Are Your Customers Coming or Going?


Understanding Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention and why you should Communicate to both audiences.

When developing a direct mail or email campaign, do you take into consideration whether your goal is customer acquisition or customer retention? You should. The two groups are quite different and should be marketed to differently.

Acquisition Mailings are going to a group of people who may not know your company or your products well (or at all). You have limited time and space to get their attention, communicate your value proposition, and present a compelling reason for them to act. Think of your mailing as an elevator pitch.

Retention Mailings are going to people who already know you. You don’t have to introduce yourself, so you can use that space to present specific products and services that make sense for them. Over time, you can present them with increasingly relevant offers based on information that you already know about them or that you learn as you go along. 

What does this look like in practice? Think about it this way. Say you just bought a new car and want to sell your older one. When marketing to the general public, you might describe the car’s features, its condition, and its price. You might also explain why it’s a great value to a new buyer. If you are selling to friends, however, you will modify each pitch based on what you know about them. To your friend Bob, you might say, “Isn’t your daughter taking driver’s education right now? Our old sedan is reliable, it’s very safe, and it would make a great first car for her.” To your friend Sue, you might say, “I know you’ve been putting a lot of money into the maintenance of your car lately. We’re selling our sedan, which is slightly newer and is in great condition. It could save you a lot on repairs.” 

Two different audiences—two different approaches. So it is with direct mail acquisition and retention. 

You aren’t going to try to sell existing customers on your full spectrum of products, either. You will select the right products that make sense for their needs. You’ll also be careful not to sell people on products they already have or that you have marketed to them before. 

So does it matter whether you are doing an acquisition mailing or a retention mailing? Yes! By understanding each audience and how to position your messaging best for each one, you’ll maximize your ROI, whether the campaign is digital or in print.


|  Last Updated: 19 May 2021