April 19, 2018

6 Ways Automation Can Improve Your Customer Retention Marketing

Reading time about 7 min

One of the hardest parts of growing your business is maintaining good relationships with your customers. But, this is essential if you want to keep them coming back to your business. Automation lets you optimize your customer retention marketing by scaling personalized messages at key points in the customer journey. 

Marketing automation has always been a hot topic in digital marketing. But in recent years, it’s gotten even more attention due to its unmatched ability to provide streamlined interactions at scale.

With the shift toward more personalized communications, marketing automation offers a solution for businesses looking to improve their retention and acquisition efforts at scale. Here are six concrete areas of customer retention marketing that marketing automation improves.

How to Improve Customer Retention Marketing with Marketing Automation

1. Start the Customer Relationship off on the Right Foot

Using marketing automation to welcome new customers and subscribers is a great way to make a first impression.

Start by creating a workflow that sends a welcome email to new customers. Then, you can include content thanking them for their business and encouraging them to become repeat shoppers. Laying this foundation is the most effective way to build brand loyalty with your customers.

Similarly, you can send an email to new subscribers saying thank you for signing up. You can also include more information about what they can expect from your future emails.

Including a special offer in your initial email is never a bad idea either. New subscribers are usually more engaged, so there’s a higher possibility of new contacts seeing your offer and making a purchase.

Plus, many savvy shoppers actually subscribe to an email list first to see if there is a welcome offer. If you don’t provide one, they may go to your competition who does! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to start building trust and loyalty from your first interaction.

This loyalty will help with customer retention and keep them coming back for more.

2. Improve the Sales Process

Automation can also help refine the sales process. Sending automated emails to leads with useful information at specific points in the sales process will slowly guide them down the funnel.

Using this technique creates a more targeted experience that is reactive to your customers’ behavior. This ensures that you aren’t sending highly conversion-focused emails to leads too soon in the process, which makes for a better first impression of your business. Some examples of this include:

  • Thanking users for signing up for a free trial with help resources to get them started before trying to get them to upgrade
  • Reaching out to ask leads if they have any questions or would like more detailed pricing information after visiting your pricing page more than once

Depending on the nature of the product or service, you may also want to provide resources along the way to increase the likelihood of converting leads into customers. You can even implement a lead scoring system to qualify sales targets. More detailed offerings and larger ticket items often necessitate these types of educational approaches to encourage the sale.

Adding promotional offers to the mix can also be a good idea to build foster customer loyalty from the beginning. After all, who doesn’t like to start off with a discount!

For events like conferences and concerts, using marketing automation to send out different promotional offers depending on how close the event is. Offering early bird discounts or last-minute incentives is a perfect example of how marketing automation can increase revenue.

Improving the sales process with these tactics will also help with customer retention. By sending the right message at the right time, you are gradually moving leads to the point of conversion rather than inundating them with bulk marketing offers in the hopes of getting them to convert.

This builds more trust from the outset with your customers, which translates into loyalty and retention.

3. Onboard Customers

Once leads have signed up or made a purchase, automation enables you to onboard customers and set them up for success.

Start by sending customers a welcome email with helpful resources and your customer service contact information to get them started. Then you can use CTAs in various onboarding messages to direct them through the necessary activation steps, continuing to provide information on resources to answer their questions along the way.

Taking this incremental approach to activating new users will help them see all of the value of your business and improve retention over time. It will also reassure them that they have all of the tools they need to succeed and that they made the right purchase decision.

To see how this works in action, consider a SaaS CRM company. When a new user signs up for the service, it’s a great opportunity to teach them best practices from the get-go. This is achieved by including helpful beginner tutorials on best practices of CRM usage in the welcome email.

The following emails could contain CTAs to complete the various steps for getting started with the platform and exploring all of the features, for example:

  • Completing account profile
  • Uploading contacts
  • Setting up goals or triggers
  • Creating email templates for nurturing or follow-ups

Taking an incremental approach gives users the proper amount of time to learn proper usage and get to know all of the different features. This creates more investment in the product because users won’t want to switch from a platform that they know very well, leading to higher retention in the long run.

4. Follow Up on Abandoned Carts

The problem of abandoned carts is all too familiar for eCommerce merchants.

Sometimes shoppers are scared off by high shipping costs or other purchase variables, and other times they just get distracted and leave the page before finishing the purchase.

Use marketing automation to remind shoppers that there are products waiting for them and incentivize them to return. Automated emails can offer a promotional discount, suggest related products, give shipping information, or provide customer service contact information. Be sure to include as much as you can to ensure that their concerns (cost, shipping, etc.) are addressed.

In eCommerce, customer retention marketing is all about getting customers to make repeat purchases. Following up on abandoned carts is one way to keep improving this retention.

5. Maintain Contact

Email is the perfect medium for fostering customer relationships because it’s less intrusive than a phone call and more effective than direct mail and other forms of promotional marketing.

Make customers feel valued by using automation to provide timely communications related to customer feedback or inquiries. This helps customers feel like their input is being taken seriously, creating a deeper investment in them using your product or purchasing from your business.

And you don’t need to stop there! You can also keep track of important dates like customers’ birthdays and sign-up anniversaries to send personalized emails with well-wishes and offers. This ongoing contact will drive brand loyalty and improve customer relationships.

6. Remove Uninterested Contacts

Customer retention marketing can be as much about withholding messages as it can be about sending direct communications.

Sometimes, customers just aren’t interested in receiving emails or other messages from you. Maybe they are already well-versed on your business and don’t need additional help resources, or perhaps they just receive too many emails. Either way, using marketing automation to manage your contacts based on their engagement and interest can be very beneficial for maintaining good customer relationships.

To achieve this, you can create a workflow that identifies contacts who have stopped engaging with your emails. Then you have two options:

  1. Move them to a separate list of unengaged contacts and create a new strategy of lighter communication with these contacts.
  2. Send unengaged contacts an email asking them whether or not they would like to continue receiving emails (essentially acting as a re-opt-in). This eliminates the any assumption on your part.

Implementing this type of system will prevent customers who are sensitive to marketing messages from leaving your business.

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