Retention – how to build an effective retention model and minimise churn

Author: Jérémy Engelen - Senior Growth Strategist at Emakina

This is the fourth article of our growth marketing series based on the popular AAARRR or pirate funnel. This framework will help you better understand user behaviour, from the very first stage of the buying journey (awareness) and data gathering and testing (acquisition) to spurring a user into action (activation), choosing retention strategies and the right revenue model and, finally, how to drive referrals. 

In this article we look at customer retention strategies to minimise churn and guarantee return customers. 

In the previous part of this series based on the growth marketing funnel, we discussed Acquisition and how to get discovered by the right customers. But now that you’re more acquainted with this part of the funnel, you might be wondering what happens once you have fine-tuned your acquisition strategy and seen some sales or signups from users? You’ll try to turn them into returning customers, of course! Let’s have a look at retention and the important role it plays in the growth marketing funnel.  

What is retention? 

In the growth marketing funnel, retention refers to the ability to turn users into repeat buyers and keep them from changing over to competitors. It’s an excellent indication as to whether your product or service is of good quality, and in our opinion, retention deserves a lot more attention than it gets, as it is at the heart of most subscription-based businesses and service providers. 


Increasing customer retention equals return on investment. When you think about it, it makes total sense. Too many businesses place almost all their marketing efforts on gaining customers, when the real ROI lies in your existing ones. Not only that, but it costs more to acquire customers than retaining loyal ones. Which brings us to our next point: 

Keep your leads close and your customers closer 

Nothing beats the high of acquiring new customers and seeing decent sales results, but this is exactly where you shouldn’t stop or get distracted. You want to keep your leads as close as possible and retain them as returning customers. Signs that point to customer churn include shorter visit times on your website, infrequent logins and taking longer than other customers to complete tasks. An effective retention model is key to minimising churn. 

The reward will not only be monetary further down the line, but will translate into improvements like enhancing reach (happy customer will happily share the love), insights to improve your product or service, and reviews and testimonials, which play a powerful role in converting future customers. 

Customer retention strategies to consider 


Respond to questions and complaints across all channels, including social media. Personalised communication (address your customer by their name), individualise product recommendations, spoil them with a free gift on their birthday, follow up with a call or message after a complaint – going the extra mile will get you far in your retention strategy. 


Rewards programmes, loyalty points, insider clubs – customer retention programmes are all the rage right now and for good reason, it works. If you already have something like this in place, think of how you can expand it for existing customers. They have invested in your brand; it only makes sense to reward them for their loyalty through inclusive exclusivity. If you have no type of loyalty programme in place, then start small with easy-to-manage offers like a voucher for your second spend or additional information that’s exclusive to returning customers in order to increase customer lifetime value


Having a customer buy your product or service means they are highly likely to be interested in other products or services from your brand. A product series gives them more options, for example variety of colours to choose from or collect, or a range that they might want to expand on in future. Highlighting the benefits of your product or service in your marketing is another way to keep their interest and remind customers of why they chose you in the first place – making the decision to return for more a no-brainer. 

Which metrics to measure for retention? 

There are many, but these are our top metrics to track retention: 

  • Open rate of emails 
  • Customer churn 
  • Net Promoter Score 
  • Infrequent logins 
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 
  • Click-through rate of emails 
  • Average upsell/cross-sell value per customer  

What’s next? 

Now that you’re more familiar with the benefits of a retention strategy to reduce churn rate (along with some efficient tips and tricks), you might want to learn more about how you can implement this strategy for your business. If you’d like to chat to us about increasing the retention rate of your customers, get in touch and we’ll provide you with measurable solutions that make sure your customers will make repeat purchase, buy upgrades or continue to support and follow your brand. Or, sign up to receive our full e-book that explores each step of the growth marketing funnel in detail. See you in our next article, where we’ll explore Revenue and ways to identify the pricing sweet spot for revenue growth. 

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