Sales is not where your marketing ends. It is only the beginning of the next chapter - retention. Customer retention is the key to driving your B2B business. Going by one of the most widely used sales theory - 20% of your customers drive 80% of your sales - it is only natural that customer retention keeps topping the charts every year.

In 2017, Altify reported customer retention at 87.3% taking the lead in most important strategic focus by CMOs, ahead of revenue growth at 86.5%.

most important strategic

Fast forward to the next year, Altify once again surveyed to show customer retention beat revenue growth and profit growth.

top strategic goals for businesses

This isn’t surprising, and you very well know why.

It is believed that customer retention costs less than customer acquisition. This makes more sense simply because acquiring a new customer involves a lot of nurturing activities. There are multiple stages through which a lead will pass through before becoming a customer. Chances are there that it may not also convert after coming through the funnel.

With an existing customer, the scenario is different. You have already built some amount of customer trust through all the nurturing. Now you need to keep the trust going. You have data of what caused this customer to convert and also how it browses and what are its purchase behaviors. Based on all this information, it is easier to device a retention campaign.

It is not just a mere analogy. A study had revealed that a 5% improvement in customer retention resulted in a 25-95% increase in profits. Now, that’s something.

Despite the amazing numbers, it is hard-hitting to see only 17% of marketing programs budget is allotted for the post-purchase stage.

17% of marketing programs budget is allotted for the post-purchase stage

But your business can be different. You can be one of those recording a 5% improvement in customer retention (and more, seriously). For that, you need not scout for information because it is right here - 7 Commandments of B2B customer retention (that are tried, tested, and successful).

1. Easy onboarding services

Your customers need to have an easy start. Onboarding programs help customers to get started quickly. With additional help in handling all the technicalities and setting up of your tool, customers like a smooth start. If your onboarding services are poor or if your product is too complicated to get started by their own, your customers will snap out in a jiffy. And you don’t want that.

Giving your customers a tour of your product and also telling them briefly where and how to start is a great way to retain them.

2. Proper drip email sequence

Most of the times, your customers will not come around and see if there is an onboarding program to sign up to separately. It is on you to make them find all the resources they need, one after the other. This is most effectively done with a drip email sequence. Drip emails are a series of emails that are sent based on user behavior and engagement metrics. When a customer completes a purchase and signs up for the first time, send them a welcome email. We call this as the welcome and onboarding drip. This email must contain three main things:

  • A welcome note
  • Getting started resources
  • Links to contact your support team

Each of your emails in this drip series will enable your customer to proceed inside the product, one milestone after another. Based on how he/she is engaging inside your product, you can send out resources. This keeps them glued to your product and also makes it easy to use it. One sure-shot way of retaining customers.

Proper drip email sequence Source

3. Your Knowledge Hub should be robust

Customers will always look for options to resolve issues by heading straight to your help documents. If your knowledge hub is empty, then it is a turn-off. Not all customers will want to write an email or type out a message to the customer support and wait for a reply. They need a solution to their problem immediately. And that can be done only when you have your help documents in place.

You can stay on track with your help documents is to create one each time you release a feature. Try to cover everything - how to use that feature, what are the setups required for that feature to function smoothly, why this feature exists, and also include all the possible troubleshoot situations that may arise while using that feature.

Robust Knowledge Hub

P.S. Many customers surf through the knowledge hub not because they have an issue to resolve, but also to learn about a feature as well.

4. Track, monitor, and measure

If you thought tracking and monitoring are important when you are trying to acquire a lead, you are wrong. There is no end to tracking and monitoring. Your customers MUST be tracked in order to know where they are getting stuck while using your product. If they do get stuck somewhere or pause after using some of the features, you can immediately send out help. Emails, SMS, push alerts, ads, social messaging - there are just so many ways to connect with your customers and help them get going exactly from the point where they were stuck.

For instance, let’s say a customer is trying to add custom fields inside your marketing automation tool but hasn’t really created one. You can send out emails on how custom fields are used inside your product and also some reading materials related to custom fields. You can also retarget social ads based on custom fields usage or related concepts.

Another reason why monitoring is important is to reduce customer churn. Unlike what the term churn means literally, in the marketing world it means losing customers over a period of time. Customer churn is a huge problem for many businesses. It is easy to calculate your customer churn:

[Total no. of customers who left/Total no. of customers in the starting] X 100

For instance, if total no. of customer who left is 7 and total no. of customers in the starting was 50, the customer churn will be:

[7/50] X 100 = 14%

Customer churn rate gives a reality check, probing you to look into where exactly your customers are leaving and why. To know more about customer churn rate and methods of reducing it, follow the customer churn rate guide.

5. Be all ears for customer feedback, and act on them

A good brand is one that listens to its customers and acts upon it immediately. Today, all brands have a strong social presence and want to be reachable by their customers. If your customers have some complaints, listen to them diligently and make sure the issue is resolved immediately.

Customers often take to social media channels, prominently Twitter and Facebook, to tag brands and report an issue as well as post an amazing review. Whatever it is, you need to listen genuinely, give them a reply so that they know their feedback did not go in vain, and act on it immediately.

A brand that takes care of its customers, retains customers most.

6. Personalize your customer experience

Your customer is important, and your customers need to know that. Customized services and personalized content make them understand that they are valued as customers. This ‘understanding’ makes way for long-term customer loyalty. Give them that white-glove treatment they’ve been looking for.

This includes how your support team talks to them in person as well. Thanks to marketing automation integrations with CRMs, it is easy for a sales rep to know every detail about a customer before they speak. However, it is completely on your sales rep to make or break the customer relationship. How to handle information lies largely on your sales rep.

The key here is to support your customers. Like we say, ‘let’s sit and talk’ - talking to your customers is more of that. And you will be surprised to see your customers giving away a gamut of suggestions on how you can help them.

7. NEVER ignore analytics

From the start, we’ve been talking about how to handle customers, how to customize services and how to be available round the clock for your customers. But there is one (and the most vital) point we are yet to discuss - Analytics. Good analytics show when your customers stop being active, or in other words, when your customers are ‘at risk.’

Once you know the key point where your customers are dropping off, you can start implementing effective measures like sending out a reminder email with some free webinar invite or training videos, or a content that triggers their interest right before they hit the cancel button.

Analytics holds the key to your customer behavior and business success.

Conclusion

The smartest move you can make is to increase your focus and spend on retaining your customers. Whether it is about creating content or improving the product or personalizing services, do everything it takes to make your customers want to stay.

Remember, marketing can never be forced and you cannot force your customers by threatening them!! It has to be organic. Customer relationship building has to happen naturally, making your customers genuinely want to stay. Like the old saying - you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ - if your customer retention aspect is falling apart, you need to fix it before it takes a toll on your business.

Better yet, ask your customers - the ones that are still there and also the ones who’ve left. Know what they are expecting and why they’ve left, respectively. What’s better than customer’s insights on what they want and giving them that in the best form available!

What do you think of customer retention? Is it important to you? Tell us in the comments section below.

Try Albacross

Ankit Prakash

Ankit Prakash

Technology Entrepreneur at Aritic

Ankit Prakash is a technology entrepreneur at Aritic – Full Stack Marketing Automation software platform for digital business at Aritic with Sales CRM, Transactional Mail, and Desk. Ankit also spends a majority of his time reviewing various marketing tools and platforms on his marketing blog- Sprout24. He has successfully contributed to platforms like Smart Insights, Jeff Bullas, LeadsBridge, Scoop.it, and G2 Crowd. Follow Ankit on Twitter at @ankitpr89