Why retention marketing is so important
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Why retention marketing is so important

In today’s digital world, where customer engagement is made more possible through digital applications, many B2B marketers still focus all of their efforts on acquiring customers.

‘So I’ve acquired a customer for the business ­- it’s up to sales now to develop business, right?’  Wrong!

According to Bain and Co., it costs seven times more to attract new customers than it does to retain existing ones. Research also shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can generate up to 125% in profits. Ignoring existing customers can lead to higher customer churn, and loss in revenue and profit.

The business customer buyer journey has changed so much that marketing funnels have become less relevant, and marketing and business customer journeys have become more cyclical in nature - leading to marketing’s role changing and needing to consider the business customer beyond the acquisition phase.

Probably - as marketers are asked to do more with less, with less people and less budgets - this may have led to marketing picking and choosing key priorities, and de-prioritising less important areas.  But here’s the secret: retention marketing is more profitable, more possible and, in most respects, more achievable - and less effortful than acquisition marketing.  You already have some form of relationship or have transacted with these customers, so you can track them. 

Here are my top ten tips for approaching retention marketing.

Tip 1: Segment your retention base

According to business and marketing goals, segment your retention customer data to support and carry out more focused marketing activities. This can be segmenting by vertical sector, geographic region, company size, company life-cycle, share of wallet, or other. It’s important to track over time the consistency of the same segmentation to understand marketing’s progress.  

Tip 2: Build insights and analytics to understand retention customer’s preferences and needs   

Tag your customers and track them online through social listening or other monitoring tools to understand their needs and preferences, as this will help in tailoring better marketing and sales updates. In addition to digital tracking, capture insights, needs and preferences through in-person engagement, panels and forums, or simply by talking to customers,  as those needs can and will change over time for some of your customers.

Tip 3: Don’t regard existing customers as business to take granted for

Just because they’re an existing customer doesn’t mean they should be solely left in the hands of sales.   Some of your customers will expect to be looked after, updated and accompanied even in their business journey - find out what sort of engagement and support they want from you, and provide it.

Tip 4: Convert customers into referrals

Encourage customers to become referrals by providing them with platforms on social to talk about you, to talk about their experiences, and to talk about your services and how you’ve helped them.

Tip 5: Promote your best customers

Get behind your best customers and promote them by highlighting their successes. Include their business journey milestones, and involve them in messaging and updates – help to market them. Don’t just promote or highlight their big successes and stories, but also smaller relevant activities that may interest other customers.

Tip 6:  Bigger solutions for bigger problems

Solve bigger problems by developing more comprehensive solutions. Collaborate with customers to define the problem in detail, as well as how the solution should be configured. Through defining more comprehensive solutions with customers, this demonstrates the vendor’s enthusiasm to engage, ability to work around problems, and broader set of competencies which, in turn, will typically lead to more profitable business with the customer.

Tip 7: Look for sales adjacencies

Look for related products and services based on previously purchased products - observe other customers and their previous purchase patterns to predict potential future purchase opportunities.

Review purchase history of customers by similar type and size, and understand how sales purchases evolved over time - identify through purchase history and sales adjacencies, and offer these up as part of marketing solutions.

Tip 8: Provide opportunities for customers to learn and ask more questions

By setting up and facilitating opportunities – such as own social forums; in-house customer meetings; PR panels; events set up by the company or a third party; and surveys for customers to engage, ask questions, and listen and gain a greater understanding of your company’s offerings – the customer is more likely to purchase a wider portfolio of your products.

Tip 9: Identify trigger events

Trigger points can be any event or situation that trigger customers to purchase.  These can be macro-environmental events, such as political, legal, social, environment, or micro-business events relating to the customers’ business and business seasonality. By tracking such ‘trigger’ events, B2B marketers can identify and choose the most compelling of them to leverage as themes for campaigns, which provide tangible opportunities to engage existing customers as well as demonstrate a vendors’ thought leadership.

Tip 10: Diversify communication 

Email is still a very effective communication tool for marketing, but there are a greater variety of communication possibilities today which businesses and marketing should avail of. Businesses should look to leverage social media messaging, social media video channels, mobile messaging or other channels to keep customers up to date.  This will keep your company front of mind without saturating any one communication channel.

So that’s my first top ten considerations for approaching retention marketing. If you still have questions, why not try out my CIM course ‘The Modern B2B Customer – How to target, acquire and retain them’.

Simon Hall Former UK Chief Marketing Officer Dell
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