6 Super-Psychological Triggers to Use for Maximum Customer Retention

Understanding the psychology behind consumer behaviors and tendencies is a powerful technique on the road to achieving and maintaining customer loyalty

Sam Hurley
July 24 2017

Retention is the lifeblood of successful, long-standing business.


Churn and burn sales and marketing tactics in today’s world of choice, simply don’t nurture sustainable growth; you must aim for customer loyalty at every turn if you want your brand to thrive.

I recently explained how to apply 5 magnetic retention concepts that go far beyond the initial sale — one of the main incentives outlined is that it costs up to 7x more to gain a new customer than to keep a current one!

That said, let’s dig deeper into the complex mind of the customer.

To truly understand the psychology behind consumer behaviours, emotions and tendencies — you need to genuinely connect and interact on multiple levels, with a view to forming rock-solid bonds.

You guessed it…

This dramatically increases the likelihood of achieving loyalty — and as an end result — repeat customers.

If your brand is to tightly grasp and maintain success, custom of this nature is definitely what you want to acquire.

Apply these 6 super-psychological triggers to maximize customer retention:

More from Optimove on Customer Retention:
Customer Segmentation Methods for Personalized Retention Marketing

Trigger #1: Reciprocity

Let’s use Social Media as a prime example.

This scenario can be related right back around to the delicate relationships you form with your customers.

Each week I receive a number of tweets, direct messages or emails from people I don’t know personally — bluntly asking me to share their material to my audience on Twitter.

Now: Outward generosity has played a huge part in the growth of this audience.

However: A handful of people still don’t seem to fully grasp reciprocity — a behavior that could be considered to be at the very core of Social Media etiquette — not to mention that of Digital Marketing and business as a whole.

[The hugely influential Robert Cialdini actually spent 3 years ‘undercover’, examining and proving this psychological aspect of selling. In fact, a number of the following triggers were first brought to light by this guy. Props!]

Reciprocity itself can be summed up in one line alone.

If you’re going to ask something of somebody, make sure you’ve already given them a good reason to want to help you.

I’ve received first-touch messages as blunt as this…

“Sam … Shares or retweets from you will be good for my exposure. Plus I need your advice on how to grow my brand faster. Any tips?”

And this:

“I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy this post. But do me a favour, please share.”


Now: Think how you would feel if you received these types of initial messages on a daily basis. Not too great, right?

Hold that feeling for a moment.

This is exactly how your customers will feel if you ‘take, take, take’, without adequately giving back in return. They will be thinking, “So, what’s in it for me…?”

Simply receiving a product isn’t enough these days. Neither are average post-purchase experiences, self-centered outreach, nor middle-of-the-road service skills. There is too much choice available.

Consumers want memorable experiences. They want the complete package.

More from PostFunnel on Customer Retention:
Navigate the Fluff: A Best Practices Guide for CDPs and Customer Retention
Read These Customer Retention Lessons from Real-Life Onboarding Case Studies


  • Abundantly respect and appreciate the value each and every one of your customers provide to your brand with each purchase
  • Whenever they supply you with additional, personal information to help build your database (so you can offer them progressively-targeted marketing) — offer a surprise free gift or a detailed how-to guide, for instance (even the smallest of surprises makes a huge difference)
  • If they buy from you once, reward them with something like a free upgrade for a limited time, and/or send them a handwritten ‘thank you’ in the post with goodies (really make them feel warm inside)

If they buy from you four times more, offer an even better gift and give them a shout-out on Social Media (the possibilities really are endless)

Continue rewarding your loyal customers in this fashion!

Make people feel special and they will be much more inclined to continue buying from you.

You don’t need to break the bank, either. Be creative!

Guide to reengaging churned customers

Trigger #2: Scarcity + Urgency

To nurture repeat custom, it’s a great idea to create a sense of time-based scarcity.

Using this technique, you can upsell and gain sales you may not have acquired before.

Think about it: As consumers — we are hit with Black Friday, Halloween discounts, Summer sales and Easter specials. Even supposed ‘one day’ offers:

These are all deemed to be time-limited — and a common double-whammy tactic applied by B2C brands is to also communicate the idea that stocks or reservations won’t last forever…

In harmony, scarcity and urgency are extremely powerful methods to keep customers coming back for more. Couple this power with stats like this, and it’s clear to see why you should be implementing both techniques right now (see what I did there?):

“After just one purchase, a customer has a 27% chance of returning to your store … And this likelihood increases with each buy.”

(Helpful research & image via

Trigger #3: Post-Purchase Rationalization

Post-purchase rationalization refers to the way we subconsciously justify our spending!

In contrast — we can also suffer ‘buyer’s remorse.’

For maximum retention, you want your customers to feel not only satisfied — but extremely happy with every purchase they make (minus any negative after-thoughts).

Happy customers = Repeat purchases.

Along with what is known as the Status Quo bias (where consumers stick to routines and buy from the same brand through familiarity), you can encourage both behaviours relatively easily…


  • Personally ask your customers for their valued feedback while you also utilize reciprocity
  • Urge them to share exactly what they would change about your product or service, and if there’s anything they would like that isn’t currently available (NOTE: Never just stop there. Ensure you take action on their advice!)
  • Send rewards to customers who provide public reviews and testimonials
  • If they later find a product or service cheaper elsewhere, offer customers the price difference without any hesitation. (Or even better: If you find it cheaper elsewhere, offer them a surprise part-refund!)

How special would you feel? I would feel very much appreciated!

Keep your customers highly-engaged with your brand after every purchase, in order to retain their loyalty and nurture the ‘feel good’ factor.

Marketing and sales do not end after the first transaction.

Check out my friend Adam Fout’s article on customer service and its unequivocal importance in retention! He knows the score.

Trigger #4: Social Proof

External evidence that a brand is trusted is proven to increase initial sales, paving the way for retention — especially when combined with surrounding tactics in this article.

As consumers, we are always looking for validation from others…

“90% of consumers are influenced to buy as a result of positive reviews!”

(Helpful research & image via Now Escape)

“If others think it’s great, I will too…”

This is precisely the effect of social proof — so start adding it to your website and other marketing collateral today. Here are a few ideas for you to get started:

  • Press coverage
  • Testimonials (particularly videos)
  • Newsletter subscriber counts
  • Total customers
  • Total years in business
  • Social Media profiles + follower counts
  • Partner + charity logos
  • Industry awards
  • Revenue + growth history
  • Repeat custom stats
  • Brand / celebrity customer logos / names

And check this! Nielsen reports the most significant form of advertising is recommendations from friends and family.

83% of consumers across 60 countries trust such recommendations over any other form of advertising.

With this in mind — it’s surprising just how many brands of today still do not appear to treat their customers’ happiness levels as the most important aspect of successful business (via intense focus on retention)…

You’re likely wasting a lot of resources if you’re dedicated to acquisition alone, rather than keeping hard-earned customers for the long run.

No more needs to be said!

Trigger #5: Emotional Bonds

Give customers multiple reasons to fall in love with your brand.

Yes. I said the word ‘love’ — and the impact of this word indicates how strongly you want people to feel about your business ethics, operations and approaches.

Connecting the dots between reciprocity, gratitude and exceptional service will always lead to tight, emotional connections.

These connections make way for tribal-like mentalities. Your customers will both defend and evangelize your brand whenever possible or required.

The effect on retention? Priceless.

Just look at World Nutella Day (actually created by a Nutella fan!) where members of the ‘tribe’ are invited to share their devotion to the nutty spread.

Imagine an army of psyched brand advocates, passionate about your products!

Ongoing, repeat custom is pretty much guaranteed from these folk…

Here is a fantastically clear-cut, visual representation of the journey to brand love, from (the aptly-named) Beloved Brands:


  • Constantly express your gratitude for every purchase made (even when you’re not sending gifts, free upgrades or similar incentives — a quick, yet personal ‘thank you’ goes a mighty long way)
  • Follow up each purchase with unexpected, special instructions and extra tips to get the most out of your product or service
  • Create a members’ club which is free to join but for customers only — this makes them feel exclusive
  • Send regular insights into ‘behind the scenes’ life at your brand, including light-hearted staff personality profiles and stories

Try these tactics today — you might be surprised at how quickly you begin to see a shift in customer psyche, retention and advocacy!

Use a tool like this to scale personalization and successfully forge emotional bonds.

Trigger #6: UX + CX

You must present consistency between user experience and customer experience for maximum customer retention.

Not sure of the difference between the two?

Here is an accurate explanation from UXPin:

UX is specific to the use (and usability) of your product, service, website, app or software.

CX covers a much wider scope of perception, but UX also feeds into the overall brand experience.

Both are essential to optimize if you wish to achieve ultimate customer happiness and loyalty.

If every touch-point between customer and brand is exceptionally fun, simple, memorable and addictive — who isn’t going to return!

Without diving into the intricacies of UX and CX, the concept is easily understood by remembering that one line above.


  • Ensure interactions with your brand are smooth and joyful across all devices and mediums
  • Enhance the visual aspect of your brand to create a unique ‘feel’ and emotions only experienced when shopping or engaging with you
  • Eradicate any inconsistencies between UX and CX — it’s not a good idea to present an amazingly swish ecommerce app and website, only for customers to eventually discover you have no stock (after they have already ordered)
  • Make your customers feel part of something — not just like they are numbers on a sheet or quick cash in your pocket
  • Specifically ask: “We’d love to hear about your experience with our brand! What could we do better?”

This is incredibly powerful because you are showing transparency and modesty, while outwardly appreciating your customers’ value


There’s no doubt about it. Psychology plays a huge role in retention.

Apply these triggers now to truly touch the minds, hearts and souls of your customers.

(BONUS: And when they return, find out exactly why they decided to do so!)

Sam Hurley

Sam is a passionate 'people connector', Personal Branding expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ. He has achieved success for SMEs, national and international organizations, while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and world’s #3 content marketing influencer by ScribbleLive. Sam loves a high-octane action movie and his all time favorite supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador! Catch him on social for cosmic amounts of Digital Marketing tips.

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