Marketing’s role beyond the point of sale is a gray area. While we’d all broadly agree that our job is to create demand by helping businesses recognize they have problems, fewer would agree that keeping new customers happy should be a major chapter in marketing’s playbook.
In part, this is because customer service today is still overwhelmingly reactive, with an emphasis on troubleshooting. It’s hard to see where marketing’s expertise would fit in.
It’s also apparently futile when studies show companies that focus on retention at the expense of bringing in new customers will struggle to grow sustainably. That’s because brands with a smaller market share have fewer customers who are less loyal. Conversely, brands with higher market share have more customers who are in turn more loyal, according to the Double Jeopardy Law.
Should Marketers Care About Customer Retention?
If improved loyalty from customers fundamentally comes from having more customers, why would marketing bother itself with retention?
Because it’s an opportunity wasted. Customer retention is still important; it’s just not a successful growth strategy in isolation.
Firstly — and you’ll know this from your own experience — it’s pretty common for customers to not hear a peep from a supplier until they’re a few weeks away from renewal, at which point they’re treated to a barrage of emails and calls. It does nothing for fostering customer goodwill which, it’s worthwhile reminding ourselves, is an intangible business asset that impacts profitability.
Building stronger relationships with customers not only keeps them engaged with your products and services, and aware of any new releases, it also makes them more forgiving when the business makes mistakes.
Related Article: How CMOs Can Master Their New Job: Leading Customer Experience
Don't Take Customer Awareness for Granted
If all that wasn’t enough, it also helps maintain mental availability. Too many businesses take customer awareness for granted (they’re customers after all) only to be surprised when those same customers jump ship for the next bright shiny new thing to come to market and gain everybody’s attention.
Secondly, the buyer journey doesn’t end neatly with the close of a sale. Once a customer is using your new product, and seeing a positive change, they should have more confidence and appetite to try other solutions to other problems. Stopping contact means you’ll be missing out on obvious cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Thirdly, happy customers make excellent case studies. In recent research by our B2B marketing agency Considered Content, some 28% of buyers said they want to be able to view testimonials, case studies and reviews from named businesses. Yet only 9% of marketers offered them. Similarly, 27% of buyers wanted to be able to access references from existing users that they could contact directly. Just 5% of marketers offered this. Your most engaged customers are also your most loyal. The deeper your relationship, the more likely they’ll agree to help you out.
Lastly, remember that not every end user of your product or service will have been one of the multiple decision makers involved in its purchase. While they weren’t necessarily part of the decision, you can be sure their verdict will be taken into account when deciding, after a trial period, whether or not it sticks around.
Where Should the Marketing Alignment Reside?
A 2020 survey of 500 senior client-side marketers across every major business sector found that "top performing" businesses scored higher than "mainstream" businesses on marketing’s alignment with other departments. However, even among top performing companies, marketers scored relatively low on their alignment with customer service (68%), when compared to e-commerce and merchandising (76%), and sales (72%).
Of course, not all companies are alike. Some — usually high-growth software companies — build customer success teams whose approach is more proactive, ensuring customers are able to use their products seamlessly. A big part of the aim here is widening and deepening adoption, so their tech becomes more ingrained in day-to-day operations.
This often looks like newsletters containing tips and tricks and onboarding content delivered via an email drip sequence.
Related Article: Are You Sacrificing Customer Experience for Marketing Leads?
High-Quality Content Won't Hurt
It’s good practice for marketers today to produce high-quality content that covers every stage of the sale, forging connections between what buyers value and what they currently offer. The good news is that creating content for new customers is just a short step away from deeper engagement with existing buyers. Chances are, the educational content you create that focuses on problems and pain points for would-be customers could easily be repurposed and updated for existing customers.
But there’s another big reason for marketing to wade into existing customer territory. The latest research tells us that today’s buyers are increasingly self reliant and aloof. We can no longer reliably expect them to contact customer service with their problems (just like they aren’t contacting sales to buy) and many of them will only do this once they’ve scoured online for a fix first.
By housing all your marketing content on an easy-to-navigate self-service library, you can be more confident they’ll find the answer from you rather than other struggling users or, worse still, your competitors.