May 3, 2016
4 Ways the Marketer is Supporting Customer Retention

Marketing is no longer just about brand awareness and acquisition. In Salesforce's State of Digital Marketing 2016, 58% of high performing marketing teams are leading customer experience initiatives across the organization. In addition, 63% are great at delivering personalized omni-channel experiences across all business units. 

The report states that, "Often, touchpoints of the customer experience live outside of marketing in either sales or customer service. Top marketers are  knocking down the silos to gain a single view - and, more importantly, to  deliver a unified experience for customers."  

It's simple to understand. The marketing team is responsible for designing and building a company's brand and ensuring that brand experience is consistent, not just for marketing, but across the business including sales and support. Customers demand a consistent experience. Whoever the customer speaks with in the company there needs to be a unified view of the customer's profile, history, cases, and opportunities.  

The True Value of Customer Retention

What does customer retention actually mean? The Wikipedia definition is: 

"...the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections. Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organization has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship." 

You've heard the saying "it costs more money to win a new customer than keep an existing one." But the funny thing is many companies still focus most of their attention on acquisition.  

However, as the role of the marketer spreads to cover the entire customer lifecycle, marketers are looking hard at tactics they can employ through marketing campaigns, social media, content marketing and other programs to reduce churn and keep customer happier longer. 

Happy, loyal customers not only stay longer and spend more money through cross-selling and upselling opportunities, they also act as advocates for your brand and help you win new customers. 

How Marketing Supports Customer Retention 

There are a lot things the marketing team can do and help other business units with to ensure high retention rates. Here are four: 

Regular Communications

Just because the customer has now bought the product or service, it doesn't mean you should just forget about them (at least until they contact customer service). Keeping in regular contact with current customers demonstrates that they are valuable to the company and it helps build loyalty.

Regular communications can include direct outreach from account managers as well as a broad communications that can include newsletters and email programs. 

Customer Focused Content Marketing

This falls in line with regular communications. Much of the content created by marketing is designed to be top or middle of the funnel to drive interest and awareness of the company, its brand and the products and services sold. But there's another area where content marketing is very valuable - customer support.  

Marketing teams can analyze support calls, contact center logs, website searches and traffic, social media and other places to understand the common issues or questions customers have. They can then use this information to create new content for existing customers - blog posts, tip sheets, Q&As, ebooks and whitepapers that focus on these topics. 

Customer Communities

Customer communities are becoming extremely popular in B2B organizations. These communities enable customers to talk with each other, share ideas and experiences, ask questions, get more information and so on.  

As the Community Roundtable points out, a community is not about sharing content:

Customer Community

A community is owned and run by the company but it's not about spreading the word of the company. It is simply about enabling an environment for customers to talk to each other and help each other out. When you consider that most people spend more time on research and getting advice from peers about products and services before they make a purchase, it makes sense to create a community where this advice can be easily shared. 

The company can leverage the knowledge shared within the community to product new content that supports existing customers.

Self-Service Support

Many customers will always reach out to customer support at some point, but many like to try and work out their questions and problems on their own first. A self-service portal is the perfect answer to this, combining self-service tools such as a  knowledgebase, Q&As, product documentation with support ticketing, customer forums, and so on. 

Self-service support portals integrate with a number of backend systems to present to the customer all the information they need to support themselves in a single location. This portal is quickly becoming a key requirement for organizations who want to increase retention through improved service and support. It also provides a great way to introduce new product and services based on what the customer currently uses.

Marketing in SaaS Companies

Probably one of the best places we clearly see the marketing role expanding across the customer lifecycle is in software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. Many functions of the sales or service teams fall under the ownership of the SaaS marketing team.  

Tomasz Tunguz, a  venture capitalist at redpoint, describes part of this very well with the following diagram.

SAAS Marketing

But this is only part of the picture for the SaaS Marketer. They also take on roles such as support and retention by monitoring usage of the service and reaching out to customers when adoption seems low, or the service isn't being used as much as expected. Marketers can create content like contextual help, tips and guidelines, examples and more that help encourage higher usage rates and improve retention.      

Marketing Can Drive Higher Retention 

The approaches above to drive retention are used by a number of marketing teams, and they are some of the most important tactics, but there are others including loyalty programs (similar to communities), regular surveys, and feedback questionnaires. 

In the four cases above, agile content management is key to ensuring the best content is presented to the right customer at the right time. We often don't take the time to think about how we can create content in a way that allows it to be reused across devices and channels, but also across different stages of the customer lifecycle. It can. 

Marketing teams also need to pay close attention to measuring the success of their retention tactics, refining them as necessary to ensure they are supporting the needs of the customers.  

Ingeniux can help marketers with their customer retention strategies using the Ingeniux CMS and its customer support portal, Ingeniux CXP. To learn more about Ingeniux can help, check out this great resource, 14 Reasons to Choose Ingeniux. 

Posted by David Hillis
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