from nice-to-have to need-to-have: the role of marketing in customer retention

In this episode of Digital Banter, we explore the critical role of marketing in customer retention. We discuss strategies for taking your product from a nice-to-have to a must-have, including keeping customers up-to-date on new features, building a community, and tracking product usage. We also discuss the importance of customer loyalty and advocacy programs and how marketing can support the shift towards retention in the B2B industry. Tune in for valuable insights into the relationship between marketing and customer success. Don’t be another marketer hyper-focused on fulfilling vanity metrics, in turn losing sight of your bottom line.

Podcast Transcript

From Dragon 360, this is Digital Banter, a podcast focused on modern marketing tactics and driving real business results. And now here are your host

so we got a little, I’m going to call it a struggle at home right now. It’s not really a struggle, but I want to know about your experience with like kids television shows and breaking the addictions of certain things. Like we’ve, I’ll actually call it a parenting win cause I think we like started to figure it out, but it’s a little bit like, I know it’s not like the cleanest solution in my mind, but Kennedy’s been addicted to some shows that are weird and it all like came from, I mean, our solution just so we, we moved from access to YouTube to access to Netflix, because Netflix seems to have a little bit [00:01:00] more of like a filter control versus letting her choose anything that she wanted in YouTube where like we’ve been.

We actually just broke this, this episode of like, I don’t know, she refers to it as the one with the girly and the boy, and it’s like two, it’s actually two. It’s a Ukrainian family who moved to the United States and has now made like millions of dollars on YouTube from, and, and the videos are horrible.

They talk in these like squeaky voices. The girl throws temper tantrums, and I feel like half of the episodes are them just like, Opening up new toys and getting so excited about it, and it’s like, okay, sorry, Kennedy, like, we’re not that rich. You don’t get a new toy every day and like, you don’t get to have a hissy fit over everything.

Like, that’s like not, that’s not the, it’s not like there’s anything like bads or not like playing shooting games or anything. She’s not into like weird stuff like that, but it’s just like stuff you don’t want to teach your kids. But I mean, we had meltdowns for a while around [00:02:00] like, No, I want to watch the one with the girly and the boy and not like, you know, we would let her watch anything else.

It was like literally anything else. So I want to, I, I need some advice from you. What’s your, do you have any hacks for, breaking the, the breaking out of one television show into just anything else? I don’t know. I think, I think the step that you took is the most logical because Ben was into like Ryan’s world and all other kinds of YouTube crap for a while.

But I don’t, I don’t think you can ever break the addiction until they grow out of it, because he just basically moved from two or three YouTube series over to two or three Netflix series and now they’re just on repeat. I mean, I walk in the door and I’m saying to him like, yo, haven’t you seen this episode?

Literally like two days ago? He’s like, yeah, there’s five seasons. I’m like, okay, well guess what? Now we’re going to put a time limit [00:03:00] on the tv. Time to go along with your tablet time. But I don’t think you create, I don’t think you break the addiction as far as series are concerned until they just grow out of it.

So it’s like, so it’s like any other addiction. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You have to decide. You have to decide on your own that you want to change. That’s, yeah. And cold Turkey makes you go through the sweats and the steaks and everything else and the tantrums. Oh man. We had, I had a tantrum this morning. She was, I don’t even know.

We didn’t even have strawberries in the house, but like halfway on the way to school, she decided that she wanted strawberries. And apparently I, I can’t wait to get home later because apparently there are strawberries on the stove that she wanted. Cause I was like, no, we don’t even have strawberries. And she goes, no, they’re on the stove.

You need to turn around and go get them. It’s like, oh my God. You’re also just at that age though, like yeah, you, you have that kind of stuff. And then, [00:04:00] you know, in a year or two, once she’s in, you know, pre-K and kindergarten, then you’re going to start moving into other addictions and scenarios until they finally get to, I don’t know, Avery probably started to make the shift around eight or nine.

But then you’re in like pre, pre-teen years and it starts in a different. Some other, other things. Well, I’ll take, I’ll take arguing over a strawberry for now before I get into any of the more complex things when they get a little bit older. I guess that’s a good point though of, how do you retain your client, your kid’s satisfaction, right.

As a, as we, as we go into today’s topic, which is about customer retention. Leave it to Andy to come up with the corniest entries. I absolutely love it. That’s why that’s your job. That’s my, that’s my job as the ceo E Just find the most awkward segues that you can find. But no, today’s topic, we’re talking about customer attention, but [00:05:00] predominantly in the context of what is marketing’s role in the lens and through the lens of customer retention.

As an agency, we are. Typically focused on net new customer acquisition on behalf of our clients, and as we’ve seen as this year has unfolded and through the course of time, The cost of acquiring or in reality keeping customers is much lower than net new customer acquisition. So as James and I were planning today’s episode, we really came to the conclusion of what is marketing’s role when it comes to customer retention?

Is there a role of marketing or does that responsibility lie outside of marketing’s purview and lie with customer success, account managers and account executives? I think we have very different viewpoints here. Not between James and I, but Ezer stands through the bureaucracy and red tape and silos that may exist in various organizations.

Those same silos that we historically talk about, [00:06:00] breaking down, busting through, and creating kumbaya moments that are, you know, internally, Captivated and, and built on. So, go ahead James. I was going to say, it’s, it’s, my big thing here is like, so

We always talk about the blame game between marketing and sales, right?

And quite frankly like the economy now is a bit different. New customer acquisition is more difficult right now because there’s just quite frankly, not as much budget available. You are seeing more churn than usual. Because there are budget cuts that are happening in place and, you know, it’s usually okay marketing, blaming sales for… I don’t know if you have the whole lead quality issue. All of that stuff.

But now it’s like, okay, marketing and sales, like we signed this business, like, and now we’re turning it, what’s happening with customer success? And there’s like this [00:07:00] blame game that happens. And like we talk about on the marketing and sales side, it’s around like how these three teams work together.

I can’t tell you how many of these calls where we’ve been like talking about marketing and sales working together and then somebody in the room always is like, oh, well what about customer success? Like we have a say in this too. And it’s like, yeah, you do. You know, because everybody has, everybody should have, an aligned interest in all three of those…

kinda like between marketing, sales, and customer success.

So again, we’ve talked a lot about marketing, sales. Let’s talk about marketing and customer success, and like how do we get those aligned? Like how are we aligning on goals? Like what are we, how are you working together? How are you sharing information?

Because you know, from our perspective, Now there is actually much less of a focus on new customer acquisition and more of a focus on retention because it’s easier to retain a customer than it is to, [00:08:00] acquire a new customer. And you know, there’s a lot of companies out there that are like really trying to hold onto what they have, especially in the tech space.

And

It’s only easier and cheaper to retain a customer when you’re customer-centric and actually driving value. I think that’s the through line that we have to really make known here is: if you’re just a commodity, and everybody does, there’s five other players in the space. Or more that do what you do. And you’re not generating value and you’re not treating your customers with the focus and value that they need.

You’re going to be out real fast because you’re not part of that operational fabric of the organization. You’re not a need to have. You’re a nice to have. And the other thing too that I want to talk about real quickly here is we talk about the finger pointing of marketing versus sales.

It’s the Spider-Man meme, right? Well, when we think about the the legs of the organizational stool and how each of those is so important to actually [00:09:00] moving the needle. Think about a stool, right? You have three-pronged stools, but most bar stools are four- four legs. And the same can be said for a successful organization when it comes to truly driving growth.

You have leadership, which is the seat at the top, right? And then your stool legs are marketing, sales, customer success, for customer management, and then product. All four of those key stakeholders are so important to the balancing of whether your organization is going to stand the test of time. Or if it’s just going to fall over because of an imbalance or, you know, anything else that may result in it tipping over. And ultimately spilling out and and hurting the organization.

So I think that’s important from a visual perspective is… yeah, we’re talking about customer success here. But it’s a four pronged stool at the end of the day that is of inclusive marketing sales, CS, and product. And leadership really kind of holding those four legs accountable. But being a core component of whether or not they can move the needle and be [00:10:00] successful both individuality and collectively.

Yeah, I mean,

I’ll always argue that product is the most important leg. It’s funny, like nobody… I mean, yeah, I think a lot of people blame product. Maybe that’s another episode that we’ll have later on. But like, people always say like, good marketing can sell a bad product. Customer success can help with a bad product. Like all of these things.

But ultimately a bad product can only last so long. And that really goes into what you said between… I think a lot of this, maybe that’s the title for this episode, is like nice to have versus need to have. This episode is really about how you take marketing and position your product as a need to have.

And in order for it to be a need to have, number one thing, people need to use it.

And that’s like the number one reason that we’ll go into these two. The number one reason products get cut is. I mean, Andy ha, you’ve done this how many times? Like I saw, another agency recently, they were posting and they were [00:11:00] like, oh, I just found x many dollars in saved tech fees.

Like saved tech fees. It’s like, oh, you, you invested in all this tech that nobody uses or used for a month and then killed, like, you know, and that’s, those are nice to have things, nice to have tools, and that’s great, but if you’re not driving like the usage of the product, Then yeah, it’s your retention’s going to be pretty poor.

Yeah. We’ve talked about on past episodes how a really strong marketer has to understand a p and l because of all the nuances that it brings into the equation of whether you can effectively sell something or not, or in this case, be retained or not. And the same thing goes here in this conversation is are you a key line item that’s going to get saved because you are such a necessity to be successful.

Or to your point like, Hey, I’m looking through the p and l right now. We are spending X amount of dollars on these five tools. Okay. Team, do we really need these to be successful? Is there a [00:12:00] cheaper alternative that gets the job done? Is there a tool out there that combines three of these? I mean, those are all conversations that I have with you guys.

Mm-hmm. As a team. And it’s certainly conversations that are happening at scale, at plenty of organizations that exist out there. And I think an internal marketer, And an agency has to have that mindset when they’re going to market and really trying to retain that market and have those conversations with customers.

I mean, this is a great opportunity for customer success or product managers to get that insight of how, how much of a necessity are we, are we to them? Are we just another line item that can just get cut? Or are we so ingrained in that fabric that we’re kind of in there to stay So, One of the things I want, we wanted to talk about here was like goals to align on.

I’m kind of looking at my notes here. One thing I, I don’t actually have, which I think is a really key thing to look at, is actual product usage. Right. So [00:13:00] like from a marketing perspective, because let’s kind of isolate this to the SaaS industry. I think that once you get into manufacturing and other B2B businesses, it’s a little bit different.

But

In SaaS, like you have the ability to track whether or not your customers are using your products. And that should be shared from what are the features that are being used the most. Because quite frankly, from a marketing perspective, those are the features you’re probably selling more than anything.

And then, also, what features are being used the least? Like, are those things that you need to push out more product emails about? Do you need to, does that feature actually suck? Because, one of the things that we find in our usage of tools is a lot of times we’ll use tools for a couple of features. SEMrush, for an example. It’s a really good search tool. They have all these like display features that they’ve added on to do like display research and stuff like that. And [00:14:00] quite frankly, like those aren’t that useful. You basically want to drive product adoption in those tools that are not being used. And also work more to sell the tools that are being used.

Yeah, and I don’t think we should limit this to just sas. SAS is the easiest kind of example here, but. We do a lot more than just SaaS as far as an agency is concerned. So we have our, our insights into a lot of different areas from professional services through to manufacturing. And really if you boil up manufacturing, that’s also like hardware, that’s D to C in some capacities, things like that.

And I think when we talk about adoption, it’s just presented in a different way when we look at, let’s say manufacturing. So what is. What’s the returns like on faulty products? Are the products even being delivered through shipping in a quality of manner? Are they being received broken? Are they actually being, you know, fitted and fabricated into these [00:15:00] other supply chain and, and distributor networks in an effective way?

Or are they getting returned because they aren’t even making it there safely or they aren’t even there because they’re not conforming to specs that are necessary for the distributor, to actually be working with? Same thing can be said for, you know, what is the frequency and size of purchases? If frequency starts to die down, you know, is the size of the purchase orders going up?

If you’re a manufacturer in that sense, okay, great. You’re just creating more bulk orders and they’re offsetting each other. But if both are going down size of order and frequency of order, where’s the challenge there? Is it because of your product? Not. Being adopted accordingly and being used. Are they looking elsewhere and they’re trying out other hardware and manufactured products to, to fit within as a cheaper alternative?

Did they go offshore? Did they, are you a US-based company and now they are going to, you know, Asia to get cheaper resources? And then the professional services side of things? I think [00:16:00] it’s a little bit even more unclear in the sense of, You don’t have a tangible product necessarily. Your product is your service.

So what is the customer satisfaction that’s being relayed back to you? Are you collecting that? Is it great? Do you have a five star review or is your average, you know, one star review? And this goes into another thing that we were looking at two James, when we were kind of planning out goals and objectives and aligning on those KPIs is reviews and promoter scores.

I mean, I think we have different feelings here about some of this, but what do you feel about reviews and promoter scores as a metric of success? It depends on the legitimacy of them, honestly. Like, I think the problem with reviews and scores like this is that they’re all kind of a rigged system. Like G2 reviews are rigged, capra reviews are rigged, net promoter scores are rigged.

Like everybody’s trying to, I just don’t think that you get. When you try to quantify review data and then measure [00:17:00] against that, it’s so easy to rig the actual picture where I think, you know, every, like listening to calls and talking to customers, I think goes a lot further than trying to take that money and that, that data and quantify it in some way.

I think you had just similar. Feeling about that? Yeah, I mean, you can easily rig reviews if you wanted to. I mean, look at Amazon, how rigged does Amazon reviews? I mean, great, great product. You have that from 10 different James Cravis that exist out there. And we know that there’s only legitimately one.

Hey, leave our podcast reviews alone. Okay? Look, mark the marketer. I’m going to give you a shout out. Thank you for a review, because that was legitimate. We are the best in the industry and we do know what the hell we’re talking top three actually. Top. Okay, fine. Sorry. But anyway, promoter scores. I don’t know.

I think those are somewhat bs. Like, yes, I get the [00:18:00] collection of it and the aggregation of it and giving a quantifiable number on it all. But what’s the context that lives underside underneath it and what are the, how do you action item that? Great. We have a net promoter score of 10 outta 10 whoopty freaking do well.

What are the actual qualitative insights that are going to be shared and powered through any shifts in messaging, in product features and enhancements, and how customer success is hopefully going to. Aggressively sell these new capabilities that are either in development or about to go into development, which goes back to adoption at the end of the day.

That’s right. I think the,

A lot of startups have customer advisory boards. You’re going to get way more valuable information from a board like that. Then you are sending out an email survey to your top clients, who you know are going to say good things. Right? Because like you said, it’s

when you’re talking about integrating customer success and marketing… we want to know what features are being used? [00:19:00] What features are not being used? Like what are the pain points of our customers? How are we addressing them? Like how is our product roadmap going to address the future concerns? And that’s all stuff that comes through

customer success calls. Sales calls. I mean, you could take that information and mash it together. But again, it goes towards like what’s marketing’s role? We need to get the word out of product improvements. And help encourage customers to use the product. Like that’s like the real goal behind it all.

Yeah.

Gong is an expensive solution to this, but it is a solution. I mean, I think you can kind of get down and dirty and find Gorilla style of doing the same stuff, of collecting insights and acting on it outside of a, an expensive tool, which ultimately goes back to, hey, this is a line item. Is it a line item that we actually need?

Or is it an easy cut? But

There’s some other KPIs that we’ve talked about too, as it comes to [00:20:00] measuring the true business impact of customer retention. Revenue retention. Churn rate. Customer retention costs. So basically CAC but through the customer lens. I mean, talk to those James. Yeah, I mean, so one thing when you’re looking at client turnover that I think is important is to assign a dollar value to it.

And that’s why it’s really revenue retention rather than client retention because there’s different dollar amounts associated with it. Like, I mean, I’ll tell you as an agency, there are a couple clients that we could lose that wouldn’t make a big deal, and there’s a couple clients that we lose that would make a huge difference.

I’m not like, it’s not, I’m not hiding anything. Right. You, you figure out who you are, but I mean, there’s a. That’s why it’s really important to look at that through the revenue lens. Churn rate. I, I think that’s like standard, like the rate at which, you know, I imagine people’s churn rates are a little bit higher right now cause there’s a lot of expenses being cut.

Like [00:21:00] how does that, like, you need to account for that in order to understand how much new revenue you need to bring in in order to support that. Like, that’s pretty straightforward. Customer retention cost.

I think

The big thing here is like

You have to be investing in customer retention, like there is a cost associated with it that I think sometimes is not calculated. But it should be calculated in the same way that you would calculate CAC.

Like customer acquisition costs is like the number one thing that your board is probably going to care about. Customer retention costs should be right up there with it. And I think like the other thing that is, you know, goals that need to be aligned on. I think it falls under customer retention is… adoption of product adoption and upsells and cross-sells.

But there are different tiers in pricing for different services for different, parts of the product. Are you actively working to upsell and cross-sell those because, you know, in theory [00:22:00] you could have a revenue retention rate of over a hundred percent.

It could be 120%. I think that’s something that a lot of SaaS companies look for is like over a hundred percent revenue retention rate. Because it also includes that upsell cross-sell data.

So that’s, that is another huge thing to focus on.

The thing you have to be careful with though, is an imbalance of focusing on straight retention, upsell, cross-sell. So account growth. And net new customer acquisition.

And I say you have to be careful because you can only milk the cow for so long before it starts to run dry. And therefore you can only grow an account to a certain threshold before you start hitting those diminishing returns. Which then cycles back to you have to fill the pipe. You have to fill the the customer base with net new logos. So that way you can grow those, right? It’s the cyclical kind of nature of new customer acquisition, retention, growth, and upsell. And then you have, you’re feeding that cycle by referrals and word of mouth. [00:23:00] So James, in your opinion then, when we look at investment, how much should we, in theory, be investing in retention?

Out of the overall budget. Well, yeah, and all of those questions you can always answer with, it depends. But I think it comes down to like basic 80-20 rule, right? Like 80% of your budget is going to be focused on net new, because that’s more difficult. And it’s more difficult to then, it’s easier to retain clients. So you shouldn’t have to spend as much money on retention as you would on new customer acquisition.

Now, if you’re having problems with customer acquisition, you know, you might want to shift that. If you’re having problems with new customer acquisition and your retention is awesome, like you might want to shift it because of that. Like you have to take into consideration those factors. But I mean, the TLDR on it is like you don’t need to invest as much in customer retention as you do new customer acquisition. But at the end of the day, it should not be an afterthought.

It [00:24:00] has to be a priority.

Correct. I mean, you, it’s, there should be a budget if you don’t have a budget assigned towards customer retention. I think that you’re wrong. Like that’s. Are you just going to call somebody up and be like, yo, you’re wrong, and just hang. Maybe your opinion is wrong. That’s like my favorite thing to say because it’s, you can’t say that.

What I would like you to do is actually, in this podcast release episode post, I want you to literally just say and tag people and just say you’re wrong, and just ask. I want to see if you get canceled on LinkedIn. It’s not hard to get canceled on LinkedIn. Actually, do you know what the easiest platform to get canceled on is TikTok.

Really? Yeah. I saw an example recently where, somebody was talking about a certain celebrity who ended up getting arrested, a couple days later for some remarks that he made, not arrested, but, Trouble a couple days later for some, very bad remarks that he [00:25:00] made.

And basically any account that had been talking about him recently ended up getting shadow banned. So I thought that was kind of interesting. Anyways, that’s why I’m not on TikTok. Cap cut is the real deal though, man. You gotta get, you gotta get on it. No, I, I subscribe to everything the government says about taking my information so.

I, I believe in the government, yet you work in digital marketing where we use tools to, create identity graphs that map your personal information to your business information so that we can find you and we will target you with. See, that’s not unique messaging. No, I’m good with that. I’ve told my grandmother before, like, Hey, you start googling my name, I can put up an ad that’s going to talk to you specifically if you want.

She talking to an 80 year old woman and trying to tell her what I do and say, I can target you and I can give you a specific ad, is like [00:26:00] mind blowing to her, but whatever. And she took her 50 cal revolver out of her purse and, and said, don’t you dare. It’s funny, my God. My grandma used to, she, she would concealed, you know, typical Floridian, would conceal Carrie and like the gun that she would carry would be like, not fit for a grandmother.

I was like, anyways. Anyway, back, back on the topic. So we let off the conversation with saying

We believe that marketing needs to be involved in customer success and customer marketing. But in our experience, we see a lot of it on the opposite side where marketing is focused on net new logo acquisition.

So James, my question to you is… how does marketing change when you do start to focus it on retention? So, honestly not much.

You know what the real difference is? Is that you [00:27:00] have access to the information that you want to know because they are your customers. You do have access to real first party conversations with them.

You can track their product usage. You can track what they’ve been talking to customer success about. Like you have all of the information that you need to effectively make the decisions that you need to in order to save, retain, and grow accounts.

Like you know the products features that they’re looking for. You

know that they have the budget to deal with. You know the things that they’ve been complaining about. You know what parts of the product they’re using. It’s taking that information and developing a strategy into how are you going to relay kind of what you think they should be doing

honestly. So like when it comes to product usage. Like, oh, you know, get a regular system in place that talks about the new [00:28:00] features. How to use those new features. Get customer success on the call them to introduce those new features. Help them get those new features implemented. Again, it gets to the point where you want to ingrain yourself as a need to have. Rather than a nice to have. If your product is only being used because it’s a nice to have and they needed it for one little project that they did. And you know, that was kind of the end of the tool. Then yeah, you’re going to, that churn is going to happen. If it’s a tool that’s ingrained in your everyday work, you’re not going to, you know, there’s nothing that’s going to change.

I, I’ll give honestly, like, I’ll give two examples here. Asana for us is a tool that we need to have. It’s built into our processes. We use it for everything. Lattice is a tool that we use for employee reviews. Like, yeah, it’s kind of like built into our process, but there’s a lot of other tools that do the same thing.

And it has a [00:29:00] ton of features that we don’t actually use. Like we use Lattice for yearly. Reviews. We don’t use it for our one-on-one notes. We don’t use it for all these other things. Right. And quite frankly, I don’t think Lattice is doing a very good job of getting our organization to adopt some of those other things, which quite frankly would be useful.

For us, but they’re nice to have and they’re like not built into our process. So right now it’s a tool that I use, I don’t want to say once a year, because yearly reviews happen with multiple employees, but something that happens once a year, right? If I was using it with the one-on-ones with my teammates, I would use it once a week.

You know? And if you’re taking product usage from once every couple months to once a week, like you just made 10 times more value. And it’s being able to understand and track those things and encourage your current customers to get more value out of your product. Side note, you are supposed to be using [00:30:00] it for your one-on-ones, so Yeah.

Do you I don’t have one-on-ones. Exactly. That’s a lie. We have a one-on-one. Yeah. Well, I know how R one point proven. Let’s go. R 1 0 1 s also happen on this podcast, so. I’m not trying to take notes over there while we’re talking about this here. I’m just saying point proven. No, I think, I think the other thing though too, if we circle back to what you were saying about

How does marketing change when you focus on retention? You’re right.

Access to the data is the biggest difference at the end of the day, but how funny is it? Or it’s really like concerning at the end of the day. In the fact that, how many calls do we jump on where, you know, we pull in sales, we pull in customer success, and obviously we have our marketing points of contact.

And it’s like the first time these people have ever talked to each other. They don’t talk outside of the calls that we bring them on. And it’s just eye-opening of how many silos and bureaucratic red tapes exist that prevent these people from working together. And creating that King Arthur’s round table [00:31:00] of stakeholders that actually can move the needle.

Like is it marketing’s job to be that hero that brings everyone together? Is it the agency’s job? I mean, look, I don’t mind being a superhero that does that. But at the same time, like becoming the superhero day in and day out is tiring. It’s really crazy when you get into the world of B2B.

And it’s not just SaaS. It is definitely manufacturing. It is professional service. It’s across the entire realm of selling complex or simple solutions to other businesses.

Professional services probably like the easiest. I mean, it’s, I feel like all of the examples, I mean, we are professional service.

All of the examples are exactly the same except for you have continuous firsthand communication with the client, so you have even more data. Than a SaaS product would, right? Like you mm-hmm. You can tell if the relationship is getting a little stale. You can tell if a new CMO came on. You could tell, you [00:32:00] could tell all those moments that like, all right, we gotta put forth the extra effort.

We gotta make sure that everybody’s on the, like you, you know, when those moments are. Which I also think is reason I think retention is probably a little easier in professional services. I might be wrong, but. Feels easier. Yeah, and it comes back to the. The Spider-Man meme of pointing fingers of, oh, well, you didn’t tell me I, I should be collecting and writing down that information for your uses, or I, I don’t know what you don’t know, what you don’t tell me.

Like that’s that whole like round table visual that comes into play then of how do you align everybody? How do you make sure that there is accountability and ownership, but also bringing all of those individual parts back to that table. So that way when you do go back your separate ways, you’re moving in tandem, in alignment rather in dis rather than disparate paths that are shooting from the hip all over the place and doing, doing your [00:33:00] job.

But doing it in a, in a wa, in a, in a lane where you’re only focused on that rather than the organizational success that lives on top of it all. That, that alignment comes from those shared goals though, right?

If you have a goal for turn rate. You have a goal for retained revenue. And it’s shared across, I’m going to say marketing and CS.

I don’t know if that’s really a sales thing. I guess it is to some extent. But, alignment on those goals. Like we’ll have a sales goal. We have a retention goal. We have like those, we should know what those numbers are. Because marketing is going to ask those questions if they’re responsible for that goal.

Right. And you put, I put the ownership then on leadership. Right. You have the four legs of the stool, and the only thing that’s holding those together is leadership. And if leadership isn’t holding those individuals accountable and working with them from that goals perspective, marketing doesn’t know what customer [00:34:00] success is tasked with and vice versa.

And that’s why my argument always comes back to, if leadership isn’t doing their job, then the rest of the stool just collapses on itself. Oh, so, so anyways, this is all great, right? Let’s go back to the original, like, okay, what, what is marketing actually going to do about it? One, yeah, we’re going to collect this information and use it to our advantage, but like,

What are the things that we can actually do?

One, show the product in action. Get, you know, get the newsletter in place. Get your YouTube channel up with how to videos, you know. And this is a shared responsibility between customer success and marketing. Marketing is often going to own all of the distribution channels. I think that’s just kind of a nature of the beast. And working with customer success to create the content that our customers need in order to get the most value out of our product and service.

So yeah, creating those [00:35:00] educational and training resources. Because our goal for anything is like, we want to get people to use and get the value out of the product. Loyalty programs, I think is another thing.

Whether that has cross-sell, upsells built into it. I mean there’s a lot of different ways that you can build a loyalty program.

I think it comes, there’s, there’s a level of incentives that go into that too.

You know, what’s the discount that I get if I do an annual contract versus a month to month? What’s the discount I get if I refer five people that close in business? I mean, I. There’s, there’s those aspects of things. And then loyalty programs can also dovetail back into what you were saying before about those customer advisory boards.

You know, you, you get a discount probably by being a trusted advisor that meets with product and customer success and hopefully the rest of the round table on a quarterly basis. You’re the beta group that new feature upgrades go to. [00:36:00] You’re the ones that are really that focus group of core customers that.

Powers the business and product development forward. So I think loyalty programs, there’s, there’s a lot that gets wrapped into that besides just, you know, the, the punch card that you get for the pizza shop by the amount of pies that you buy on a recurring basis. Yeah. It’s, it’s,

It’s essentially how you leverage your best customers, right?

You want to turn your best customers into advocates and then reward them for being advocates. Because they’re going to be an advocate to other customers because, I mean, one of the things that you can also do… user communities and user conferences are huge now. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a user conference.

What is, it’s just a bunch of case study presentations of how they’ve used their product. And like you’re basically taking your best customers co-presenting with them and sharing it with the community that you’ve built of users of your product. You’re encouraging them to get more value [00:37:00] out of it.

You know, there are a media agencies that do this too. They invite all of their clients and they do a couple presentations. And one of the best things that happens from that is your clients can meet from each other, talk about what’s working, what’s not working. How much they like working with you.

You’re building a community. And then there’s the online communities, whether you have a Slack group or a Discord or something like that… of a chance for all of your customers to talk to each other. Learn from each other. How they’re using the product. Ask for advice.

You know, there’s a lot of benefits to that too.

And what comes into play there then is those feature requests, those upgrades, those ancillary tools that live outside of the main product and compliment it. So there’s your upsells and your cross-sell opportunities. The thing that typically I’ve seen fall flat is…

you have that webinar. You have that IRL or virtual event, whether it’s a user conference or a product release conversation. It always goes back to sales then. It’s [00:38:00] sales’ job or maybe customer success and the account managers to move the needle as far as adoption is concerned and actually buying.

Rarely does it go back to feed into marketing in how do we go after these contacts? How do we keep us top of mind in a cheap way that moves the needle and plays that halo effect of nurturing somebody to actually adopt what we are building and releasing. That’s where I typically see it fall flat when the opportunity is right in front of them.

For sure. So I’m going to jump into something else here, Andy. We are paid media guys. It’s true.

How have you seen customer retention?

What customer attention plays have you seen in paid media? I have seen it in the capacity of upsell, cross-sell, using the database of customer contacts. Both at an individual level and at an organizational level. And that playing into [00:39:00] a, I’ll say ABM slash demand gen strategy.

Where you are taking that demand gen approach of messaging and creation of demand on behalf of whatever that cross-sell upsell is, but in an account-based model of targeting. Now, the thing that comes into play here is… what is the quality of the data that you have at your disposal? Specifically, when was the last time your customer database was actually reviewed and updated?

Shiv Panchagiri actually put together a case study a couple weeks ago and shared it with me. About how one of the clients he works with. He actually jumped into their customer database and found that the data decay was so significant that something like 80 to 90% of the data center managers that were in the customer database were no longer at those organizations.

So how do you go about marketing to those existing [00:40:00] customers if your data is so out of date? That’s why data decay and data cleanliness of the customer database is so important. Now, on the flip side of that, that opens up an opportunity if you really please those contacts when they are with the current customer and now they’re somewhere else.

There’s a huge opportunity for new customer acquisition and referrals and word of mouth and getting in front of them. But going back to the customer side of things, like it all comes back to the quality of the data. And then from there, it’s just the first party data play. From a cost efficiency perspective. Where do they commune? Where they consume information? How effectively can you target them?

And then to build on top of that, what are the other channels that you’re using at your disposal?

You know, email, for example, James, right? Yeah, I mean there’s, I feel like there are some interesting things you can do to like, from the product usage side, like I feel like there’s a play on YouTube, right?

If you launched a new feature, you could do YouTube ads highlighting that new feature to, [00:41:00] again, this is an upsell thing, or even a product usage thing, depending on how important it is to you. Like if it’s a really big thing that you’re proud of, I would put some money behind it and push out YouTube, like push it, push people to your, YouTube tutorial that shows you how to use the product, see if that increases product usage.

I mean, another play that you could do is like, depending on how your contracts align, if there’s like a, I don’t know, end of quarter thing or all of, you know, 50% of your business is up for renewal at the end of the year, like you can really put some focus on your current customers during that time, making sure that.

Almost like you’re in charge of the people actually making those budget decisions, like you’re in front of them. So I think there are some creative things there too. Again, when you put media spend behind something, you do have to be careful with it. Like this isn’t new net new customers, like a lot of these are going to renew anyways.

But you [00:42:00] know, I think it’s, if you’re feeling the need to be cautious, there are definitely some. Some ways to get in front of your audience, outside of the usual email community, CS person reaching out, you know, part of marketing, they always say like, be everywhere. Like it’s, it’s okay to do that. I’d almost argue that

You want to be safe, but at the same time, customer marketing allows you to take risks from a channel and a creative perspective. And not creative in the sense of like going too crazy with messaging, but really testing the waters on

where can you effectively reach these individuals? Because in theory, the data that you have is so clean, it’s owned, you know that these are your customers. And therefore out of your entire TAM, you own whatever, let’s say 10 to 15%. So in theory, if you can scale that to 30%, there’s an opportunity there for your net new customer acquisition efforts.

We talk about how do we take advantage [00:43:00] of first party data through Facebook or Instagram and other platforms. But the same exists about like programmatic television buying, connected TV and OTT, programmatic audio, you know. If the intent is not to drive leads, and it’s not to drive traffic. But really keep top of mind and coax somebody through, so that way when you have the renewal conversation, it’s a warmer conversation.

Like these are the opportunities that exist to test the waters. To test whether these channels are where your ICP and prospective buyers commune and consume information. In a very targeted way that reduces risk, but also has an impact to the business, as it relates to retention.

Yeah. I mean it’s basically, ABM for customer success.

Right. So I think just to, to wrap this up, James, I don’t know if we necessarily have like true actionable takeaways for today as far as a recap is concerned. We always like to do that, [00:44:00] but I’m going to flip it to you. You got anything you kind of want to close out today’s episode with Yeah. I mean, The, the main thing is like, use the,

The great thing about retention is that you have access to all of the data. And you need to flip that data into a strategy to help make yourself a must have rather than a need to have.

And I will go one step further and go back to what I was saying about being the superhero in the organization. If you are not meeting regularly with the other legs of the organizational stool: marketing, sales, customer success, product, on a recurring basis… get that set up. At least quarterly, but ideally monthly.

And if you are on a roadmap of product development and really focus on customer retention, like biweekly or weekly. At least set up the conversation. And start to make sure that you are not just managing your own focal points, but [00:45:00] you’re also managing up. And creating accountability with leadership to pull that stool together and make sure that it’s sturdy and it’s tough. And it’s moving the needle.

And that’s my Tony Robbins speech for today. So that’s all folks. That’s all folks. Anyway, hope everybody enjoyed it. Today’s episode. Any questions reached out to James and I and in the meantime like, subscribe, connect with us. End call to action, visit Dragon 360 for more information. Thanks.

Thanks for listening to Digital Banter. If you enjoy today’s episode, please be sure to like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Entertaining Content with Purpose

Interactive Demos are Better Demos

Beyond Creation: Maximizing the Impact of Your Content

People-First Playbook AMA Edition Part 2