I am a big believer in retention marketing because it works.

Retention marketing is marketing you do to customers you have acquired through past purchases.

It is also far cheaper to retain customers than to acquire new ones – like 5 to 25 times cheaper, depending upon your industry. My personal experience is that it is about 7x cheaper to retain than to acquire.

I built out my internal systems so that I can do pretty effective and sophisticated retention marketing.  I won’t go into detail on those systems but you can get an idea of the technology infrastructure I use to help me do retention marketing.

What I want to do in this post is list out the specific methods that can be employed for retention marketing and what I do with respect to these methods.


When they purchase, you email them a receipt.  But transactional communication can also include shipping information, review emails and customer service emails.

I customize my transactional receipts to cross-sell them on my other products and services.  I also try to advertise the availability of any other helpful free offerings, like a link to a recent blog post.

My review emails are requests for product reviews, but I also include images and links to my product and service groupings, in an effort to do some cr0ss-selling.

I love selling digital products with lifetime access. This gives me an excuse to email the customers of these products one or two times per year with information about any updates I have made to them and to remind them that they have lifetime access.  In the email, I also include images and links to my product and service grouping in an effort to do some cross-selling.

Email List

I automatically put all new customers on my email list, which is the best way for me to do retention marketing. I do general email blasts as well as targeted email blasts based on segments that I create using my customer database.

Social Channels

I post content regularly to my social channels for my subscribers there to see.


I have an online forum or community through my social channels where members can join and participate and I actively participate in it, manage it, and showcase member posts, either on the community, or elsewhere in my advertising.


I consistently retarget my customer base especially on Facebook, mostly with branding-related content, but sometimes with direct marketing content.  Retagreting can also be done on other social and advertising channels. I find the branding-related content works better. Usually, that content is new posts that I will boost or a link to a recent list email that I sent.  This is just another way to help stay top of mind with my customers.

Direct mail

To keep costs low, I use targeted direct mail based on segments I create using my customer database. I usually am only sending direct mail pieces to my best customers to keep them engaged.  Content is usually around invite to events or to reward them with free product or samples.

Logistics and shipping

This is more related to transactional, but I make it a separate category to distinguish it from digital communication.  In this method, I am customizing the shipment to the purchaser, which usually means inserting specific content pieces into the shipment.  I like to put in additional helpful information about the product purchased and how to use it as well as marketing information.

Product packaging

One thing I have been trying for awhile without much success is to include specific calls to action on the label of the product itself.  I usually put a special URL to drive them to a landing page for something helpful or free.  My primary reason for doing this is to see if I can siphon off purchasers at retail to instead become direct buyers from me and not the resellers/retailers.

Loyalty programs

I have not directly used loyalty programs in my businesses, but this is a way to do retention marketing.  I sort of indirectly do loyalty marketing through the special offers and perks I give to my best customers.

Physical contact

Anyway I can meet my customers, I will do that.  If my business is local, I try to hold events and invite my customers.  The more one-on-one interaction I have with them, the higher potential there is to create a bond with them through the personal interaction.


This generally means to personalize my website so that each customer is served specific content for them, but you can think of personalization in direct mail and physical contact channels.  For a website, personalization takes more advanced back end heavy lifting of the website to be able to recognize customers and customize content based on predefined rules and data about the customer.

Personalization also encompasses products, where customers can get a product tailored to their needs


Ask your customers to help you design products and services.  Involve them in the process which is not just a way to connect with them and retain them, but also a way to help design products and services that your customers will buy.

Those are the methods I can think of and use.

Another important element to retention marketing is data collection.  As much as possible, you want to be able to track how the above activities work for you.  To do that you want to pay special attention to setting up your infrastructure so that all your activities and results flow into your database.