Retention is your best friend, and churn is your biggest enemy. Whenever you lose a client — especially in B2B sales — you lose all the investment you put into informing, nurturing, and converting them when they were just a lead.
The longer you retain a client, the less your marketing costs become in comparison to the sale over time, and the higher the lifetime value (LTV) of that client becomes. Instead of expending all of your marketing efforts on brand awareness and nurturing new leads, your company should also prioritize marketing to existing clients. Retention marketing focuses on these core tenets:
- Thought leadership
- Providing a consistent (and consistently valuable) message
- Engaging the client throughout their experience, not just when it's time for renewal
- Supporting clients so they can reach their goals
By building your B2B retention marketing campaigns around these goals and providing excellent service, you can regularly convert first-time users into lifetime clients that contribute to the success of your business. Return clients don't just account for repeat sales; they also bring in high-quality leads through referrals, boost your NPS scores, and contribute thoughtfully to your product roadmap.
To begin your retention marketing efforts, focus on these four keys to success.
1. Collaborate With Your Team Frequently
Collaboration is the key to retaining clients. Converting a lead into a new client requires collaboration between sales and marketing, but re-signing and upselling a return B2B client requires teamwork between marketing, sales, client success, and more. Follow these best practices to increase collaboration and keep all of your internal teams in the loop:
- Hold regular meetings between marketing, sales, client success, and product team representatives to discuss issues, improvements, and ongoing projects. These meetings can cover everything from NPS score analysis to how to introduce new products or product lines.
- Make sure client communications aren't held in silos. Attach communication files to a company-wide CRM so anyone touching the account can see past support calls, upsells, and complaints. It's important that anyone new to the client's account can automatically understand them; it's just as important that the information is organized and easy to digest.
- Hold training sessions to empower client teams. These sessions can inform teams about new brand ambassadors, teach best practices for resolving issues, and ensure employees at your company are provided a platform to give feedback.
The more avenues of communication your employees have — and the more insight they have into high-value or high-risk clients — the better.
2. Create a Consistent Experience with the Right Tools
According to Zendesk:
97% of survey respondents say bad customer service changes buying behavior, and 87% say good customer service changes buying behavior.
Both positive and negative experiences have a significant effect on a B2B customer's willingness to do business with your company again. One of the best ways to protect against negative encounters is to create consistent experiences using the correct tools. Not only does this do away with the risk of delays and unfamiliarity, but it helps your team continuously improve and adjust interactions the right way.
Make sure your sales and client success teams have the tools they need to create positive experiences. This includes:
- A CRM that can smoothly manage the process of handing off a client from marketing to sales to account management and client success teams. If there's a delay or your customer falls through the cracks, they'll leave. But if they're constantly given the attention and support they need at every stage, they're much more likely to stay.
- Communication tools that give interdepartmental teams visibility into deadlines, to-do list tracking, and a way to double-check resource availability.
- An easy-to-use learning management system that holds information for new hires, client success teams, and everyone in between. AI and chatbots can make these resources even more robust.
- A knowledge base or support portal that allows clients to address issues on their own time. This should include step-by-step instructions, training videos, helpful articles, and contact methods to create a ticket or contact your team.
3. Develop a Client Communication Strategy That Aligns With The Product Roadmap
Your product roadmap is not just an internal guide. Informing your clients about upcoming changes helps smooth transitions and gives your high-value clients a chance to provide input. Each new product or service you develop should ultimately support your client's goals, but this can't happen if your new offerings are interruptive. We recommend creating a client communication strategy based on your anticipated product release milestones. Include these methods of interaction in your communication plan:
- Support and client training windows
- Marketing campaigns around new products or features that are specifically tailored to existing clients instead of prospects
- Product or service-specific webinars, podcasts, or blogs
- Networking events
The plan should also forecast release dates for white papers, training guides, and other client-facing materials. This practice requires collaboration between multiple teams, so investing in the tools and open communication strategies will set you up for success.
4. Support Methods that Enable the Voice of the Customer (VoC)
Ultimately, retention requires creating products and services that meet a client's needs on their terms. To help foster open communication, you can create a Client Advisory Board that focuses specifically on communication with clients and understanding their needs.
Your clients want to know that their voices are being heard and have a substantive impact on future products and services. Engaging with them frequently both increases satisfaction and gives your company the information you need to create the right products or services. You can implement these strategies to help facilitate listening to your client's needs:
- One-on-Ones: Your team (or your board) can schedule one-on-one conversations with new and high-value clients. Listen to their feedback and record their suggestions or pain points for future review. This is also an excellent opportunity to get testimonials and reviews for marketing materials or key insights for future panels.
- Create Community Forums: These spaces help you build an engaged community that connects with your brand. These forums allow your clients to interact with each other and/or your team for honest, direct communication.
- Surveys: NPS scores, surveys, questionnaires, and other methods of getting feedback from clients can give your team quantitative data. This is a rich resource for discovering trends and opportunities for improvement.
If you’re gathering feedback, be sure to act on the data you receive and communicate to your clients that you’re actually making changes based on their observations.
Customer Retention Should Be at the Core of Your Marketing Process
Dollar for dollar, retaining clients is more profitable for your business. But more than that, loyal clients create referrals, provide excellent feedback, and help build a stronger business.
Create or refine your customer retention strategy by incorporating these suggestions and facilitating purposeful communication. For personalized assistance in creating your B2B retention marketing strategy, contact House of Revenue today.
*Updated January 25, 2023 by Christina O'Berto