How to Drive Revenue From Retention Email Marketing

  |  July 17, 2012   |  Comments

Four types of email campaigns designed for existing customers.

Having an automated email campaign focused on retaining customers should be a key part of your email marketing strategy. This includes emails that are automatically triggered during the retention stage of the customer's lifecycle with the goal to drive more purchases, solicit reviews, build evangelists, and "re-permission" lapsed customers. These campaigns are normally sent to existing customers who have purchased at least once.

The key is to develop targeted automated interactions triggered at key touch points in the retention loop of the customer's lifecycle.

Here are four engaging and revenue-generating email campaigns to target customers at those key stages:

1. The birthday email. The birthday email is a great way to give something back to your customers and thank them for their loyalty to your brand. Send your customers an offer before, on, or around their birthday. Keep the email copy personal and thank them for being a loyal customer.

Don't have customers' birthday dates in your data? Then I recommend asking for the birthday month and day in the preference center during the welcome program and/or as a constant link in the footer of your normal email messages.

2. Review solicitation. A review solicitation program is an email campaign sent post-purchase to encourage customers to write a review of the product(s) they have purchased. This is a great way get product reviews, build loyalty, and drive customers back to your website.

Keep this email copy personal with short copy, few images, and little to no promotions. Where possible include in the email creative the actual products the customer has purchased. As an incentive for someone to leave a review, you could offer a competition. For instance, people who write a review could be entered into a competition to win a $1,000 gift card.

Also, you can send this email to customers who have not subscribed to email. If it is a transactional email, be sure there's no promotional language. But what you can do is include a "sign up to newsletter" call out in the email creative.

Tip: Exclude any customers who have active complaints, have requested a refund, etc.

3. Replenishment program. This is one of my favorites, although the name can sometimes be misleading. Replenishment, in this case, refers to anything that can be replaced over time. This is the time when someone will actually run out of something and also the time they are more likely to be thinking about purchasing the product or items again. Examples include: perfume, contact lenses, groceries, underwear, medical scrubs, and many more.

Another program similar to the replenish program is a back-in-stock campaign. This involves emailing customers who have shown interest in a product that was out of stock but now is back in stock, or there are items in a similar category that have new stock. You can get subscribers' interests from preference data and from websites browsed data.

4. Re-permission. The re-permission program is to win back customers who have not purchased in a certain time period. This can be one single automated email or a series of emails encouraging them to purchase again. Normally an incentive is used to entice them to purchase.

This is very easy to implement when you have the last purchase date in your customer database. Just automate it to trigger XX days after the last purchase date. You could think about segmenting further into active and inactive customers, resulting in two segments:

  • Subscribers that have not purchased in XX days and have opened or clicked email in the last 30 days.
  • Subscribers that have not purchased in XX days and have not opened or clicked any email in 30 days-plus.

Again, keep the email copy personal with a clear call to action.

These are four simple but effective ways to use email for interactions targeted at key touch points in the retention stage of the customer's lifecycle.

What other emails campaigns have you used?


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Matthew Hayes

Matt Hayes is the director of services strategy at Lyris. With experience in the e-mail industry both in the U.S. and in the U.K., Matt has deep knowledge and experience working with clients in the strategy and development of welcome programs, lifecycle campaigns, list retention and growth, Web behavior segmentation, and e-mail design. Matt started his e-mail career at a U.K. agency that became Lyris UK and was instrumental in managing e-mail marketing campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the U.K. Matt's background is specialized in high-end fashion retail where he set up revenue-driving campaigns. In 2009, Matt moved to San Francisco to manage a team of campaign specialists and drove e-mail marketing strategy for clients in the U.S.

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