Retention Starts With Onboarding

Many purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

Customer retentionMany purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

In a blog posted nearly a year ago, I wrote about my personal experience making a college “purchase” decision for each of my twin boys. It’s certainly a brand decision that is worth, in some instances, over $100,000 to the institution selected, so you’d think (no, expect) them to understand and optimize the relationship from day one. For one college, they did exactly that … but for the other, not so much.

For many marketers, the focus is entirely on the front-end of the sales process. And while those efforts are critically important to fill the pipeline, it’s equally important to make sure your new customer is aware of all the resources available post-purchase including training videos, user groups, access to tools and add-ons, and other ways to optimize their brand experience.

Too often, the first contact post-purchase is an email that tries to sell you more goods/services, and that can be a complete turn-off.

In a pilot campaign for AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah, new AAA members were asked to complete a short online survey so follow-up emails would be more relevant to their lifestage. Those with teenagers, for example, were probably most concerned with new driver safety, while empty nesters wanted to know how to use their AAA card to access better travel deals. The result was a huge lift in open and click through rates — and, by continuously communicating the value of membership, an increase in retention rates.

After B-to-B targets sign up for a free demo at LifeSize, they are sent a series of emails that help them get set up, add users, set up a video chat, set up a group chat, etc. Experiencing the product with all the bells and whistles helps ensure a maximum product experience, increasing conversion rates. But they don’t stop there — post-purchase emails continue to give tips and tricks on how to use the product to its fullest.

Now let’s go back to my college experience. One of my twins decided to change colleges this fall, after completing his freshman year. After he was accepted at his new school and had accepted the offer for a dorm room, he received several “retention” emails: an introduction from the student who “heads” the dorms, inviting him to drop by for coffee; an introduction from an upperclassman that will be acting as his mentor (“Ask me anything about campus life!”); an invitation to sign up for an orientation session that involves rafting down a local river; an announcement that the campus food service just won a Silver Award … for the Best Food on a College Campus! Do you think he’s looking forward to attending this school for a few years? Sign us all up!

But the best message of all came from the Admissions Office. Without us even asking, they went ahead and researched his freshman year course work at his previous college and advised him that they had transferred/accepted specific course credits, so he has all of his electives now completed for two years. That’s what I call customer service.

In my experience, only a handful of brands do anything post-sale other than promote sale items or send a little chest-beating message. In many industries, newsletters are considered passé, and considering how much content we know consumers want, I’m surprised more brands don’t understand how to leverage it to keep customers engaged until the next membership renewal and/or selling opportunity.

I’d love to hear some other best practices so we can all learn from these marketing leaders.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

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