Digital Marketing Tactics to Increase Customer Retention

Customer Retention

In conversations with clients, one of the questions we often hear is, “how can you help us reach new customers?” Let’s take a moment to flip that script. What investment is your company or organization making to retain your core audience? How effective are your efforts? Ideally, an e-commerce conversation (whether for sales or donations) would start with an exploration of digital marketing tactics to increase customer retention before focusing on new audience acquisition concerns.

Retention is Taking Action to Keep the “Right” Customers

Retention (or your core audience, clients, donors…) should be the primary focus – the “life’s blood” – in any business or nonprofit organization.

While companies may designate departments to focus on the acquisition of new prospects, overall profitability is driven by retaining existing (paying) customers and increasing their lifetime value through repeat sales of core products, as well as upselling and cross-selling new or related products and services.

The Harvard Business Review states that retention is about “keeping the right customers.” Per this HBR article,  research has shown that increasing customer retention rates by even 5% increases profits 25% to 95%.

To Understand Retention, You Must First Embrace “Churn”

Few people would choose to stand at the edge of a gaping abyss. Sadly, looking at churn rate data for a company or institution can often feel like standing in an uncomfortable and vulnerable position for business owners, marketers, and investors.

To create a strategy that encourages valuable customers to stay and continue to do business with you, you must first understand why similar customers leave.  Those pain points can then become stepping stones in your successful retention strategy.

A high churn rate can be the result of a poor retention strategy as well as targeting the wrong customers in your acquisition efforts. Figure out how to keep the customers you already have before rushing to break into new markets.

Customer Retention and Brand Loyalty Statistics

We love this quote from Small Biz Genius: “Customer retention and brand loyalty are the equivalent of a healthy diet and daily exercise for retail.” Amen. We believe that statement holds true for other business models as well, including nonprofits.

In this “By the Numbers” article, Small Biz Genius shares 30 meaningful brand loyalty statistics, including some you may remember from business school and some that may take you by surprise.

Regarding the characteristics of recurring customers, did you know these facts?

  • The top 10% of your customers probably spend three times more than your “average” customer.
  • American customers consider themselves loyal to a company after 5+ purchases.
  • 58% of consumers say their number-one reason for shopping cart abandonment is high shipping costs.
  • Connecting with your customers emotionally (through quality content and experiences) can increase customer lifetime value by 300%.
  • Quality loyalty programs increase the likelihood of recommendations from existing customers.
  • 95% of loyalty program members want to engage with companies via technology, including chatbots, AI, and virtual reality.

Meaningful Customer Retention Metrics

Reliable data about your customers and how they interact with your company is the backbone of your customer retention strategy.

Not sure where to start sifting through your data? Try answering these two simple questions:

  • What is the length of an average customer life cycle?
  • How many purchases – and how much money – are tied to the average customer life cycle?

Now you can use the answers to those two questions to segment your database into (3) meaningful groups:

  • Above average customers (those that make more than the average number of purchases or spend more per order)
  • Average customers
  • Sub-par customers

You can also write some basic rules regarding behavior modification goals for the segments below in terms of increased orders and dollars spent over time:

  • Behavior goals to transform a sub-par customer into an average customer
  • Behavior goals to transform an average customer into an above-average customer

This simple exercise can yield major results and set the starting point for your customer retention strategy.

To learn more about customer retention metrics that matter, we recommend this article by HubSpot.

10 Digital Marketing Actions to Support Customer Retention

If you’re still reading along at this point, you’ve learned why customer retention is a priority over customer acquisition, and you’ve done the math and written the rules to outline behaviors you wish to improve as part of your overall retention, revenue, and reputation efforts.

Let’s turn our attention to marketing actions – specifically digital tactics – that support customer retention. Media Venue looked at a variety of sources to create the impactful list below.

Start Strong with these Retention Tactics

Mobile-Friendly CampaignsForbes provides 11 ways to optimize your marketing campaigns for mobile in this useful article.  “Mobile first” is a battle cry with no expiration date. Why? Because mobile sales accounted for approximately half of all e-commerce sales in 2021. Be clear. Be concise. Optimize your assets for download speed.

Retarget Existing Customers – Create a specific “thank you” page on your website when a transaction is completed. Then place specific tracking pixels (for Google or Facebook/Instagram) on those “thank you” pages.

Experiment with cross-selling or up-selling products in your retargeting creative to an audience who has already spent money on your site. The offers and invitations paying customers (or donors) receive should differ from retargeting messages (banners or video) served to general site traffic.

Curious? Read more about Facebook retargeting here. For nonprofits, we recommend placing separate retargeting pixels for donors vs. general web traffic.

CRM + Custom Audiences – Build the most effective audiences for your campaigns by pulling data from your CRM and using that file to create custom audiences on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. Target customers that are more likely to convert – based on previous interactions with your company – and increase your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Read more about Custom Audience best practices on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google.

Email Marketing Offers Multiple Retention Tactics

Email Marketing + Personalization – Email remains the preferred way that current customers want to be contacted by brands. According to Campaign Monitor, an email marketing platform, an email subject line that is personalized can boost open rates by 26% and increase click-thru rates by 800%.

Email Marketing + PromotionsAccording to Campaign Monitor, for every $1 spent to send an email campaign, email campaigns generate an average $44 return on that investment (ROI). Make sure you’re offering exclusive promotions and event invitations to your email list.  These should be offers that are not available to your social media followers or the public.

Email Marketing + Quarterly Surveys – Prove to your customers that their feedback matters. Pause your sales messages and ask for their feedback by including a survey along with your regularly scheduled email cadence.

Email Marketing Automation – In addition to general marketing emails you send to groups of prospects, consider the benefits of adding automated messaging (drip campaigns and transactional emails) to your repertoire.

Drip campaigns are proven to increase engagement and drive revenue. Examples of drip email campaigns include welcome series messaging, abandoned cart messaging, and post-purchase emails. is one example of a company that provides templated messaging and automated delivery options.

Digital Marketing for Retention “Bonus Round”

SMS (Text Message) Marketing

When you need to get a message delivered quickly, SMS Marketing is the way to go. SMS Marketing is perfect for a high degree of urgency and a higher-than-email read/response rate. As people have become more attached to their phones, text messages have become their preferred method of receiving offers and alerts.

Unlike personal emails, which most people only check 1-2x per day, people open text messages almost immediately. Send In Blue offers this overview of SMS Marketing and how to get started.

Gifts and Giveaways for Existing Audiences

It is very common to talk to clients who use giveaways to get new Likes on Facebook. This is the epitome of a poorly planned acquisition program where you recruit the wrong people with little hope of retaining them over time. Yes, people follow your page to be entered into a contest and possibly win a one-time prize…but how often do they engage with your page after that?

At least 50% of the time, we recommend using gifts and giveaways to reward and retain existing followers instead. We guarantee you’ll drive more engagement by consistently rewarding your existing followers. It also pays to give away your products – even if you can only afford to do it a few times per year – than simply giving out coffee and gas cards. You want the people who follow you on social media to become brand advocates. Help them grow by giving them access to “win” – and experience the benefits of – your products and services.

Customer Referral Program

According to Investis Digital, after 10 purchases, customers refer 50 more people to a business than a one-time purchaser.

A successful referral program rewards existing customers (retention goal achieved) while generating new leads (acquisition goal achieved). Use your CRM system to identify customers making that 11th purchase and invite them to participate in your referral program. Include a valuable prize or incentive to thank them for their time in return for the referral contact information they provide.  You can also download 45 free Referral templates from HubSpot here.

Media Venue: Your trusted partner for integrated, effective campaigns

Media Venue has 20+ years of experience helping clients in a variety of industries reap the benefits of effective local, regional, and national campaigns.

In a media landscape that is constantly changing, Media Venue is your trusted partner and guide.

We can increase visibility for your brand, direct traffic and leads to your website, and increase revenue opportunities for your products and services.

Contact Media Venue today to discuss your business needs and marketing goals.

About Our Blogger

As Media Venue’s Digital Marketing Manager, Christine Long has over 15 years of experience planning and executing integrated campaigns combining online advertising, content marketing (social media, blogging), email marketing, audience segmentation, promotions, and live events. Researching and writing about best practices in digital marketing allows her to utilize these practices to serve her clients.

Get in Touch

Let's Take Your Business to the Next Level