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B2B insights

Retaining Customers: Education, Consistency & Patience

A single sale doesn’t guarantee the conversion to repeat business. Consider education, consistency, and patience core pieces of your customer retention strategy.

There’s something to the word ‘conversion’ – it means a transformative, almost other-worldly event has taken place. This word didn’t make it into our business vocabulary by accident. How then do we bring this magic to what we do and build repeat business?

Education, consistency, and patience are pillars of a healthy, long-term B2B marketing strategy. To make them a part of yours, it’s important to understand, in concrete terms, how to do so – and do it right.

Educating your customers builds confidence

An initial purchase is exciting—it means your marketing provides enough information in the acquisition process for a buyer to commit to the purchase. But the journey is only beginning.

Does your customer actually understand how to use your product or service? You can use marketing communication to educate your customers on how to fully leverage the solution you provide—turning them into converts. After all, retention is far cheaper than acquisition, and repeat customers often spend exponentially more. To extend the religious metaphor just a bit further, repeat customers often become evangelists, too: they share their successes with others and often do the education and acquisition work for you. Here are a few ideas to build repeat business through education.

  • Create content for different learners and learning processes. Not everyone responds best to text-based communication. Depending on their preferences and learning style, someone might do better with a visual graph, audio recording, or video. If you have the resources, maximise your reach and impact by offering content in multiple formats.
  • The best communication is concrete. Present measurable data to your audience that demonstrates you’re making a notable difference, and how your business is growing, changing, and evolving to better serve them.
  • Share success stories. In addition to presenting concrete data, build customer success stories into your marketing that educate others on specific components or benefits of your product or service.
  • Make education a part of your company culture. Ask the newest members on your team to provide feedback on your marketing communication before you send it, with questions that deliver meaningful insight: Where is the information most user-friendly or easy to understand? At what points does the communication fall flat or create confusion for you? What did you specifically learn from this communication? Not only will you retain business but you’ll also retain your team members, who observe that their feedback is welcomed systematically, and regularly.
  • Make education bite-sized, and then go bigger. Start with daily or twice-weekly tips that empower your users to engage with your product or service, and (if your bandwidth permits) offer email courses that target beginners as well as your more advanced users, so that your customers can evolve as your products and services change and update.

Consistency with your messaging builds a healthy feedback loop

A marketer’s job is to anticipate when a customer may need your product and service, or even a certain feature. But you don’t know what you don’t know, so building a strong feedback loop provides ongoing insight.

Make it easy for your customers to ask questions through consistency in your messaging using the following strategies.

  • Demonstrate consistency through regular communication, where the opportunity to seek help is ideally always in the same place. Designate a place within your marketing communication where customers can go with questions and present this every time.
  • Make solutions easy to access. Links to your help centre or online chat should be clear and findable, in the same place, in every marketing communication you deploy. And front and centre on your website.
  • Ensure your help is human. We live in an increasingly automated world, but studies have indicated that 83% of customers still prefer a human touch over an automated chat bot. While it’s harder work to have individual humans offering great customer service 24/7/365, the investment is shown to be well worth it.

Patience builds trust—internally and externally

Pivoting can do great things for your business. But we’ve all gotten so used to making such rapid changes over the past couple years, it might feel a little unnatural to slow down and really examine what we’re currently doing.

In her book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, Dorie Clark notes that the quest to fix everything is unreasonable and exhausting; it’s not in anyone’s best interest for a business to pivot constantly. Moreover, Clark writes, there is something to be said for doing the same thing—the boring or hard thing—over and over, because this practice drives better outcomes. It allows you to collect comparable data over time, set benchmarks, and observe what is and isn’t working, so you can make informed decisions.

Here are three simple ways you can build patience into your marketing strategy.

  • Commit to using regular, set review cycles as opportunities to make changes, instead of making them on the fly. Having a predetermined stretch of time to study your marketing strategy and what is and isn’t working gives you the freedom to make mistakes and say, “we’ll circle back on this at [this time].” This sets the expectations internally for your team, too. Take notes along the way but also take a big breath—fixes take time and become long-term habits when you build consensus with your team.
  • Test early and often, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Some of the best ideas come from missteps that happen when executing on a strategy. But often people don’t create the space or the time to allow for these key learnings to happen because they don’t think they can afford to make a mistake. Understanding what isn’t working is just as valuable as understanding what is working when building your strategy.
  • Remember the “why.” When you do review the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing strategy, and as you consider making a significant change to what you’re doing, ask the questions: Are we making this decision out of confidence or fear? Does this change provide a quality solution for our customers? Are there any potential tradeoffs to the direction we’re taking? Are we actually excited about this? What happens if we don’t do it?

Education, consistency, and patience are inherently human enterprises; there isn’t a rulebook you can follow to crack the code on repeat business. You can expect it will be messy, so own the mess! It can be organised, thoughtful, and strategic—and ultimately great for your business.

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