Why email marketing should do the donkey work in your customer retention campaigns

How to use email marketing to grow your magic beanstalk of customer loyaltyHanging the laundry out…

Phoning your parents…

Paying a bill on time…

… These are all little chores that we usually manage to do on time, but from time to time they slip our minds, right?

The same thing happens in our businesses when it comes to customer retention

In our heart of hearts, we all know that it makes sense to keep in touch with our existing clients.

But in the everyday busy-ness, it just gets forgotten sometimes. It takes a definite and concerted effort to keep in touch consistently and regularly, and to grow the magic beanstalk of customer loyalty.

That’s why email marketing is so important in customer retention

In my view, email marketing should be the solid core of your customer retention: other customer retention activities (such as phone calls, social media, etc.) can then fit around the email marketing.

The reason why email marketing is so well-placed to the donkey work for 5 reasons:

1. Emails get seen by your customers

When you do an email campaign, the message gets delivered to their In Box, until they action it in some way. (Which makes email far more effective than social media, because there’s a good chance your customer will never see the updates you make there.)

Even if your email gets deleted without being read, your customer will still have been reminded of your business just by seeing your message there.

(Hint: If your open rates are low, you need to write more appealing subject lines – and also make sure that your content is relevant to the readers’ needs.)

2. Email marketing is low cost

Even if you pay for copywriting and email marketing software, there’s no cheaper cost-per-customer way to communicate en masse in a short amount of time.

Imagine how much more expensive it would be to send snail mail to everyone! (I’m not saying you shouldn’t use snail mail – in fact, snail mail can work very well – but for most businesses it’s just too costly to mail their entire customer database each month.)

3. Email marketing is time efficient

Emails let you communicate with your customer base very quickly. Imagine how long it would take to phone each client to tell them your update, or if you had to set up meetings with all clients. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t phone or meet your clients, but emails are certainly very time efficient.

4. You can personalise your content

Using a “Firstname” salutation in email marketing is easy. And if you have an email marketing system that’s integrated with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, you can do some really neat personalisation based on customer preferences, purchase history, and so on.

For example, imagine that your customer bought a Purple Widget from you. You can then follow up with updates relevant to the Purple Widget, e.g. matching accessories you sell, or a fun article on celebrities who own Purple Widgets.

5. Email marketing can be automated

This it the most important factor of all: email marketing can be automated.

You can set up your campaigns in advance (e.g. during a quiet time), and schedule your messages to go out automatically.

Note that “automated” does NOT have to mean “impersonal”. In fact, it’s important that your email marketing is as personal as possible, so client birthday or anniversary emails are a really good idea.

But by automating the emails as much as possible, no matter how busy you get (e.g. hanging out the laundry, phoning your parents, etc.), your customers are still getting communicated with regularly and consistently.

And that’s exactly what you want your email marketing to do for you: to take the load off your shoulders… you’re busy enough!

Does email marketing still work? Isn’t email marketing dead?

Email marketing absolutely works. If it’s not working for you, it’s because your strategy or implementation is out of whack… check out the step-by-step email marketing recovery plan.


  • Email marketing should be at the core of customer retention strategies because it:
  1. Gets seen by your customers
  2. Is low cost
  3. Is time efficient
  4. Can be personalised to readers’ preferences
  5. Can be automated
  • Supplement email marketing with other customer retention tactics (e.g. phone calls, face-to-face, social media, snail mail, etc.), but let email marketing do the core donkey work for you.


PS. There are three very different kinds of email marketing, and each type has a clear role and purpose.

In the next article in this series on customer retention and customer loyalty, we’ll look at what these three types of email marketing are, and how to use them together.