Churn Buster Retention Bites: January 2020

Kristen LaFrance
4 min readJan 8, 2020


Retention Bite #1: Customers > Metrics

Here’s something I’ve been chewing on: Are the metrics we live, breathe, acquire, and retain by even that powerful? Can we really base every business decision on the numbers alone?

I’m going to plant my flag firmly on this hill: No. Data doesn’t build a successful DTC brand.

The people do.

There’s so much we can’t put into a number- love, brand affinity, word of mouth, the feeling your customer gets when she opens the box. We can’t quantify these things in the same way, and yet we hold every business idea up to the metrics before moving forward.

Great ideas get lost. Instead of advocating for a change that is clearly good for the customer, people freeze up on new tactics for fear that they won’t show up immediately in the metrics.

Customers > Metrics

Ignore the noise for a second and invest in your customers. Create a wonderful experience for each and every customer, and the metrics you’re so desperately looking for will follow.

Remember: the numbers aren’t the endgame. They’re a tool like any other in your kit.

A little sweet and salty bite for you today. Just how I like my snacks.


Retention Bite #2: A Tale of Two Beauty Brands

Interesting conversation point: is it worth using a serious discount to pull in new customers?

Here, chew on this. We’ve got two (real) beauty brands with the same subscribe ‘n save model and two different opt-in incentives:

  • Brand A: 33% discount on the first purchase
  • Brand B: 10% discount on the first purchase

According to our data, brand B is retaining 2x as many customers as brand A.

Why? Perceived value vs. true value.

It’s like meeting a guy who shows up in a 3-piece suit and introduces himself as a “successful entrepreneur” only to find out he’s a dog walker. Pretty womp-womp, right?

But, what if he had introduced himself by explaining his passion for dogs, and how he used that to build a successful dog-walking service that gives back to local shelters?

Can you see how quickly your perception changed?

In the end, the “product” is the same, but your sense of its value is wildly different.

Whether you’re acquiring single purchase customers or subscription customers, stop thinking in terms of a flat sale and start thinking longer-term.

It’s like dating. Cheap tricks, exaggerations, and shiny distractions might get you a first date, but probably not a second.

The key is to offer *real* value up front, then reward loyalty. Not the other way around.

Be real. Be authentic. Show your human side. And get that second date.


Retention Bite #3: A little Bark Doesn’t Bite

Think about the first emails your customer gets post-purchase: Order confirmation (transactional), shipping info (transactional), delivery notification (transactional). Maybe a review request 1–2 days later? Feels meh, right? 👈 (Put me in the Twittersphere)

So, I have three dogs. Not sure if I’ve mentioned them before.

And we do BarkBox, which they love, and I love, because they love. But a couple days ago, I realized that I’d genuinely forgotten about our subscription.

And, honestly, I was a li’l bummed (dogs are fine, though).

I talk a lot about getting spammed by brands, having too many useless touchpoints- but what about the other side of the story? What happens when a business doesn’t reach out enough?

It got me thinking about one area of *simple* improvement for you: Communication between the order and the shipment.

This is one of the most underserved areas of most DTC customer journeys. For a lot of brands, it’s an entirely blank space.

Thing is, the lead up to a delivery can be a great time to get your customers excited and engaged. It gives them a chance to prepare on their end and get to know your brand a little better. Building up this channel is also vital if there are any issues with shipping, or your products ship on a slower time scale.

Think about the first emails your customer gets post-purchase: Order confirmation (transactional), shipping info (transactional), delivery notification (transactional). Maybe a review request 1–2 days later?

Feels meh, right? (deja vu anyone?)

Try adding in 1–2 emails that educate your customers about the product and prep them to have the best possible experience.

Engagement here gives your customers some of the instant gratification that we all crave when we shop. So don’t be a stranger, mmkay?

Check out these amazing examples from August Uncommon and Rooted.

-Krispy LaFrance

Retention Bite #4: Let’s pause.

Real talk- I’m not feeling inspired about retention this week. It’s been a rough few days in the news, I’m worn out, and I don’t really know if it feels right to send along a tactic.

And that’s okay, I guess. Which isn’t easy to admit, but it’s part of life- sometimes we have to drag ourselves ass-first up the hill.

So I’ll keep it short today, but here’s my feeling: it’s okay to feel uninspired, frustrated, worn out. Peaks and valleys are part of the journey.

Hang tight. Don’t get down on yourself.

Take a walk. Call a friend. Make yourself a cup of tea and set your phone to silent.

If you’re having a rough start to this week, I’m right there with you- and if you’re not, I’ll probably be on your level next week.

For now, take a deep breath. Unclench your jaw. Release your shoulders. We got this.

Take care of yourself this week.


Subscribe to my weekly retention bites (and monthly meals) here.



Kristen LaFrance

Head of Community @ Churn Buster ⚡️ Helping #DTC brands improve retention through authentic engagement. Host of Playing for Keeps 🎙World class dog mom 🤷‍♀️