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How To Retain Your Most Valuable Customers

TL;DR: Despite the scepticism surrounding customer retention fuelled by Byron Sharp's insights, there remains a compelling case for retention strategies, particularly in challenging financial climates. By focusing on product, promotion, people, and place rather than just price, brands can convey value effectively. A data-driven approach using predictive analytics, tailored communications, customer lifetime value analysis, and continuous data collection can help CMOs retain valuable customers by demonstrating unmatched value.

Rethinking Customer Retention in Marketing

Customer retention has faced criticism, especially after Byron Sharp's influential work "How Brands Grow" highlighted the predominance of customer disloyalty and questioned the effectiveness of loyalty schemes. Sharp suggests that brands should focus on attracting 'chance' customers with compelling deals. However, in today's economic landscape marked by rising costs and financial uncertainty, offering clear value becomes crucial for consumer retention, challenging the notion that chasing deal-seekers is the sole path to growth.

Why Retention Matters

Contrary to the idea that pursuing lower prices to attract deal-seekers is the most effective strategy, there are essential aspects brands can leverage to influence consumer decisions without solely depending on price reductions. The four pillars—product, promotion, people, and place—play vital roles in shaping perceptions of value beyond price. A strategic focus on these areas can help brands retain customers by emphasizing the comprehensive value they offer.

Crafting a Data-Driven Retention Strategy

To develop an effective retention strategy that transcends price concerns, CMOs can follow a four-step approach rooted in data science and analytics:

1. Power Of Prediction: Utilize predictive analytics to identify customers at risk of churn, allowing for proactive engagement and retention efforts.

2. Relevate Your Comms: Personalize communication strategies based on individual customer preferences and interests, leveraging segmentation and predictive analytics tools to ensure relevance and engagement.

3. Everyone Has A Price: Determine the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to understand each customer's worth and tailor relationship strategies accordingly, deciding whether to invest in deepening the relationship or letting it go.

4. Data. Data. Data!: Continuously collect first and zero-party data to gain deeper insights into customer needs and preferences, using this information to refine communication strategies and enhance relatability and impact.

Key Takeaways:

- Value Beyond Price: Brands can and should articulate their value through aspects other than price, focusing on product, promotion, people, and place.

- Data-Driven Personalization: Utilizing predictive analytics and continuous data collection enables personalized communication strategies that resonate with individual customer preferences.

- Strategic Customer Evaluation: Assessing customer lifetime value helps in making informed decisions on which customer relationships to foster or phase out, maximizing retention efficiency.


1. How can brands effectively balance the cost of personalized marketing strategies against the expected increase in customer retention and CLV?

2. What are the specific challenges brands face in collecting and analysing first and zero-party data, and how can they be addressed?

3. In what ways can the effectiveness of retention strategies be accurately measured, especially in the context of increasing consumer promiscuity and financial pressures?

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