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36 Experts Rank the Top Customer Retention Strategies for 2023

November 18, 2022
October 20, 2022
October 21, 2022

Acquiring new customers is critical to growing your business, but it can be expensive, time-consuming, and demanding. That’s why you need solid customer retention strategies.

In fact, retaining - and growing - your existing customers is cheaper, more profitable, and generally easier than generating new business.

Expanding existing customer accounts is less expensive, generates ROI quicker, and is more likely to close than new business.

If you don’t have a healthy customer retention rate, it can actually cost more to acquire new customers than you’ll collect in revenue over their lifetime.

You don’t want to invest a ton of money into obtaining new customers just to lose them a few months later.

Retaining customers and keeping them happy is the most cost-efficient way to grow your business, and even minor retention improvements can dramatically impact your bottom line.

But how do you create a customer retention strategy?

We asked 36 customer-facing rock stars which of their customer retention strategies had the most significant positive impact on their customer retention rates.

After reviewing their responses, we compiled a quick-hit list of the top 14 customer retention strategies.

Scroll to the bottom of the post to read their answers in full!

Top 14 Customer Retention Strategies (According to the Experts)

While we received responses from marketing leaders at B2B and B2C companies, most of the shared customer retention strategies could apply to either. Here’s what all of our experts had to say about how they improve customer retention, listed in no particular order: 

1. Using data to identify ICP fit

Your customer retention strategy begins with customer-product fit.

A company that fits the ideal profile for your product will have a much greater likelihood of being retained than a poor-fit customer.

Make sure you're acquiring the right customers by creating a closed-loop system of analyzing data from all go-to-market and revenue organizations, combined with subscription, demographic, and firmographic data, and tying it into customer behavior in the product.

The insights you gain from these analyses will help you identify the highest customer lifetime value opportunities and uncover the customer segments with the best retention, referral, and close-won rates.

Doing this will immediately drop your churn by a few percentage points. However, continual tweaking will, over time, have an even more significant impact.

2. New user onboarding

When a company implements a new onboarding system, they see its retention rate increase.

Your new user onboarding process is a huge factor in retention. If a user has a negative onboarding experience, they will assume the rest of their customer experience with your product will be equally disappointing.

Investing time and effort into designing a solid onboarding experience ensures that your user is clear and encouraged when first engaging with your product.

Focusing the onboarding process on decreasing "Time-to-Value" will help new users adopt your product faster, reduce the likelihood of churn, and create a better overall customer experience.

When onboarding a new account, ensure the journey is mapped out. This includes detailed "tasks to be done," pre-scheduled meetings, monthly/quarterly/annual milestones, and renewal dates.

Monitoring throughout the entire process will be an excellent way to track the effectiveness of your onboarding.

3. Adopt at their own pace with a free trial

Many factors go into how effectively and efficiently a new user onboards. Sometimes, the speed with which they adopt your product is outside your control.

To give new users the time and space, they need to onboard at their own pace, incorporating a free version of your product (a trial or freemium tier) will help ease the process.

Offering a free tier and a free trial to prospects lets them adopt our product at their own pace.

While the arguments for a free-tier product generally revolve around creating a more robust acquisition funnel, increasing overall adoption rates is also a huge benefit.

Self-onboarded users will be empowered and ready to hit the ground running when they upgrade to paid.

4. Un-Silo Customer Success

Silos are a killer for SaaS companies.

When you have a CSM, Account Manager, and Product Manager living in different worlds, product experience suffers.

Aligning Customer Success and Sales is particularly important and should be the first area to look at.

Break down the walls of these silos by creating "teams" with representatives from different organizations (CSM, Account Manager, Solutions Engineer, etc.) to be assigned to each new account.

In addition, retention marketing has become more prevalent in recent years as an ideal way to scale customer engagement.

To make communication seamless, have these teams add extra importance to documenting all communications in the CRM so that any team member can pick up where the last conversation left off.

5. Fallback to free instead of canceling

A lost customer isn't always lost forever.

When you have an account request to cancel their contract, instead of deleting the account altogether, downgrade their plan to a free tier.

Users in the account will still be able to access it for basic tasks, and when the time comes for a more critical feature, they will hit a pay gate and have to reach back out.

Often, this will lead to a "churned" customer becoming a "returned customer."

6. Empower users with education

An open line of communication and creating a 1:1 relationship are critical. But it's impossible to be there to answer every question in a timely manner.

Creating a robust library of educational materials for your customers to access anytime will fill in the gaps when you aren't available to answer their questions. In addition, it will empower them to get the most value out of your product and become internal trainers for their teams.

Customer education content can include knowledge base articles, training videos, recorded webinars, and helpful blog content on how to use your product.

7. Track customer behavior and insights

Explicit customer feedback through Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are great tools to check how a customer is experiencing your products and services.

But these surveys only tell a small part of the story.

The signals indicating whether a customer is likely to churn live in the data generated from how they use your product.

However, finding the signals in all that noise is complex.

One of the most critical parts of a customer retention strategy is having the tools - such as the Parative Customer Behavior Platform - to track churn and expansion signals and alert the right team members to take action with the tools they already use.

8. Customer marketing and thought leadership

Customers look to you to be an authority in your space. Having a great product is only one part of the relationship you are building; trust is the other.

To cement your position as a thought leader in the eyes of your customers, having your marketing team focus on content directed at existing customers will help increase retention and referral rates while still benefiting acquisition.

9. Under promise, over deliver

The one phrase we heard from our experts more than any other was "under promise and over deliver."

It might seem trite, but it's something customers overwhelmingly appreciate.

Managing expectations is tricky - you may want to promise customers the moon. However, the risk of not delivering on those promises far outweighs the negatives of lowering the bar (slightly).

And when you can deliver something extraordinary that goes "above and beyond," your customers will be thrilled.

Always remember, "it's the little things."

10. Form customer councils

What's the best way to engage directly with your customers?

Talk to them!

By putting your users into different customer groups with similar qualities, you can send hyper-targeted information that will be most relevant to each customer. You can also send targeted surveys to various customer councils to gather information.

Whether you separate them based on how much they pay or how long they've been a loyal customer, creating different user groups can help ensure that you send the most relevant information and surveys to the right people.

11. Act on customer feedback

Gathering customer feedback is essential. But what good is feedback if you don't actually do anything with it?

Often, user feedback sits in an Excel spreadsheet, never to be touched again.

Once you collect customer feedback, you must organize it in a way that's easy to digest and that you actually incorporate it. Plus, you should keep track of who submitted what so that you can let people know when you address their specific suggestion or request.

12. Trigger emails to bring back inactive users

An inactive user is not necessarily a lost cause. Maybe they just felt lost inside your product or needed help finding something they needed. Sending an email with helpful tips or essential updates can be a great way to re-engage a customer. Test different email cadences and ensure you provide useful information with each message.

13. Incentivize customers with referral programs

Referral programs can help you gain new customers and keep current customers happy by offering referral incentives. In the B2B world, referral leads and opportunities tend to close much higher than other sources.

14. Start a customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs are an effective way for B2C companies to encourage customers to make repeat purchases. A loyalty program can be anything from offering points for every purchase, giving a discount to come back for a second purchase, or even offering a free item after a customer has spent a certain amount. Tracking loyalty program user behavior also provides you with valuable customer data you can use to improve your customer retention strategies.

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Growth Through Retention

There are so many different customer retention strategies you can use. Now let’s take a look at the customer retention strategies our 36 experts shared.

Kenzi Wood
Kenzi Writes | Owner

Since I have a service-based business (blogging), it's all about retainers. I'll do a piece of content a la carte at first, and then encourage clients to sign up for a retainer. It usually works out! Once you have clients on a retainer, it's much easier to keep them on your roster month to month. After that, you have to make it your number-one job to over-deliver, month after month. Getting a retainer is one thing, but you want people to keep that retainer for months to come. Quality is how you keep people around.

James Pollard
The Advisor Coach LLC | Owner

The biggest thing that has had a positive impact on customer retention has been unexpected bonuses.

I have a membership program that includes a paper-and-ink newsletter that people receive every month. Sometimes I will include unadvertised bonuses such as MP3s, videos, PDFs, resources, discounts for services, etc. and retention goes up as a result.

The best way to do this is to demonstrate a clear value of the bonus you're giving. For example, my monthly membership is $99 per month. Yet, I've given bonuses that are worth $1,000 or more. This is "for real" value, not made-up guru numbers. People appreciate it and stay subscribed as a result.

Alysha Schultz
Intuitive Digital | Sr. Accounts & Intuitive Brand Manager

Clearly setting expectations, and then meeting those or (more often than not) exceeding them, has enabled us to keep digital marketing clients well beyond the 2 year average for our industry. By setting reasonable expectations that address client goals we can ensure they aren't expecting miracles. The way to set achievable goals is by understanding the competitive landscape a client is in, before making promises. Knowing how expensive the Google Ads auction they're wading into or how hard it will be to rank for keywords in organic search results, enables us to tell them what a reasonable cost per conversion might be, or how much content we'll need to create.

Brett Casey
HealthMarkets | Executive Sales Leader

Customer retention and satisfaction is an essential part of any business that wants to have effective steady growth. My particular industry is life and health insurance. I utilize my existing customer base to gather referrals, recruits for my agencies, and of course a solid existing content book of business will keep buying more product as their needs change. For my business, we have several strategies. They basically all end up going to try to do what the other's aren't doing.

For us, that looks like handwritten "Thank-You" cards sent out the day they enroll in a policy. We do a 30,60, and 90 day follow up just to see how things are. We do a "Happy Birthday" card and try to do a phone call, especially for the better clients. We send "Thank-You" card when they send referrals. We also stay in contact with them every year. These are the basics, and in most cases we find that most of our clients are simply not used to this simple level of customer service.

We use our CRM to be able to target potential customers who may have been affected by any recent changes in the marketplace, their area, rate hikes, etc. This can be helpful for new products available as well. We can mass-email, text, call, etc to a group of affected clients and make them aware of anything new that may be able to save. Little things like that can be huge in making you their advocate and gaining their trust.

I believe at the end of the day, if you treat every single person like it's your brother or your sister; like it's your mom or your will take care of itself. Making sure the proper staff is in place to handle the admin is vital! My assistants are great at what they do, and excellent with my clients. I definitely would not recommend cutting corners when it comes to hiring staff for customer service!

Ali Jafarian
MemberDev | Founder

  1. New Customer Onboarding: Our customers have seen higher retention rates when they have a new onboarding system in place. This can be as simple as an email series or as complex as a first-time UX. Either way, having something in place shows your customers that you care and prepares them for long term commitment.
  2. Progress Tracking / Gamification: Most of our customers provide course content with our platform as part of their offering to members. This allows their members to complete content and track their activity as they go. This is the foundation of building in a good gamification model to build upon, which is a key driver for member based retention strategy.

Andrew Allsop
Wunderkind Agency | Founder

There's been 2 stand-out strategies that have made a big impact on the retention efforts of 2 clients in recent memory, they both started out with a piece of insight - one a B2B SaaS company, one a 2-sided marketplace.

With the SaaS company, we created a closed-loop reporting program which tied together marketing, sales, revenue and subscription data, allowing us to analyse based on datapoints from campaigns and sources, to demographic, firmographic and product usage.

We piped all of the data into ChartMogul and analysed who our highest LTV customers were. This insight lead us to uncovering a segment that retained better, referred higher and closed won higher too.

With this information, we realigned all of our sales and marketing messaging and targeting around this single customer - doubling down on what we knew worked.

Over the next year churn fell by 1-2% and revenues went up almost 3x - for a company that had been trading for 5 years at the time, this was a significant achievement.

For the 2-sided marketplace, our experience told us that data was going to be a key part in achieving liquidity. The marketplace was national, but the operations were very localised due to the nature of the listings.

We created a dashboard that gave us clear insight into where our supply and demand was, which allowed us to focus our acquisition of supply where we had the most demand. Because of this, we didn't have to constantly increase acquisition budgets, the same users could satisfy the demand - which also increased their frequency and length of lifetime as an active (paying) user, hence their retention.

Retention is difficult to quantify in a marketplace, it's not linear like a SaaS business. But in these key markets we're now beginning to see a smile - engagement is increasing in the later months of the user's lifecycle.

Both of these wouldn't have been possible if we didn't take a deep-dive into our data, and they wouldn't have been a tactic we would've executed if we didn't have the insight or data to validate the results.

Andy Crestodina
Orbit Media Studios | Co-founder and CMO

Follow up is the key. Once the service has been delivered, you need to keep reaching out, confirm that they're getting value and see if they need more help.

We build websites. After every project, we wait a few weeks to let the dust settle, and then we review Analytics together. These calls are really to make sure that the site is performing well, but the conversation never stops there. It's about feedback and friendship, relationships and sometimes referrals.

  • Did we meet your expectations? How could we have done better?
  • Is there anything else we can do for you?
  • How can we keep improving on the work we've done together?
  • Do you know anyone else who might need our help?

Retention is about satisfaction, which is unknown without communication. And that communication needs to be part of a process and a culture. Follow up, then follow up again.

Angela White
ProProfs Survey Maker | Product Analyst

As a company that believes in providing delightful customer support and engagement, we aim to keep the user hooked at various stages of the customer’s buying process. We leverage customer feedback surveys in three different ways to build an honest communication with the user to provide speedy and practical responses.

  1. Feedback sidebar forms: Customers can have queries anytime when they are on the website. With feedback sidebar forms, they can connect with us, the moment they feel the need for it.
  2. Popup surveys: When a customer ‘clicks’ to abandon the website, a popup survey flashes in front of them. This allows them to share the cause of their frustration and why they want to discontinue.
  3. NPS surveys: Regular NPS surveys help us monitor if our customers are happy with our products/services or not. We utilize the NPS data to fuel our product development and marketing strategies.

John Doherty
Credo | Founder & CEO

The strategy that has had the biggest impact on customer retention for Credo is having consistent phone calls checking in on projects and their status as a business. It's more business consulting than "sending them leads," but it brings us alongside them as a trusted partner. I've also found that consistent emails to them with value-added content that they can't get anywhere else has kept them around and growing, which benefits my company in multiple ways.

Peter Caputa
Databox | CEO

The best way to prevent customer cancellations is to do the right things before the customer buys.

So, the most important thing we've done at Databox is to provide a free-forever product to all people who want to try our software. The second most important thing we've done is provide a free trial to anyone who wants to try the paid version of our software. We are not the only ones who do this. In a survey we ran in 2019, 25% of 70 SaaS companies offer both a free trial and free version of their software.

By offering a free version and a free trial to prospective customers, it lets them adopt our product at their own pace.

Most new software programs take some time to adapt. Companies have to understand the capabilities, discuss how to adopt it, set up the software and then they have to adapt their plans, processes and/or train their teams.

In Databox's case, this process takes several weeks at a minimum, and sometimes much longer.

Why? Our product introduces a higher level of accountability than most companies are used to. With company performance data -- across marketing, sales, customer service, product, finance, etc, etc -- available to all employees, there is no way for anyone to hide from poor performance.

Also, most companies are not accustomed to making decisions from data in near real-time. So, when our customers can see all their performance data just through a browser bookmark or their mobile app and when they put it up on TV screens or Zoom rooms so performance is for all to see, they have to hustle a bit more and be more adaptable in order to outperform the previous period, their teammates and hit their goals. This is a big adjustment, which takes individuals and teams some time to adapt to.

By providing a free product and a free trial, they have the time to adapt. If they need a few weeks or a few months or in some rare cases, a few years, we give them that time.

Mateusz Krempa
Piwik PRO | Chief Revenue Officer

At Piwik PRO we’ve employed certain strategies that help us build lasting relationships with our clients. Most importantly, we adopted an onboarding strategy that allowed us to decrease time-to-value for new customers. We had noticed that the first three months of any business relationship are crucial. Our team created a detailed plan for how to approach the implementation of our product for each client.

The plan covers:

  • Implementation scheme
  • Onboarding questionnaire
  • Personalized training program
  • Improvement of adoption rate of key features a given customer uses

We’ve also gotten rid of organizational silos and enhanced our services thanks to employees with specialized roles. In other words, for each account we have a customer success manager handling end-user engagement, then a service delivery manager and solution architect, responsible for technical tasks, finally, an account manager who works on business relations and revenue growth.

However, having that many roles involved in a single contract poses a challenge for employees to stay aligned with each other. We’ve introduced customer knowledge repositories in our CRM. Here, with templates that all teams create together, every person keeps up-to-date notes about their key engagements with a particular customer. In the end, we have the access to complete information, which has a tremendous impact on the quality of customer service.

Jói Sigurdsson
CrankWheel | Founder & CEO

Apart from the standard customer success practices that we employ, one thing that has helped us retain customers has been the fact that our model is one account per company, users are sub-accounts thereof, and our plans are usage based. When a company decides to cancel, we'll typically ask them if they're sure, they have this many dozen users actively using the system. This will often result in retaining them.

When it doesn't, we sometimes get a save anyway: When their plan is cancelled, it doesn't disappear. Instead it switches to our free plan, meaning when all the users on their cancelled account try to make use of the system, they will still get in and be able to use some of the tools, but when they want to perform mission critical tasks (in our case, perform a screen share) they may get a message saying their company's account is over limits. This often leads to customers backtracking and deciding to stay on, sometimes on a reduced plan, sometimes on their original plan, because of employees telling the purchasing department how important our solution is to their daily work.

Kate Jones
Synergist | Marketing Manager

Firstly, we have a UK-based helpdesk that is available to clients Monday to Friday. The helpdesk makes up a significant portion of our workforce and we invest in their training so the client's first line of support can deal with 90% off issues, with routes to escalation where required. This gives customers a prompt and effective resolution to their questions.

Secondly, we start with the right attitude pre-sale. We only take on customers for whom the software can genuinely help. Then, during implementation, we ask the right questions so we can advise on best practise set-up, as well as understanding their business's unique requirements and likely requirements as they scale. And if at any point, things have change wildly from expected, the system implementation can be reviewed and changes made accordingly.

In summary, we make sure we are available to deal with day-to-day questions quickly and effectively, as well as providing clear channels to provide more consultancy-based support for set-up and beyond, so everyone gets the most from the system.

Lydia Sugarman
Venntive | CEO

Doing the things that don't scale from the very beginning of a business relationship create a deeper connection, greater customer satisfaction, and greater retention. I've onboarded new customers, give them my personal mobile number, send handwritten notes. I have customers who've been with us for more than 10 years which is unheard of in the SaaS business (marketing automation, CRM) platform space.

Aiza Coronado
CaaSocio | Founding Partner

After each successful project, we offer retainer packages which include continuous optimization and testing for maximum results. For example, after deploying an email onboarding campaign and monitoring the results for a few weeks, we can continue to iterate the emails, flows and the in-app guides for another month or so to improve the free trial to paid conversion even more.

April Sullivan
EntreLeverage | Online Business Manager & Strategist

I always strive to over-deliver for my clients. It's the little things that they didn't think they needed, or didn't think that we could pull off for them. It wows them, but even more, it creates trust. They know that I am always looking out for their best interest.

Akvile DeFazio
AKvertise, Inc. | President

We run Facebook retention campaigns for most of our clients and have seen success through targeting audiences of our preexisting customers and email newsletter subscribers. With these audiences, we often also exclude a small window of recent purchasers. With these campaigns, we coincide new ads going live in these campaigns when a newsletter goes out so that we can expand our reach and have the opportunity to drive recurring sales through new product launches and other times, upsell, using social media ads.

Cass Polzin
Zealous Advertising  | Co-founder

Thorough training that's accessible on an ongoing basis is enormous. Especially if the stakeholder in the company that fought for the purchase of your product leaves, you need to ensure that their team is still able to see the value in your tool. Training should come in all shapes and sizes to fit the needs of your individual users. Videos and webinars, help articles, and accessible support are all ways of ensuring your users are able to answer any question they might have about the tool.

Christina LeVasseur (Brodzky)
MediaSesh | Founder & SEO Consultant

For my business, the biggest positive impact on customer retention has been ongoing communication. When I ask potential new clients what they liked or didn't like about their SEO team, the majority always say they didn't know what their SEO team was working on. This is unfortunate since it's easy to keep clients informed on what's in progress, in queue, and complete. I communicate with every client just about every week usually in the form of a quick email on what's being worked on or quick wins. Communication can take a small(ish) amount of time and yield big results.

Andrea Moxham
Horseshoe + co. | Founder

Towards the end of each month we do a quick audit on each client account and share opportunities for them to build brand awareness, convert leads, and close more customers. These opportunities are outside the scope of our retainer and always turn into upsell projects. For example, we recognized that one of our clients was using an email address on their website which made tracking difficult. We recommended swapping with a form and automating a follow up email. This led to a new project.

Ali Lipman
BrainSell | Account Executive, CX

As a software reseller, we believe that our boutique approach to Customer Success gives our customers the advantage of having a named trusted adviser throughout the lifetime of their software. We provide consistency and a wide breadth of knowledge on their software, the marketplace, and strategy for extracting the most value from their business systems. We are able uniquely extend and widen the expertise of our partner vendors. In that regard, our quarterly and annual reviews take on a holistic approach as we focus on how our solutions are helping our customers grow and scale their business , and not just how successful they are with a particular solution.

For example, our annual customer success reviews take place every 180 days. During that time, we spend time talking about all business systems (ERP, CRM, Marketing Automation, Business Intelligence, Customer Support) and the strategy around those systems. We then follow up with a prioritized list of the objectives we will help them achieve in the next year and quick wins that they can implement right away. In this way, we are both building pipeline but truly helping our customers achieve value from our partnership. It's a win-win!

Amanda Lopes
Oxygen Inbound | Digital Strategy Manager

Client retention isn't something you can just switch on when you need to renew a contract or upsell, but a long term game. When we onboard a new client, we have a whole journey planned out including onboarding stages/tasks that need to be completed, meetings that need to be scheduled, monthly/quarterly/annual milestones and the renew date. They have to be planned in advance, we need to assess client happiness throughout the whole journey, dot down small wins and keep those 'cards' on our sleeves so that when the renewal time comes, its a smooth and easy process (as opposed to a hard conversation).

Since these client onboarding/management journey has been implemented, we have never had any more challenges with renewals (upsells, or any other sales stages).

Wil Parker | Director of Accounts

  • The 100 Day Onboarding Process: This is a process that we designed internally to help guide the client through a series of onboarding processes to ensure a smooth transition into our care. Each step in this process is designed for education, clarification, communication and overviewing. This way, our clients are 100% kept in the loop and get to experience a transparent SEO campaign. By utilizing this process, we can guarantee that our Account Managers are guiding our clients through a series of processed steps to ensure each team (Account Manager + Firm) is aligned and on the same page thus creating a very communicative and successful SEO campaign.
  • Sentiment Analysis: On a weekly basis we review the sentiment for each and every one of our clients. Simply, this means we are analyzing the client to ensure they are feeling happy, taken care, campaign aware and are on the right track for success. By analyzing this on a weekly basis, we are able to ensure our clients priorities are being met and that communication standards are being utilized.

Fiona Adler
HR Partner | Director of Customer Relations and Growth

Stellar customer support is one of the best ways to increase customer retention. Even if your pricing is low, it's important to demonstrate that you're always there for your customers, and take the time to know them. Strong relationships with your customer support team are key. When you're small, one of the best ways to ensure customer retention is to build your product around their needs. Taking the time to really listen to the problems they're trying to solve and understand their workflows not only helps you build a better product, but it locks them in as a customer for life. People love it when they see their ideas implemented!

Colin Mosier
JSL Marketing & Web Design | VP of Marketing and Sales

One simple strategy we have implemented for client retention is educating our clients and providing them with a comprehensive report of their progress each and every month. The report goes into detail as to what is happening on their website and where they are ranking for specific keywords. When we first onboard a client, we show them our reporting software and run though each and every point so that they understand what they will be looking at each month. We find that by educating our clients, they feel as if they are getting more added value for their marketing dollars. This also helps further down the road when the client receives their report every month. Since they have been educated from the beginning, they are able to understand each report they receive and really see the ROI for their campaign.

Dan Moyle
Impulse Creative | Growth Marketer

Under-promise and over-deliver. It’s the best advice I’ve ever heard for customer retention. And I know it works as a customer myself. When a business oversells its capabilities and falls short, it’s easy to walk away. But if you exceed my expectations, I’ll stick around and even defend you when you do falter- because we all do.

At Impulse Creative, we give clear expectations up front. Then we communicate regularly with progress reports and standup meetings so we know we’re all on the same page. Communication is critical.

The other side to this is listening. Communication isn’t broadcasting. We love to collaborate, so working with a client means we walk alongside them and keep the channels open. This ensures that a relationship develops, leading to greater client retention.

David Hoos
The Outloud Group | B2B Performance Marketing Manager

Clearly connecting your product or service to return on investment. If your customers see month in and month out that you are driving tangible results, they're more likely to keep you around.

Darrell Evans
Yokel Local Internet Marketing | Co-founder & CEO

There are two strategies I've used over my 30 years in business to keep clients. The best one is to tell people about the turbulence they may face on the way to success with your product or service.

Businesses avoid telling their clients truth about the risks, delays or bad news. They fear the client will choose another vendor.

My experience shows me the opposite.

Pilots and their crews don't cause turbulence, they are professionals at handling it. They tell their passengers upfront about what to do in case there is turbulence. When you tell people the truth about turbulence upfront and handle it when it comes. They will stay with you longer.

The second is a mindset for how we approach retention.

That mindset is: "Make them feel that they are the only client we serve." People don't care how big your company is or how many clients you serve. They care about themselves and getting what they need or want from you.

One strategy is to design a client experience department, not a support department.

Put someone in charge of the client experience. This is someone your client has access to without bogging down your production wheel.

In many businesses, the expert feels like it has to be them, but that's a flaw in your thinking.

Craig Morison
Fast Cover Travel Insurance | COO & CMO

  1. Build a relationship with your customer, it's not always about sell sell sell. Think of your customers like friends. If you always ask a friend for a favour or help and never spend time with them just being friends and enjoying each others company, they'll soon stop wanting to spend time with you.
  2. Utilise the communication channel your customer likes. Whether that's email, social, communicate to them how they communicate to you.

James McGrath
Yoreevo LLC | Co-founder

One customer retention initiative we've always worked on is making sure our clients view us as an authority in our industry (real estate). We do this via our blog which has a ton of content about buying, selling and related topics. We've recently supplemented this with videos on some of our most popular content and have more on the way. The end goal is to make sure that when our clients think of real estate, whether for themselves or a friend, they think of us.

Hayley Biggs
Ocasta | Marketing Manager

The strategy that has had the biggest impact on retaining our customers has been developing our product in line with their needs. We offer an employee training, compliance and reporting app which Virgin Media use. They have been one of our most loyal customers because the app has evolved in line with what they needed. Of course what they need has to be useful to the rest of our clients, but if they have an idea which we think will benefit others we will implement it. We have recently added a rewards and recognition feature onto our app to improve their employee turnover issue. This has been a huge success and has generated a lot of interest from other potential customers too. So it's a win-win for everyone.

Anna Mae Kaine
ESM Inbound | Senior Strategist

Personalisation: Treating each customer as an individual, listening to their needs and providing a service they actually want is key. We don't do packages or 'off the shelf' quotes; customers get exactly what they need, and we don't include features or add-ons that won't be of benefit to them. This builds trust and means people want to stay with us because they know we've got their best interests at heart.

Communication: Our team shares a joint inbox which all our customers use. If one person is away or can't answer a customer, someone else in the team will see the message and pick it up. This results in a faster turnaround time, and means the customer feels well looked after. We designate one account manager to each customer so they have one regular point of contact, but we also introduce our wider team to you as time goes by and different skills are required. This builds faith in our team and confidence in our expertise.

Gian Clancey
Louder Online | Co-founder & Director of Marketing

  1. We ensure we build relationships with 3 levels of people in our clients companies at a minimum EG: Digital Marketing Manager, National Marketing Manager, Chief Marketing Officer. This way if someone leaves the company we still have a good relationship internally with the business so we have a good chance at maintaining the engagement moving forward despite a new person coming in to the role.
  2. We under promise and over deliver. If we don't believe we can achieve amazing results for our clients we won't sign them up and take their money. This way we know we can get great references and happy clients :)

Makenzi Wood
Kenzi Writes | Owner

Since I have a service-based business (blogging), it's all about retainers. I'll do a piece of content a la carte at first, and then encourage clients to sign up for a retainer. It usually works out! Once you have clients on a retainer, it's much easier to keep them on your roster month to month. After that, you have to make it your number-one job to over-deliver, month after month. Getting a retainer is one thing, but you want people to keep that retainer for months to come. Quality is how you keep people around.

James Pollard
The Advisor Coach LLC | Founder

The biggest thing that has had a positive impact on customer retention has been unexpected bonuses.

I have a membership program that includes a paper-and-ink newsletter that people receive every month. Sometimes I will include unadvertised bonuses such as MP3s, videos, PDFs, resources, discounts for services, etc. and retention goes up as a result.

The best way to do this is to demonstrate a clear value of the bonus you're giving. For example, my monthly membership is $99 per month. Yet, I've given bonuses that are worth $1,000 or more. This is "for real" value, not made-up guru numbers. People appreciate it and stay subscribed as a result.

Kent Lewis
Deksia | CMO

As a career agency professional specializing in digital and owning my own measurable marketing agency since 2000, I have a few thoughts on how businesses can improve customer retention. Here are two tips to build trust and develop lasting client relationships:

  1. Build responsiveness into your culture: focus on providing timely communications throughout the customer journey (from new business to customer service). A few years ago, we won a significant piece of new business and when I asked why, our contact said it was due to our (my) responsiveness throughout the sales process. The account team understood he valued responsiveness, so they made an extra effort to deliver on that experience throughout the relationship and it was very successful as a result.
  2. Take good notes. Build a dossier on each of your prospects or clients and add any useful insights like birthdays, anniversaries, pet and children names, etc. Use that information to create a closer connection to your customers with timely emails, cards or gifts. We once had BBQ delivered to one of our East Coast clients before a monthly call and they were both surprised and grateful, as we knew our contacts loved BBQ, especially from this special location. They even printed a thank you poster and shared a picture of their team with our logo behind them on social media.

Related article: Impact Marketing: Winning Customers with Quick Wits

Katherine Chalhoub
Webprofits | Head of Creative

  1. Engaging in client reviews and surveys to decipher where we're doing well + what can be improved within our strategies, communications and processes.
  2. Ensuring we review strategy on at least a quarterly basis to ensure our digital campaigns are still in line with the current business goals and direction. This involves key members of our strategy team, as well as core representatives within our clients' businesses.

Ken Marshall
RevenueZen | Chief Growth Officer & Managing Partner

My biggest strategy for retention during this climate has been two fold.

First is trust and transparency. My apologies for the alliteration but it's true. I have personally messaged all of our clients and let them know what we're doing to keep their businesses performing well. On top of simply reaching out I was also exceptionally honest about the nature of the market and consumer search behavior right now.

Second has been doubling down on both my team and our deliverables. I've cut into my margins to ensure that my team is getting paid as much as possible and upgraded all of our client deliverables to be better than before. I've placed my bet on these principles because the deeper the level of value we provide, and the more we are seen as partners, the more likely our clients are to trust us and the better off their businesses will be once we all survive this. Not as good for margin, but I know it will be the historically correct decision.

Josh Ho
Referral Rock | Founder & CEO

  1. Creating a structured on-boarding for customers: When we first started helping customers we took their guidance on how they wanted to work with us. By streamlining our processes it helped to produce more predicable results for our customers as well as consistency in service. This was also critical in training our staff to scale our SaaS business outside of the initial founding team.
  2. Structure was good, but still be consultative: Recognizing when to color outside the lines and be able to zone in to specific customer needs. This gave the team the autonomy to do what was best for the customers and helped to give us rave reviews. It became great for the customer as well as word of mouth for our business.

Mirva Saarijärvi
Wirepas | Head of Ecosystem Marketing and Communications

We have been organizing webinars to customers and with them to end users. This has engaged our customers and firmed the trust and bond between our company and the customer.

Mike Lieberman
Square 2 | CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

We've tried so many different ways to stay close with our clients. Obviously, we provide amazing service, get them results and we are highly responsive to our clients but the one strategy that has had the biggest impact was letting our clients customize their own advocacy with us. We ask them to tell us how often they want us checking on their happiness, we let them pick the format(call, email, survey or review) and we ask them to define success every 30 days and so everyone is on the same page. When we deliver as expected, our clients are happy to be a reference, write a review and advocate for Square 2.

*This post was originally posted on the blog. It was rewritten and moved to the Parative blog after the company rebranded in 2022. 

Parative Revenue Expansion Offer
Mark Lerner

Head of Marketing @ Parative, the Customer Behavior Platform. SaaS enthusiast, B2B Marketing Specialist, Startup Survivalist. Dad x2.

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