Create a Customer Retention Strategy with Strategic PR and Marketing
By Peggy Tierney Galvin, Chief Strategy Officer, Force4 Technology Communications
According to Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, companies spend 11X as much money on acquiring new consumers as they do on keeping their current ones. Another study found that 44% of businesses concentrate only on new customer acquisition, which doesn’t make financial sense in light of the cost. When you consider that new accounts typically have a 12- to 18-month lead cycle, and this period can be considerably longer if you work with the federal government, it’s not hard to see that a good customer retention strategy is essential for business success.
This is especially true for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses, which use a subscription-based business model and typically have sales cycles that are much shorter than the ones mentioned above. In an infolinks’ survey, 42% of respondents reported canceling their SaaS membership due to bad customer service, while 47% of respondents said they’d suggest a company if it offered good customer service and responsiveness.
Retention of existing customers pays off
Attracting new customers and then ignoring them isn’t the way to retain customers. Customer expectations for their interactions with your business are high, and they’re quick to switch to a rival if they don’t feel their interactions aren’t satisfactory. There are fewer barriers to moving services to a new provider now that cloud platforms, software and the “-aaS” revolution have replaced the proprietary, pricey and on-prem solutions that customers had previously used. It’s as simple as canceling a subscription these days. Technology providers must go above and beyond with innovative, proactive strategies to guarantee that their customers are getting the utmost benefit from their service.
According to research by the U.S. Small Business Administration, 68% of customers cease doing business with a firm if they think it doesn’t care about them. Therefore, it is preferable to ensure current customers are content and receiving the value that was promised from your product or service, then “land and expand” with them. It also prevents the notorious “churn and burn” strategy, which compromises long-term income stability in favor of short-term “number” victories for your sales KPIs.
How to increase customer retention with marketing and PR
Making sure your customers are aware of the fantastic ROI your business offers depends heavily on marketing and public relations. There are three main ways that PR and marketing can aid in customer retention:
- Provide customer assurance: Industry coverage of your business, your solution and the thought leadership of your executives offers independent confirmation that can make customers feel more confident in their choice.
- Offer joint opportunities: By providing your customers with joint PR and marketing via customer reference programs, you add value to their relationship with you. Make your customer the center of the story by learning what coverage they want to receive and then showcasing the creative solutions they came up with to benefit both their company and their own customers.
- Include them in a customer advisory board: This is a wonderful opportunity to give customers a voice within your own business. On this board, customers may provide feedback and solution proposals, as well as network with one another to share best practices. Customers are more likely to continue with your solution if they feel like their suggestions for improving it have been acknowledged and validated. In addition, customer advisory boards are a wonderful approach for finding customer champions who are willing to serve as references for prospects or as potential participants in media outreach initiatives.
Communication is key
Customers need to feel heard for your customer retention strategy to work. The customer success and/or sales teams must regularly check in with customers to learn their opinions, issues and recommendations. The marketing team should receive this input so they may include the messages and issues into their broader external communications program as part of a closed-loop messaging strategy. Customers feel heard and taken seriously when they see corporate coverage and marketing that addresses their concerns.
Also, make sure customers are aware of all their options, including success stories and white papers. Demonstrate how your company’s features, methods or solutions might help them expand or develop their business in ways they may not have thought about. At this point, it’s crucial to make sure the sales staff is sharing coverage and resources with customers.
Show your customers you understand
Though every customer is unique, far too many sales and marketing teams only consider them from the perspective of their product, failing to consider the bigger picture of the customers’ business objectives outside of the IT stack. Comprehending the company needs of your customers creates a win-win.
Learn how your customers are using your solution and what it was like before they found it. Then, use success stories and use cases to illustrate how customers in related industries and circumstances solved similar challenges with your solution. This will show that you understand their market and their needs.
Increase customer retention with PR and marketing
Nowadays, technology companies tend to sell more software and services than hardware, so building relationships is essential to increase customer retention. A satisfied customer is one who stays with you and might even refer you to others. Asking for customer feedback and sharing it with the right teams, replying to customers and developing solutions that will best serve them will help you retain as many customers as possible. All of these components, which can help customers feel valuable, can be planned and implemented with the aid of your PR and marketing staff.