for inviting friends to use the service (Source: GetResponse)

Here we have an example of a referral programme TransferWise used to run, which not only rewarded customers for using its platform but also incentivised them to invite their friends to the service and bring more customers on board for the company.

While this offer boosts engagement and gives existing customers added reason to keep using TransferWise, it turns these rewards into a lead generation strategy that more than pays for the relatively minor financial reward.

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#5: Nail customer support when something goes wrong

Earlier, I linked to a previous that explains how leads go cold within 24 hours or less and this gives you a good idea of how quickly you need to react when it comes to customer support. Now, keep in mind that leads are people who are looking to buy from you in the near future but existing customers who are having problems have already parted with their money.

Something is getting in the way of them patting themselves on the back for making the right purchase decision and this is bad news from a customer retention point of view. In many cases, when your customers rely on your product/services to run their business, every moment a technical issue runs on, they’re being hurt in the pocket.

Needless to say, you need to get things fixed as soon as possible and turn these people into happy customers once again.

The first step towards doing this is responding to customer issues now, not later. There’s no excuse for leaving customers waiting with the tools you have available these days. Automate your email responses so customers get an answer right away but don’t start sending out generic messages telling them you’ll be in touch once you’ve had a chance to look into their issue.

Use a tool like Leadformly to get information from customers about their technical issue so you can send personalised responses instantly. Tell them you’re looking into the issue as we speak and send them links to relevant support pages on your website and some simple instructions on what they can do in the meantime.

An example of BotXo handling a simple customer service issue.

Another option you’ve got is to use a chatbot to handle basic customer service issues and get things rolling. This will allow the bot to handle simple issues, direct customers to relevant information and send their case to a human member of your support team if the bot isn’t capable of dealing with any particular issue.

These are the kind of strategies you should be using to enhance your customer support email strategies so you’re able to offer instant support 24/7.

#6: Request customer feedback

Loyal customers want to feel like they’re a part of your brand and a valuable member of a two-way relationship. Their opinions matter and reaching out to ask them for feedback is the best possible way to show them that you acknowledge the importance of their opinions and get valuable insights as to how you can improve.

Positive feedback is always great to receive but negative feedback can help you fix issues that could otherwise prevent customers from continuing to buy from you.


An email from Indiegogo asking customers for feedback (Source: GetResponse)

You might want feedback about your products, the quality of your content recommendations or even how your customer service team dealt with that last issue – sometimes, all you need to do is ask the question.

#7: Bring back cold customers with re-engagement campaigns

Sometimes, customer relationships flourish in the early days but turn cold once the honeymoon period is over. When this happens, you need to try and get these customers back on board and get them excited about your business again. It could be they’re not using your software platform as much as they once were or they’re not making as many purchases as they once did.

Whatever is, you need some re-engagement email campaigns to get them back on board.

Grammarly sends out emails to users who are writing less than usual and urges them to hit the keys again (Source: HubSpot).

Grammarly even gamifies this process by awarding a badge to people who stop using its tool and sending out an email urging them to start writing again. What it doesn’t do is simply let its customers disappear without putting up a fight – and neither should you.

Make the most of every customer

If there’s anything to take away from this article, it’s that making the most of every customer should be a priority for every B2B business. Bringing in new leads is great but you’re never going to maximise business performance if you’re failing with customer retention.

We’ve given you seven tried and tested email marketing strategies in this article, to help you turn more customers into repeat buyers. So now it’s over to you implement them and continue getting results after the initial purchase.

Aaron Brooks is a copywriter & digital strategist specialising in helping agencies & software companies find their voice in a crowded space.

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