New clients are great. There’s something undeniably exciting about attracting someone to your business who might not have found it otherwise. That’s the reason that new client marketing gets all the attention. It’s the glitziest way to grow a business.

But guess what? It’s not a very cost effective way to grow a business, which is why it never ceases to amaze me that more local businesses ignore client retention as a growth strategy.

If you’re wondering the best way to increase your client retention, look no further. Email is the answer.

Onboard New Clients and Subscribers

Your plan to retain clients should kick off at the beginning of your relationship. A lot of businesses make the mistake of ignoring client retention until people are at the point of leaving. We’ll talk about that later, but for now, let’s talk about what you can do after someone buys from you for the first time or subscribes to your list.

The first email you send should be a welcome email, but it can be more. After you’ve welcomed a new client you should consider getting them to engage with your brand in another way. Here are some examples.

  • Offering them a discount code or coupon to get them to make a follow-up purchase.
  • Ask them to respond to questions, so you can segment your list and send emails that feel personalized.
  • Ask them to write a review

If a subscriber doesn’t open or engage with your welcome email, you can consider nudging them with a follow-up email. Sometimes it can work to offer them a discount or coupon but be wary of doing that with clients who haven’t bought from you before. You don’t want them to think of yours as a discount brand.

Send Emails Based on Clients’ Behavior

The question of when to email clients is one that looms large for small entrepreneurs. I think one of the best methods is to use a client’s behavior as a trigger for an email.

For example, say a client has just bought one of your products. You may want to consider sending a confirmation email that suggests up-sell or cross-sell products to them. If you choose your product recommendations wisely, you might end up with a bigger sale – and a client who’s more committed to your brand than they were before you emailed them.

Here are some other examples of behaviorally triggered emails:

  • When a client reaches a given point in their journey with you, send them a survey to ask for their opinion so far.
  • Ask them to review your product or service.
  • Send an email reminding them that they have items in their shopping cart.
  • Send an email suggesting products based on their previous purchases.

Emails like these can benefit your business in several ways. First, they offer an affordable way to acknowledge a client’s activity and let them know that you care about their business. Second, they can help you gather valuable information about what kinds of emails your clients want to get. And finally, each time you “touch” a client via email, you’re solidifying their opinion of your brand and – hopefully – increasing their loyalty to you.

Segment Your Emails to Increase Their Appeal

If you send out a survey or behaviorally-triggered emails, you can use the information you collect to segment your list. Then, when you reach out to subscribers, you can do it in a way that’s designed to appeal to their individual needs and wants.

Let’s look at an example. Say you own a sporting goods store. If you collect information about which sports and equipment clients are interested in, you can use that data to send emails that will appeal to your clients’ personal interests. A client who is interested in winter sports might get emails when you have a sale on ski gear or introduce skate sharpening to your store.

You may even market one product in three different ways focusing on different benefits and uses for it. The specifics are up to you, but the main point is that segmentation can help you provide relevant email content to your subscribers.

Send Re-Engagement Emails

What happens when a client is at risk of abandoning your brand? You can get depressed about it or you can look at it the way I do – as an opportunity.

Clients don’t always abandon brands because they’re dissatisfied. They might be cutting back on their spending or they might think they’ve seen everything you have to offer.

Here are some suggestions for bringing them back into the fold.

  1. Offer them an upgrade or a freebie. Sometimes, injecting a little bit of excitement into the relationships is the way to go. A client who’s using a basic product may appreciate the added features of an upgrade and re engage with your brand.
  2. Solicit feedback. A dissatisfied client may need to know that you care about their business, and the feedback you collect can help you improve your products and services.
  3. Offer value. Sometimes, a long-term client might need a reminder of why they bought from you in the first place. Let them know about updated features and products or give them some tips for using the products they’ve bought.

If you can take a client on the verge of leaving and re-engage them, you can give your sales a boost and improve your retention rate at the same time.

Send Exit Emails

What happens when you know that a client is leaving? There’s nothing you can do to stop them but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing.

What I suggest is sending an exit email. It may be useful to:

  • Collect information about why the client is leaving
  • Keep the door open for a future relationship
  • Leave things on a positive note

The last thing you want to do is make clients happy they’ve left. Be gracious and express gratitude for their business and let them know that you’ll be there if they decide they want to re engage with you.

I hope you see the benefit of using email to increase client retention. Retention may be less glamorous than new client acquisition, but it’s also less expensive – and it’s also the best growth strategy I know.

If you are a small to medium sized business and you are looking to grow your business and local reach in the community as well as generate more clients for your business feel free to contact us here: