Retention Marketing Guide with Examples, Strategies & Tools

Retention Marketing: Guide with Examples, Winning Strategies & Tools 

Retention Marketing Guide with Examples, Winning Strategies & Tools 

Retaining customers is a must if you want your business to succeed. Welcome to our guide on retention marketing, where we take you through the definition, applications, and key strategies.

Tailored for marketing professionals and business owners, this article jumps into practical insights and real-world examples, empowering you to master customer retention, fortify loyalty, and elevate long-term profitability. Join us as we unlock the keys to enduring customer relationships.

  • Explore how it shifts focus from acquiring new customers to nurturing existing ones for sustained profitability
  • Discover that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one
  • Learn from successful cases, such as Acorns’ onboarding strategy and Spotify’s hyper-personalization for user engagement
  • Understand the significance of customer retention rate formulas, factoring in new acquisitions and churn
  • Uncover data revealing that market leaders maintain an average customer retention rate of 94%, emphasizing the role of excellent customer service
  • Explore advantages, including increased revenue, lowered costs, enhanced brand reputation, and improved customer experience
  • Gain insights into best practices and tools like Hotjar, Zendesk, and Yotpo for successful retention marketing strategies

What Is Retention Marketing?

Retention marketing involves using strategies to build and maintain strong relationships with customers. It’s not just for online stores; big companies and small businesses all use it to keep customers coming back. It is a modern marketing method gaining popularity, especially in online shopping.

Instead of just trying to get lots of new customers, it’s about keeping the ones you already have happy and coming back to your store. In simple terms, retention marketing is what a store does to make customers more likely to buy again. The focus is on building loyalty and getting the most out of customers who choose to shop with you repeatedly.

Retention tactics include friendly welcome emails with helpful tips, special offers for loyal customers, and reward programs for spending more. Newsletters with interesting info, promotions, and re-engagement emails letting customers customize their preferences are key to retention marketing.

It’s like a set of tools to ensure customers stick around and keep choosing your business.

Retention Marketing vs. Acquisition

You might be thinking, “I have a profitable business; why bother ensuring customers come back to my website?”

However, there’s a significant opportunity here that you shouldn’t overlook. Acquiring new customers is getting more expensive. In the past five years, the overall cost of acquiring customers for both B2B and B2C brands has increased by almost 50%.

Paid acquisition costs more than organic, and even organic costs are rising rapidly. High customer retention rates help reduce these escalating costs, highlighting why retention matters for any business.

Acquisition expenses, covering marketing, promotions, labor, and advertising for new customers, can be quite costly. Elevated customer acquisition numbers may signal demographic shifts, ineffective marketing, or core product and service issues. Surprisingly, acquiring a new customer can be five times more expensive than keeping an existing one.

Boosting customer retention by just 5% can lead to 25 to 95% profit increases. Selling to an existing customer has a success rate of 60 to 70%, while selling to a new customer is much riskier, with a success rate of only 5 to 20%.

Examples of Retention Marketing

Retention marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal; it varies based on your business’s voice, industry, and target audience. When crafting your strategy, consider these channels:

  • Email Marketing: An opt-in channel where customers give their email. Follow up for personalized conversations and upsell opportunities.
  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads: Retarget customers by showing ads for products they’ve bought or similar ones, creating a timely connection.
  • SMS: An opt-in channel with a high open rate. Respect customers’ phone numbers for effective communication.
  • Social Media: Build relationships by turning customers into followers and followers into loyal advocates through engaging content.
  • Push Notifications: Remind customers to revisit your app or make repeat purchases, but use them sparingly to avoid irritation.

What Is Customer Retention Rate?

The customer retention rate gauges how many customers a company holds onto during a specific period, represented as a percentage of existing customers remaining loyal.

However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s crucial to factor in new customers acquired during that time to maintain accuracy. Simply gaining new customers doesn’t automatically offset losses; overlooking this can mask underlying business issues.

Calculating the retention rate involves defining your study’s timeframe, noting the existing customers at the beginning (S), the total customers at the end (E), and the new customers acquired during that period (N). Let’s delve into the formula shortly.

Retention rate formula

Why Is Retention Marketing Important?

A robust customer retention strategy ensures that your customers know your brand and products accurately. It goes beyond just transactions; it aims to leave customers satisfied with their purchases and delighted with their overall experience. The ultimate goal is cultivating a lasting connection that encourages them to return for additional products or updates.

Survey Sparrow reveals that in many industries, the top five market players boast an impressive average customer retention rate of 94%. When it comes to factors influencing customer retention, an impressive 89% of companies acknowledge the critical importance of providing excellent customer service.

Moreover, a substantial 60-70% chance of successfully selling to an existing customer exists, showcasing the tangible benefits of prioritizing retention marketing efforts.

Benefits of Retention Marketing

Investing in retention marketing strategies isn’t just a smart move; it’s a game-changer for businesses. Let’s explore the many benefits that come with prioritizing customer retention:

  • Increased Revenue: Engaged and loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, contributing to a steady revenue stream.
  • Lower Marketing and Customer Acquisition Costs: Retaining customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, saving resources that would be spent on extensive marketing campaigns.
  • Increased Customer Lifetime Value: Nurturing long-term relationships boosts the overall value each customer brings to the business over their lifetime.
  • Enhanced Brand Reputation: Satisfied customers become brand advocates, positively influencing your reputation and attracting new customers through word-of-mouth.
  • Elevated Sales Forecasting: Consistent customer behavior and loyalty patterns enable more accurate sales forecasting, aiding in strategic planning.
  • Increased Competitive Advantage: Standing out in a crowded market and retaining customers provides a competitive edge, showcasing your brand’s ability to build lasting connections.
  • More Helpful Customer Feedback: Engaged customers are likelier to provide valuable feedback, offering insights for product improvement and business growth.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Focusing on retention naturally leads to improved customer experiences, creating positive associations with your brand.
  • Improved Customer Loyalty: Building trust and connection fosters customer loyalty, reducing the likelihood of them switching to competitors.
  • Better Customer Referral & Incentive Programs: Loyal customers are often more willing to refer others, and effective incentive programs can further encourage this, expanding your customer base.

Best Practices in Customer Retention Marketing

Effective customer retention demands more than a one-size-fits-all approach; it requires adopting practices that resonate with your audience. Here are seven indispensable best practices to guide you in constructing a robust customer retention marketing strategy:

  1. Personalized Communication

  • Individualized Approach: Tailor your messages to suit individual customer preferences and behaviors, ensuring a personalized and relatable interaction.
  • Segmentation Strategies: Implement segmentation strategies based on customer data, allowing you to send targeted communications that resonate with specific customer segments.
  1. Customer Feedback Integration

  • Active Listening: Actively seek and listen to customer feedback through surveys, reviews, and social media, gaining valuable insights into their needs and expectations.
  • Rapid Response: Address customer concerns promptly, demonstrating a commitment to resolving issues and enhancing overall satisfaction.
  1. Loyalty Programs with Real Value

  • Meaningful Incentives: Develop loyalty programs that offer tangible and meaningful incentives, ensuring customers perceive real value in staying loyal to your brand.
  • Customizable Rewards: Allow customers to choose rewards based on their preferences, providing a personalized touch to your loyalty initiatives.
  1. Consistent Engagement Across Channels

  • Unified Brand Experience: Maintain a consistent brand experience across various channels, ensuring a seamless journey for customers whether they engage through social media, email, or in-store.
  • Omnichannel Approach: Embrace an omnichannel strategy to create a cohesive experience, making it easy for customers to interact with your brand regardless of the platform.
  1. Predictive Analytics for Anticipation

  • Data-Driven Insights: Leverage predictive analytics to anticipate customer needs by analyzing historical data, allowing you to proactively address their requirements.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Utilize data insights to offer personalized product recommendations, enhancing the customer’s overall shopping experience.
  1. Proactive Issue Resolution

  • Identify Potential Issues: Implement systems to identify potential issues before they escalate, showcasing a proactive commitment to customer satisfaction.
  • Transparent Communication: Keep customers informed about any challenges and the steps being taken to address them, building trust through transparent communication.
  1. Continuous Improvement Through Data

  • Regular Data Analysis: Regularly analyze customer data to identify areas for improvement in your retention strategies, staying agile and adaptive to changing customer preferences.
  • Iterative Optimization: Implement iterative optimization based on data insights, ensuring that your retention efforts evolve with the dynamic landscape of customer behavior and market trends.

Top 7 Retention Marketing Strategies

When a customer makes their first purchase, it’s a chance to make a memorable impression. Ensuring a smooth onboarding experience is vital, as any issues during this phase can stick with the customer. Good onboarding includes well-timed emails, helpful follow-up messages, easy-to-access information, and celebratory messages to make new clients excited.

Strategy 1: Awesome Customer Onboarding Experience

When customers start with your brand, a smooth onboarding process is crucial. Mistakes or not having someone to guide them can be remembered for a long time. A good onboarding process includes timely emails, follow-up messages, and easy access to information.

Celebratory messages add excitement. Acorns, an investment platform, does this well with lively animations and clear explanations that simplify saving. They even use logos from familiar companies like Blue Apron, Nike, and Airbnb, making users think about saving more with Acorns by continuing their usual shopping habits.

Screenshot of Acorns app.

Strategy 2: Personalized Customer Experience

Every customer is unique, with distinct needs and preferences. Avoid offering generic solutions, as customers seek personalized responses that cater to their specific scales, time constraints, or preferences.

One out of every three customers is willing to part ways with a beloved brand following a single negative experience. An even more striking statistic reveals that a substantial 92% of customers would consider entirely abandoning a company after encountering two or three negative interactions.

Customize your offerings to match each customer’s needs, providing solutions tailored to their problems. This fosters a sense of connection, increasing the likelihood of continued business.

Spotify goes beyond just recommending music to keep users engaged. Its true power lies in hyper-personalization through extensive user account customization. Users can create and curate their playlists, building a vast music library over time.

This investment of time and personalization makes users less likely to switch platforms, as the thought of recreating or losing these playlists becomes a significant barrier. The extensive playlist creation has created a sense of loyalty, keeping users happily subscribed to Spotify’s premium account.

Screenshot of Spotify's recommendations.

Strategy #3: Make it Easy for Customers to Provide Feedback

Improving your business starts with understanding your customers’ sentiments. Establishing a reliable process for gathering feedback is essential to foster customer retention.

Enter the customer feedback loop—a structured system for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating customer reviews and surveys. Here are various ways to gather valuable customer feedback:

  • Conduct surveys, such as the Net Promoter Score®
  • Encourage participation in user testing and focus groups
  • Utilize a small business phone system to allow customers to provide feedback after every call or interaction

Once feedback is collected, analyze survey results to identify trends in customer behavior and other areas that can enhance the overall user experience. Share this valuable information with teams that can benefit most from it.

Screenshot of simple feedback window

Strategy #4: Provide a Subscription Offering

Encourage repeat purchases and foster customer loyalty by providing special treatment to subscribers over one-time buyers. Customers are more inclined to make recurring purchases when they feel they are part of an exclusive subscription service.

Subscription Advantages

  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Subscribers often feel a sense of belonging and loyalty, leading to continued engagement and repeated purchases.
  • Predictable Revenue: Subscription models offer a more predictable revenue stream, providing stability and aiding in business planning.
  • Exclusive Benefits: Offer subscribers unique benefits such as discounts, early access to new products, or premium customer service, making the subscription enticing.

Breaking the Norm: Amazon Prime’s Success

Implementing a subscription service in commodity-based organizations is uncommon, yet Amazon Prime defied expectations.

Initially designed for faster deliveries, it faced controversy but rapidly gained popularity among regular shoppers. This unconventional approach showcases the potential for subscription models to revolutionize traditional business structures and significantly enhance customer retention.

Screenshot of Prime website.

Strategy #5: Make the Most of Social Proof

Often, the most impactful advertising isn’t self-promotion. Customer trust is frequently influenced more by the opinions of family, friends, and fellow consumers than by branded content or advertisements.

The Influence of Social Proof

  • Overwhelming Reliance on Reviews: More than 99.9% of customers consider reviews when making online purchases, emphasizing the significance of social proof in decision-making.
  • Comparable Trust to Personal Recommendations: Online reviews hold substantial weight, with 49% of consumers trusting them as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

HubSpot effectively utilizes social proof through compelling testimonials on its site. These testimonials showcase authentic experiences from real users, providing potential customers with valuable insights and building trust.

The influence of social proof is evident as prospects are more likely to trust the experiences shared by fellow users, strengthening HubSpot’s credibility in the eyes of potential customers.

Hubspot Customer Testimonials.

Strategy #6: Surprise and Delight Your Customers

Going beyond your customer’s expectations by adding unexpected gifts or benefits can create lasting joy and memorable experiences. Surprise and delight marketing campaigns, whether through unexpected gifts, discounts, thank-you notes, or random kind gestures, aim to exceed customer expectations and leave a lasting positive impression.

Kleenex executed a surprise and delight campaign through user-generated content. Named the “Feel Good” campaign, Kleenex scoured Facebook for users expressing feeling unwell. The marketing team then reached out to their friends and family to coordinate a surprise. In a matter of hours, the user received a Kleenex Kit filled with get-well items.

The results were impressive, generating over 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions between the brand and social media users. The campaign achieved a 100 percent buy-in, showcasing the effectiveness of surprise and delight strategies in fostering positive brand interactions and customer loyalty.

Photo of Kleenex's

Strategy #7: Create a One-of-a-Kind Product

In a saturated market, the key to retaining customers is offering something unparalleled, something that sets your product apart and cannot be easily replicated by competitors.

The Power of Uniqueness

  • Building Irreplaceability: A one-of-a-kind product creates a sense of irreplaceability, making customers choose your brand over competitors.
  • Loyalty Through Uniqueness: Customers are drawn to exclusive features or attributes that competitors cannot replicate, fostering long-term loyalty.

Bath & Body Works captivates customers not just with scents, prices, or longevity but through a unique retention strategy—the wallflower fragrance plug. This plug ensures that only Bath & Body Works wallflower fragrances work with it. It’s a deliberate design choice, creating exclusivity.

The commitment to a specific brand’s scents is a powerful driver for brand loyalty. This strategy ensures that customers, once drawn in by the distinctive wallflower experience, are less likely to switch to competing brands like AirWick or Glade, as the scents are brand-exclusive.

Screenshot of Bath & Body Works website.

Challenges in Customer Retention Marketing

While customer retention is the backbone of a thriving business, it comes with its share of challenges. Overcoming these hurdles is essential for maintaining a loyal customer base. Let’s dig into the key challenges faced in customer retention marketing:

  • Increasing Customer Expectations: As customers become more discerning, meeting and exceeding their rising expectations poses a considerable challenge.
  • Competing on Price: In a competitive market, retaining customers while balancing pricing strategies requires finesse.
  • Building Trust and Loyalty: Establishing and maintaining trust is an ongoing challenge, vital for fostering long-term customer loyalty. It’s not a one-and-done strategy.
  • Adapting to Changing Customer Needs and Preferences: Staying attuned to evolving customer preferences and adjusting strategies accordingly is crucial in a dynamic market.
  • Retaining Profitable Customers: Identifying and retaining high-value, profitable customers amidst diverse customer segments is a continuous challenge.
  • Measuring and Improving Customer Retention: Developing effective metrics and strategies to measure, analyze, and enhance customer retention demands a strategic approach.

What Are the Costs Associated with Retention Marketing?

The costs linked to retention marketing, known as Customer Retention Cost (CRC), encompass expenditures on marketing, training, customer service, and loyalty programs over a defined period. Distinct from Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC), CRC emphasizes retaining existing customers, diverging in its focus and cost components. Understanding and effectively managing CRC is vital for businesses seeking sustained customer loyalty and long-term profitability.

What Are the Best Marketing Channels to Increase Customer Retention?

To bolster customer retention, leverage strategic marketing channels such as targeted email campaigns, personalized What Is Social Media Optimization? A Key to Your Online Success engagement, and loyalty programs. Email remains a powerful tool for nurturing ongoing relationships, while personalized social media interactions build brand loyalty.

Well-structured loyalty programs, offering exclusive benefits, further enhance customer retention. Tailoring efforts across these channels ensures a comprehensive and effective approach to keeping customers engaged and loyal.

How Do You Measure the Success of Customer Retention Marketing?

Evaluate the success of your customer retention marketing by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) like customer retention rate, churn rate, and customer lifetime value.

Analyzing customer feedback, monitoring repeat purchase frequency, and assessing the effectiveness of loyalty programs provide valuable insights. The success lies in a holistic approach that considers various metrics.

7 Most Helpful Retention Marketing Tools and Software

Boosting customer retention isn’t achieved through a single software solution, given its multifaceted nature influenced by various factors. Enhancing retention demands a diverse toolkit to address aspects like website experience and customer service. Explore these invaluable tools:

  1. Hotjar: Use Hotjar to take the customer experience up a few notches with heatmaps, recordings, surveys, feedback, and interviews.
  2. HubSpot: HubSpot, an all-in-one CRM platform, enhances customer retention by enabling personalized marketing campaigns, improving customer service through self-service and live chats, and gauging satisfaction and loyalty with customer feedback surveys.
  3. Baremetrics: Baremetrics‘ subscription analytics software offers a straightforward solution for gaining the insights necessary to comprehend your performance and identify strategic focus areas.
  4. Zendesk: Zendesk empowers your agents with essential tools that provide a customer service solution to effortlessly retrieve customer information, review conversation history, and streamline interactions. For instance, the Zendesk Agent Workspace provides agents with customer context, enabling them to deliver a personalized experience.
  5. ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign offers cloud-based marketing and sales automation software encompassing email marketing, lead scoring, web analytics, a CRM platform, and the live chat messaging platform, Conversations. Through configuring automated engagement campaigns, personalized follow-ups, and re-engagement workflows, you can actively maintain customer engagement and satisfaction. This approach contributes to elevated customer retention rates and a subsequent boost in customer lifetime value.
  6. Yotpo (formerly Swell): Yotpo, compatible with Shopify and BigCommerce, boosts customer retention by enabling easy creation of loyalty programs, personalized messaging, performance tracking, and utilizing machine learning to predict repeat purchases.
  7. Zapier: Zapier, a workflow automation platform, links tools seamlessly without coding. Essential for improving customer retention, it automates actions, sends alerts, and compiles data across your customer retention stack, saving time, ensuring organization, and minimizing user error.

Can You Do Acquisition and Retention Marketing at the Same Time?

Absolutely. Balancing acquisition and retention marketing concurrently is crucial for sustained business growth. While acquisition strategies focus on attracting new customers, retention efforts engage existing ones, fostering loyalty.

An integrated approach ensures a continuous flow of new customers while nurturing relationships with the current ones, resulting in a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy that maximizes both short-term gains and long-term profitability.

What Are Some Effective Retention Marketing Tactics for Small Businesses?

Small businesses can bolster customer retention through personalized communication, loyalty programs, and exceptional customer service. Implement targeted email campaigns, offer exclusive discounts, and actively seek customer feedback to tailor your approach. Leverage social media for engagement and create a user-friendly website.

Building a community through newsletters and personalized interactions strengthens bonds. Prioritize customer satisfaction, and consistently deliver value to foster long-term loyalty and repeat business.


Mastering retention marketing is critical for businesses seeking longevity. By implementing personalized strategies, leveraging effective tools, and embracing innovative tactics, you can enhance customer loyalty.

For insights on how to get started in building your online presence, explore the best website builders and web hosting services. Explore these tools to ensure your business stands out in a competitive landscape. Read more to refine your marketing approach and elevate customer engagement.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Marketing Basics

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of marketing in customer retention?

Marketing plays a central role in customer retention by creating personalized experiences, nurturing relationships, and fostering brand loyalty. Effective communication through targeted campaigns, loyalty programs, and customer engagement initiatives contributes to sustained customer satisfaction. Marketing strategies that emphasize value and connection help businesses retain customers, ensuring long-term profitability and a positive brand reputation.

What is the key to customer retention?

The key to customer retention lies in building meaningful connections. By providing exceptional experiences, personalized communication, and valuable incentives, businesses can foster loyalty. Addressing customer needs, gathering feedback, and consistently delivering quality contribute to a positive relationship. Understanding customer preferences and adapting strategies accordingly ensures a strong bond, prompting repeat business and sustained loyalty.

What is customer churn and how does it relate to retention?

Customer churn represents the portion of customers departing over a specific period, contrasting with retention rate, which reflects those staying. In essence, a high churn rate is undesirable as it signifies customer loss, while a robust retention rate is favorable, signifying customer retention. The interplay between these metrics gauges the health of customer relationships, directly impacting a business’s long-term success.

What are the best customer retention tactics?

Optimal customer retention tactics encompass implementing loyalty programs, crafting engaging emails, actively seeking customer feedback, simplifying return processes, and employing surprise-and-delight strategies. These efforts build strong connections, enhance satisfaction, and encourage repeat business. By consistently delivering value and addressing customer needs, businesses create a positive customer experience, fostering long-term loyalty and sustained profitability.

Sonja Vitas
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Sonja Vitas
Content Editor

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