Acquiring new leads is often the top priority for many marketing teams. But only focusing on acquisition marketing strategies is like just buying a car because it has a shiny paint job. It’s only the start.

When retention marketing is executed correctly, your leads and prospects remain interested, engaged, and more likely to stay with your brand (and ultimately become more lucrative customers).

If you haven’t started to think about incorporating retention marketing into your overall marketing strategy, this post provides an introduction to retention marketing, why email is the cornerstone of any successful retention marketing strategy, as well as some ideas and best practice tips so you can start integrating retention marketing efforts into your email marketing program today.

What it is

Retention marketing encompasses the activities and strategies centered around maintaining and nurturing your leads as they become customers, as well as ensuring that they remain happy customers. Although deeply rooted in the ecommerce industry, retention marketing strategies are applicable no matter your industry.

Retention marketing could involve tactics such as:

  • A warm welcome email with additional resources or tips that help your recipient use your service.
  • Exclusive VIP offers for loyal and consistent users or customers.
  • Seasonal or regularly occurring newsletters that include a combination of educational content and promotional pieces.
  • For those who aren’t engaging with your emails, a re-engagement email with a link to your preference center gives recipients a chance to customize their email frequency.

Notice that all these use cases leverage email as their communication line. Email marketing is the most efficient way to execute retention marketing strategies because email is accessible, top of mind, and how many people prefer that brands communicate with them.

How to start using retention marketing

You don’t have to dive head first and try out every last retention email campaign tactic. In fact, it’s better to start out and test one strategy at a time so you can measure your results before implementing more permanent programs. Read below for some tips to get started.

Set up an email calendar
Consider setting up an email marketing calendar so you can glean a high-level picture of the types of email campaigns you are going to be sending. Calendars keep track of your campaigns and ensure you aren’t scrambling last minute to pull together emails.

Your calendar could be something as simple as a shared Google calendar or one of the many editorial calendar software products available on the market. Update your calendar each week so that you and your team can plan accordingly.

Engage with valuable and relevant content
Once somebody either signs up for your email list or becomes a customer, it’s important to keep a consistent touch point with them with content that focuses on improving their experience with your product or brand.

For example, if somebody signs up for your software, you may want to send useful articles or blog posts in the first couple of weeks of usage so they feel comfortable as they onboard with your service.

You may also decide that a newsletter is right for your program. Or you may want to send an email with new blog posts instead of slating a standing date for newsletters. This decision relies heavily on the content resources you have.

Above all, remember that content strategy becomes more and more critical the more frequently you email recipients.

Don’t just email people for the sake of emailing.

Fewer emails with valuable content will always be appreciated over excessive or duplicative emails. Email automation is a great way to streamline all these activities above, and if you’re interested in finding out more, check out SendGrid’s Automation tool.

Never stop segmenting and fine-tuning
As you start to send more and more retention email campaigns and your email list starts to grow, keep an eye on your list segments or what new segments you can create. Consider creating a segment for your most engaged recipients and feel more liberated to send them additional campaigns with additional content or promotion. (Just keep an eye on your engagement rates.)

For more tips on email list segmentation, check out SendGrid’s Segmentation Strategies best practice guide.

Say goodbye, but re-engage first
Even though retention marketing provides an avenue to increase engagement with your email list, inevitably some users will tune out and stop opening your emails. Either they are too busy or not intrigued enough to open your emails. There’s a good chance that it’s time to call it quits, but this is also an opportunity to provide one last retention marketing idea.

A re-engagement email campaign helps save those who have intended to engage with your emails, but just haven’t gotten around to it.


Retention marketing doesn’t need to be overly-complex to be effective. Start off simple, measure your results, and iterate where you see room for improvements and you can expect to expand your conversion and retention numbers. Looking for a simple email automation solution? Sign up

You can start using retention marketing in your email program as easily as:

  • Creating a calendar that houses all of your email campaigns
  • Starting small with, for example, a VIP-access promotion to your most loyal customers
  • Removing those who are unengaged after sending them a re-engagement campaign

For more on other ways to optimize your email marketing campaigns, check out SendGrid’s Email Marketing Best Practices Guide.

As a senior content marketing manager at SendGrid, Kelsey oversees the SendGrid Delivery blog. Her downtime is dominated by either her mountain bike or skis (depending on current weather forecast)–and mixing up a salty marg afterward.