Retention Tips From the Best in The Game 🔥

Hi Retention Rockstars, 

As a Retention/CX operator, I was always bummed about how few spaces there were catered to our craft. 

Most ecom conferences and gatherings are catered to C-level execs or growth marketers. 

Last Tuesday, Sam made a dream come true by bringing together some of the best retention folks in the game to talk shop. It was magical.

Moderated by my good friend Bea from Ring Concierge, with folks from Magic Spoon, Malin + Goetz, Diane Von Furstenberg, PatBo, Atoms, The Sak, Audien Hearing, and more.

We spoke about what’s working and what’s not, went over some of the basics, and of course, ended with some new and novel ideas in ecom that the crew was testing.

I took notes like a crazy person. This week, I’ll share just a drop of the tea that was spilled. Just a taste.

Grab a chair before the tea cools down. 🍵

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To be fair, this Retention Roundtable went on for over an hour, and I know we don’t have a ton of time on this hectic Thursday morning, so I will keep it as succinct as I can.

Before we dive in, one quick request:

These learnings were super interesting to me,  and I am sure they will be to others as well. 

Please share this newsletter with a friend; it gives me the fuel to keep going.

Okay, here are some high-level things we discussed:

SMS Marketing is evolving:

Just about every brand that took part discussed seeing a downward trend in SMS revenue and/or efficiency.

Old-school spray-and-pray tactics are going down the drain. I know, you’ve seen this scary headline quite a bit, but now, a ton of small and large brands alike are seeing and feeling it in their data. 

Here are some ways they are rethinking SMS as a channel:

  • Exclusivity; but no, really. Early access, unique discounts, or exclusive product offerings. 

  • Spammers, proceed with caution: Every brand we spoke to is thinking strategically around segmentation for unengaged customers. You really only get one or two shots on an unengaged customer before they unsubscribe, and you are paying to get every text to those folks. 

  • Know your customer: One brand we spoke to uses their SMS sign-up pop-up to ask customers 2-3 questions about their needs and uses that additional context in their messaging. Shockingly, they tested this pop-up vs. one without the questions and the CVR was higher on the popup with questions.

Customer Data Platform, not nearly as hot:

A year or two ago, I would hear every aspirational marketer vying for their next million so they could get closer to a CDP, a home to analyze billions of data points so that they could get on their scientist hat and make magic.

Now, most are looking for the outcome of the CDP, but not necessarily looking to fork out tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars a year for something that will require a team of analysts and a data warehouse just to maintain.

Personally, I have never been more bullish on technology and AI that can guide marketers to the right message to send to the right person; the outcome of the CDP without the cost. (Lots to come from Yotpo here.)

Increasing LTV sans massive discounts–a priority : 

Increasing customer lifetime value is the name of everyone’s game, but not all marketers have clear ways to get there. 

Personally, I have loved this oldie but goodie from Taylor Holiday about LTV to get us started, and this one from Drew about the massive missing piece in most LTV conversations, the acquisition source…

I digress. You aren’t here for Eli’s takes, you are here for Retention Roundtable learnings.

  • Levers to pull: 

    • Gift with purchase (GWP): Almost every brand that has tried this has had above-average success, even if it took a few tinkers to make it work

    • Bundling of products: Bonus points if you bundle bestsellers with other products that you see are generally bought together or historically have been purchased in the “next” purchase

    • Loyalty: Tiered points earning structure for VIP’s, bonus point sales

    • Founder messaging: if the founder is a personality in the brand, using “founder picks” is a successful way to get folks to try things they might have otherwise ignored

    • Cross-selling: looking at the most common customer journeys and cross-selling in a personalized manner 

    • Direct Mail: almost every brand around the table has looked at or is already using PostPilot for direct mail to reach customers and increase LTV

    • Plain text emails: From your CX manager, from the founder, from the VP Supply chain… customers are engaging with humans better than most heavily designed emails. Don’t overuse/abuse this, though; it must be authentic.

Loyalty, but put some personality ON IT:

Out-of-the-box generic loyalty programs are less hot than they ever were.

Loyalty programs should be an extension and strategy lever of the brand you are already creating.

Folks highlighted brands like Skims that offer their top-tier loyalists a surprise gift monthly, and unique perks like free shipping on Mondays from brands like Mejuri.

Some other fun examples:

Gamifying: Ghost gamifies its loyalty program with badges for every quarter that a purchase is made. 

Another brand offered free lifetime underwear to anyone who gets a tattoo of their logo.

Too far? IDK, maybe. Probably.  

Celebrations: Celebrating birthdays with extra points and/or unique discounts or sales is fun, but what about half-birthdays? Chipotle does. 

Ghost sends Oreo whey protein with a nice card for birthdays–also a nice touch. 

Rent The Runway offers early access to closets once you pass a year in their membership club. I like the incentivization of long-term behaviors with exclusivity.

Subs are EVOLVING:

Historically, subscriptions lived under a different payment processor using different SKUs, and a messy portal.

In the very early OLIPOP days, I remember customers at OLIPOP needing to cancel their subscription when we had limited SKUs released at OLIPOP and they were unable to get with their subscription.

Now, we are seeing better subscription options that allow for access to LTOs (Limited Time Offers) and even early access for subscribers.

The second topic that came up under subs was A/B testing. Testing the offer, the winback options, etc etc.

Should we discuss more about this in a future newsletter?

Ok. That’s it from me for this week.

Are you a Retention operator in NYC?
Do you want to attend a future Retention Roundtable?

Just shoot Sam and me a note 😀 (make sure to add what brand you are with so we can place you alongside complementary folks.)

Last thing while I have you here:

If you like my newsie, I highly recommend you check out “No Filter” by Kendall Dickieson.

Kendall is a social GURU. She has worked with the best DTC brands in the game like Graza, Immi, and so many more. Her newsletter is filled with practical tips to 10x your social strategy.”

No Filter

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 💛

P.S. Looking for inspo on your next email/sms campaign?

I know you will love this