Did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% increase in profits for your business?

It also turns out that for most businesses, 80% of future profits come from just 20% of their existing customers.

When seen from this perspective, the amount of emphasis businesses place on customer acquisition seems both disproportionate and miscalculated.

Truth is, the most successful businesses in the world all understand the true value of retaining customers and the crucial role it can play in building a thriving business. As the cost of acquiring customers steadily increases, there’s no better time than the present to use retention marketing as the driver of your growth.

But First: What Is Retention Marketing?

Retention marketing is a strategy that focuses on inciting repeat purchases by targeting your existing customer base. This includes all the tactics you might use in order to increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing your product again.

The ultimate goal of retention marketing is to increase profitability by driving an increase in repeat customers, the frequency with which they purchase from your business and the average value of their purchases in general.

Retention marketing applies to both online and offline businesses. For example, a gym or a fitness club might be using retention marketing software and tactics to boost member retention.

How Does Retention Marketing Differ For B2B Companies?

While it may be tempting to start researching general retention marketing strategies, it’s important to consider your unique position as a B2B business. What works to retain an end consumer rarely works to incite loyalty from business buyers. The primary thing to remember is that B2B customers are hyper-focused on ROI, which affects everything from the way you manage your relationships with them to how your products are bought and used.

Here are some other differences to keep in mind:

  • B2B businesses enjoy a closer relationship with customers in general, as well as a longer sales cycle.
  • B2B businesses experience more relationship handovers, where your point of contact for each customer can often change based on role changes, promotions or people leaving their jobs.
  • B2B businesses benefit from diversifying and deepening product adoption within a singular company or customer.

3 Key Strategies To Increase Retention For B2B

1. Nail Your Onboarding Experience

Source: Really Good Emails.

B2B transactions usually involve a close relationship between contacts from both the buyer and seller’s side. As B2B businesses often work quite closely with their vendors, building solid relationships with clients can be the primary differentiator between you and your competitors. B2B relationships require constant nurturing, as a longer sales cycle means that you’re continuously ensuring that you remain their product or service of choice. One way to do this is through regular, scheduled online meetings build a close, personal relationships with your clients.

In order to start off your relationship on the right foot, you should ensure that your onboarding program empowers your customers with everything they’ll need to drive success with your product.

An optimized sequence of onboarding emails can be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, as the timely communication can serve as both a reminder of your product and a means of kicking off that all-important relationship.

How To Craft Your Onboarding Emails

The more strategic you are with your emails, the better. Firstly, you should calculate the average user onboarding time for your product. If you already have customers, use existing data to determine the following:

  • What is the longest time a user has taken to complete all the onboarding steps?
  • What is the average onboarding time?
  • What are some common stages of onboarding after which users take a lot of time?

By finding the answers to these questions, you can map out how best to optimize this onboarding time. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Create a series of emails. If you find that it takes around 20 days for users to fully onboard to your product, space your emails out according to the average time it takes to complete each step, with the welcome email being triggered immediately upon signup/purchase.
  • Schedule with an email automation platform. The best way to ensure that your emails are delivered promptly is by using a reliable automated customer success software. The benefit of using an automation platform is that you can quickly segment customers by behaviour or use case to provide the right messaging to the right people - which is proven to increase click-through rates.
  • Minimize friction. If you find that certain steps are regularly delaying customers from onboarding (or preventing onboarding altogether), find alternatives for that step that might help remove that friction.
  • Use Peter Tanham’s escalation tactic. This involves intensifying communications when customers are taking longer to complete certain steps, kicking off with a gentle reminder and then following up with a motivational email that highlights the value proposition of your product the following day.
  • This can then be followed up with a “how to” email or a discount email the following week. By doing this, each engagement can be expected to carry more and more users through the friction point, only leaving behind those who are very unlikely to complete onboarding.
This is how the escalation flow might look for Netflix. Source: InnerTrends.
  • Listen to your

Bonus Tip: Make the most of your welcome emails.

Welcome emails have the highest average open rate of any other email you send, so make them count. The key to a good welcome email is clarity and conciseness. Here are some easy ways to get it right:

  1. Only use 1 focused call-to-action that links directly to a page where users can get started with the onboarding process.
  2. Include a quick reminder of what your company does and what value you offer to the user.
  3. A clear outline of the 1 action that the user needs to complete next.

2. Make Use Of Webinars

The faster a user becomes comfortable with your product, the more likely they are to start using it regularly. While an email sequence is a great way to remind users of your existence, a webinar is the best way to really show them how your product works in action.

In fact, webinars have been proven to boost retention rates for numerous B2B businesses. Product design platform Invision successfully uses them to create a seamless onboarding process that allows them to show their customers how to use their product live, answer any questions and concerns and set them up for a positive start with their product.

4 Ways To Increase Retention With Webinars

Webinars help you to humanize your company at scale - allowing you to facilitate relevant human interactions, no matter the size of your team.

  • Use webinars to showcase upcoming product updates. They can be a fast and cost-effective way to show how your new features work in action, how they might benefit customers and ultimately, build hype for new features and reinforce why your product is worth sticking with.
  • Host webinars with influencers and leaders. If you’re well versed in the kind of topics that get your typical customer excited, use this information to host webinars with experts in those fields. After all, retention is about more than just providing a great product; showing your customers that you care about their progress goes a long way too.
  • Focus on engagement. Simply hosting a webinar alone won’t always move the needle in terms of retaining customers. In order to get the most out of them, you need to ensure that your webinars facilitate a two-way conversation between you and your customers. By incorporating things like Q&A segments and integrated polls, you’ll be able to build a stronger relationship, collect honest feedback and keep viewers engaged.
  • Above all, make it easier for them to use your product. The ultimate goal of a product webinar should always be customer success. Make sure to cover the more complex aspects of your product, offer guidance for common points of confusion and encourage usage through step-by-step tutorials. Advertising platform Outbrain has had immense success with this strategy, with their customer success webinars increasing average time spent inside their app by 50%.

Bonus Tip: Organise weekly onboarding webinars

The best way to welcome customers with a human touch is to schedule a weekly onboarding webinar for your newest customers to join each week. While a weekly webinar may sound like a big commitment, in reality, this would only require you to create a general framework for your session that can then be reused week after week.

Fundraising platform Frontstream nails this process by letting new users attend an onboarding webinar with their product team at a time that suits them best. This not only helps them hit the ground running with the platform, it also gives them the opportunity to have their first personalized, face-to-face interaction with the company.

3. Facilitate Smooth Handovers

With team members often coming and going within organizations, onboarding is definitely not a one-time task for B2B businesses. As your primary point of contact within the company moves on and someone else comes in to replace them, it is crucial that you’re able to establish a relationship with your new point of contact as soon as possible. While this new person can sometimes come in with their own preferences for products, if you’re able to reach out to them early and make their life easier as they take on a new role, you may be able to convert them into a loyal user.

5 Ways To Retain Customers During Handovers

1. Solidify your content strategy

While it’s important to create content to drive sales and entice new customers, it’s just as crucial to create content that deals specifically with onboarding onto your platform. Encourage a wider use of your product through eBooks, helpful blog posts, emails and videos for new users.

You should even consider using referral marketing tactics to widen the use of your product within the company. By encouraging adoption across departments, your product could become the default product of choice for the entire company - thereby eliminate the risk of losing customers during handovers.

You can also use a content effectiveness tool to accurately assess the success of your retention content strategy and find the weak areas in your handover process.

2. Communicate regularly

The only way to be prepared for big changes on your customers’ end is by maintaining a constant relationship with them. By keeping in touch with your point of contact, you’ll be better equipped to receive important information about role changes and prepare your strategy accordingly. Whether this is through regularly scheduled catch ups for coffee or fortnightly video calls, establishing a routine will help you maintain the kind of personal relationship that allows for open communication.

3. Prepare for internal changes

While in some cases, your primary point of contact within another company might change, in others it may actually be someone within your own sales team leaving. This can cause an equal amount of tension in the relationship your company has built with their clients, so it's crucial to set up the infrastructure for such instances as well. Make sure that you thoroughly document interactions and use a collaboration software to manage the handover of crucial information.

It might also be worthwhile to review and solidify your internal communication strategies, particularly if your team is remote.

4. Keep tabs on customer sentiment

Your customers may not be vocalizing their issues with you directly. Regularly monitoring your brand online can help you get a peek into how they really feel and provide you with an opportunity to address their concerns in an open and casual way.

5. Host events to build relationships

An easy way to build a relationship with new team members and customers is by hosting welcome events. Depending on the size of your customer base, you could organise either an intimate breakfast event or even a large seminar to welcome new employees within your customers’ companies. This would be particularly useful if the new starters are unfamiliar with your service as the exciting event could serve as an incentive to find out more about your offering.

Wrapping Up

Retaining customers as a B2B business can be a challenging task, however, building genuine relationships with your customers will take you far. Make sure to set up consistent and direct lines of communication with your users and you’ll be sure to retain their loyalty and trust.