This Week in Retention: Using Partnerships and Customer Passions to Lift Retention Rates

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On one level, the key to improving customer retention rates is simple: marketers need to create better, deeper customer relationships. Easier said than done, right?

One powerful way to foster those relationships, say multiple analysts and strategists, is to look outside your brand for insights into customers’ passions and motivations. Here, some perspectives on boosting customer retention by digging deeper into customer values and lifestyles—and an alternative for when that doesn’t seem to be working.

Engagement without transactions. Just for now.

How do you engage and retain customers when they’re not actively buying or even looking to buy? In an eMarketer interview, Zach Woith, vice president of loyalty strategy for 500friends, says marketers need to show that they understand the customer’s lifestyle and their own brand’s role within in. According to Woith, organizations that are willing to deeply explore how customers use their products, and how that use reflects lifestyle choices, will be rewarded with a holistic view of the customer that opens up creative possibilities.

New Balance, for example, has partnered with fitness tracking app Runkeeper to build such a framework. “Even a top New Balance customer buys shoes maybe three to four times a year—but they use the fitness tracker app on a weekly or even daily basis,” explains Woith. The companies’ integrated loyalty programs offer New Balance points as individuals record their activities with Runkeeper, reinforcing the lifestyle connections between both brands and their customers.

Questions you might not be asking, but should

Forrester data analyst Anjali Lai encourages brands to go beyond identifying customers’ lifestyle choices to discovering the desires and needs that drive those choices. In a blog post, Lai says that connecting with these less-obvious impulses will help brands form strong emotional bonds with customers, improving retention.

To uncover these customer desires and needs, Lai recommends asking questions such as, “What are consumers naturally most passionate about? Where are consumers engaging when not with my brand? How do current lifestyles create opportunities to connect with new customers?” Lai says that an analysis of social, behavioral, qualitative and social listening data, for example, finds that health-conscious consumers are driven by a “deep need for self-improvement.” Connecting to that need through relevant content, or through partnerships as suggested by Woith, is just one way brands can start to make a meaningful difference in customer retention.

Reaching lapsed customers through social media

As consumers increase their expectations of personalized, dynamic customer experiences, marketers need tools that support them. In an Econsultancy blog post, Arie Shpanya, CEO of WisePricer, which makes pricing software, highlights Facebook’s new dynamic product ads. These ads could potentially be a useful addition to a marketer’s personalization toolbox, which should already include dynamic personalization technology that powers email and other push communications as well as onsite content.

Shpanya says that Facebook dynamic ads helped The Honest Company increase clickthrough rates by 34%. For brands trying to reach customers that have stopped responding through other channels, Facebook dynamic ads may represent a useful alternative.

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