Are you keeping up with today’s trends to improve your retention efforts? Or are you sticking with one-sided channels and impersonal communication hoping your customers will stick around?
Marketing is constantly changing and evolving. Changes in customer behavior. Changes in data collection. Changes in technology. Changes in budgets and resources. Given today’s trends, being able to effectively ensure that customers continue to engage with your brand will require a renewed focus on customer retention.
Every week, we interview a senior CRM or retention marketer at an enterprise consumer brand and then write up a summary of the top actionable lessons you can learn from them. Here are 3 pro tips from Molly Holmes, Jordan Womack, and Luisa Fernanda M.
#1 Great consumer marketing can't exist without data.
“I don’t think you can think about consumer marketing without thinking about data. It’s really become the forefront of a lot of marketing activation and reaching that customer or that guest at the right time, at the right place, with the right message, and through the right channel. That’s what everybody is talking about and that’s the goal, right? …
“And then using that data to come up with really creative campaigns is where I love to live in that space. Consumer marketing is really interesting because of the shift in how important data has become, how much data is available about our customers, but also just because customers right now are so much used to using data. …
“Not only do we as marketers have so much data available to us, but our customers are really willing to give that data when they weren’t necessarily before.”
- Use customer data to reach each customer at the right time, at the right place, with the right message, and through the right channel.
- Since customers are more willing to give their data, find new and creative ways to collect it and use it.
#2 Base your retention strategy on how you can provide value to your customers.
“The foundation of a successful relationship is each part is providing equal value and each part is gaining something from that relationship. That’s what makes a relationship successful. So that’s how I approach relationship marketing, retention marketing, lifecycle marketing. I want to provide as much value to my guests as they are providing to me as a business.
“If I can do that, then that’s really a successful program. That’s how you build that trust. That’s how you build loyalty. That’s how you build lifetime value. And that’s what keeps customers coming back. Whether that’s every year or every four years, building that relationship with the guests is really what it’s all about.
“Forget the data — that’s how you can accomplish that. To me, the strategy is about building that relationship and thinking, first, how can I provide as much value to my guests as I’m getting from them?”
- Providing value is how you build trust, loyalty, and lifetime value, and should be the foundation of your retention strategy.
- Create ways to bring value to your customers, and use data to execute that strategy.
#3 Always be measuring so that you can see if you met your goals.
“Measurement always needs to start right when you think about the strategy. How are we going to measure this? What are we trying to measure? What are our keys to success? So that we can then look back after a campaign has launched or after we’ve had a deadline and we can say, did we meet our goals? Did we end up driving the behavior that we wanted to? And if we didn’t, why? Why is that? And then what can we do to optimize?
“That’s, again, the biggest miss that I see is people are just so excited to launch something that they never think about that measurement piece. Or they go back to try and measure it and they say, oh, we didn’t add UTMs to that, or we made it too complex and now we don’t know who got what, so we have no idea how to actually measure. Well, then you’ve just wasted so much time and effort because you don’t know if something really worked.”
- Plan out your measurement strategy as you plan out your bigger campaign strategy.
- Set up ways to measure your campaigns before launch — otherwise, you might not be able to retroactively measure.
#1 Find big and small ways to capture data from your customers.
“I’ve just really understood the value of zero- and first-party data. And I think some companies have done it better than others. But even down to the basics of just basic demographics of age, gender, location, that kind of thing, can be very useful and more powerful than people think.
“I’ll give you an example. At one company we wanted to drive our lead capture rates. So there was a great job on social and paid me to drive people to the site and then when they go to leave, a pop-up appears and give us your email address. So to keep it frictionless, we get the email address. But I argue, well, if we’re incentivizing them to give us something anyway, the value exchange here, let’s capture a few more pieces of information as well.
“You can do much more with just three extra pieces of data about: What are you looking for, what are your health goals, what’s your age and your gender? Then if they don’t convert on that particular visit, at least you have a bit more data to put them into a lead nurture journey, which can be much more relevant downstream.”
- Prioritize zero- and first-party data collection and use it to nurture the customer journey.
- Use something as simple as a pop-up on your website to capture customer data.
#2 Personalize with relevant content — don’t just change recipient names on an email.
“Personalization starts with having your segments and then knowing what is relevant content and not just, well, our database is 30 million, so let’s just send it to 30 million and change the first name — we’re personalized. It’s not that.
“I always say retention strategy is also as much about knowing which customers you don’t want as the ones you do want. Some customers do cost a lot to service and the data indicator will point to the fact that they’re likely not going to be here for the long term. So what’s the point to continue to invest money in them?
“Really using that data to know who your best customers are, who’s likely to be there for the long haul, using tools such as send time optimization, relevant messaging, and the right channel to really prolong that lifecycle.”
- Based on the data you collect, go deeper with your personalization beyond mass mailings.
- Know which customers will stick around and which won’t, and use your data to determine your strategies for each.
#3 Understand the customer journey and ensure that it's seamless and easy.
“You can’t really do lifecycle marketing well and it’s less impactful if your core customer journey, the transactional journey, isn’t working. Customers want things to work as expected, work first time, things to be made clear and easy. No matter what industry you are in — I’ve worked in many — that’s ultimately what people want. They want value for money, they want things to work, and they want things to be simple and clear.
“But the most important thing, as I mentioned earlier, is understanding the true customer journey, getting everybody together. And understanding the series of interactions and the different pathways that a customer may go on. And weighting each of those interactions and events to know what the really important ones are.”
- Make sure each element of your customer journey is frictionless, easy, and clear — or else customers will go elsewhere.
- Spend time understanding the interactions and pathways of the customer journey, and the importance of each.
#1 Knowing your customers’ journey and lifecycle will increase retention.
“Customer retention is mandatory if a company wants not just to grow but to remain over the time. For that reason, you need to structure and understand what is your customer lifecycle, know your avatar, because maybe you have different customers and so you need to build a journey for each one and you can have a lot of journeys and also a lot of funnels. So the definition of each touchpoint at any part of the journey is really relevant.
“Also the offer is everything for a marketer and the communications and the promotional strategy. So you need to understand everything and give this promotional strategy not just for your new users, but your actual users, because they are the ones that are ensuring the life of the business.”
- Be deliberate about defining the customer journey and each touchpoint.
- Don’t just think about the offer you’re making for just new customers, but think about the offer for existing customers as well.
#2 Don't leave retention marketing to chance, but design and strategize.
“You need to design funnels and automated journeys according to the experiences and the paths that you are expecting the customers to follow without forgetting the human-to-human relationship. So you need to know and design your journeys according to what you want them to do. Everything should be planned and structured, and think the good, the bad things. Because we are in a regulated market, so we cannot have nothing like luck or let’s see what happens. Everything should be designed, planned, and analyzed.
“Also we need to implement AI tools to learn about customers’ behavior, because if don’t, we would need a lot of people like being there, connected, understanding what’s happening. So you really need to have a strong technology, but more than the technology, you need to use that technology to offer and communicate dynamic contents, products, and services focused on these customers.”
- Spend time designing, planning, and analyzing your retention marketing efforts for maximum impact.
- Use technology like AI to make it easier to learn about your customers and execute your strategy.
#3 Creatively use AI to offer more personalization for your customers.
“You can use AI at any part of your journey and in your different areas. I can give you an example. Here in my industry, there are bet bots that recommend selections to the customers according to their transactional behavior. So it’s a really clear example of hyper-personalization. You can do some kind of bets, and at the next bet, I’m going to recommend you how to bet. It’s something really cool and that customers value a lot because sometimes there are selections or markets or events that they don’t know and we are saying, maybe you would like that and it’s because of your transactional behavior.
“Also for CRM, I think that we have been using this AI for a lot of time when we do segmentation, when we create different avatars. I think that when we work in CRM, we need to use a lot of data technology to understand all the data that we are receiving for our customers to do really good journeys and really good targets.”
- Use AI and automation to suggest the next best offers to your customers based on their preferences and history.
- Also use AI to help with your segmentation efforts and to analyze your customer data for actionable insights.
Want more insights on customer retention? Subscribe to The One to One Consumer Marketing Podcast for the full episodes with these amazing guests and more!