Any new business needs a steady stream of new customers to make it a success.
But, as time passes, many businesses remain stubbornly focused on new customer acquisition and, as a result, neglect the long list of loyal customers they already have.
This is a mistake, especially for B2B businesses who have often invested more time, energy and money into onboarding those customers in the first place.
Customer churn rates have the power to damage any business beyond repair. A recent CallMiner study found that avoidable customer churn costs companies $136 billion a year.
Moreover, churn is often more damaging than simply a customer leaving – where do your customers go when they choose to part ways with your brand? A competitor, of course. Particularly galling for B2B brands.
Why Is Customer Retention So Important for B2B Brands?
Losing your customers is incredibly detrimental for B2B brands, as these companies ultimately rely on long-term subscriptions and a high volume of customer loyalty to remain profitable.
Over the past couple of years, there has been mass global economic uncertainty because of Covid-19. This has led to an increasing number of B2B businesses keeping 2021 budgets under wraps until the world returns to some form of normality.
In the past 18 months, customer retention has been more important than ever. You don’t want to see your clients jump ship once the world has reopened and the economy starts to thrive once again.
Increasing your customer retention rates by just 5% can increase your overall profits by 25% to 95%. So, it’s simply good business practice to implement a stellar B2B customer retention strategy.
But a passive strategy for retention marketing will not be enough. You need to actively work at retaining that business, creating positive relationships, and encourage customer loyalty in the long-term.
Why is Customer Churn Rate Important?
Customer churn rate is a metric you can use to measure the percentage of customers who have chosen to leave your company over a certain period of time.
A typical time frame could be monthly, quarterly or yearly. Which you choose would be dependent on the industry, product, service or solution you are selling.
Marketers use this metric to understand the patterns of a customer departure. If you spot a particular influx of customers choosing to end their working relationship with you, this could be a sign that a particular marketing strategy is proving ineffective.
If you can spot these patterns when they emerge, you can adapt your marketing strategy accordingly to ensure you retain a loyal customer base.
One of the challenges of spotting those patterns is that it can be difficult to do before it’s too late. By the time you notice an increase in churn rates, it could be six months or even a year after the point where you failed to meet your customer’s needs.
Focus not on convincing your clients to stay, but on making sure they never question your relationship in the first place.
Top 4 B2B Customer Retention Marketing Strategies
The bottom line is that the more consistent your strategies are, the more likely it is your customers will remain loyal.
Don't treat your retention marketing strategy as an afterthought. These strategies should receive as much attention as your new customer acquisition strategies.
1. Create an Engaging Onboarding Program
One of the most common mistakes we see is that new customers often get left on the shelf for far too long once they’ve signed on the dotted line.
After a while, customers may feel like they have been forgotten or that they simply don’t matter as much as you initially made them think they did. Ultimately, they will start to think about leaving.
To avoid this, think about implementing an onboarding program, which demonstrates your overall value as a brand as well as levels of customer care.
A simple way to begin is to create a series of welcome emails that detail how your company works, reinforces the benefits of your relationships, and how customers can start to make use of your services and solutions.
Be sure to include a means to contact you directly if they run into any problems or have any questions, and if any queries arise, you should reply as quickly as possible with a personalised response.
You should also consider creating assets they can use once they have been onboarded.
For example, invite them to an online webinar, or share a number of case studies detailing the successes of your partnerships with other B2B companies that have used your services.
2. Make Use of Customer Feeback
It’s never nice to hear criticism, but constructive criticism is invaluable if you want to retain your customers and improve your offering.
Even if your clients are not reaching out to you with feedback, you should not take this silence as good news. Your marketing team needs to take a proactive approach when it comes to acquiring feedback.
Reach out to your customers on a regular basis, perhaps monthly or quarterly, to ask for customer feedback and use this information to improve your service.
There are a number of ways you can collect feedback. The most common approach is with an online survey. But you could go a step further and ask your clients to participate in user testing and focus groups.
Once you have obtained the relevant feedback you need, take the time to analyse the data to see if there are any patterns in the criticisms you receive.
Of course, it’s important you show your customers that you have taken their suggestions on board, value their feedback and used this information to enhance the user experience.
Showcasing this give-and-take relationship will strengthen your partnership and encourage them to keep working with you over your competitors.
3. Use Analytics to Track User Behaviour
Like we mentioned, customer churn rate is a great metric to track when your clients are choosing to leave. However, to create a top-notch B2B retention marketing strategy you need to know how often your clients are interacting with your brand.
Good analytics and/or CRM software can show you when a customer has engaged with your brand or when they haven’t interacted with you for a while.
Keep track of your customer interactions. Doing so will let you know when you need to pick up the phone and have a chat with a customer, and even help you uncover opportunities to up and cross-sell your services.
Once you have a greater understanding of exactly how and when your customers are interacting with your brand, you can customise your promotional offers and customer service features to match their needs. This data can help you prevent any problems before they even arise.
For example, if you know that one of your customer’s subscriptions is set to end, you could arrange a call to discuss their experience with you and see if they’re happy to renew their contract. If they’re not, this is an opportunity to make the problem right.
4. Reward Customer Loyalty
Long-term loyal customers only make up a fifth of most B2B client bases. But they can provide up to 80% of your overall revenue. It’s worth rewarding them to make them feel valued.
A customer loyalty programme is a great way to reward your clients for their continued commitment to your brand. The more your customers engage with your service, the greater the rewards can be.
B2B brands usually offer solutions, so finding ways to reward customers can be tricky, but there are options you can adopt.
For instance, consider offering a month’s free or reduced subscription to clients that have stayed with you for an extended period. Or if you provide other services that work for your clients you could offer a free trial.
And if you’re launching a new service or solution, try offering loyal customers an exclusive viewing to see it in action and provide a discounted price.
Then there’s the meaningful route. Try sending personalised gifts or rewards – hampers or even vouchers – to your most loyal customers.
In this case it’s worth collaborating with your finance and customer service teams to determine which gifts are the most appropriate to send for each customer.
Finally, scale rewards based on engagement with your brand and the value of their contract. In other words, customers who have invested more money in your brand should receive better perks.
In a world with so much economic uncertainty, retaining your loyal customers has never been more important.
Once you have a loyal customer base, don’t shift all your focus to your new prospects. You need to be consistent in the attention you give to your current clients, as they are the ones that are helping your brand thrive.
If you set and forget this customer base, then your clients may replace you with your top competitor.