Where online sale of lip gloss and B2B software customer retention converge

Sometimes marketing inspiration and confirmation of instincts comes from places you wouldn’t normally look. This recent blog post on getelastic.com is case in point: http://www.getelastic.com/the-easiest-way-to-increase-conversion-by-20/. On the face of it, this post would seem to be quite far afield from the world of customer retention in B2B software, or any of the other B2B industries in which EMI works for that matter. And indeed there isn’t much that links lip gloss and software; but there is a link in the approach to solving marketing challenges.

The getelastic blog post starts off with a research-based data point: ecommerce customers are 20% more likely to purchase a product that has at least one customer review. Then, based on that data point, it presents several reasonable ways to obtain that key *first* review. The ways to do this are only important if you’re interested in driving web purchases. What’s important outside that context – and especially in a B2B context like CSM strategy for SaaS – is the way in which marketing research and analytics have identified an operational measure which becomes the strategic focus. Increasing web sales is obviously the business goal, but it’s so broad and influenced by so many factors that it’s unwieldy as an operational focus. By isolating one key factor that has a significant impact on the objective, exploration and testing of tactical options becomes significantly easier. In mathematical terms, you solve for “reviews” because you know that it will drive conversions.

Take this approach out of the world of online sales of lip gloss and into the world of B2B software customer retention and it is still just as effective. Retention is impacted by a multitude of factors –satisfaction, perceived value, switching costs, depth and breadth of utilization – each of which can be affected by a set of strategies and tactics. To optimize retention, you must first sift through all the potential factors to identify those that actually have the greatest impact. Once you have effectively ranked the factors based on their likely impact, then you can develop retention marketing strategies – new communications approaches, new messaging, testing – that specifically and precisely aim to drive improvement in that factor.

Marketing’s Finally Taking Commercial Banking Seriously…and Vice Versa

For decades, bank marketers have all but ignored their commercial banking segment.  A few print ads, the occasional golf sponsorship and one or more expensive brochures were the familiar marketing program.  But as commercial banking has taken on a lead role in delivering profitable growth in the new normal post-recession, marketers are recognizing the importance—and the complexity—of supporting commercial sales acceleration.

EMI has identified best practices from 5 banks in the vanguard with Commercial Marketing:

  1. Content Marketing that matters:  PNC
    A rich and dynamic content portal featuring a broad and deep array of publications, from Treasury-focused profiles of 32 countries to fast-read, unique perspectives and an active blog….all put PNC at the top of Commercial Bank Marketing.  Love their editorial focus. Topics like “The Evolution of the Strategic Treasurer” and “Fortifying Your Financial Future in Turbulent Times” are compelling, and the content is not hackneyed.  Video reinforces—although the executive “talking heads” get a bit tired.
  2. Video Case Studies you’ll want to watch:  UMB
    “Our customers inspire us” is the hook that draws you into regional player UMB’s non-promotional stories.  These videos take the viewer on walks through real client businesses and clearly demonstrate that UMB knows these clients the way you’d want your banker to know you.
    An entrepreneur who bets everything to make the best craft beer and is now in the top 20 brewers in the nation.  UMB customer since 1991.  A 100-year old flour mill—one of the last independent mills in the US—that’s tripled its capacity and differentiated its brand enough to charge a premium price…with flour.  UMB customer since 1981.  Don’t those stories make you want to look?  UMB Real Customer Stories.
    And take note:  these do not promote bank products.  The bank isn’t even mentioned until the last screen.  It’s enough.  It works.
  3. Printed case studies that tell a story:  BBVA Compass
    Anyone who’s ever tried to create a series of commercial case studies in any industry knows how hard it is.  Find a good story.  Get the relationship owner to let you talk to the client.  Get the client to want to talk to you.  Get the client to agree to tell their story and endorse your bank—even implicitly—in  public.  Then make the story interesting and demonstrate the bank’s role in creating success…while telling the truth.  Then do this 14 times across industries as diverse as recyclable waste management and pulmonary critical care.  BBVA Compass engages you with a Q&A format to tell the story, but makes the bank-specific points it needs to make.  Consistent formats and easy search tools support both push and pull applications.
  4. Making content easy to find, while demonstrating depth:  BMO Harris
    Like other major business banks, BMO Harris has created a Resource Center, the now-familiar nomenclature for the bank’s portal of thought leadership, and new euphemism for “stuff you should be interested in that isn’t directly selling our products but should impress you enough to work with us.”  The customary list of materials—client success stories, webinars, research, white papers, insights—is there, but is easy to search with a well-designed interface that allows an industry, topic or author lens.  The RSS feed option is unusual in banking.  And BMO Harris must pay a pretty penny for the outside content from Forbes and the Wall Street Journal—although these publishers keep it current.
  5. Actually figuring out how to use social in Commercial:  Big & small brands
    Retail banks are starting to establish best practices in social customer service, but marketing ROI has yet to be proven.  And the value of #socialmedia in commercial banking is yet to be explored.  Great thing about social is that size doesn’t forecast success.  Take @AssociatedBiz—at <$25billion in assets based in Green Bay, Wisconsin:  nearly 600 tweets …and already a clear voice, consistent frequency, and relevant content—from managing healthcare costs to security tips—balanced with promotional messaging on vertical specialties and cash management capabilities .  Other end of the spectrum is @jpmorganTS, new to the twittersphere, but already at 1650+ tweets.  Strong content ranges from export financing in Asia to managing regulatory burdens.  Strong integration

Commercial banking deserves great marketing.  Come back for best practices in 1:1 marketing that can drive C&I growth and profits.

The Three Questions to Ask to Build Sustainable Social Success

Two research studies have been published in the last few weeks (see: http://bit.ly/WqC1Jm and http://bit.ly/WgZiPi) that highlight the same contradiction: while social media marketing has become almost ubiquitous among B2B companies, a minority of them can actually point to its quantitative contribution to the company’s success. From our experience working with and talking to companies about social media marketing, the reason is clear: they don’t start with a strategic foundation.

With social, that lack of a foundation can be even more dangerous than with other marketing activities. Once started, social can quickly turn into an exercise in “feeding the beast”—pushing activity as an end rather than a means to a strategic objective. Even if there were kernels of a strategy at the outset of the social program, they can easily get overrun by the runaway train of pursuing more followers, likes, friends, retweets, connections, etc.

The way to avoid this path of frenetic and less-than-satisfying activity is to start with a framework that enables the implementation of a social media marketing plan that is both strategically-grounded and operationally feasible. At EMI, that framework is constructed through finding the activities and media that sit at the intersection between the answers to three questions:

  • What are the key business challenges?
  • What are the social channels the target audience is active on today?
  • What is the capacity of the organization to execute social marketing programs?

The answers to each of these questions alone can help shape a social strategy that isn’t a complete failure, but it is only when you find the areas of intersection that you will be able to define the channels and messages that will set the initiative on a path to sustainable success. For example, knowing that your business needs to build awareness among your target market will drive some effective decisions about media and messaging, but if you choose to launch a Facebook presence and your target customers aren’t active Facebook users, your results will fall short of expectations. Moreover, if you discover that your target customers are on Twitter and launch a Twitter program, but don’t have the resources to monitor, tweet, and create tweet-able content, your effort will likely end up failing to gain traction because of a lack of relevant, engaging activity.