Emails That Keep Customers

So far, we’ve explored acquisition emails, welcome emails, promotional emails, and newsletters. What’s next? We’ll explore retention emails.

Types of email marketing: Retention emails

Retention emails are all about timing. When sent at the right time, they can be incredibly effective. If you commit to sending them, you can keep more of your customers coming back again and again. That’s why retention emails fit into the loyalty bucket of our marketing funnel. This is the stage where you’re dealing with active customers. The goal here will always be to keep customers happy, because if your customer is happy, your brand is happy.

There are lots of types of emails that fit under the retention category. For instance, if a customer puts an item in their online cart but doesn’t purchase it, that company may send a follow-up email. This retention email is called a cart abandonment email. It encourages customers to buy the item they left behind.

If a customer does make a purchase, a company sends a follow-up email asking for feedback on that customer’s shopping experience. That is also a form of retention email. Getting customer feedback is a great way to make customers feel heard. It also ensures any necessary improvements are made.

If a company notices certain users aren’t really engaging with their newsletters or promotional emails, they may send a special offer to those customers to encourage them to engage a bit more. That also fits under the retention email category.

Regardless of what kind of retention email you are sending, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re writing them. Remember that the goal is to keep current customers coming back. There are a few things you can do to ensure your customers come back.

Retention emails should include

  • Personalization
    In email marketing, personalization means you get to know your customers and tailor your emails based on who they are. Lots of email marketing tools allow you to segment your list so that you can develop content specifically tailored for certain groups of people. It can be as simple as using their first name in emails and subject lines, a trick that email automation tools will allow you to do. Another great personalization tactic is sending a follow-up email with tips on how to use the product that the customer purchased. It shows you care about each customer, and that you can anticipate what their challenges and needs might be. 
  • A clear call-to-action
    Be clear about what you’re asking in your emails, by including an obvious call to action. Calls-to-action might be
    • A discount code to encourage subscribers to buy again
    • A request that subscribers sign up for the new loyalty program
  • Empathetic and inviting language
    One of the best ways to keep a customer around is to help them feel heard and supported. Empathy is just as important when it comes to a business to customer relationship. Using language like, “How did we do and how is your experience?” helps a customer understand that their opinions matter, and that just might result in them coming back again. In addition to getting feedback, make sure to use thank you language to make it clear you are grateful. Help them feel appreciated, because you are appreciative of their business, and they should know that.
Retention email should include personalization, a clear call-to-action and empathetic and inviting language.
Retention email should include personalization, a clear call-to-action and empathetic and inviting language.

Create accessible emails

While emails can be an excellent marketing method, it’s essential to create content every audience can experience equally. This includes people with sensory disabilities, which affect one or more of a person’s senses. Let’s learn about accessibility and explore some best practices for designing effective emails for all audiences, especially for individuals with a disability related to hearing, vision, or both.

Why is accessibility important?

The term accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. Emails with poor accessible design may fail to convey auditory and visual information. For example, some emails you send might include videos with information spoken by a narrator or speaker. Including an option to show captions on the video screen or in a transcript helps ensure that people with auditory disabilities can understand the content. Captions or a transcript can also be helpful for any user in an environment where they cannot easily hear a sound, such as on a loud, crowded bus or cafe, or play sound without disturbing others, such as in a library.

Inaccessible emails can be confusing or difficult for many with auditory and visual sensory disabilities to navigate. Consistently producing inaccessible emails can reflect negatively on a brand and may lead to a decrease in email open rate and click rate over time. This means lower engagement and a missed opportunity to gain revenue.

Assistive technology

People with disabilities may use assistive technologies to perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them. Some examples of assistive technologies include well-known inventions such as wheelchairs, which help people with mobility disabilities move around and hearing ads, which enable or enhance people’s hearing.

There are lesser-known assistive technologies for text- and image-based digital media. Screen enlargement applications and screen readers are the most popular forms of assistive technology for accessing emails. A screen enlargement application helps users see content more easily by magnifying text and images on a computer or digital device screen. A screen reader is an application that converts text, buttons, images, and other screen elements into speed or Braille.

Screen readers can identify an email’s text content and any invisible code connected to the email’s elements like header, images, or links. When the screen reader reads the invisible code aloud, it identifies the element type and the description the email’s creator added. For example, email creators can add invisible code to images called alternative text, or alt text. Alt text is a brief, written description of an image with the primary purpose of assisting individuals who are visually impaired. The alt text is not shown visually in the email but is read aloud by a screen reader. In addition, structural elements such as headers provide screen reader users with information about the content hierarchy in the email.

Best practices for accessible email design

Accessible emails provide clarity and help readers navigate the email’s elements. The following best practices and considerations are categorized based on these elements.


  • Organize headings thoughtfully. Headers have invisible code called header tags. When a screen reader reads a header, it describes header size.
  • Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italicized or underlined text. This can be difficult for screen readers to process, which means that the information isn’t being communicated clearly.


  • The text font size should be at least 14. Small fonts can be hard for an individual with low vision to read. Larger fonts help users identify characters and words more easily. For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.
  • Use simple fonts. Fonts without serifs, or decorative strokes that finish off the end of a letter’s stem, are called sans serif fonts. These fonts have a minimalistic style, often incorporate wider letter spacing, and are easier for users to read. This is helpful for those with low vision or other types of visual processing disabilities such as dyslexia.
  • Be careful when using emojis. An emoji is a small, text-based illustration used in electronic messages and web pages. While they can be visually interesting, they may be difficult to understand and hard for low-vision users to see. For this reason, avoid using emojis in subject lines and to represent important information.


  • Use contrasting colors for text and background colors. Having significant contrast between foreground and background colors helps users with low vision identify words. The most effective contrasting color pair is black text on a white background.
  • Don’t rely solely on colors to communicate meaning. Relying on specific text or image colors to deliver a message can be confusing to those who are color blind.


  • Only use text in images if necessary. Relying on text in images is the sole method of conveying important information that can be confusing to low-vision users.
  • Include alt text for all images that are critical to your message. If an image is informative, actionable, or necessary for the user experience, include accurate alt text that describes the image.
  • Omit alt text for decorative images. Including alt text for decorative images such as logos, lifestyle images, and icons can be confusing for those using screen readers.


  • Make the purpose of the hyperlinked text clear. In the hyperlinked text, vague statements like “Click here,” “Go,” and “Get started” make an email difficult to understand when using a screen reader. Instead, use actionable language. For example, hyperlinked text for an online retail store sale could read “Learn more about our sale” instead of “Click Here.”

Considering best practices for accessibility is essential for designing emails that are useful to everyone. Be sure to take the time to verify that your email design follows accessibility principles. You can always check how accessible your emails are by testing them with the screen reader tool included with most computers under the accessibility tab or by using an online accessibility checker.

Spamming: When not to send emails

Spending emails to your subscriber list too frequently can reflect poorly on your business, so how often do subscribers want to receive emails?

Considerations when setting a frequency

In 2021, nearly 320 billion emails were sent worldwide daily. Since then, that number has only increased. Ensuring your subscribers don’t feel overwhelmed or bombarded with emails is a big part of your email marketing strategy. You should set your email frequency with careful consideration. If you are sending emails to your subscribers’ inboxes every single day and they are trying to cut down on daily emails, they might unsubscribe.

When you evaluate how frequently you’ll send emails to your subscribers, think about the following questions:

  • How large is your subscriber list? Consider setting your frequency based on the parameters below:
    • Fewer than 500: send an email once a month.
    • 500-10,000: send an email once a week.
    • 10,000 or more: send emails twice a week.
  • What purpose is this email serving? If you’re aiming to educate users on something like a new product, you may only need to send one email.
  • What types of emails do you plan on sending? For instance, newsletters will be sent out more frequently than promotional emails about sales or discounts.
  • What types of content is in your emails? If you’re including nearly identical content in emails, maybe they don’t need to be sent more than once. If you are reminding people about a sale, you might want to send a couple of emails, one when the sales starts and one when the sale is about to end.

Ask your audience

Depending on how you collect email address, there may be a way to get feedback from your subscribers immediately. For instance, when they sign up through a website prompt, you can include a quick survey asking how often they want to receive emails. Or, you can send a welcome email when they sign up that asks them for feedback. Additionally, if subscribers select “unsubscribe,” you can provide a survey that allows them to opt to receive emails less frequently (e.g., once a month, once a week, etc.). This can reduce the number of people who unsubscribe.

When it comes to managing email frequency, the last thing you want to do is to overwhelm your subscribers because this may result in them never opening your emails or even unsubscribing from your list. Consider your list size, what types of emails you’ll send, what content is in those emails, and what purpose your emails serve.

Happy learning and good luck!

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