How to Use Email Marketing for Customer Retention

Email Marketing for Customer Retention

As a small business owner, you know the importance of customer retention. Your most profitable customers are those who make repeat visits and repeat purchases. But you won’t get those repeat sales unless you help customers remember you when they’re ready to make their next purchase. That’s where email marketing comes in.

Email marketing is the most cost-effective tool for retaining customers. Email marketing allows you to strengthen relationships with existing customers and clients by providing them with resources, highlighting your business’ value, and upselling them on products and services. In fact, a whopping 64 percent of small businesses currently use email marketing as a way to keep in contact with their bases. Keep reading to learn how email marketing can help with your customer retention efforts and discover tips on creating messaging sure to achieve your goals. 

Why Customer Retention Is Important

Small business owners often make the mistake of assuming all customers are created equal. However, the truth is that acquiring new customers tends to be far more expensive than keeping the old ones around. According to research, businesses typically spend 16 times more attracting new customers than retaining their current ones. Despite this truth, research reveals that nearly half of companies focus more of their efforts and funding on acquisition than retention. In a post-pandemic world, keeping your customers loyal is more important than ever. Fortunately, the right email marketing strategy can help boost engagement while ensuring customers remain connected and interested in your brand. 

How Email Marketing Helps Retain Customers

Research shows that email marketing can have a profound effect on the way customers feel about the businesses they frequent on a regular basis. According to one study, the most likely reason for lost customers is a lack of relationship building on the part of the company. Compared to other methods, email marketing has the highest return on investment in terms of retention messaging. In fact, the median ROI of email marketing is 122 percent, a number that beats out social media, direct mail messaging, and paid search, often for a fraction of the cost. The trick is to craft emails that appeal to your customer base rather than just clogging their inboxes. 

Types of Emails That Aid in Retention

The right email can have a profound effect on your customer retention efforts. To that end, savvy marketers create a calendar of customer retention emails with a goal of prompting different customer behaviors throughout the year. Here are some types of emails known to aid in retention.

Onboarding Emails

Businesses often send out an onboarding email welcoming new customers or subscribers. However, few marketers use this email to its full advantage. The fact is that onboarding emails offer a great opportunity to familiarize customers with your brand while also setting expectations for what they can expect from you moving forward. Also with providing information on your company, you may want to include instructions to accompany a recent purchase or frequently asked questions regarding a product or service. This welcome email is also a great time to provide customers with a link to your email preference center. Doing this gives subscribers a chance to personalize their email experience by choosing topics that are particularly interesting or relevant to them.


Everyone likes receiving something for nothing, and your subscribers are no exception. So, it’s only logical that freebie emails would be one of the best choices for customer retention. Depending on the type of company you operate, you may choose to send webinars, white papers, training programs, or product discounts. For best results, select a freebie related to the customer’s previous purchases and include a call to action that shows customers how to access their gift or deal.

Thank You Emails

Who doesn’t enjoy hearing the words “thank you” when they’ve done something right? If you want to keep current customers engaged, consider sending a note of gratitude after a purchase. A thank you email tends to make a welcome change from the plethora of spam messages and sales pitches clogging up inboxes these days. Additionally, this type of message allows you to show customers that they play a vital role in the story of your business. Let them know you appreciate their loyalty and that you wouldn’t be here without them. 


Customers can be fickle, and just because they love your brand today doesn’t mean they’ll think of you the next time they have a purchase to make. If you want to connect with customers you haven’t seen for some time, reengagement emails are an effective option. Start by looking at your email list and creating a segment for customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while. Then send an email reconnecting them with your brand. For best results, pique their interest by highlighting products and services likely to appeal to them based on past behavior. You can also offer a discount based on their past interactions with your company. 

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Usage Reports

It might not pay to toot your own horn in social scenarios. However, in a marketing environment, you shouldn’t hesitate to show customers the value they’re getting from your products and services. In particular, service-based businesses may want to send annual summary emails detailing how customers have benefited from their purchases. For example, a neighborhood spin bike studio could inform subscribers of how many classes they took this year along with an estimation of the calories they burned as a result. On the other hand, a gymnastics school might send a report of how many medals its students won at meets this year

The commercial world may be more competitive than ever at present. However, the right email marketing strategy can ensure you keep your current customers while others are scrambling for subscribers. Working with your marketing team, you can create an events-based email marketing calendar that engages customers and builds loyalty. The end result is that customers will choose you instead of your competition the next time they need to make a purchase.