Retail, Strategy, Experience

Maximizing LTV From Newly Acquired Customers

MERGE serves up some strategic approaches to help retail brands stay top-of-mind with newly acquired customers following peak acquisition periods

BY: Tom Gregorski

PUBLISHED: 1/9/2024

Customer acquisition during peak periods, such as the holiday season, represents an immense opportunity for retail brands. It's when consumers are most open to trying new products and services, leading to a surge in new customers. Yet, as the festive buzz wears off, the challenge for retailers is to maintain the momentum with these recently acquired customers. Research indicates that a 5% increase in customer retention, can lead to a 25 to 95% increase in profits. Couple that with the fact that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than the cost to retain an existing customer, and it’s easy to see the impact and the opportunity that exists for retailers during these critical times of the year.

Below, MERGE shares some strategic approaches to keep retail brands top-of-mind with their newly acquired customers following peak customer acquisition periods, all in an effort to foster long-lasting customer loyalty.

Crafting the Welcome Experience: A Brand-Specific Approach

Recent research indicates that 71% of consumers anticipate timely, personalized messaging from brands. The "welcome experience" is the start of a brand-customer relationship and presents an opportunity to thank customers for their purchase with rewards like discounts or free shipping, fostering repeat business. Further communications can strengthen this relationship by introducing the customer to the brand's story and values, fostering loyalty. A subsequent message can set expectations for future benefits, such as exclusive deals or product usage tips.

Ultimately, however, the content and timing of these communications should align with the brand's product offerings and key buying moments within the customer journey.

For example, a backpack brand might gradually guide new customers from an initial "welcome" to more detailed engagement, asking them to update preferences or profile information. This helps create personalized content for key buying periods like  "back-to-school" season.

On the other hand, a ski equipment retailer would have a more immediate approach. Their welcome message would promote relevant products for the ongoing ski season. As seasons change, their marketing also adjusts to feature spring and summer products, maintaining engagement year-round.

The Role of the Preference Center

A preference center is a customer-centric tool that allows consumers to control their relationship with the brand. By visiting this center and completing their profile, customers can specify their communication preferences, such as the types of emails they want to receive and their preferred frequency.

To incentivize customers to share this information, brands can offer rewards such as points in a loyalty program or a small discount on their next purchase. The data gathered from the preference center can then be used to tailor future communications, ensuring they are relevant and engaging for each individual customer.

Leveraging Reputation, Referrals, and Reviews

Brands often discount products during Q4 to boost sales, training customers to expect deals in Q4 and the start of Q1. This poses a challenge as brands struggle to regain margins, with customers likely buying only during sales periods.

Brands can counter this by shifting focus to the value and experience they offer rather than price cuts. This strategy results in higher margin sales, improved brand perception, and stronger customer LTV as shoppers buy value/experience over discounted products. Brands like YETI and Apple exemplify this approach, maintaining premium positioning through superior quality and value without discounts.

Referral programs and product reviews are also effective tools for retaining new customers and promoting the brand. A "refer a friend" incentive can stimulate word-of-mouth marketing, while encouraging product ratings or reviews can boost brand credibility and reveal customer perceptions. Offering small rewards can be effective in nudging customers to take desired actions.

Maintaining Engagement Via Email Marketing, SMS

Email marketing typically drives a higher ROI than other digital channels, and three types of emails are particularly effective toward that end: Lifecycle Emails, Behavioral Triggers, and Business-As-Usual (BAU) Touches. Each should be tailored to the brand and customer journey.

- Lifecycle Emails are sent at significant customer journey points, personalized to deepen the brand relationship. 
- Behavioral Triggers are action-based emails with strong calls-to-action, like completing a purchase 
- Business-As-Usual (BAU) Touches are regular updates to keep the brand fresh in the customer's mind.

SMS/Text messaging is also critical for customer engagement. Research from Attentive shows 85% of shoppers sign up for both SMS and email, and those receiving both are 2.4 times more likely to buy. Brands should ensure a warm welcome via both channels, aligning the experiences for cohesion. A practical SMS strategy is introducing a contact card within the first 24 hours, enabling customers to add the brand's SMS number to their contacts, increasing message visibility.

More SMS stats from Attentive:


- 90% of people open a text within three minutes
- 85% of smartphone users prefer SMS to emails or calls
- 55% of customers ignore marketing emails but are open to other forms of marketing

Additionally, the ability to monitor new customer activity is essential for understanding their behavior and preferences. This data can inform the “Next Best Action” – the next step the brand should take to further engage the customer. This could include sending a personalized offer, suggesting relevant products, or providing helpful content. By taking a data-driven approach to customer engagement, brands can ensure their communications are personalized, relevant, and effective.

Driving Engagement Through Media

Paid media channels provide a great opportunity to re-engage new customers using first party data. This should be implemented across media tactics such as paid search, paid social, and programmatic display/video/native advertising. Using this data to target users through these media channels will help build the brands LTV. Building consideration with these audiences will encourage repeat purchases in the future. It can be especially important to segment these audiences and build awareness for additional product categories. This should be deployed as part of any brand’s holistic audience strategy to retain these customers and build stronger LTV within the customer base.

In the end, creating an exceptional “post-holiday” experience for new customers requires a strategic approach that not only talks to them on a one-to-one basis but also takes into account their unique needs across their journey with the brand. By implementing these strategies, retail marketing leaders can maintain the momentum gained during peak periods of the year and build customer loyalty to stand the test of time.


Looking to implement your own customer acquisition and retention strategy? Connect with MERGE to team with our experts to help keep your brand top-of-mind with new and existing customers!