Sometimes, it makes sense to do things the easy way. Let’s say you’ve got two possibilities for increasing sales: You can take a handful of low-cost steps to keep your current customer, or you can spend eight times more to earn a new one.

Customer retention marketing bolsters your marketing plan with the easiest strategies you can put to use to bring in sales for your contracting business. Need a reminder why that’s a good thing?

A repeat customer spends more with your company — on average, 67 percent more — than your newbie does. Plus, for loyal customers, individual transaction sizes tend to be larger. Stats show that loyal customers spend 28 percent more per transaction for upsells and add-ons.

So picture those individuals in your customer database who are going to spend more cumulatively each year and more in each transaction than the person you’re chasing with your acquisition marketing. Don’t you want to keep them?

Nobody’s knocking acquisition marketing. It’s essential. However, you squander a huge profitable opportunity with the customers you’ve already acquired if you let them get away from you because you don’t make the small investment that says you care.

Customer retention marketing can generate a sizeable payoff, even when it’s a fairly small percentage of your marketing budget. Customers in an organized customer retention program are five times more likely to repurchase than those who aren’t, and they’re four times more likely to refer another customer to your company.

But what does a customer retention program look like? What are the pieces and tools that you use to deliver these perks to your bottom line?

Customer retention is fundamentally about communication. It’s about staying in front of your customer through a regular series of contacts. The tools themselves are a wide-ranging integration of online and offline strategies that begin with:

Thank-you notes — Send a handwritten note penned right after the service or installation. You don’t have to say a lot. You don’t have to write the most beautiful engaging note anyone’s ever read. Just say thanks. For example, a handwritten message like this is simple stuff that gets noticed: “Dear [Customer], I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the opportunity to install your new system. We appreciate customers like you and hope you’ll give us a call any time we may be helpful. Thank you again for your business.” Pretty basic, right? But because so few go to this kind of trouble, it stands out.

Follow-up phone calls — Similarly, a follow-up call a day or two after the installation is another valuable touchpoint. This is less like “telemarketing” than it is “thank-you marketing.” You’re reminding your customer that you care about more than just the sale. You also care that everything is running well, that the job was done satisfactorily, and that your customer is pleased. (Even if the call goes to voicemail, leave a friendly, caring message.)

Email connections — Email-based retention strategies include reminder emails on service or installation anniversaries, as well as alerting customers about special discounts or product/industry news. Also, a follow-up email shortly after a purchase can say thanks again as you encourage your customers to follow you on your social media platforms. Include the social media links on this email and others to make it easy to connect.

Social media — Mention your social media platforms on your website, email, print pieces, in person, or anywhere else you can encourage people to connect and follow you. This is a place to share news that is helpful to homeowners and also an opportunity to stay in front of your customers. It’s mainly about building relationships.

Direct mail — This is the customer retention strategy that calls for a higher investment on your part, yet the return is solid when done right. Most people still check their mail daily — and around three-fourths sort their mail when they do. So direct mail puts you in the home, in front of your customer, and even in their hands. You also avoid some of the issues that come from other means of communication (such as scammer phone calls and phishing email scams). Direct mail is seen as more trustworthy. Plus, your piece in their hand is easier to see and scan than an email in a cluttered inbox.

For customer retention, direct mail includes customer-only letters and postcard promotions. It also includes holiday cards that don’t push a sales message but just take a moment at the end of the year to say “We appreciate your business.” In addition, customer newsletters sent two to four times a year, with helpful hints for the homeowner and ideas from your industry, also establish your role as an advisor while reaffirming your relationship with your customer. You can also include a coupon in your ad space to generate response.

By integrating your offline and online customer retention marketing, you can look to several valuable outcomes.

First, you are reminding your customers that you are their contractor. Customer retention has a top-of-mind awareness quality where customers know who to call the next time they have a service issue because they remember who they called last time.

Second, your communications are building a relationship. When services are a commodity, one contractor could be as good as another. You just look for the cheapest price or the quickest appointment time. Yet, when service is a relationship, you go with the one with whom you have the good relationship. Your online and offline connections say “I care.”

Third, your communication builds your image. With an organized customer retention program, you are demonstrating your professionalism. You’re not the guy operating out of his pickup truck and heading from one job to the next. Customer retention (through blog posts, newsletters, and social media updates) also reinforces your role as an advisor. And who would you rather buy from: an advisor who knows what he’s talking about and cares about his customer or a salesman trying to get the signature on the deal and move on?

Customer retention marketing doesn’t have to be a mystery. In fact, we can give you the framework, no obligation. Just send us an email at and request a free customer retention kit.

So remember, customer retention is built on low-cost, easy strategies to keep your most profitable customers buying from you and sending their family and friends your way.

The caveat is this: Something easy to do is also easy to not do. If you don’t build a fence around your customers through a program of continued communication, they’ll wander off to your competitors. And with them goes their future business as well as their future referrals.

Publication date: 10/22/2018

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