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Practical Customer retention strategies that any business can use

Once you gain a customer, you want them to keep coming back. That’s why retention needs to be at the heart of your digital strategy in maintaining, communicating and building a relationship with your existing customer base. 

So, where do you start?

Know your customer 

Before you begin your retention strategy, a key requirement is understanding who your customer is.

Once you have a better understanding of your audience, you can choose a retention strategy in line with your existing base. To start with, build a profile of the types of customers that interact with your business.

Retention is really all about engaging with people who have already purchased from you, so you should ideally have a wealth of knowledge to begin with – from how they interacted on your website to their purchase patterns. 

Key customer insights to analyse: 

Sales – Average order value, Repeat purchases, Geographical location, Gender and Most popular categories searched.

Channels of interaction with your business – Social Media: Organic & Paid ads, Email, retargeting – (another thing to note is which of these channels is most profitable for the business).

Customer Personas – To bring your data ‘to life’, create categorise your existing base by their personas. This list should be based on the data you’ve collected such as age, cost of purchased, channels they’ve interacted with, frequency of website visits, mobile users etc.

To learn more about customer personas, click here to read our blog post Customer Personas 101: How Well Do You Know Your Customer?

What are your objectives?

Once you have an understanding of your ideal customer personas, you should have enough information to create a set of objectives as to why you need a retention strategy. To ensure success, create your retention objectives around SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely).

For example:

Drive 20% of existing customers to make a repeat purchase within 6 months.

Drive 20% of first time website visitors to return to your website using retarget advertising strategies. 

Drive 40% of existing customers to take action on the website within 12 months. This would be defined such as: visiting the website, logging into their account, making a repeat purchase etc.

Retention Tactics

Once you have your objectives, you can begin to define how you plan to realise them – by identifying the digital strategies to use as a retention tactic. The tactic you choose should be justified from the customer data you’ve analysed and how they interact with your business. 

As an example, here are a few strategies that have been created with defined retention measurements that are linked back to objectives: 

Email marketing for Retention

Create multiple email newsletter designs (and content) for your existing customer base and monitor the effectiveness of the emails. Segment the base into groups and see which emails drive the best results. This could be site visits, purchases, or referrals, depending on your content.

Social media for Retention

A social media strategy for retention includes a content plan to drive timely and engaging content through your social channels that is focused on your existing customer base. 

Retarget Advertising (retargeting)

This is vital retention tactic as 90% of first time web visitors do not convert into a lead or sale. Retargetting is an extremely effective strategy that ensures your brand is top of mind to these visitors.

You would have seen examples of retargeting for eg: when you go to buy an airline ticket or hotel for instance, you will see the airlines or hotel brand nearly everywhere when you are on the internet.

The big companies do this really well and this is now also available to small businesses extremely affordably.

Monitor, manage and measure your performance

Once you have your chosen retention plan in place, it’s important to monitor and measure performance and the effectiveness of each campaign.

This will be easier if you have a KPI (key performance indicator) for each campaign. This way, all the data can be quantified and provide on-going measurement. 


The use of retention tactics is a vital part of the customer lifecycle journey, and can be extremely profitable if handled correctly. So, take your time and ensure that you have a solid strategy in place that engages with your existing customer base.

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