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We’ve all heard that it’s easier (not to mention cheaper) to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. This statement has profound effects on the bottom line. Even increasing customer retention rates by a few percent can increase profits significantly.

Higher retention rates don’t just improve revenue, it improves your brand’s promotability. The most effective customer retention strategies often result in shoppers becoming loyal supporters of your company and products, giving you the chance to grow your business through word-of-mouth marketing. 

Customer retention strategies are diverse—every merchant should come up with their own formula for success based on their customer expectations and the ways they’ve successfully retained customers in the past. This blog post will explore some of the secrets and strategies to obtaining a high customer retention rate. 

What exactly is customer retention?

As defined in our ecommerce glossary, customer retention is the ability of a company to keep current customers with their business. Subscription models depend on recurring revenue, so customer retention becomes an even more important factor for merchants in the subscription space. High customer retention rates mean:

  • Increased customer lifetime value (LTV)
  • Improved customer loyalty
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Higher average order values (AOV)

By focusing on keeping your current customers happy, you will improve your customer retention and even motivate customers to share your product or service with their friends and family. Loyal customers will stick around and become a great marketing tool for your business. 

The secret to retaining customers

Understanding what your customer’s needs are and identifying them before they have a chance to shop elsewhere is of the utmost importance. How do you know what these needs are? Listen. 

If you are not acquiring customer feedback about your product or business, there’s no way to know what your customers are really looking for. This also shows the customer that you want to make the experience the best it can be for them, building trust as you provide an unforgettable customer journey. Collect customer feedback and incorporate it into your business plan by identifying specific churn points and improving the customer experience. 

While there is no magic formula to succeeding at improving customer retention rates, looking at your retention metrics and analytics is a great place to start. The customer onboarding experience is usually one of the best places to jump into first. Typically, this is where you see the sharpest decline in customer fall off—during customer acquisition. The customer journey and overall experience are key not only for the initial checkout, but also in terms of customer retention.

Screenshot of Bite's website shows the different products they offer, with photos, product names, and prices.

Bite has a beautiful shopping experience from the beginning—customers aren’t left guessing about their products or offerings, and they’re directed to a subscription model right away with prices listed by month.

Effective retention strategies to put into play

The secret to high customer retention is often a mix of these different strategies. When combined, you can find the winning combination for keeping your customer base interested and engaged in your brand. Whether you choose to invest in effective email marketing or start a rewards program for subscribers, you will see your retention rates increase. 

Customer service

Nothing says “I’m coming back!” like a good customer service experience. We’ve all had bad experiences and likely haven’t returned to that business in the future. But the good experiences we remember and walk away from with a smile. According to Forbes, small tweaks to your customer service offerings can mean big gains in customer retention metrics. 

Email marketing

Don’t neglect email marketing. It’s a very important process to many successful retention strategies. Providing monthly discount codes to show appreciation—or offering special subscriber-only incentives—are a few ways to keep customers coming back.

Ask for feedback

Repeat customers can provide you with important feedback on how to improve the customer journey. Offering ways to give feedback or sending occasional surveys can help improve the experience for your new customers and build trust with existing customers.

Customer loyalty programs

Improve customer retention by incentivizing your shoppers with a loyalty program. By acquiring points on each purchase, they are motivated to make another purchase and continue spending more with your business. Brands with thriving loyalty programs often have high customer retention thanks to the community and feeling of belonging that they’ve built around their business. 

Screenshot of Super Coffee's website showcases the different incentives they have in bold black text on a white background.

Along with their deal of the day, Super Coffee offers subscribers incentives like free shipping and other special treats to unlock after they spend a certain amount of money.


This isn’t just about boosting customer lifetime value (LTV), it’s about making value-added recommendations for the customer based on previous buying patterns.


Similar to a loyalty program, referrals reward customers for helping you acquire new customers. By offering attractive discounts or rewards for customers to attract friends and family to your store, you can increase retention. 


With the ability to customize virtually every aspect of the customer journey, from pre to post-checkout, you can make recommendations based on the customer’s previous purchases. Personalization makes shoppers feel more at home when browsing your site or receiving communication—such as emails or text messages—from your brand.

Social media

Be sure to stay connected on social channels to build and nurture customer relationships. Whether you decide to focus on Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube, providing a place for customers to connect can increase brand loyalty and therefore, customer retention.

Customer portal

Creating a user-friendly customer portal is a customer retention strategy that merchants should not neglect. When customers can easily manage their subscriptions in a portal, you are actively working to reduce churn and increase customer retention.

Experimenting with customer retention strategy

These are only some effective ways to help retain your customers. Experiment with what works best for your industry and customer base. Keep an eye on your analytics to look for trends and upticks in retention rates, and don’t be afraid to try new tactics.