The Customer Retention Cycle: A 3-Step Strategy to Retain More Customers

 In Tips for Business Owners

When helping clients build their customer retention strategy, one of the first points we try to make clear is that customer retention takes ongoing refinement. And while that may sound like a cop-out, there is actually a proven formula to building and increasing customer retention. This formula is what we refer to as the Retention Marketing Cycle. This is a repeating cycle that, if monitored regularly, will turn prospects into customers, infrequent customers into loyal customers and loyal customer into advocates. This cycle consists of three components: 1) Collecting customer data 2) Managing customer relationships and 3) Communicating effectively with customers. Let’s dig in.

1. Collect Customer Data

– When I refer to customer data, I’m referring to both contact data, such as phone numbers, emails, zip codes, etc; as well as marketing data, such as redemptions, purchases, frequency, and more. You may not have realized this, but most loyalty and reward programs are designed primarily as a tool to capture and track customer data. For example, when a business asks for your phone number, your email, or even gives you a card to swipe each time you visit, the business is able to monitor all of the activity that is tied to that phone number, email or card. On an individual level they know what you are doing, but on a global level, they know habits of all of their customers. Data collection is the start of the Retention Marketing Cycle and will give you the insights you need to optimize your retention marketing strategy.

Tools to collect customer data:

SMS Keyword

Digital Punch Card

Digital Waivers


2. Managing Customer Relationships

– Part two of the Retention Marketing Cycle requires you to use the data you’ve collected to understand more about your customers. This includes gaining insights such as how often your customers are coming in, what kind of things they are purchasing, how much they are worth, etc. While this is much easier said than done, if you’ve put the proper thing in place to capture customer data, then we should have the data we need to understand the relationships better. For example, by simply asking your customer to check in with a phone number each time the visit, you can track the frequency at which each customer comes in, the average time of day each customer comes in, the average day of the week they come in, and perhaps most important to retention, you’ll know if that customer has stopped coming in. Once you’ve collected insights, you can move on to step 3 of the Retention Marketing Cycle, Communication.

Tools to manage customer retention:


Smart Links

Customer Reports

3. Customer Communication

– Customer communication is the driving force of the Customer Retention Cycle. After all, why gather the data and track relationships if you aren’t going to actively use the data to bring customers back? It’s also what separates retention marketing from a loyalty program. Retention marketing creates buying habits within our customers by actively putting our product, promotions, and service at the front of our customer’s minds. By utilizing the data gathered from step 1 and our insights created during step 2, we can now create relative communication (we call this a campaign) to bring customers back. Here are some ideas. 

After learning what time of day our customers typically come in, and knowing that most people follow daily routines (have lunch at a similar time, shop at similar times, etc.), we might trigger updates and promotions to them just before they typically come in. Similarly, if we follow patterns and realize a customer isn’t coming in as often as they should, we might trigger some incentives to get them coming back. We suggest starting with smaller incentives such as a free add-on of some sort to see if that hooks them without offering a larger incentive. Using a scheduler, such as building CityGro Campaigns, you can create these automations and then let them run themselves until you have enough data to warrant a change. Which brings us to the most important part of the cycle, review, and repeat!

Tools to communicate with customers:

SMS Marketing


Marketing Automations

With all of your campaigns in place, you are now ready to COLLECT more data (redemptions, views, opt-outs, etc), MANAGE your customer relationships and COMMUNICATE new campaigns and incentives based on the success of the old ones. It seems complex but after repeating the cycle a few times you will really understand what it takes to drive your customers back. 

Want to learn more about customer retention? Create a CityGro Account for free and start bringing customers back!

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Showing 4 comments

    Wonderful, what a weblog it is! This weblog
    gives useful data to us, keep it up.

    • Jill Wahlen

      Thanks so much! Stick around – we’re working on a post that will go into detail on how to retain customers using this cycle.

  • Aishwar Babber


    I really liked how you simplified customer retention strategy into 3 simple steps. This article will be very useful for boosting customer retention.

    Thanks for sharing this article,
    Have a great day ahead.

    • Jill Wahlen

      Hey! Thanks so much — we’re glad you like the cycle. If you have any other ideas on boosting customer retention, we’d love to hear them!

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