Acquisition vs retention

For many marketers, it is a given that it is cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, particularly in industries, such as car insurance, where the lifetime value of a customer is a more significant metric than the profit arising from an individual sale. 

There are plenty of stats to back up the importance of retention: 

  • Attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one. (Lee Resources 2010).
  • Globally, the average value of a lost customer is $243.(KISSmetrics).
  • 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service. (KISSMetrics).
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% (Marketing Metrics).

Companies and agencies were asked to provide details on their own and their clients’ marketing efforts specifically in the context of acquisition and retention.

  • Both companies and agency clients are significantly more likely to be focused on acquisition than retention (44% vs. 16% for companies and 58% vs. 12% for agency clients).
  • A substantial number state that they have an equal focus on acquisition and retention with this being the case for 40% of company respondents and 30% of agency clients.

Is your company more focused on acquisition or retention marketing? 

When compared against where they think they should focus, far fewer companies think they should be focused more on acquisition and see the value of a more balanced approach. 

  • Just 21% of company respondents think they should be more focused on acquisition.
  • 22%  believe they should focus more on retention.
  • 56% believe there should be an equal focus.

On which area do you think your organisation should be more focused? (company respondents) 

Responses on the agency-side were even more pronounced, with just 15% stating that they believe their clients should be more focused on acquisition. 

Channels used for acquisition and retention

Not surprisingly, PPC, display and SEO were seen as acquisition channels by the vast majority of respondents, while email was the major retention tool, followed by mobile messaging. 

Thinking about your organisation, are the following online channels more geared towards acquisition or retention marketing? (company respondents) 

For more on customer retention, here are 21 ways that online businesses can improve their customer retention rates


Econsultancy’s JUMP event on October 9 is all about creating excellent multichannel customer experiences. Now, in its fourth year it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.