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The Key to Boosting Retention

The Key to Boosting Retention

Have you ever wondered why certain brands have fiercely loyal customers? The ones who don’t just buy stuff but actively advocate for their faves?

The secret to this kind of enviable loyalty is often not just a stellar product (although that definitely helps) but a thoughtful customer marketing approach.

In my 10+ years of experience in SaaS marketing, I’ve had the privilege of crafting and executing customer marketing programs from the ground up three times. In my role at G2, I get to talk to other customer marketers almost every day. I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact a well-oiled customer marketing machine has on a company’s bottom line.

In this quick guide, I’ll share insights about why customer marketing should be at the heart of your business strategy. We’ll explore its vital role in customer retention and cover some maneuvers to help your company stand out from your competitors. Finally, we’ll look ahead to the future and the emerging trends poised to redefine how we foster and capitalize on customer relationships.

Understanding customer marketing

Every customer marketer’s role looks slightly different based on the needs of their business and customers, as well as the team’s structure. Still, at its core, it generally encompasses marketing to and with your current customers: programs to support adoption, engagement and advocacy activities, and campaigns for upsell and cross-sell initiatives, to name a few. 

Speaking of upselling and cross-selling, those are perfect ways to continue to build relationships with existing customers, another critical part of your work. Retaining clients involves strategies and tactics designed to meet their needs and preferences, with the ultimate goals of supporting satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy always top-of-mind. It’s a shift from purely transactional exchanges to meaningful interactions that bestow value on customers beyond their purchase.

Why is customer marketing important?

In an era when customer acquisition costs are skyrocketing, and we’re all trying to do more with less, companies can’t just focus solely on the top of the sales funnel. In order to thrive, or in some cases, just stay afloat, you have to give precedence to customer marketing for several reasons.

How does customer marketing affect retention?

When done well, focused customer marketing efforts increase customer loyalty and lower churn risk. Methods differ among businesses, but customer marketing programs focused on adoption and engagement directly shape customer retention. The more your customers use your products and the more they engage with your company, the more likely they are to keep coming back.

For us at G2, we have a few programs that I know contribute to higher retention rates for us (more on how to measure that later).

  • G2 University, our on-demand online learning platform, includes certifications in topics that lead to success with our products. 
  • Monthly office hour sessions cover one specific pain point or opportunity we know our customers face. 
  • Monthly newsletters offer exclusive content for G2 customers with a roundup of resources and product announcements. 
  • Customer guides and action plans help customers explore new use cases for our products. 
  • Always-on lifecycle communications from our success team points customers to new content and reminds them of best practices for getting more ROI from G2. 

We know that customers who take one or more courses in our learning program, G2U, are 3x more likely to renew with us. Over 95% of customers that we track as “engaged” renew each quarter

How to measure the impact of customer marketing

As you get up and running, measure the success of your customer marketing efforts and your impact on the business.

Some of my favorite ways to measure the success of my customer marketing programs are:  

  • Customer engagement rate: What percentage of my customer base engages with one or more of my marketing programs? 
  • Influence on pipeline: Are my customer marketing efforts contributing to upsell or expansion pipeline? 
  • Adoption rate/monthly active users: Are my customers actually using my products? 
  • Customer retention rate: What percentage of my customers renew? Do customers who engage more with my programs renew at a higher rate?

I find it’s also essential to track your marketing efforts at a program level to make certain you’re investing your time and resources in the right activities. If you do webinars, ask yourself if they’re leading to better adoption or retention rates. Determine whether customers who participate in your adoption programs, for example, use your products more. Are customers participating in any of the programs you offer?

As you’re getting honest with yourself about how these strategies might look like at your company, be aware of potential roadblocks. In the past, for me, this has come up in challenges with data management and accuracy.

Customer marketing is much more effective when you can accurately segment and personalize your messages to customers, especially now when everyone expects personalization.

The future of customer marketing

I’m excited for the future of customer marketing. I think, as a whole, it will continue to grow as an in-demand marketing function, and the customer marketers who connect their programs to bottom-line revenue will become future CMOs. 

The marketing industry is constantly evolving, and with advances pivoting around AI and machine learning, I think we’ll see this impact continue to grow. We’ll move toward a hyper-personalized experience where AI helps predict customer needs and automates timely, relevant communications at scale. This pares down existing processes and gives us opportunities for individual, personalized approaches like we’ve never seen before.

As we speak, customer marketers are reimagining traditional funnels, and the value of customer data is at an all-time high. We’ll soon see a shift toward more authenticity in marketing that focuses on creating genuine, value-driven connections with customers. Customer marketing data insights will fuel originality and give companies the power to tailor their messages to resonate with their distinct target audience.

Putting the customer first

Effective customer marketing is more than just a strategy; it’s a mindset that places the customer at the center of everything your company does. As you build or refine your customer marketing strategies, remember that your final goal is building lasting relationships with your customers by giving them time, respect, and value.

If you want to keep your customers around, you have to keep them wanting more! Find out how to level up your customer engagement strategies.