Retention: Strategies [+ Case Study] to Increase Revenue and LTV Without (and Before) Acquiring New Customers

The most of the current approaches in digital marketing (and not) starts with thealmost exclusive focus on the acquisition phaseto put it in more markettarian terms, the focus is from the top (down) of the funnel of sale:

Not for nothing, when you start working with a client, what do you do? They get the classic package website (or landing page) + traffic source (SEO, Google ADS, Facebook Advertising, Linkedin ADS for the most part).

The problem with this approach is twofold:

  1. immediately focuses on the New Customer Acquisition phase, not including Retention of Existing;
  2. takes absolutely no account of whether or not the chosen website or traffic source is part of the purchasing process of the potential customer: to make a trivial example, are we really sure that it is necessary to allocate budget for a website for a local business, such as a neighborhood takeaway pizzeria or a hairdresser?

Why start with Retention (before Acquisition)

Retention is a very cool, but a few years ago, during a speech I gave at the Inbound Strategies event, I summed up the concept with the more bucolic "let's look at what's in the fridge":

I'll explain the metaphor: you come home after a long and tiring day at work, you say to yourself "I don't feel like going grocery shopping!", so you open the fridge discover some unexpected (culinary) opportunities 😉

Here, most of the companies in the Italian economic fabricoften second generation or with a few years of activity behind them, have a history of active and inactive customers that is often overlookedin favour of more cool such as the acquisition of new customers or contacts (Lead Generation).

I'm not saying that the Acquisition phase shouldn't be taken care of, but subordinate to the Retention phase., especially if your company, or the company you work for:

  • has one history of customers, active or inactive;
  • the latter are essentially happy with your product or service, meaning you don't have a reputation problem;

It makes sense to start focusing on the Retention phase now than the Acquisition phase, let's see why and how, ending with a case study.

  • Selling to an existing customer makes more sense than selling to a new one: You don't need to bother with statistics (which I really like anyway) to validate this assumption. The client you have already tried youhas already passed the obstacle of trust (especially important if your product or service needs trust in the buying process), is 6 times more likely to buy from you than a new one;
  • even if I couldn't resell to an existing customer... because the characteristics of your product or service do not allow it so easily (for example, in the case of products or services with low obsolescence, i.e. they last for years or are purchased only once), can always enforce the acquired customer with 3 strategies (for professional honesty, attribution of the idea goes to Alessandro Sportelli and Manuel Faè):
    • acquire testimony;
    • Acquire a new customer through referral strategies;
    • resell related products with upsells and cross sells;

2 ways to start the Retention phase

Upgrade your list!

You don't know how many times I walk into a company and find that the management of active customers is relegated to a CRM unsuitable for the management of the customers themselves from a marketing point of view or worse a dusty excel or worse absolutely not taken care of.

The starting point is here:

  • do you know how many active and inactive customers you have?
  • Is the list up to date?
  • è segmented by type of customer, product or service sold...?
  • What strategies do you have, if any, for periodic contact, upsells and cross sells? A small note on this last aspect: a customer or inactive contact he's not gonna magically buy from you, even if he was happy with you. The truth is, it's not that he doesn't like you enough, it's that... sometimes being in the right place at the right time...counts.

Okay, the list is what?

Once the list is in order, it is, as we have seen, a matter of implementing strategies aimed at:

  • resell the product or service (if possible);
  • acquire testimony;
  • Acquire a new customer through referral strategies;
  • resell related products with upsells and cross sells: but this requires constant contact with the client. How? Let's see it with a case study.

Case Study: A €30,000 Retention Strategy

I report here a case study, also published in my book Lead Generation...which makes a good the impact of the management of active and inactive customers and simple contacts acquired by lead generation on turnover, return on investment and LTV (lifetime value) of the acquired customer.

This is a case study that builds on 2 of the aspects I have highlighted in this article:

  • the importance and necessity of upgrading the list of active, inactive and potential customers;
  • the need, once done, to implement periodic contact initiatives aimed at upselling and cross-selling.

And one of the most standard ways to implement periodic contact is through theemail marketingin the form of ad-hoc campaigns or automated messages.

The profile of the company involved in the case study is similar to that of many companies in the Italian production fabric: a medium-sized limited company, active in marble processing.

Like many other companies with a history behind them, the company was already in possession of a large amount of contacts, including customers and potential customers, B2B and difficult to target and acquire with traditional acquisition strategies.

Despite this treasure trove of contacts, as is often the case it had not been implemented no strategy to manage them. The first step consisted precisely in the retraining of the list and then in implementing a regular contact mode with acquired and potential customers, which has led to the time dedicated to the drafting and sending of 39 emails and the annual cost of the subscription to the provider (amounting to a few hundred euros per year), a return of almost 30,000 euros, equal to an average return of about 700 euros per mailing.

But the most interesting aspect is that that turnover was not generated by complex strategies of acquisition and management of new contacts, but by the simple redevelopment and care of contacts already existing in the company, although not adequately exploited.


Although most approaches to web marketing focus primarily and sometimes exclusively on the acquisition of new contacts and customers, often a company has a wealth of acquired and satisfied customers on which to do a job of retention, aimed at encouraging word of mouth (especially if it turns out to be an integral part of the buying process), upsell and cross sell, request for reviews.

But to do that, you need to implement procedures that start with list requalification and then continue with periodic contact.

Are you already leveraging Retention strategies for your business or customers?

If you want to implement Retention strategies for your business, contact me!

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