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Retention Is Down And Customer Marketing Can Fix It

No one wants to ask but everyone is thinking it — whose responsibility is it to keep customers? You’re the VP of Marketing; is customer marketing where you should be spending your time?

Backtrack to last year’s annual executive team to kick off the year: Your CEO sits to your left, VP of Sales to your right, and the Chief of IT and VP of Customer Support are relaxed on the couch across from you.

You each take turns reporting on the main metrics for your departments. Traffic to the site is up. Conversions are through the roof. Support response rate is exemplary. Leads are being generated. Your brand voice has doubled compared to 2015. Everyone is patting themselves on the back.

But, not too fast. There are two glaring metrics that are down — retention and upsells.

Not having pre-determined who was actually responsible for these metrics, the new gameplan is for everyone to figure out why you’re losing customers, and why those who stayed didn’t upgrade to any of the new features.

Fast forward to this year’s meeting and once again you’re prepared to review those metrics. The good news: the customer exit-surveys you implemented provided some valuable information regarding retention and upsells. The bad news: your ex-customers left because they didn’t feel valued, weren’t engaged and actively using your product and found another product they thought would better offer everything they need.

This year’s end-of-meeting gameplan — fix this. ASAP.

But still, whose responsibility is it? Your team isn’t alone on not knowing the answer. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council found that a lack of clear ownership of the customer has resulted in 48 percent of marketers being only moderately confident in the ability of their organizations’ core touchpoints to reach and engage with the customer.

You’ve been focusing most of your marketing efforts on building the brand, establishing your team as thought leaders, and creating content to generate leads and fill the pipeline. But, now it’s time to put your team to work on customer marketing.

What is post-sale content marketing?

The fifth stage of the customer buying cycle is all too often neglected — repurchase. As a marketing expert, you can use customer marketing to make the repurchase decision a no-brainer.

customer marketing

Post-sale content marketing focuses on one thing — keeping your customers. The initial buying cycle involved all-hands-on-deck. And it is the same philosophy now to keep your customers happy, using your product and, ultimately, staying in the buying cycle.

With post-sale content marketing, you need your customers to be:

  • engaged – using the product
  • renewing – seeing the value in what you offer, keeping confidence in their initial decision to choose your product and the potential in what your company is developing
  • up-buying – seeing the value so much that they are taking every opportunity possible to further ingrain your product into their regular use

In the pre-sale content marketing strategy, you focus on generating leads. Pending where your customer was in their buyer’s journey, you had every piece of content imaginable at their fingertips. From understanding what the problem was and why they needed to fix it to considering how your product would be the best solution to final decision making, where they could fully recognize the service you offered and the company, brand, and people that would make their lives easier.

Needless to say, you set the bar high in the amazing content for the pre-sale step of their journey.

Now in the post-sale you need to exceed their expectations and further enhance all that made them love you to begin with. You do this by creating customer marketing materials that focus on how-to’s, best of’s, news and trends, and everything that’s going to help them be a leader in their industry as a result of using your product.

Why is customer marketing crucial to retaining customers?

It costs  500 percent more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current customers.

Let that sink in.

customer marketing

Here’s another for you — once you lose a customer, 68 percent report they will not come back.

The easiest sale should always be to current customers. But it’s not as simple as them sticking around just because they signed that initial contract and paid that first invoice. If you want to really retain customers, content marketing is a tool to help.

Keeps customers engaged.

When you engage your customers through your marketing materials, you’re equipping them with the information needed to be successful. Yet only 29 percent of B2B customers are engaged according to Gallup’s 2016 Guide to Customer Centricity: Analytics and Advice for B2B Leaders.

It’s like the age-old saying “if a tree falls in the woods…” (you know the rest).

If you don’t tell AND show your customers the newest features of your product, is it really a selling point at all?

Sure, you can let them find all of the ins and outs of your product on their own or simply by reading that one pop-up update in their user profile next time they log in. Let me know how that goes for you next year when your team looks at the retention and upsell metrics again.

B2B customers with high customer engagement scores achieve 50 percent higher revenue/sales, 34 percent higher profitability, and 55 percent higher share of wallet. And according to Elite Daily’s Millennial Consumer Trend Report 2015, 62 percent of Millennials report that brand engagement is more likely to make them a loyal customer. 

Ultimately, if you’re staying engaged with your customers, you’re helping to improve their bottom line which leads to happy customers and improves your bottom line. They had an initial problem that you helped to solve. They chose your product because they believed they could save time, money, energy, etc. 

If you stay engaged with your customers through marketing materials, you can continue to help them solve any new problems before they even arise. In turn, they’re going to engage with you to let you know any new challenges they have, allowing you to stay ahead of your competition by ensuring your product is meeting their needs.

Keep your customers well-informed.

According to B2B International, 54 percent of B2B marketers said making customers more loyal was a leading business challenge. Yet if you continually provide educational content to your customers that focuses on what your product offers and how they can utilize it to be their absolute best, you’ll find obtaining loyalty far less of a challenge. 

Your customers can scour the web for all of the how-to’s, tips, and best practice materials, but you’re already doing this research for the content you’re creating for the start of the buyer’s journey.  Use this same research to educate your current customers when applicable. They’ll thank you with their loyalty!

The biggest concern on your customers’ minds isn’t your product. It’s how they can stay ahead of the competition and retain their own customers to increase their bottom line. If your product can help them do that — which they clearly thought when they made the initial purchase decision — keep them informed to continue to know how to succeed. By educating your customers, they can keep ahead of trends and ultimately their competition. 

customer marketing

Why is customer marketing crucial to attracting new customers?

Being the marketing guru that you are, you are well aware of the power of referrals.

In 2016, Ambassador with Nielson’s Harris Polls Online reported that 82 percent of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase. So if your customers have good things to say about you, you’re well on your way to attracting new customers.

Marketing to your customers turns into your customers marketing to your next great client. *Cue the effective customer advocacy program!*

Additionally, when you retain clients, you can utilize their feedback to make your product better. Using your engaged relationship with them through content, you’ll be able to dig into the data that will help drive future sales.  

Final thoughts

While no one wants to ask whose responsibility is to keep customers, one thing is for sure, it’s yours. And with a kick@$$ customer content marketing strategy, at next year’s annual meeting, you’ll be able to pat yourself on the back knowing you most definitely contributed to retention and upsell numbers being through the roof.

This post originally appeared on the Come Recommended blog. 

About Marikaye DeTemple

Marikaye DeTemple is the owner and managing director of RSM. She loves words, the color red, and Maxapen Mister Talbuddy.