Koertni Adams
Koertni Adams 16 June 2017

11 Retention Marketing Tips to Reduce Client Turnover

While bringing in new clients should always be a priority for your agency, you don’t want to drive away existing clients because you lost focus on them. This is where retention marketing comes in. Rather than funneling all of your resources into acquiring new clients, it might be in your best interest to focus on optimizing your relationships with the clients you already have.

“Increasing customer retention by just 5% can actually increase your revenue by 25% to 95%.”– Harvard Business School Retention marketing is the practice of maximizing the value of your existing client relationships. It involves a variety of tactics designed to help you engage and build trust with your clients to strengthen your relationships with them over time. In this article, we’ll be covering our top retention marketing tips to help you get more out of the relationships you already have (and drive serious revenue in the process).

1. Get to Know Your Clients

If you want to build long-term relationships with your clients, you need to figure out how to continue earning their business. And how do you do this? By knowing your clients better than anyone else does.

Everything in the world of marketing is headed toward creating more personalized experiences for customers. When you build a real relationship with a customer and know the ins and outs of their business – the challenges they struggle with, their long-term goals, what kinds of results they’re really looking for – you can tailor all your interactions to address those individual needs.

And the more personalized you are in your interactions, the more effective your retention marketing efforts will be.

How exactly do you get this information? Aside from building a genuine relationship and rapport with your clients (which will give you a big chunk of the information you need to know), you can collect relevant data through client surveys, feedback forms, and analyzing the way they interact with both your agency and their own customers.

retention marketing

Sample customer satisfaction survey

2. Focus on Continual Contact

Sometimes agencies (and business owners in general) tend to take a step back once they make a sale. But in reality, the work is only beginning.

There’s no quicker way to turn off a customer than to sell them a service and then fall off the face of the earth… only to reemerge when you’re ready to sell them something else.

The essence of retention marketing is to stay in continual contact and not just reach out when you’re trying to pitch a product or service. Send regular emails, keep them up to date on what’s happening in the world of your agency, and add as much value as you can to the relationship. By maintaining a regular cadence in your communications, you put yourself in a great position. When the time comes to sell them something else, the customer will already be warmed up and ready to hear what you have to say, and you’ll see conversion rates from your emails increase.

retention marketing

Sample nurturing email to keep customer engaged and build trust

3. Give Your Clients Equal Attention

It goes without saying that if you want to retain your clients, you need to nurture your relationships with them. However, a common mistake agencies make is to act as if some relationships (most often the ones with high-paying clients) need to be nurtured more than others. Unfortunately, this attitude is a quick way to lose your client base.

While it’s tempting to focus more of your attention and resources on your higher-paying clients, you don’t want to do so at the expense of your smaller ones. While your smaller clients might not be driving much revenue now, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. And their relatively low spend with you can actually present opportunities to turn those small clients into larger ones.

Nurture each relationship in your business as if it was your highest-paying customer. When you take that approach, you’ll see a major uptick in clients that want to continue working with you.

4. Show Them What You Can Do for Them… By Highlighting What You’ve Done for Someone Else

It’s a standard part of human behavior: We want what other people have. And in line with that concept, we tend to believe that if something worked for someone else, it’s bound to work for us, too. That’s why testimonials are such a powerful marketing tool.

If you’re trying to upsell a client on a new service, get a few testimonials from other clients for whom you’ve done similar work. When the client you’re pitching reads what an amazing job you did for others, they’ll assume you’ll deliver the same results for them – and they’ll be much more likely to get on board. Storytelling has been proven to be an extremely effective persuasion tool, and leveraging the success stories of your clients is a great retention marketing strategy.

retention marketing

Sample customer testimonials

5. Get Tight and Get Right With Your Messaging

If you don’t know who you are and what you’re about, your clients won’t either. Getting clear on your message and exactly what you can do for your clients (and then sharing that message with them) is key to effective retention marketing.

Work with your team to evaluate your current messaging. Where do you specialize? What’s your elevator pitch? What’s one thing you can do for your clients that no one else can – and how are you communicating that to your clients?

The tighter you can get your message, the clearer it will be to your audience. When they have a firm understanding of who you are and what you can offer, it helps them visualize how you can continue to fit into who they are and what they’re looking for longer term.

6. Don’t Try to Be Something You’re Not

A solid strategy for losing customers is to try to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Sometimes agencies strive to offer every marketing service in the book in an effort to retain more customers. But what ends up happening when you try to offer too many things? You don’t end up doing any of those things particularly well, and your clients eventually leave to find an agency that will.

Instead of trying to offer every service under the sun, focus on what your agency does well, and make yourself an invaluable resource to clients in that area. Will you potentially lose out on some business if your client needs support in an area you don’t specialize in? Sure. But delivering incredible results in one or two areas is going to generate and retain much more business than delivering mediocre results in ten.

Be true to who you are as an agency, and don’t try to be something you’re not. Focus on what you do well, and then strive to do it better than anyone else.

7. Underpromise and Overdeliver

Consider this the golden rule of customer service: Whatever you do, your goal should be to underpromise and overdeliver to your clients.

What does this mean?

It means when you’re setting KPIs and goals, it’s better to err on the conservative side in terms of what you can actually deliver. When you set the bar low and end up delivering much more than you promised, you’ll blow your client away and they’ll want to give you more business.

But if you set expectations and deliver no more than exactly what promised – or worse, underdeliver – your client will be disappointed and question the future of your working relationship. A study conducted by researcher Manuela Vieth showed that broken promises cause people to want to actively seek revenge on whoever broke the promise, and that kind of sentiment will clearly tarnish any future interactions you have with a client.

Whenever you’re talking about performance and results, always aim to pleasantly surprise your client. Underpromise and overdeliver.

8. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

In the era of instant gratification, many agencies think they need to churn out work at light speed in order to stay competitive. But while it’s important to deliver your work in a reasonable time frame, you never want to sacrifice quality for speed. A recent Gallup study found that consumers felt it was more important that service was thorough and friendly than quick. In other words, good service is always more valuable than fast service.

Think about it this way: If you deliver subpar work to your client, it doesn’t matter if you turn it around in 24 hours. They’re not going to be able to use it. It’s much better to take 72 hours or a week or a month or however long you need (within reason) to deliver work you can be proud of. When you consistently deliver high-quality work, your clients are going to want to stick around.

9. Make Customer Service a Priority

Making sure your clients are happy and taken care of should be the top priority in your business. And that means addressing any of their needs or concerns quickly and effectively. If a client reaches out with a service request and doesn’t hear back from your team for a week, it will not do great things for your retention rate.

Create a corporate customer service policy that requires all customer service requests to be addressed within 24 hours. Develop clear guidelines of how customer service issues should be addressed, and always go above and beyond to make sure your customers feel heard and acknowledged.

You’ll also want to be sure to use a customer service system that makes sense for your company. For example, does it make sense to have a live chat option for your clients to reach out with time sensitive concerns? Should they fill out a help ticket? Should they send an email? Knowing what systems work best for you and your team will help you elevate your customer service to the next level and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.


retention marketing

Sample customer service form

10. Use Your Words Wisely

When you’re selling a new package to an existing customer, there are certain words that can help increase your chances of closing the sale. By leveraging persuasive language, you can stack the deck in your favor and create a sense of urgency within your customers.

According to CopyBlogger, one of the world’s leading authorities on all things copy, these are the 5 most persuasive words in the English language:

  • You
  • Free
  • Because
  • Instantly
  • New

By incorporating these words into your sales copy, you can subtly shift your clients’ reactions and increase the likelihood they’ll buy whatever you’re selling.

11. Give Away Your Best Content

It seems counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to get your clients to buy more from you is by giving them things for free. Specifically, content.

Putting great content out to your clients accomplishes a few things. It establishes you as a thought leader in your industry and shows clients that you’re invested in providing value – without asking for anything in return.

Give away as much content as you can. Write ebooks, blog posts, whitepapers and other content on topics you know will be of interest to your clients. Push out that content on a regular basis. When you add that much value for your clients, you’ll become an indispensable part of their team, and not working with you will cease to be an option.

retention marketing

Sample blog page with option to subscribe for more free content

At the heart of it, your content is a conversation you’re having with your customers. And while it would be great to be able to have individualized conversations with every customer on every topic (and there will definitely be occasions where that’s appropriate), automating as much of your content as possible will help you understand how that content is performing and how you can adjust it to optimize your retention marketing strategy.

When you use marketing automation software, you can analyze how well your content is working overall and how performance varies among different segments of your client base. This data allows you to identify areas of opportunity and continually optimize your content in order to reach your goals and drive higher retention rates.

Give Retention Marketing the Importance It Deserves

The bottom line is you need to be putting just as much effort into customer retention as you are into customer acquisition. The biggest key to customer retention is focusing on your relationships. If you’re constantly thinking of ways you can improve and nurture your relationships with your clients, the retention will happen naturally. And in the meantime, these strategies we’ve discussed will help supplement your retention marketing efforts.

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