The top 3 ways to use email to improve customer retention and lifetime value

You may have heard the term Customer Lifetime Value, but what does it really mean? And more importantly, what does Customer Lifetime Value (we’ll refer to this as CLV from hereon) have to do with customer retention?

Allow us to explain!

As a business, there are seldom metrics more important than your CLV. Essentially, CLV represents the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend in your business, or on your products, during their lifetime. One of the main reasons that it’s such an important metric is because, in most businesses, it costs less to keep existing customers than it does to acquire new ones, thus the benefit of increasing the value of your existing customers to drive organisational growth cannot be understated.

Our view is that if you’re focused on CLV, you’re focused on building a loyal audience and catering to their needs. Now, you want CLV to be the best it can be but doing this can be tricky, however, if you correctly do this, not only is there potential to increase your CLV but can have a massive impact on your retention.

Email marketing is one of the greatest tools you can use to find out more about your customers, what makes them tick, and improve the way you solve their problems. Therefore, it becomes one of the leading mechanisms you can use to increase your CLV.

Here are some of the top ways you can use email to improve your CLV and retention rates.


Segmentation is one of the most common tools to engage with customers more effectively, but have you considered segmenting your database by CLV’s?

Though these values per-customer are constantly in flux, having some way you can focus on your segments with lower CLV’s in a different manner to those with a higher CLV value could show many benefits. This means having different approaches based on levels of engagement which is key to ensuring the right targeting and approach based on their level of relationship with your brand.

This is a visual representation of what a typical CLV curve looks like:

Visual Representation of a CLV curve

An example would be utilising these three distinct groups of CLV’s to segment your email database as a starting point to enable you to communicate differently with each group.

The overarching goal here is to get your clients into the segment of “most profitable” clients, however, this is often not a reality so ensuring customer loyalty in the early stages is key and email segmentation is a great way to achieve this. 

Personalisation and Intention

When we speak about personalisation, we’re not simply referring to addressing someone by name in your email campaigns. Now that is important, however, the emphasis should shift from simply “adding personalisation” to making email personal.

The best way to achieve this is to be specific and to have a specific intention behind each of your campaigns. If you’re sending an email asking a customer to take an action to purchase or update their details, ensure that the purpose of those emails is exactly that! Don’t confuse your audience by asking them to take an action to buy something, but in the same email asking them to take another action to update their details or visit your social pages or even rate the email. You get the picture. Make your emails specific.

But don’t forget to make your emails human either.

Though your company may not be a single person, it becomes important for you to communicate with your audience as people. The email’s intention, tone and offering needs to have a human touch. Email can’t simply be another robocall and your audience wants you to be human as this improves your relationships with your customers, impacting both your CLV and retention of customers.

Here’s a great example of a personalised campaign that has a specific purpose and a bit of humanity behind it too. And this is how you look after CLV

Example of a personalised email


Automation is one of those broadly used terms in the world of email marketing to refer to simple automated emails at specific times, but it’s often understated how powerful of a tool it can be.

For automation to impact your CLV, the best approach would be to set specific goals around your automated emails and the consensus is that these goals are split up into three groups:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Optimisation
  3. Retention

Starting with acquisition, it might seem somewhat counterintuitive that acquisition may increase your CLV. After all, aren’t the stages of optimization and retention the very stages where your CLV growth occurs most frequently? To clarify, what we’re referring to here is simply that if your acquisition goal or strategy is not optimal, you may wind up building a disengaged email database from the very beginning.

Therefore, customer onboarding needs so much focus and setting the tone for the relationship off the bat can be so beneficial. As a prime example, putting a strategic focus on your welcome email, or series of emails is a new subscriber’s first impression of what it’s like to be on your list. Make it valuable, try to wow your customer and you’ll likely experience a higher CLV.

Optimisation, on the other hand, refers to sending the right type of message, to the right individual, at the right time, and a well-structured frequency. Your intention is to stand out, loud and clear, in your subscriber’s inbox.

There are no sure-fire ways to achieve this as it differs brand-by-brand, however starting by putting a focus on subject lines, personalising emails and ensuring you constantly keep your database segmentation up to date can help increase CLV. You can also begin looking at dynamic content and incentivising actions, but that’s a topic for another day

Lastly, when we talk about retention in the field of automation, it’s not simply keeping a customer spending with you, it’s also ensuring you keep customers engaged and informed, and by having an automated means to do this based on their activity within your emails, you may have a recipe for retention success.

Example of a retention email

Retention isn’t simply keeping subscribers around by whatever means necessary. Retention is keeping your subscriber’s user experience with your organisation utterly awesome throughout their lifetime time with your brand.

Simple automated emails that contribute to a customer’s CLV include:

        Birthday emails
        Special occasion mails
        Anniversary mails
        Feedback mails
        Thank you emails
        Re-engagement campaigns

And a host more! The trick is to be relevant, build a relationship and ensure the customer finds value in being a customer of your brand. 

Our team at TouchBasePro are specialists in helping turn your database of names and email addresses, into customers of value. Reach out today and let’s chat about increasing your client CLV using email at