It’s no secret to veteran marketers that customer loyalty has been getting harder and harder to instill and maintain. More and more consumers, including B2B buyers, are identifying as so-called ‘serial switchers,’ who tend not to stick with a product or service provider for a long time and are always willing to try something new or different.
Compounding that challenge, customer acquisition costs are up due to rising consumer expectations and strong competition in the marketplace. Given that reality, maintaining a focus solely on acquiring new customers can be a precarious strategy, particularly in the B2B sector. That also explains why a 2023 Global Customer Engagement Review reported that 45% of brands said they spent more than half of their marketing spend just on retention in 2022, up from 33% in 2020.
It costs 7X more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.
An optimal response to both these new obstacles to brand growth is B2B retention marketing. It helps brands remain the top preference amidst a sea of options by reigniting the interest of lapsing or inactive customers.
Retention marketing campaigns are fuel for repeated customer engagement. They strategically intervene when customers exhibit signs of disengagement, creating pathways for re-engagement and conversion. It’s an approach with measurably positive results: improving customer retention by just 5% can help brands increase profits by 25% to 95%, according to Bain & Company research. These strategies are also a useful tool for boosting the return on marketing investments, with the cost of acquiring new customers being up to 7X that of efforts to retain existing ones.
By leveraging smart retention initiatives like win-back programs, abandoned intent campaigns, effective onboarding, personalized marketing outreach, cross-channel customer engagement, and predictive churn analytics, B2B brands can foster increased customer engagement and prevent costly churn.
Building For Long Term Success
The cost of customer churn due to deficient service or other factors is astronomical. Effective retention strategies mitigate these losses, preventing the unnecessary hemorrhage of resources and maintaining a healthy customer base. Hence, it’s imperative that brands act preemptively, recognizing signals of potential churn and implementing retention strategies before customers definitively disengage. Proactive interventions can revive waning interest and re-establish brand value in the customers’ perception.
However, the distinctive nature of B2B customers requires the formulation of tailored retention strategies that address the pain points, expectations, and modes of operating that are specific to B2B organizations. In the B2B sphere, the emphasis is often on establishing long-term contracts and maintaining ongoing relationships, contrasting with the B2C focus on individual transactions. Thus, B2B strategies should emphasize nurturing relationships with key decision-makers and offering bespoke solutions.
45% of brands said they spent more than half of their marketing spend just on retention in 2022, up from 33% in 2020.
Overarching Retention Strategies
B2B retention requires the formulation of strategic engagements with key decision-makers, fostering relationships that are marked by trust, mutual benefit, and in-depth understanding of nuanced business needs and aspirations. That can be achieved by deploying a number of strategies:
Regular, customized interaction is integral to maintaining close relationships with B2B customers, ensuring the brand remains at the forefront of their minds, and their unique needs are continuously addressed with relevance and expertise.
Regular check-ins and updates allow for the maintenance of a transparent and open communication channel, ensuring that any concerns or requirements are addressed promptly and completely. Communication should be insightful and value-laden, offering customers fresh perspectives, industry insights, and actionable advice, reinforcing the brand’s position as a thought leader and trusted advisor.
Prioritizing Long-term Contracts and Renewals
A healthy portfolio of long-term contracts is proof positive of a solid, enduring partnership between the brand and its customers. Prioritizing these contracts provides a stable revenue stream and fortifies the business relationship. Efficient renewal processes and strategies are crucial in retaining customers, reinforcing the perception of the brand as reliable and committed to maintaining long-standing partnerships.
Utilizing multiple channels for messaging elevates user experience, facilitates better user lifetimes, and optimizes brand interactions, enhancing overall brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Research shows that cross-channel customer engagement boosts retention and generates a 3.2X uplift in purchase per user and a 2.2X uplift in customer lifetimes.
Improving customer retention by just 5% can help brands increase profits by 25-95%.
Tailored Retention Campaigns
Plans that are focused and detailed, using information from data analysis, customer feedback, and market research, are vital to keeping existing customers and partners happy and engaged. Here are a few examples of effective B2B retention campaigns:
A win-back campaign is a marketing strategy specifically designed to re-engage and regain customers who have previously shown interest or made purchases but have become inactive. The strength of win-back campaigns stems from the effective use of owned messaging channels and retargeting to increase repeat interactions and purchases.
Brands can harness user-specific behaviors and preferences data to render real-time, relevant content, enticing customers to re-engage with the diverse array of products or services offered. These campaigns aid in revitalizing customer interest and fortifying the relationship between the brand and the customer by aligning offerings with individual preferences and needs.
Recognizing customers who have abandoned tasks is useful for reclaiming missed engagement and conversion opportunities. Abandoned intent campaigns offer value-added incentives to encourage task completion. Finding and responding to these opportunities can salvage potentially lost interactions and bolster the brand’s prospects by maintaining a steady and active customer base.
Optimized Customer Onboarding
Properly orchestrated onboarding processes set the stage for long-term customer relationships by demonstrating the brand’s values and offerings succinctly, compellingly, and in a manner primed to increase recall, leading to sustained engagement. A proficiently executed onboarding strategy can be a determining factor in customer retention by setting a positive initial interaction tone and facilitating early engagement to maximize a first-mover advantage.
Proactive Churn Intervention
Recognizing early signs of churn and acting promptly allows brands to realign their strategies to customer needs and preferences, mitigating the risk of complete disengagement. Tapping into feedback, improved personalization, and adaptive communication enables brands to address the underlying issues and revitalize waning customer relationships.
The Transformative Effect of B2B Retention
B2B retention marketing weaves together the threads of customer engagement, brand loyalty, and long-term value creation into a holistic approach that accentuates customer lifetime values and drives sustainable growth, subsequently maximizing profitability. Continuous refinement and adaptation of these strategies, in sync with emerging trends and customer expectations, are critical for sustaining brand relevance and achieving enduring success.
Hanlon works at the cutting edge of design, technology, and modern marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your B2B brand foster a deeper connection with your most valuable customers and partners.