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Customer Retention Marketing: 3 Ways to Keep 'Em Coming Back

Person taking a picture on their phone of a sweater in a box with a thank you note.
Do you believe that if you have a good product and deliver excellent service, retaining clients will happen automatically? While there's some truth to this, we have news for you: Customers don't owe you loyalty. In fact, you need to work constantly to retain them.

According to Forbes, research shows that companies generate 80 percent of future revenue from 20 percent of current clients. Since it's generally accepted that it costs less time and money to retain a client than to find a new one, customer retention marketing should be a major focus in your business strategy. Here are three ways marketing can help keep customers coming back.

1. Reach Them Through Email Marketing

Regular communication is vital for client retention, and it's a mainstay of customer relationship management (CRM). Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways for small businesses to maintain that communication. Contrary to popular belief, email marketing isn't dead. According to MarketingSherpa, 91 percent of adults want promotional communications from companies they support.

Email marketing enables you to:

  • Offer repeat-purchase benefits, such as incentives for using your services a second or third time.
  • Build credibility through sharing helpful information and connecting often.
  • Strengthen the relationship by providing a direct method of contact for customer service.
  • Show professionalism with attractive, well-executed communications.

For service businesses, keeping clients interested throughout the year is especially challenging. Email allows you to grab the customer's attention without overwhelming them with a sales pitch.

A whole slate of email providers offer ready-made templates and software for setting up email campaigns. Websites like MailChimp even offer free services up to a point, while others like Constant Contact and Hatchbuck charge for the number of recipients on your list.

2. Get to Know Your Clients

Data is a great tool for customer retention marketing, and there are numerous ways you can use it to improve client relationships.

  • Understand the buying journey: By using analytics software, you can monitor your customers' behavior on your website. Identify the pages viewed, the time spent on them and whether the user clicked through emails. This gives you a reasonable idea of what they are looking for — and when they might be ready to use your services again.
  • Segment your target audience: Send the right offers to the right people at the right time, based on info from previous purchases that are combined with external data such as census records. For example, clients living in older homes that previously used your electrical services might need another visit as winter approaches.
  • Gather useful information: Of course, to use data for marketing, you need to have it available — so make it a point to keep comprehensive records of your customers. Track the time since their last purchase. Ask them to answer a few questions and record their answers (and any complaints). Use the information to improve your products and services.

So, where do you find the data? Much of the internal information already exists in your client records. Analytics are quick and easy for a website developer to install, and external data is often free of charge.

3. Stay Top of Mind

Quality customer service and excellent work might be why customers stay loyal to your business, but your services need to stay top of mind to keep them coming back. It's important to know where your clients are hanging out and make sure you're there, too. For example, people interested in home renovations are likely to follow sites like Houzz or Angie's List, attend home improvement trade shows in the area or join the local neighborhood watch's Facebook group. Gear your marketing activities to being visible in the places your clients frequent.

Customer retention marketing not only helps you to build client loyalty, it drives word-of-mouth referrals, increases your average customer's lifetime value and lowers the cost of attracting new business. If it's all too much for you to take on, marketing agencies (and their services) come in all shapes and sizes. You just need to find one that matches your budget!