There’s no way to succeed in business today without focusing on new customer acquisition. But in doing so, many marketers overlook an equally important goal: customer retention.Having a strong customer retention strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, email marketing to existing customers is extremely cost-effective. And because they’re already on board with your brand, you have all the information you need to reach out with targeted retention email campaigns.

Why you should send customer retention emails

  • Better customer experience. Staying in touch with customers will improve their experience – and your reputation.
  • Optimized marketing spend. It costs 5x as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. And despite competition from social media, email marketing to existing customers is still the most cost-effective strategy out there.
  • Increased customer lifetime value (CLV). A strong customer retention strategy gives you more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell other products. You can increase the revenue potential from each customer with carefully targeted retention emails.

So, introducing a few key messages to your marketing emails is a great place to start. Here are 5 retention emails which will reduce churn, increase customer value and keep people coming back to your brand.

#1 Send Welcome Emails

Smart marketers always send out a welcome email right after someone signs up for their newsletter or opens an account. Send your audience an immediate reminder of why they signed up to ensure they won’t unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam.

The welcome email is also an opportunity to introduce yourself and explain more about your products and features. At a minimum, your welcome email should remind customers who you are, explain the value of your brand and offer some easy next steps.

Here’s a good example of a welcome email from e-signature tool HelloSign:


It offers a friendly introduction, highlights some less well-known product features and finally directs subscribers to the Help Center if they have questions.

#2 Send Friendly Reminders to Customers

It might seem strange to send email marketing to existing customers. Surely they already know about your products… right? But a friendly reminder at the right time will create a repeat customer.

There are several popular ways that e-commerce stores use reminder and retention emails:

  • Cart abandonment. Remind shoppers of the products they liked, and maybe even offer a discount to tempt them back to the checkout.
  • Product recommendations. Send personalized suggestions for individual shoppers.
  • Repeat purchases. If your products are a regular order – a three-month supply of contact lenses, for example – send customers a reminder when they’re almost ready to shop again.

B2B and service-based businesses can use friendly reminders to upsell and cross-sell as well. For example, an agency already doing design work for a client could send out reminders about their other services, such as marketing automation or SEO.

Reminders are also great for subscription-based products, to remind customers about recurring payments. Here’s a great example of a friendly reminder from an email tracking tool:

Not only do they remind customers to upgrade after a free trial, but they also provide an exclusive coupon code to encourage them to convert.

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#3 Hand Out Rewards and Exclusive Offers

Most people sign up to receive emails because they want access to special promotions, insider information, or early-bird offers.

Reward customer loyalty by sending out special offers associated with significant events throughout the year, such as the holidays, a mid-month blow-out, a year-end special, or even the anniversary of a subscriber signing up for your email list. (Personalized retention emails can do wonders.)

Here’s an example of an exclusive offer email from SEMrush, designed to encourage subscribers to get more out of their software:

SEMrush offers a free copy of a popular digital marketing book when subscribers set up some of the platform’s tools. The email serves a dual purpose: offering value and encouraging subscribers to use the software more. Both of those purposes result in better customer retention.

Regularly sending out rewards ensures that your audience stays engaged and continues to invest in your business.

#4 Email Existing Customers with Review Requests

Asking for feedback is another multi-purpose strategy. First, it shows customers that you value their opinion. Second, you can use that feedback to keep improving your business and the service you offer.

E-commerce businesses can do this by sending out product review requests, while service-based businesses can send out a quick survey to get feedback.

Here’s an example of a simple survey request email from a consultant and content marketer:

She uses emails like this to both engage her audience, and collect valuable information to help make her marketing message more relevant to subscribers’ interests and needs.

Feedback request emails can also ask customers to provide reviews on public platforms such as Google My Business, Amazon (for e-commerce products), Yelp!, etc. Some services, like Trustpilot, give you review links to share so that your customers’ reviews will be highlighted as “verified buyers.”

Subscribers will feel more encouraged to act knowing their opinion will be seen by other shoppers. Meanwhile, garnering positive public reviews is also good for your online reputation and SEO.

#5 Send Regular Re-Engagement Emails

Re-engagement emails are designed to bring back previous customers (or even leads) who have stopped interacting with your business. So this isn’t so much email marketing for existing customers, as email marketing for missed connections.

You can use your customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track customer engagement. Set up retention emails which are triggered when someone hasn’t engaged with your brand in a while.

You can also send out re-engagement emails when someone unsubscribes from your service, as an effort to get them to change their mind. Here’s an example of such an email from Netflix:

The most effective re-engagement emails include some kind of special offer or discount. The discount doesn’t have to be permanent, just something to get them active again, like 15% off of a service or two months free subscription.

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Start Email Marketing to Existing Customers

There are a lot of factors that influence whether a customer will stick around with your business or just be a one-time buyer. So there are a lot of different ways to send retention emails!

Use these five examples to think about what would work for your business. Do you want more reviews? To reduce churn? To get better at upselling? Once you’ve identified a goal for email marketing to existing customers, try using one of these examples as a template for your campaign.

Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.