In markets where consumers have a wide range of choices, and your competitors are just a few clicks away, customer retention is a superpower. Businesses with good customer retention rates enjoy more reliable revenue streams and greater brand sentiment, so they are less vulnerable to shocks.

Conversely, businesses that lack a strategy for retention risk losing their best purchasers; while some churn is to be expected, companies with more loyal customers will enjoy more repeat business over time.  Customer acquisition, although important, can only go so far – if you’re leaking customers faster than you can acquire them, you’re bound for trouble further down the line.

To retain your customers, you need to create outstanding experiences, and this is where personalisation comes in. According to 2022 research by Segment, 49% of consumers say they are likely to become repeat customers after having a personalised experience with a retail brand, while nearly two-thirds (62%) say a business will lose their loyalty if they deliver an unpersonalised experience – up from 45% the previous year.

Personalisation is also increasingly expected: 2019 research by Redpoint Global and Harris Poll found that 63% of consumers view personalisation as a service standard.

So how can you deliver personalised experiences? We think email is a great place to start. As a channel, it offers great ROI, unrivalled flexibility, and you probably already have what you need to get started. In this article, we’ll look at some ways personalised email can help you retain customers, but first, a few words on nurturing loyalty and why it’s such a good fit with email.

Customer retention – and loyalty – are currency

If retention is the measure for what proportion of customers stay with a business over a period of time, loyalty is the cherry on top. Loyalty is a little more difficult to define, but it can be thought of as the product of building a more human connection with individuals; a relationship that transcends the transaction.

Loyal customers are like gold dust for three main reasons. Firstly, they’re likely to spend more with you. Applying the Pareto Principle, roughly 20% of regular clients will generate about 80% of business revenues. According to research by SAS and Loyalty360, more than two-thirds (68%) of sales come from existing patrons. Furthermore, in a piece for Harvard Business Review, Rob Markey, partner at Bain & Company, claims his research has found that loyalty leaders (those at the top of their industries for NPS and satisfaction) grow revenues about 2.5 times faster than their competitors.

Loyal customers are also more likely to be advocates. Not only are they more likely to return to you, they’re also far more likely to recommend you to others, providing a potential pipeline of new clients.

Finally, loyal customers provide invaluable insight. The longer your brand’s relationship with the customer, the more you can potentially learn about them, their preferences and their needs through their behaviour and how they interact with email.

It is clear loyal customers generate more value for the company over a longer time period. Personalised email can help businesses create these human connections that lead to loyalty.

Why you should be using email to deliver personalised experiences

 Email remains a popular channel for personalisation for many reasons. It’s extremely cost effective – offering an ROI of £42 for every £1 spent, according to 2019 DMA data – and it’s where the attention is. More than 4 billion people have an email address, and many of us check our email every day.

Email is also an eminently measurable medium. Tracking metrics such as open rates, clickthrough’s and conversion rates lets you assess an emails’ effectiveness, and any learnings can be applied to future campaigns.

When it comes to personalisation, email offers a wide range of possibilities. At its most basic level, personalisation lets you address the recipient by name, though as you get to know your audience better, it becomes possible to create more complex and targeted emails informed by behavioural data, ensuring messaging is relevant to the recipient. Such hyper-personalised email campaigns can make use of dynamic content, where with just one send, the marketer can deliver different email content to different audience segments.

The power of hyper-personalisation

We’ve found that hyper-personalised emails can drive immediate outcomes for business. For example, when financial services provider Old Mutual Personal Finance sought to target prospects at different times of their lives, they were able to personalise hundreds of emails with the clients’ name, the name and contact details of their financial advisors, subject line and header image, as well as segment depending on their life stage. They could also populate each email with dynamic content based on whether the contact was an Old Mutual Rewards member. This approach ensured that contacts only received relevant messaging, and drove new signups to the rewards programme.

In a digital world, personalisation like this makes a company’s communication with the customer as close as possible to an in-person interaction. If loyalty is nurtured by making human connections, then in order to develop it with the customer you have to make these communications as tailored and authentic as possible.

For a step-by-step guide to personalising messaging to improve the customer experience, including how to gather data for personalisation and mistakes to avoid, download Everlytic’s guide: The Step-by-Step Guide to Message Personalisation.

Keeping customers engaged with personalised email: examples

 With email, we view every part of the customer journey – from consideration to post-purchase and beyond – as an opportunity to establish a deeper relationship and start to nurture loyalty. Here are just a few of our suggestions of emails you can send to keep your customers engaged:

  • Welcome email after sign-up: This is the opening handshake/elbow bump of the customer relationship. Beyond thanking them for signing up, this email presents an opportunity to introduce the brand and what it can offer (i.e., how to solve the customer’s problems). A strong call to action is important here – for retailers, this could be a link to the latest products to arrive in store, while for B2Bs, it might be to book a call with a sales agent.
  • Checking in email for new customer: Depending on the sector, the first days, weeks or months after a purchase can be a crucial time for building a relationship with the customer. One way to keep the customer engaged could be to automate personalised emails featuring useful content about, for example, how to use or care for their new product, or inviting them to leave a review.
  • Re-engagement email for a customer at risk of lapsing: Disengaged contacts can be a real drag on your email list, worsening email delivery and making your campaigns less effective, but they can also present an opportunity. Brands can win back customers who have not bought from the company for a while by sending a tantalising offer.

Beyond inspiring loyalty, personalisation can make you a better marketer

On a fundamental level, if you want your customers to be loyal to your business, you must create experiences that benefit them in some way while fitting seamlessly into their lives. As I outlined in more depth in an article about how to build content into an email marketing strategy, step by step, enables this by keeping tabs on the consumer’s needs, preferences and behaviours to deliver the right messaging at the right time.

What’s more, the insights you receive from personalised emails – what kinds of content are more popular, which offers customers are interested in – can also make you a better marketer, giving you a feel for what works and allowing you to adjust future communications to make them more relevant and powerful.

Ready to get started? The email address alone is all you require to start gathering the data for effective personalisation. You’re then on the path to building more meaningful relationships with your customers, enabling you to create increasingly relevant and useful messages.

To find out more about how to personalise experiences for your customers, starting with their email address, contact our team at Everlytic for a free consultation