When considering a B2B customer acquisition strategy, marketers should take a close look at the new, connected customers they’re aiming to acquire. These customers don’t want to be “sold.” Instead, they want to know they’ll be taken care of throughout their relationship with a company — and a huge part of that relationship, for marketers, starts with understanding how a solid retention strategy can actually boost customer acquisition.
More and more companies are stepping into the content marketing and digital advertising ring to duke it out for new customers. At every stage of the customer lifecycle — from acquisition and onboarding, to retention and advocacy — B2B marketers are searching for the latest ways to get their message in front of current and prospective customers.
Much of the attention, though, looks to be preoccupied with acquiring customers. In fact, B2B marketers rank brand awareness, lead generation, and lead nurturing as three of the top content marketing areas to enhance in 2017, according to “2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America.” Likewise, a recent survey by Demand Metric in partnership with Salesforce found that marketers spend twice as much on getting new customers as they do on keeping customers.
When it comes to B2B customer acquisition strategy, we’ve seen a fair amount of (beneficial) disruption in the field, especially with the rise of marketing technology like data management platforms and artificial intelligence. These evolutions aren’t coming out of nowhere, though. Instead, they’re prompted by the ever-changing consumer landscape. Buyers have access to more information than ever before — in fact, 94% of B2B buyers do their own online research before buying, according to one Accenture study. With these savvy customers, there’s a new definition of customer acquisition on the rise, one that’s changing the way companies invest in their audiences.
So, what is B2B customer acquisition, and how has the connected, empowered consumer influenced a massive shift in B2B marketing strategies?
One idea that businesses are latching onto is “customer experience balance.” According to an article in Forbes, “13 Marketing Trends For 2017 That B2B Marketers Need To Understand,” this approach involves providing customer-focused, relevant experiences across the customer journey, not just during acquisition. Instead of doubling down on lead generation and lead nurturing efforts, it’s important to view customer acquisition as something that’s influenced by the rest of the stages in a customer’s lifecycle, including retention.
“Too many companies are continuing to follow a one-sided approach to marketing automation, focusing on acquisition at the expense of retention,” said Adam Waid, Director of Customer Success for Pardot at Salesforce.
This can be dangerous for B2B marketers, especially when 20% of existing customers generate 80% of revenue for companies, according to Gartner Group. The question for marketers, then, is: Why not increase spending on retention to boost customer acquisition?
It’s an interesting concept — and one that may prove worthwhile. There are many ways that marketers can use customer retention efforts to boost customer acquisition efforts. As one example, the helpful, educational content marketers produce to increase customer retention can also be repurposed to acquire new customers. How-to video tutorials, step-by-step e-books, FAQ articles, email newsletters — all of these can be used during both retention (as a customer service initiative, for example) and acquisition (as a way to promote thought leadership, for instance).
On top of repurposing content across retention and acquisition, B2B marketers can also increase referrals — thus acquiring new customers — by placing an emphasis on retention.
“Implementing smart retention strategies is key to strengthening customer loyalty, boosting engagement, increasing sales, and generating more referrals,” Waid explained.
The great thing about referred customers is that they’re already primed for acquisition, potentially reducing the investment for acquiring that customer. Ideally, these customers will also be easier to retain, which may eventually reduce overall strain on companies’ marketing budgets and teams.
Interested in learning more? Check out this video explaining why you should focus on creating brand champions instead of only trying to acquire more customers.