How To Write Captivating Customer Retention Emails to Turn One-time Buyers Into Lifelong Fans

customer retention emails cover image with an old key

Customer retention emails are sent to existing customers to maintain their loyalty and encourage them to continue doing business with you.

Have you ever poured your heart and soul (not to mention your budget) into acquiring a new customer only to see them disappear after the first purchase?

Customers leave for many reasons, such as lack of product quality, poor customer service, or better offers and promotions from competitors.

But what if you could transform those one-time buyers into loyal fans? The answer lies in writing captivating retention emails.

Let’s unpack the definitions, types of retention emails, and examples to help boost engagement and build lasting relationships.

What is a Customer Retention Email?

A customer retention email is an email marketing strategy designed to strengthen the relationship between your business and its existing customers.

There are times when customers may purchase from you and completely forget about your brand. A retention email can help you showcase your brand’s importance through captivating stories, updates, or email coupons.

Sending a retention email depends on your specific goals and customer actions. 

They come under one of these categories:

  1. Welcome emails, 
  2. Abandoned cart emails, 
  3. Promotional emails,
  4. Post-purchase emails,
  5. Re-engagement emails,
  6. Feedback emails, 
  7. Referral emails.

A well-written retention email can put you back in the game, keeping your brand top of customers’ minds.

5 Reasons to Send Customer Retention Emails 

While acquiring new customers is necessary, retaining the existing ones is even more important. Existing customers have already shown interest in your products or services, which makes it easier to engage them.

Consider sending retention emails for the following reasons: 

  1. They are cost-effective: Acquiring new customers may be more expensive than retaining the current ones. Retention emails leverage the existing customer base, maximizing return on investment.
  2. They boost customer lifetime value: Loyal and happy customers spend more in the long run. Retention emails encourage repeat purchases to increase the overall value a customer brings to your business.
  3. They reduce customer churn: Retention emails help re-engage customers who have lost interest or are busy through special rewards.
  4. They build brand loyalty: Whether it’s birthday greetings or exclusive offers, customer retention emails create a positive brand experience, encouraging repeat business.
  5. They increase customer engagement: Consistent communication helps keep customers updated about your brand, increasing engagement.

Customers likely have varying interests and preferences. So, what happens when you send retention emails without understanding what caused them to leave?

You probably won’t see any results from your email marketing campaigns. This is natural, and a way to avoid it is to use email marketing metrics to understand your audiences.

3 Critical Customer Retention Email Metrics to Track

Customer retention metrics help you know if you are headed in the right direction. Seeing a dip in values could mean you need to adopt a different approach.

These 3 retention metrics show how well your retention emails perform and the areas for improvement.

Retention Email Metric Definition  Formula 
Customer retention rateThe percentage of customers a business retains over a specified period Total number of customers at the end of the period – New customers acquired / Customers at the start of the period
Customer lifetime value The total revenue a customer brings to the company during their entire journeyCustomer value x Average customer lifespan 
Customer churn rate The percentage of customers who stop using your products within a given periodNumber of customers at start of the year – Number of customers at the end of year / Number of customers at start of year
Customer retention email metrics

While these metrics can give you a fair idea of what to expect from your retention email performance, they shouldn’t be considered the final result. The outcomes can vary with your business type and customer purchase frequency.

For example, beauty customers may visit a nail salon once a month. Whereas, customers of a grocery store may purchase on a daily basis.

Depending on the nature of your business, you can increase the customer’s lifetime value through up-selling and cross-selling. But before we get into the specifics, let’s go over the steps explaining how to write a perfect customer retention email.

How to Write Proper Customer Retention Emails in 7 Steps

The process of writing a great retention email starts with segmenting your audiences for a more tailored approach. 

Let’s go through other important factors to help you craft retention emails that get more responses.

1. Segment Your Audience

Generic emails show your customers that you haven’t done your research. Imagine sending similar emails to two completely different individuals with varied interests. The result would be bad open rates or, worse, increased spam complaints.

Avoid blasting generic messages to customers. Instead, segment them based on their needs, preferences, and demographics. 

You can accomplish this by:

  • Gathering data on customers’ age, location, previous purchase history, etc.
  • Monitoring their engagement levels and dividing high and low engagement customers.
  • Collecting feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, and social media interactions.
  • Understanding their email communication preferences.
  • Considering where they are in the buyer’s journey or customer lifecycle stage.

2. Personalize Retention Emails

When you segment your audiences correctly, you will have enough data to personalize each retention email you send. Beyond just including recipient names, tailor your messages to suit customer pain points and needs.

For example, you can send customized product recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases or include products to complement their existing purchases.

Other methods that can help you personalize retention emails are:

  • Send targeted discounts and promotions depending on the customers’ purchase preferences.
  • Use dynamic content blocks to show personalized recommendations, images, or offers specific to each customer’s behavior.
  • Regularly test different personalization strategies and content formats to determine what resonates best with your audience.

3. Start With the End Goal in Mind

Although this sounds counter-intuitive, starting with the end goal lets you nitpick the important details before creating your emails. 

Ask yourself these important questions:

  1. What’s your goal with this retention email?
  2. What would you like customers to do next?

Answering these will help you send email content that provides value and encourages recipients to take the desired action.

4. Make the Subject Line Stand Out

33% of people decide to open an email based on the subject line. Unfortunately, most email marketers spend 80% of their time refining the email copy and devote less time to the subject line.

And the result is lower open rates and declining brand credibility. 

To increase open rates and engagement, provide concise and relevant subject lines. You have to create urgency and show customers what they might miss out if they don’t take immediate action.

5. Offer Exclusive Rewards

Rewards help customers feel valued, appreciated, and incentivized to keep coming back. Don’t stuff retention emails with discounts, instead, find an organized way to give back to the customers.

For example, you can run a contest or a user-generated campaign and encourage customers to participate for a reward. The reward strategy depends on various factors such as customer type and campaign goals. Ensure you analyze customer background, product type, and your overall marketing objectives.

6. Create a Schedule

Retention emails are never random — create a schedule that meets customer expectations. For example, you can send emails every Thursday instead of sending four emails a week and none the next week.

Generally, the best time to send emails are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10 am – 3 pm. This is when most recipients check their emails and generate responses. However, for optimal results, study customer behavior and preferences before setting up your email marketing calendar. 

7. End With a Strong CTA

The call-to-action (CTA) button tells customers what they should do next. You spark curiosity with the email introduction, convince them to act in the body copy, and tell them how to act in the CTA section.

Here are examples of CTAs that work:

  • Try pro for free,
  • Claim your 40% discount,
  • Add to cart,
  • View more.

A retention email strategy is not a one-size-fits-all plan. To connect and re-engage with customers, you need a multi-layered email campaign that caters to different stages of their customer journey.

How to Tailor Email Campaigns According to Customer Journeys

Retention emails are the most relevant when they are targeted to the specific customer stage. 

Here’s how to develop a winning retention email according to various stages:

  • Map the stages: Identify key touchpoints of the customer journey, from awareness to post-purchase and beyond.
  • Consider pain points and motivation: Answer critical questions such as what are your customers’ needs at various stages? What could cause them to churn?
  • Develop targeted email sequences: Find ways to rekindle excitement and interest for new, existing, and dormant customers. You can start with a welcome email series, engage them with a post-purchase series, and engage active customers with milestone emails.
  • Personalize and optimize: Use customer behavioral data to tailor email content and A/B test retention emails to find what works. Track key metrics and refine your approach based on data insights.

As you get to the specifics of customers’ needs, you can craft emails to engage them on time, as opposed to letting them engage whenever they feel like it.

Depending on your circumstances, you can use any type of customer retention email below.

Types of Customer Retention Emails 

Certain retention emails may see more engagement than other types. For example, a discount email could garner more interest from people who have already purchased similar products in the past. Whereas, a newsletter with curated content may have minimal interactions due to its generic nature.

This is because customers’ preferences change as they move along the email marketing funnel. You can keep up with their needs through one of the following retention email types.

Types of Retention Emails What to Include? 
Thank-you emailsExpress gratitude to customers for their recent purchase or participation in a program
Special offers and discounts Offer exclusive rewards and discounts to encourage repeat purchases
Product recommendationsRecommend relevant products or purchases based on past history 
Customer surveys Send emails to gather feedback and tailor campaigns accordingly
Birthday/anniversary emailsCelebrate milestone anniversaries or other special occasions with coupons or discounts
Welcome emails Send informative content about your brand and let customers know what they can expect in the future
Types of retention emails

Let’s do a quick review of these emails, give you tips to improve them, and provide retention email examples for inspiration.

Thank You Retention Emails

Thank you emails are a powerful way to express gratitude for customers’ continued brand support. Sending the right messages at the right time will help build lasting relationships and encourage repeat business.

You can use these tips to craft better thank-you retention emails:

  • Express genuine gratitude for their loyalty rather than saying, “Thank you for your order.”
  • Personalize emails with customers’ names and reference a specific action.
  • Include helpful resources, tips, and industry news to guide them toward a particular action.
  • Integrate thank-you emails with your customer journey and send them after specific customer interactions with your brand.

Thank You Retention Email Example

Athletic Brewing’s thank you email is simple yet personalized. It also showcases brand achievements and other information.

Thank-you retention email
Thank You Retention Email Example. Source

Special Discounts and Rewards Retention Email

Rewards help captivate customer interest and retain them long-term. But merely providing them is not enough.

Balance your emails with informative content and discounts with these tips:

  • Tailor offers based on their recent actions instead of generic rewards.
  • Explain how the offer benefits the customer.
  • Pair discounts with product descriptions or high-quality images to re-ignite customer interest.

Rewards Retention Email Example

Marriot’s retention email includes information on status upgrades and guides users toward the next steps.

Special rewards retention email
Rewards Retention Email Example. Source

Product Recommendation Retention Email 

Product recommendation emails allow customers to explore more products, increasing the chances of engagement. These emails contain curated products based on specific customer interests and actions. 

Keep these best practices in mind before you send another product recommendation email:

  • Analyze purchase history, browsing data, and demographics to recommend relevant products.
  • Don’t just suggest similar items, use the data to identify complementary products that can elevate the customer lifestyle.
  • A/B test different strategies to understand what resonates with your audiences.

Product Recommendation Retention Email Example

Old Pal uses a simple-themed retention email template to show the benefits of wearing a black tee.

Product recommendation email
Product Recommendation Retention Email Example. Source

Customer Survey Retention Email

Surveys can be a goldmine of information, but getting customers to participate can be a challenge. 

Use these tips to create relevant surveys that encourage customer participation:

  • State the purpose of the survey and its benefits at the beginning of the email.
  • Spark interest with a playful question in the subject line to get them to open the email.
  • Highlight the importance of their feedback.
  • Clearly state the estimated time it takes to complete the survey.

Customer Survey Retention Email Example

Miro sends a straightforward email survey encouraging recipients to take part.

Survey retention email
Survey retention email example. Source

Birthday/Anniversary Retention Email

Birthdays or special occasions are prime opportunities to connect with customers on a personal level and strengthen the relationship. 

These ideas will help you craft captivating occasion emails:

  • Personalize the subject line beyond “Happy birthday” or similar wishes. You can include a special offer or provide early access as a gift.
  • Highlight shared history with your customers and show them how they have helped shape your brand values.
  • Thank them for their continued support and loyalty.

Birthday Retention Email Example

Drizly’s “Halfy Birthday” wishes are pretty funny and memorable. The brand gives customers the next steps by providing a “Shop your favorites” category.

Birthday retention email
Birthday Retention Email Example. Source

Welcome Retention Email 

Welcome emails are sent to new subscribers showcasing your brand values and benefits. These emails create the first impressions and show recipients what they can expect from you in the future.

Welcome email is one of the most important emails that sets the tone for all other brand emails. We have put together the email elements and tips to ensure you hit it off in the first go!

Email Component/ AspectTips to Better It 
Subject line Keep it clear, concise, and intriguing. For example, “Welcome to the club [name]”
Greeting Send a warm greeting with the recipient’s first name
Email body Set expectations regarding the welcome email frequency, content type, and timing
Highlight value proposition and offer discounts if applicable
CTAInclude a compelling CTA prompting them to take the next steps. For example, “Explore a product category”
Social media integration Provide links to your brand’s social handles to increase the likelihood of visits
Email components of a welcome retention email

Your end goal with all these email types should be to increase customer satisfaction levels rather than selling more products. A happy customer will keep coming back for more and may spread the word, indirectly increasing the likelihood of sales.

However, to succeed with your retention emails, you must send them through a reliable email services platform that automates processes and follows email-sending best practices.

How to Send Customer Retention Emails 

You can send retention emails through a personal mailbox, but we don’t recommend this approach because it increases the risks of spam complaints or blacklisting, in worse scenarios.

By using a reputable ESP like Campaign Refinery, you will be able to produce quicker and better retention email campaigns with the following features and tools:

  • Automatic email list-cleaning: This tool automatically removes harmful email addresses from email lists. The result is a verified email address list with active subscribers.
  • Segmentation and targeting: You can use the “Tags” feature” to micro-segment audiences and send highly relevant content. 
  • Personalization features: Utilize the dynamic content fields to hyper-personalize emails for a more relevant and engaging customer experience.
  • Email templates and drag-and-drop builders: Short of time? Use our pre-built email campaigns and customize them for a more brand-aligned look.
  • Automation workflows: Craft automated email sequences that trigger based on customer actions or inactions. 
  • Reporting and insights: Gain valuable insights into retention email performance with detailed reports on all email campaign metrics.
  • Evergreen flash sale: Use this feature to promote time-sensitive offers and encourage quicker participation from customers.
  • Engagement rewards: Incentivize customers through powerful rewards for every action they take on your emails. 

While these tools and features support and enhance your emails, the success of your retention messages depend on your strategies and best practices.

Let’s go over this crucial information that makes the difference between a boring message and a winning retention email.

Customer Retention Emails: Best Practices and Pro Tips 

Increase relevancy with customer data and email marketing tools, instead of relying on generic email blasts. When you find a gap in your email metrics, analyze the causes and take remedial measures to fix them immediately.

This translates to better customer experience for users, and increased brand credibility for you. 

These tips will help you win-back the love of your existing customers:

  • Go beyond discounts: While discounts are great, they don’t entirely sum up your brand’s potential. Instead, provide exclusive access to new products, VIP experiences, and loyalty rewards programs. You can also go old-school and use physical cards to help them remember you. 
  • Share your expert knowledge: Include care instructions or how-to guides with every product, including digital downloads. This way, customers see you as a reputable brand rather than just a place to buy things.
  • Give them something others will notice: Depending on your business, give customers something that others will take note of. It can be a useful luggage tag or a funny sticker for cars. 
  • Leverage user-generated content: Show how others benefit from your product or services. Include videos, photos, and behind-the-scenes if possible.
  • Use fear of missing out phenomenon (FOMO): Use FOMO to create a scarcity effect and encourage people to take immediate action.

As you start creating retention emails, you may notice fluctuations in email deliverability and sender reputation. This can happen because of the ESP’s faulty setup or your email-sending habits, including the type of email content and frequency.

Campaign Refinery eliminates these uncertainties and offers tools to increase your inbox placement rates. This means your emails will reach your recipients quickly and efficiently.

Reach and Keep Your Customers with Campaign Refinery 

Campaign Refinery focuses on reliability and deliverability — your retention emails will be delivered in seconds of sending them. Our sending system batches thousands of emails and sends them at the same time, increasing efficiency.

Sending speed is a critical factor that determines email deliverability rates. Our fast sending speed combined with good-sending practices and built-in tools, helps us offer the highest email deliverability rate on the market. 

We handpick clients to determine compatibility and work only with responsible and serious senders. As our client, you will get access to premium email marketing tools and be amongst an elite sender community.

Schedule emails precisely and never miss a customer moment — apply and become a top sender with Campaign Refinery.

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