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Why is Email Marketing Important for Growing Return Business?

Amber Klein
April 28, 2016

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A common marketing goal for most companies is to find new customers and increase the size of their database. Touching more people and gaining new customers is a great goal but, while this is something that every company should be reaching towards, many companies end up focusing so heavily on this goal that they overlook the opportunity they have to nurture their relationships with current customers and encourage repeat business. 

The relationship with current customers is something no one can't afford to ignore. These people have already bought into your company and product, you've already sold them and taken them through your entire sales funnel. They believe in your company. Don't let that be the end of your interaction with them! Turning your current customers into repeat customers can be huge for your business. In fact, did you know that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70% and the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%; (that’s up to 14 times more, or 5 on average). In addition, returning customers spend on average 67% more than first-time customers. You already have an established relationship with these people and you cannot and should not let that relationship fall by they wayside.

While there are a lot of inbound marketing tactics you can (and should) use to communicate with your current customers and help encourage repeat business, today I want to address one of most direct touch points: email. So, why is email marketing important for growing return business? Let's take a look...


As Dustin showed us in his blog post Inbound Marketing Services: Creating Promoters, email is not only an important tactic to use in the close stage, it's also a great tactic to use in the delight stage of the inbound methodology when you're trying to turn your customers into promoters of your brand. Now despite the name, promoters are not just people who talk about your brand and product to friends and family, they also are your loyal customers who keep coming back and continue purchasing from you time and time again. So they are important not only because they are spreading information about you through word-of-mouth (STILL one of the best forms of marketing) but also because they are likely return customers who continue spending money with you. 

While you might have some incredibly loyal customers who keep coming back no matter what, sometimes you have to remind your current customers that you exist and encourage them to come back to you. Email is a great way of keeping the lines of communication open with these people and continue reminding them that you are an authority on your industry. 

Let's talk about two email marketing tactics we can use to encourage repeat business:

1. Email Marketing

You should have an email marketing strategy in place for all of your contacts regardless. If you don't, consider this: for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25. Email is one of the least expensive marketing tools and it provides a HUGE return on investment. So you should be sending emails to all of your contacts regardless. But it works exceptionally well to nurture current customer relationships and stay in front of them. Periodically sending mass email blasts for special offers or announcements will keep you top-of-mind in these people's minds and ensure they're coming to you for all your industry-specific needs. 

2. Automated Workflows

We are huge fans of workflows here at HIVE. For an intro to what a workflow is and how it works, check out our Inbound Marketing Services: Converting Leads to Customers blog post.

For the delight phase, we treat workflows a little differently than we do in the close phase. In the close phase, our goal was to get the lead to fill out another form and eventually make their first purchase. For the delight phase, we're not looking to get them to make their first purchase, instead we're nurturing the lead, reminding them that they already purchased from us and that we are experts in our industry and hopefully encourage them to purchase from us again. The important thing here is staying in front of them and providing them with valuable content. 

We can also educate them about additional product offerings that might be relevant to them. For example, if you work for a car dealership and you have a database of customers who have purchased cars from you in the past, you might set up an automated workflow dedicated to that list of people. Here's how that workflow might function:

  1. Email 1: 2 days after purchasing their car, you might start with an email that thanks them for buying and congratulating them on their purchase.
  2. Email 2: Two weeks later, you could follow up with an email promoting a high value content offer...maybe something like "Top 10 Ways to Increase Gas Mileage." That email serves to remind them that you're here and that you are experts in the car industry.
  3. Email 3: Now you've nurtured the relationship and reminded them that you are experts in the car industry but you still want to inform them that, in addition to the dealership, you have a great service center that can handle all the necessary maintenance on their new purchase. So, maybe a couple months after the purchase of the car, you send them another email that let's them know it's almost time for an oil change and includes a coupon for their first oil change if they bring their car to your service center. 

The idea here is that you nurture the relationship with content that might be relevant based on their previous actions and also teach them what else you have to offer with the hopes that they will trust you enough to come back for this additional offering. The reason we use automated workflows for this is because it makes your life way easier and saves you all kinds of time. All you have to do is set up the initial parameters and sit back and watch the emails go out to these people.

EXPERT TIP: Don't let your workflows get stale after initial setup. Be sure to occasionally revisit them and determine whether they can be built upon. For example, in the previous example, you might take the same workflow targeted to the same people and build another trigger to go out after they come in for a service encouraging them to do something else. 

The number one key to return business is nurturing your relationships with existing customers. You have to remind them that you're here and that you are an expert in your industry. Through the first three stages of the inbound methodology (attract, convert and close) you worked hard to prove to your leads that you are industry experts and deserve their trust. That does not end once someone has become a customer. Take advantage of all that work you put into making that person a customer and nurture the relationship with them so that they become a promoter. Do not ignore the delight phase. 

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