13 Customer Retention Emails Every Small Business Should Utilize


Many small businesses focus too much on acquiring new customers, when they should be devoting more attention to retaining and nurturing existing ones. According to consulting company Invesp, the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent (1).

When it comes to retention strategies, email is still the most efficient channel, generating around $44 in revenue for every $1 spent (2). To keep your existing customers loyal and engaged with your brand, here are 13 types of retention emails you should bring into play.


Onboarding Emails

Onboarding emails – or welcome emails – set the tone for your relationship with prospective customers. In short, they should welcome and thank new subscribers, briefly explain what your business does, and guide prospects to take the next step. To avoid overwhelming your audience, consider breaking up the welcome email into two separate emails.


Cross-Selling Emails

Delivering post-purchase, cross-selling emails can be one of the most profitable email marketing strategies. Recommending products or services that complement recent purchases is a great way to boost sales. And even if the customer isn’t yet ready to purchase, it keeps your business top of mind. Cross-selling emails can be triggered immediately after a purchase or after a specific period of time.


Subscription Preference Emails

Empower subscribers by letting them choose the type and frequency of email content they receive. Start by sending out a simple email form that lets users choose multiple options in a checkbox format. For example:

  • Product updates and company news.
  • Discounts and special offers.
  • Weekly tips and advice.
  • Monthly newsletter.

Obviously, the options will vary depending on your type of business, but the goal is to increase the relevancy of content that lands in subscribers’ inboxes. This builds trust with your brand and should ultimately improve engagement levels.


Birthday Emails

According to credit bureau Experian, birthday emails have a 179% higher unique click rate than regular promotional emails (3). Ultimately, they work because they’re more personal and therefore more memorable. Including an exclusive gift will also encourage users to stick with your business. For maximum impact, send the offer on the recipient’s actual birthday. If they don’t act within a few days, send a reminder.


Calendar Event Reminders

Use special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to remind customers that you’re still around. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of national holidays and observance days. Offer a discount or free shipping to celebrate each occasion.


Anniversary Emails

Anniversary emails are effective because they’re usually unexpected. It might be one year since a user first subscribed to your list, or a month after a customer tried your product. Whatever the occasion, make an effort to reconnect with the customer. You don’t have to promote anything; just reaching out with helpful content is enough to strengthen the bond with customers.



Asking for feedback achieves three things:

  • It shows customers you value their opinions.
  • It helps you find ways to improve your goods and services.
  • It keeps customers engaged with your brand.

Use email automation to send short email surveys a few days after a purchase or trial offer is completed. Consider including a friendly request for testimonials, which you can repurpose across marketing channels.


Thank You Emails

You can also trigger “thank you” emails whenever a customer takes a specific action, such as replying to your survey, downloading a guide, or making a purchase. Showing appreciation is a simple way to make customers feel good about interacting with your business. Use the opportunity to encourage further engagement. For example, point customers toward a new product page or blog post.


Cart Abandonment Reminders

According to research company the Baymard Institute, up to 75 percent of all online shopping carts are abandoned midway (4). This is why abandoned cart emails are one of the most popular retention strategies. Many businesses offer a small discount to encourage shoppers to finish the checkout process. Remember to place at least one eye-catching link to the customer’s shopping cart within the email. Inserting a large button with the text “Take me back to my cart” or “Get my 10% discount” can be highly effective.


Announcement Emails

If you have any news to share about your business, products, or services, you should seize the opportunity and get in touch with subscribers. Does one of your products have a new feature? Is your company expanding? Whatever business news you have to share, let your audience know.


Re-Engagement Emails

Some subscribers will become inactive after a certain time period. There are various reasons for this:

  • They forgot about you.
  • They found an alternative solution.
  • They didn’t fully understand your offer.
  • They lost interest in your product or service.

In many cases, people just need a gentle nudge to continue with your services. Using your email marketing platform, you can use behavior-based filtering to identify contacts that have been inactive for a certain time period – for example, if a contact hasn’t clicked on your emails for three months. You can then set up an automated re-engagement email that gets triggered at the right time. For example:

  • Send a “we miss you” email.
  • Re-promote an exclusive offer.
  • Ask subscribers if they need any help.
  • Simply ask if subscribers are still interested.

The important thing is to reach out. If you still get no response from these subscribers, it might be time to remove them from your list.


Exclusive Offers

While most companies promote deals during key events in the calendar, you can obviously choose to offer something special to subscribers whenever it suits your business. Why not start building buzz around a specific day of the month? For example, on the fifteenth day of each month, offer a 15 percent discount on a particular product.


Free Guides

Throughout the year, help customers get the most out of your products or services by offering free tips and advice. For example, deliver instructions on how to use the more advanced features of your software, or provide tips on how to take care of your product.


Wrapping Up

Acquiring new customers is important for any small business but looking after existing customers is key to long-term success. This is why customer retention emails should be an integral part of your broader email marketing strategy. The good news is that many of these techniques can be used with email automation, so you simply need to set them up once and let them do their magic.

Ultimately, retention emails will keep existing customers engaged with your business and encourage them to stay loyal to your brand. Try experimenting with different messages and then track the results to see which ones work best for your unique business.



  1. invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/
  2. campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/
  3. experian.com/assets/marketing-services/white-papers/ccm-birthday-emails-best-practices-guide.pdf
  4. baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate
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