A lot of marketers and entrepreneurs try to grow their business by focusing on the wrong thing.
See, as important as customer acquisition is, it turns out that concentrating on retention is far more profitable.
In fact, 44% of companies focus on new customer acquisition while only 18% focus on retaining their existing ones according to Invesp (a pioneering company in the SEM industry).
And this actually costs them 5x more(!)
But here’s where most marketers and entrepreneurs fail.
They ignore that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can actually increase profits by 25% to 95% according to Invesp.
Because the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is as low as 5-20%.
So the bottom line is: your sales funnel has massive Grand Canyon size holes in it if you’re not using proven client retention tactics.
But how do you implement a client retention strategy that keeps your current clients engaged and happy?
In this article, I’ll show you:
- 17 tactics to retain clients and customers.
- Why it’s not only important to retain clients but to actually get them invested early on in your service and products.
- Plus, more details and data on why it’s way cheaper to retain existing clients than acquire new ones.
Now, have you ever tried this first retention tactic…
Client Retention Tactic #1: Choose Your Battles & Know When to Drop It
Walking away from a sales call without closing the deal can be tough.
Just like how walking away from a discussion with your partner can be frustrating (even though you’re “right”).
But sometimes, walking away or just dropping it is simply the smartest decision.
You see, when you’ve put time and energy into trying to solve a problem but it doesn’t really pan out, it can often feel like a failure.
And that fear of failure often gets people to double down on their efforts.
But walking away and dropping something that isn’t viable isn’t a failure. It’s knowing which battles are worth choosing to fight.
If you can learn when to walk away from a discussion with a client that you know isn’t going anywhere, you’ve already succeeded.
(And congrats for that!)
You’re saving time. You’re saving money. And you can move on more quickly to retaining a worthy client.
Because trying to retain a client who’s already being difficult is absolutely not worth it.
Especially if they are acting irrationally or emotionally.
About 7 years ago, I worked with one of the Inc.’s 500 fastest growing companies.
After dealing with an exceptionally difficult customer, the founder of the company taught me an important lesson.
He said, “We’re not going to work with clients that are going to be difficult right from the beginning.”
At that time, I was surprised by how blunt he was.
Shouldn’t you always be accommodating to clients?
What happened to “The customer is always right”?
But over time, that rule has made less and less sense.
Especially in services like ours, it’s important to work with clients who you believe you’ll be able to have a healthy work relationship with.
That’s why this first tactic to improve client retention is based on not wasting too much energy on retaining a hopeless client.
Client Retention Tactic #2: Know When to Apologize But Don’t Sound Too Apologetic
What’s better than having to apologize for something?
Not doing something you need to later apologize for.
Try as much as you can to avoid apologies.
Sure, mistakes happen in business and in life.
Billing errors, typos, zero multipliers that kill your conversions—a mistake can put you at risk of losing your valued clients. Especially if you don’t know how to handle your apologies.
On one hand, sometimes an apology is what clients are looking for.
In fact, a survey by HubSpot shows that 96% of people would continue buying from a company they regularly purchased from if they apologized and rectified a bad situation.
But on the other hand, sometimes an apology isn’t enough to clients.
So why not avoid errors?
Saying sorry too many times won’t help. Especially if you do it at the wrong moment.
For instance, develop a plan for the inevitability of a mistake.
Create a plan for how to solve the problem promptly, give an honest apology after the client finds out about the error, and move forward to retain your loyal clients.
Because you want to focus on retaining your existing clients, not on acquiring new ones.
Because the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% according to Invesp.
And existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more compared to new customers.
For instance, apologize to the client but without emphasizing too much in the negativity.
Offer your client a straightforward solution and move on.
Alright, so far you know when to drop it and when to apologize. Let’s now review the next client retention tactic.
Client Retention Tactic #3: Keep Clients Updated About Everything Related to Their Accounts (Not Only About Results)
Clients want your service to pay off (obviously).
They want you to provide excellent work and see the results they were told they would get.
But clients shouldn’t only be updated about the progress of a task or about the return of their investment.
They should also be updated about everything related to their account.
For instance, if you make significant changes to their sales funnel strategy, or their billing system, then you must communicate that upfront.
Don’t let them find out they were charged differently this month when they see their credit card statement.
If you make any major decision or change that can affect your client’s interest in your service, you must communicate it in advance.
Client Retention Tactic #4: Constantly Show Clients Progress of the Work You Complete for Them (Even If You Don’t Have Any Results Yet)
Clients will likely stay longer with your service if it provides results and positive ROI for them.
If your clients see results, progress, or any tangible asset they’ll keep from your service, then it will be much more difficult for them to cancel.
Because if they’re happy with whatever your service is providing to them, then it’ll be less likely for them to say goodbye.
The tricky thing here is that your clients must see whatever you promise to them.
If the promise of your service is that clients will get results by X date, then show them the results.
If the promise of your service is for clients to see ROI by X date, then show them those numbers.
And if the promise of your service is for clients to see tasks or projects completed for them, then show them the progress even if the work or the goal isn’t finalized or achieved yet.
This will give your clients peace of mind.
Because they’ll see that there’s work happening behind the scenes.
And this all comes down to you having a good system for tracking and reporting on the metrics that your clients are expecting and that relate to the goals you established at the beginning of the service.
For instance, something we love doing at AutoGrow is sharing constant progress of the digital marketing tasks we complete for our clients.
See how in 3 different opportunities we updated one client about the progress of 3 different tasks completed in his account?
Just be transparent about the work you execute on a regular basis. It could be every day or every week.
Show them the results you’ve seen so far and any recommendations you have so their expectations are in the right place.
Client Retention Tactic #5: Emphasize the Value Your Service Adds to Their Lives & How It Solves All of Their Problems
It’s not only important to retain clients but to actually get them invested early on in your service and products.
Those clients who are really invested will stay longer.
You see, loyalty is built by educating your clients about the value of your products or service and how they simply help them solve a problem.
Clients and customers must recognize that special sauce that makes your brand unique and why signing up for your service is the best option.
For instance, always remind your clients of the value your service adds to them.
Always highlight the benefits of having signed up or partnered with your business.
Show them in all your communications how they’re gaining something rather than losing something.
For example, instead of phrasing the progress of a task like this:
“Hey, we haven’t finished this project yet”…
…say “Hey, we’re continuing the work on this project and it’ll be ready by EOD.”
See the difference?
With the first message, your client will more likely be upset because you’re basically telling him that you are not complying with the ETAs.
But with the second message you’re still conveying value. Because you’re emphasizing the fact that your team is currently working on the project and that it will be ready by a specific date.
So always take time to point out how your service is benefiting their lives.
Compare what you’re selling to the competition.
And always remember to address all buying objections upfront as they come in.
Client Retention Tactic #6: Show Them Your Well-Earned Social Proof
Adding proof of your product’s or service’s effectiveness is one of what we call “God-Mode” sales strategies.
Social proof can help your team showcase your product or service’s value.
It can highlight how your services are solving problems and producing results for consumers.
Prospects will see you as less salesy and more credible when you speak to them clearly, in a way they understand, and when you answer all of their questions.
In fact, according to Invesp, 89% of companies see their customer’s experience as a key factor in customer retention and loyalty.
For instance, show your clients examples of case studies, of people you have helped succeed, and share your frequently asked questions.
Social proof is simply the content that builds trust with your audience when you show them why your brand is popular and credible.
So relying on social proof is a great sales strategy, especially if you’re selling high-ticket products or services.
This is because potential buyers or clients may be afraid of spending over $1,000 in your business. But showing them a fistful of happy customers and successful clients is a great way to help them overcome that fear.
Sharing social proof is the fastest way to calm a client’s fears and build trust.
And the same way we have social proof sprinkled across our website and even have a dedicated landing page for it…
…we always make sure our clients hear those success stories.
Because education is powerful for persuading clients.
So earn your existing clients’ trust by simply sharing your stories and/or data.
For instance, go beyond the traditional testimonials.
Try creating a video with real customers talking about their experiences with your service.
Take a look at our video testimonials below…
And here are some stats to persuade you on the importance of adding social proof to your website and to your relationship with existing clients:
- 87% of buying decisions are made based on research online before the purchase is made (CXL).
- The average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision (HubSpot).
- 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations (HubSpot).
- 83% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase (Nielsen).
Client Retention Tactic #7: Know When to Upsell Clients (These Are the Best Moments for That…)
Upselling clients is not only a tactic for your business to make more money.
It’s also a time for clients to be even more invested in your service.
You can do this by providing upgrades, high-value items, or other add-ons to their purchase to increase the dollar amount of the entire purchase.
With an upsell, you can maximize the value of a single customer or client.
Because as you know, a lot of businesses (yours?) spend an inordinate amount of time on customer acquisition. Even though that’s actually the least cost-effective way to bring in more revenue.
As data from Invesp shows, it actually costs 5x as much to attract a new customer, than to retain an existing one.
Now, to leverage the upsell, you need to present your clients with additional services to actually increase the value of their order.
And here are 7 techniques for mastering your upsells by the way.
For example, instead of selling, say, a $150 health coach service, you could present them with options to up that purchase.
Perhaps allow them to also buy a healthy recipe book for an additional $80 and a series of workout videos for an additional $50.
Suddenly, a simple $150 order for your service is now worth $280.
See how that works?
Now, you can’t upsell everyone.
You will always have customers who only want one service or product.
However, you can upsell a majority of your clients if you include this strategy as part of your service offerings.
You can upsell your clients to higher-value purchases if you know how to do it properly.
But what are the best ways to upsell clients?
Sure, not every moment will be the right one for upselling
You must do it at a time when you see the client is happy and engaged with your service.
For instance, if they provide a compliment for the work done or to any team member’s performance, that could be a great moment for upselling.
Kind of like, “Hey, I see that you’re liking the service so far and you’re happy, so we’ve got more to offer you [insert upsell offer]”
But not with those exact words, of course.
We’ve found that a good pre-upselling opportunity is right after a client gives us a compliment.
We take that moment as an opportunity and ask clients for a testimonial.
And you could also ask them to leave a good review on Trustpilot, Glassdoor, etc.
And then, after they provide some social proof, proceed to upsell them.
Because when they provide a testimonial or a good review for your company, it’s kind of like they’re getting reassured that they truly like your service or product.
Trust me, that’s the same tactic we’ve followed and it’s helped us earn a fistful of testimonials of happy clients.
Client Retention Tactic #8: Offer Them Free Resources or Added Bonuses to Keep Them Engaged
Not only should you upsell clients as a tactic to retain them.
To improve client retention, also offer your customers or clients free upgrades to any resources you think they might enjoy.
Appreciation is the measure of your effort towards your customers or clients.
It’s the way to show them that you really care about them and that you’re grateful for having them as clients.
And when you show clients appreciation, they’ll be more likely to stay with your service or even upgrade to a higher-tier package.
For instance, to improve customer retention, you can:
- Create customer loyalty programs
- Offer customers an annual or monthly discount
- Offer customers small, incremental discounts the longer they stay with you
- Offer customers or clients new free features or upgrades
- Provide them with exclusive deals on products
- Offer free shipping on certain products
Something we do at AutoGrow is we offer free upgrades to some of our training and info products from our Marketplace.
All these tactics will make the client feel like you truly appreciate doing business with them.
Client Retention Tactic #9: Empower Customers With Convenience
Let clients have control.
We love telling our clients “You’re in the driver’s seat and we’re the car getting you to your destination.”
We even have it on our homepage…
Clients must feel like your service or products are convenient to them.
They must have easy access to them whenever they want to use your service or product.
And that’s exactly why we built a live chat integrated into AutoGrow’s Web App so that clients can reach out to us whenever they need to.
They just click on the live chat icon…
…and our project manager and strategists reply to them immediately.
That’s one of the many beauties our web app has to offer to clients.
It’s easy to use and convenient.
Clients can request any digital marketing project to be completed by the AutoGrow team via their phone, computer, or tablet.
And customers can purchase any of our training and productized services from our Marketplace.
Client Retention Tactic #10: Watch Out for the Words That Have a Negative Impact & That Could Make Clients Cancel…
Be careful with how you communicate with clients.
Watch out for every word or phrase you use because words are powerful and they can make or break your client’s satisfaction.
For instance, according to HubSpot, avoid using phrases like:
- “Give me one second to look into that … “﹘Set expectations and give a clear plan of action to your clients. Don’t let them think you’re just scrambling looking or wondering what’s the status of their account. Be upfront about how long you expect the issue to be solved.
- “Unfortunately, no …” – There are many ways to say no without actually saying it. Look for subtle ways to say no even when you can’t accommodate your clients’ requests.
- “I’m sorry.” – Saying you’re sorry every time you make a mistake diminishes your credibility according to Entrepreneur. Instead, look for ways to “cover” your error without acting shady. Transparency is a must, but don’t let the client whiplash you until they get the last “I’m sorry” out of you.
- “I don’t see your account information in our database.” – There’s nothing more frustrating than actually reaching out for help to be met with disorganization according to HubSpot. Don’t let your clients know about any disorganization behind the scenes. Always provide clients with solutions, not problems.
Client Retention Tactic #11: Answer Your Clients’ Questions in Real Time(!)
There’s nothing more frustrating to your clients (and to everyone in general) than when nobody is on the other side to hear out their problems or address their concerns.
If clients don’t get immediate responses, chances are they’ll feel ignored or unappreciated.
In fact, 53% of customers have switched companies because they felt unappreciated according to Neil Patel.
And too often, companies don’t implement customer feedback or respond to complaints in a timely manner also according to Neil Patel.
And even though the majority of consumers (61%) still prefer the phone as their main channel of communication with companies, there are many other different ways you can reach out to clients. This according to BargainFox.
You can do so via email, Skype, live chats, chatbots, text messages, video calls—anything.
For instance, make it easy for your clients to reach out to you.
List your phone number throughout your site and make it easy for visitors to contact your business.
Always be available and don’t just answer the phone during business hours.
Aim to be available after business hours too so that customers aren’t left disappointed when getting sent to voicemail.
And most importantly, don’t make customers wait.
According to a study from Lead Response Management, salespeople who respond to inquiries in under 5 minutes are 100X more likely to connect with prospects and 21X more likely to qualify them.
Provide excellent customer service.
Take AutoGrow as an example again.
We built our own live chat feature into our web app and always aim to reply to our clients within 1 hour or less.
Again, there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling ignored or having to wait for hours on the phone until a sales rep is available to take your call.
Client Retention Tactic #12: Use the Phrases & Words That $ell But Without Sounding Too Pushy or Salesy
Now that we’ve covered the words and phrases you need to strike from your vocabulary, let’s talk about some that will improve your client retention and gain even more trust of your clients.
- “Because” – Using this word is a great tip for closing sales. In 2012, psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a study where an experimenter made a request to strangers using 1 of 3 different lines. The second 2 lines included the word “because,” explaining why the request was made. The first line without “because” only had a success rate of 60%. The second and third, both using the word “because,” had success rates of 93% and 94%. Langer concluded that the simple addition of the word “because” was the key to getting strangers to comply with the request.
- “I want to make sure that we’re both on the same page” – Instead of starting with “Actually… ,” which can sound like you’re too savvy, keep your tone more casual and ask clarifying questions so the customer doesn’t feel annoyed.
- “What I’m hearing is [ISSUE]. Is that correct?” – Instead of saying, “You misheard me” or “You don’t understand me”, ask reflective questions to make sure you and the customer fully understand each other.
- “Would you mind giving me a minute to double-check this?” – Don’t put your client on hold right away. Instead, explain why you need a couple of minutes while you look for the answer.
- “I want to double-check with my team before giving you an answer so I don’t waste your time. When is a good time for us to schedule a follow-up call?” – Be helpful and adapt to your clients’ schedule.
- “Save” & “Free” – While “discount” may lower the value of a product in the prospects’ eyes, hearing about an opportunity to save money will reel them in. Any opportunity to save money while solving a problem is something both new prospects and pre-existing clients want to hear about. Plus, there’s always “free,” one of marketing’s most magnetic eye-catchers in the biz.
- “Now” – Using the word “now” when talking about your product or service creates urgency. “Now” belongs to a group of words and phrases that are called “Action Words”—terms that are particularly good at driving action in your buyers. CoSchedule actually put together a list of their own action words which are ripe for writing clickable CTAs. Check them out below.
Client Retention Tactic #13: Add Scarcity
Action words like “now” give a little push to your prospect to move forward.
By helping your prospect understand that you can solve their problem now, you’ll help them make a decision sooner rather than later.
And the longer they wait, the lower and lower their chances are of closing the deal.
Have you ever noticed how Amazon will notify a buyer when there are only a few of the items they’re looking at left? Etsy and plenty of other businesses do it too.
This is no accident. It’s scarcity marketing.
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a real thing. No really, it’s been scientifically proven.
The pain of missing out on something is almost two times as powerful as the feeling of gaining something.
People are more willing to take a risk or act on an opportunity to avoid a loss.
And as a marketer, you can use that natural tendency to your advantage.
Here are two of their CTA boxes before the change…
And here they are after…
By putting a hard date on the offer expiration, they saw a whopping 24.5% revenue growth.
That’s nuts! And it’s super simple to pull off too.
So if you want to get more people to act on the product or service you have, make it scarce.
Client Retention Tactic #14: Be Nice, Polite, & Empathetic
Good manners go a long way.
So if you’re looking to retain clients, then always be polite, nice, and empathize with clients.
They’re humans, you know?
They struggle with money too even if they sign up for your service.
So acknowledge their concerns. Make them feel understood and heard.
Client Retention Tactic #15: Avoid Typos Everywhere
Did you know that in 1962, NASA attempted to send an interplanetary probe called Mariner 1 to explore Venus?
And thanks to a single missing hyphen (BIG TYPO) in the code that was used to program the speed and trajectory, the probe exploded a few minutes after takeoff?
This cost the U.S. $18.5 million.
Typos have the same negative impact in business.
One tiny grammatical mistake and you can lose a client.
So be sure to watch out for your written communication with clients.
It must be impeccable and flawless.
Client Retention Tactic #16: Always Maintain Clear & Professional Communication (Clients Are Not Your Friends So Don’t Be Too Friendly)
Maintaining clear communication is key to retaining your clients and customers.
A study from Tipping.org found that hotel waiters that said “good morning” to guests and gave them a positive weather forecast saw a 27% boost in tips.
For salespeople, simply starting a sales call with the basics, “good morning”, “how are you?” can go a long way.
That polite behavior, as long as it comes off genuine, will facilitate trust and comfort with the prospect, which will, in turn, open them up to hear about what you have to offer.
Sometimes churn rates increase not because of the quality of the product or service per se but because of the quality of the customer service.
And by clients not receiving clear and professional communication, they can feel disconnected from your brand.
And this could lead to clients feeling not related to your brand, dissatisfied, and unhappy.
For instance, always provide clear communication. Answer all of your clients’ questions (not just 1 out of 3 questions asked).
Treat them in a professional way. They’re not your friends. They’re your clients.
So avoid being too friendly and casual.
And always try to stick to your client’s preferred method of communication.
Client Retention Tactic #17: Ask for Feedback & Be Open to Constructive Criticism
You can’t improve customer retention without first understanding why your past customers or clients have left your company.
You need to understand the root problem.
And for that, you need to ask clients why they’re cancelling your service.
Only then you’ll be able to work to prevent customer churn by solving those problems.
You see, asking for your clients’ feedback is going to be key to improving your business because that personal connection you get from a client’s experience using your service is a catalyst for growth.
Take, for instance, an email we got from a customer of our info products.
This piece of feedback was extremely helpful.
This customer was on the fence about becoming a customer from one of our training.
He wanted more information about a special offer we put out for our 6-Figure Sales Funnel training and shared his thoughts about why he didn’t buy the product.
Well, not only did we answer this customer’s question but we actually took his feedback and decided to standardize the practice of adding a short video walk-thru to future sales pages.
So far, it’s been an instant hit with sales flowing in from day one.
For instance, to improve customer retention and reduce churn rates, ask for feedback on a regular basis.
We at AutoGrow usually ask our clients who have been with us for longer than a month to fill out a short survey with their feedback.
And this has certainly helped us get better.
And being able to identify and address these issues as early as possible will help you to prevent customers from leaving you in the first place.
So here’s what we reviewed today:
- 17 smart tactics to retain clients and customers.
- Why it’s not only important to retain clients but to actually get them invested early on in your service and products.
- Why it’s way cheaper to retain existing clients than acquire new ones.
- How increasing customer retention rates can actually increase profits.
A lot of marketers and entrepreneurs try to grow their business by focusing on acquiring new clients instead of retaining their existing ones.
But improving client retention is simply one of the most worthy investments a business can make.
And with these 17 smart tactics, you’ll prevent your sales funnel from leaking money and retain your worthy clients.
Because your existing clients are themselves a source of new revenue!
And regardless of how you plan to retain your customers, there’s one common denominator: providing an excellent customer experience.
Now tell me something, is your goal to retain as many clients as possible? Do you see now why a loyal customer or client is worth much more than a new one?
Let me know in the comments below.
Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.