Practical Ways to Increase Retention in Q4

Hey Friends,

First, I wanted to extend a massive welcome to the few hundred new readers this week. It means the world that you take time out of your busy day to read this newsie.

I’m checking in after a whole week off. If you are tuning in now, 11/1 marked the end of my time with Jones Road, and I am starting a new gig on 11/15. Week one of time off is coming to a close.

What did I do? Great question. 

I had some coffee, had some more coffee (I've been loving this Jitterless Chocolate Cereal Milk Latte), sipped on some Firebelly tea, did two SoulCycle classes, and spent a whole lot of time catching up with friends and family on the ground in Israel. 

I start my new gig next week, and it’s in an entirely new space. A whole new challenge that I am beyond stoked for. I can’t wait to share more in the coming weeks. 

Okay, let’s talk business.

Retention is a hot topic, for good reason. Efficiency on the growth side comes and goes in waves, but a great customer <> product fit and retention plan is timeless.

Yet, the more folks I talk to, the more I learn that most have not “cracked the code” on retention.

“But Eli, the gurus made it pretty straightforward.”

“Send more emails,” they said.

So why do so many brands fail miserably on retention?

One word: Education.

Most customers either don’t have a clue what they are buying or, at the very least, don’t fully understand the value of what they are getting. 

If they did and your product was indeed “the best in the world,” we wouldn’t be here having this conversation.

Give me a second to climb down from my hill; let’s get practical and help fix this mess. 

This week's newsie is brought to you by Alia. We’ll be chatting a lot about education throughout the entire customer journey, and Alia is the perfect tool to do this. 

Alia helps increase conversions by up to 54% by rewarding customer education through their engaging on-site Shopify app.

Create short, customizable content through Alia about your brand, products, and more, then reward customers for learning about what makes you unique. 

Get store visitors to your brand's “aha” moment faster than ever. When someone starts using Alia, they make a purchase 30% of the time on average.

While increasing your conversions and sales through Alia, you can also collect zero-party data points through survey questions and increase email and phone number capture rates.

Alia has 20 five-star reviews on Shopify and is trusted by amazing brands such as:

  • Firebelly Tea – co-founded by Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify, and David Segal, founder of DAVIDsTEA, saw a 29% conversion rate with Alia

  • Leave No Trace – increased its store-wide conversion rate by 54% in one month

  • Innovet Pet – 33% conversion rate with Alia, collected 500+ zero-party data points and captured 173 brand new site visitor emails in one month

Alia is offering 1-month completely free if you schedule a 30-minute demo call with their CEO!

Okay, let’s hop in. 

You’ve got your customer’s eyeballs on your ads and your site. It’s showtime, and you’re the professor in this pop-up classroom. But remember, no one likes a boring lecture. 

Ads: Your First Class

Your ad isn’t just a billboard; it’s your opening lecture. Instead of implementing fake scarcity and edgy hooks, educate. 

Take a leaf out of MindBodyGreen’s book. Their ads aren’t just ads; they’re mini-tutorials. They address doubts head-on and lay out the facts. Why is this product better? What makes it stand out? Don't just claim superiority; prove it with a quick lesson on its unique selling points. The goal here is to foster informed customers, not just impulse buyers.

In this specific ad, they are not just talking to anyone who wants to buy their stuff; they are talking to a particular avatar, and they probably did quite a bit of research to discover who that customer avatar is. (The special touch with Fermat is gold.)

Or this one, with baked-in credibility from a Stanford doctor addressing the age-old “does this work” question. 

Let’s keep it simple:

1. Understand your customer (or potential customer)
2. Speak to their problems and how your product is a solution 
3. Educate them why your product is the best solution or better than others they might be considering

Homepage: Crafting the Customer Journey Syllabus

Your homepage should be your syllabus – it outlines the course of the customer journey. Here, you’re not just presenting products; you’re presenting chapters of a story they become a part of. 

Each scroll should offer a new lesson. Forget aggressive CTA buttons and, instead, provide little bits of knowledge that build trust and lead to an informed decision. 

It might be your brag bar (good press about your brand), a mission statement that aligns with your customer’s values, or even some good UGC. For Monos, the luggage brand, the brag bar is front and center and builds trust and credibility. 

For Tommy John (fantastic boxers btw), they focus on UGC and reviews to build credibility. They then add a module highlighting their core comfort pillars: fabric, fit, and function. Even before I got to the PDP, I was already educated on the direction and focus of this brand. 

Product Detail Page (PDP): The Informed Purchase

Every piece of information on the PDP should contribute to building a knowledgeable customer base. This isn’t just a page with a price tag; it’s a super-important chapter of your educational narrative. 

Spell out the value proposition clearly: “Our product is priced at a premium because here’s what goes into it…” 

Break down the cost if you have to. Highlight craftsmanship, materials, and the longevity of the product. Show them where their money is going.

Bonus tip: I love how Firebelly Tea uses Alia to incentivize education in exchange for a discount instead of the traditional “spin to win” gimmick. 

When customers understand the why and the how they don’t just buy—they buy in. They’re not just customers; they’re informed fans of your brand, and fans stick around.

Email & SMS: Your Follow-Up Seminar

The transactional “Thanks for your purchase” basic email is a wasted opportunity. Let’s add some spice with some post-purchase education. 

Start a series that educates customers on what they’ve just bought:

Day 1: “Here’s how to get the most out of your [product].” 

Week 1: “Understanding the craftsmanship behind your purchase and why it was created.” 

Month 1: Go wider. Maybe: “Time for a deep dive into the history of [product category].”

And don’t just stop at email. Text them a quick fact or a link to a “How-to” video. Use SMS to deliver digestible knowledge that reinforces the value of their purchase and your brand ethos.

Remember, if your customer does not know how to use your product or get the value of it, please don’t be shocked when they don’t repurchase, even after you spam them with emails pushing them to do so. 

Bonus tip: Instead of waiting for the perfectly designed on-brand email, sling a plain text email from the founder or CX Manager. You’d be shocked as to how well these do.

QR Codes & Info Cards: The Surprise Pop Quiz in Your Unboxing

Unboxing is an event. Make it count. Slip in a QR code that leads to a“Did you know?” video about their product or a video message from the founder. If your product has a learning curve, it’s the perfect opportunity to spell out exactly how to use it.  

Alternatively, design a sleek info flat-lay card with a cool factoid about the product's origin story that they can share on social – everyone loves a good story.

Imagine a card that says, “Scan me to see the journey of your product from concept to creation.” It’s interactive and engaging, turning a passive unboxer into an active participant in your brand’s narrative.

Education doesn’t end at the “Add to Cart” button. It’s about cultivating a knowledgeable customer base that values your brand beyond the product they receive. Keep them learning, and they’ll keep coming back for more lessons. And more purchases.

Post-Purchase: Grad Studies 🎓

Most brands consider the customer journey complete once they print the shipping label. A few days later, they immediately pass the baton over to the email marketing team to push for a repurchase or a good cross-sell.

Most folks don’t realize that great brands have a 50% open rate. That means 50% don’t even see your educational emails.

Way too many folks sleep on Direct Mail as an education and retention lever. Recently, JRB launched a ‘cardalog’ with PostPilot to educate customers on their purchase of Miracle Balm, and the incremental return on spend was bonkers. 

Again, it was purely an educational play and drove a massive retention boost.

Especially heading into BFCM, many of your customers will be a “colder audience” who may have jumped in because you had a sensational offer. I’d strongly recommend testing direct mail with those audiences. 

If you took one thing from this newsletter, I hope it’s this:

Education is not a single-lesson class; it’s an entire semester.

That’s it for this week!

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!


Eli 💛