There is such an abundance of diverse services and products on the market today that industries have become aggressively competitive. Companies need to put in extra effort and resources in order to manage every aspect of business and keep it stable – from ensuring a solid budget, through hiring the most experienced talents to manage internal and external stakeholders.
Wanting to increase revenues and expand, businesses aim to attract new customers and partners while retaining their existing ones. You can easily achieve both of these goals with the help of digital marketing.
In this article, we will walk you through the most effective customer retention strategies for software and tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
As a leader of a successful software or tech SMEs, you have probably acquired various technical, marketing and sales skills so your company can run smoothly and grow rapidly.
Existing customers are one of the key elements your strategy must be focused on. 56% of the software as a service (SaaS) companies treat “existing customers’ renewals” as a high priority. According to forErentrepreneurs, retaining an existing customer is 9x less expensive than acquiring a new one.
But how can you deliver outstanding customer experience and fulfill customers’ needs so they would prefer you over your competitors time and again?
Keep reading to get a deeper understanding of what digital marketing strategies can help you achieve this.
1. Customer Portals
If your customers log in to a customer portal in order to use your software solution, you can integrate a small part of the portal as an information hub. Its purpose will be to notify your customers of new products, services, upcoming events, and webinars.
To make the users feel comfortable when browsing, and encourage them to spend more time logged in, you should focus on delivering great user experience. For that purpose, professional maintenance and interactive design are a must.
Having a customer portal would also allow you to explore your customers’ perceptions towards your company and products. This can be done by asking users to suggest improvements and new ideas by filling in short surveys.
Customers who feel that their opinions matters and are appreciated, develop trust and sympathize with your business. The most loyal and dedicated customers can be the perfect brand ambassadors as part of your future referral marketing strategy.
2. Creating Separate Campaigns Targeting Your Existing Customers
Once a company becomes your client, you should definitely not exclude it from your target audience and further marketing efforts. In order to keep your customer aware of and interested in your products and services, you need to maintain regular communication.
It is important to create completely different marketing campaigns for existing customers. As your audience and goals change, your strategy and communication approach also go in a new direction. You should customize the style, frequency, and tone of the message according to the receiver’s preferences and behavior.
Moreover, you have to produce specific content created particularly for that target audience. For example, communicating with global organizations or small startups that have purchased your software, would require completely different models of communication.
If you successfully implement the “customer portals” strategy, you will be able to track what business challenges your customers are experiencing. Supporting those findings with additional research will lead to a clear identification of what interests and demands your customers have.
Based on that information, you will know how to structure your content marketing strategy in terms of relevance and appropriate formats. For example, webinars, workshops, podcasts are really suitable for this stage of the “buyer journey.”
When you look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) and see which topics get the most attention, you will be able to say what business challenges your customers are currently facing.
This information is extremely important for your sales strategy because it shows what kind of products your prospects are looking for. And moreover how to present that your software is the right solution to their business problem.
3. Creating Online Communities
In order to ensure your customers come back to you, your main goal should be to keep them excited about your products and company. This can be done through regular communication and engagement. The best way to achieve that is to create online communities and regularly post content that fosters online conversation.
This approach is also quite successful for attracting new customers as 74% of B2B buyers conduct their research online and make decisions based on reviews and recommendations from existing customers. To maintain effective communication your priorities should be to engage and respond as much as possible, whenever possible.
Professionals visit online communities such as forums, blogs, and social media groups in order to find business solutions, seek feedback and advice or gather information on new industry trends and innovations by engaging with other professionals in their respective fields.
This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership by sharing actionable advice and know-how content.
At the same time, you will be able to receive more information about both your current and potential customers and get a better idea of how to market your software products more effectively.
Online communities such as social media groups, blogs, forums, etc. are some of the most preferred channels for customer support. It is much easier, quicker and more convenient for a customer to ask a question on an online platform, rather than contact the company through email or a web inquiry. In fact, companies with online communities manage to solve 37% of the customers’ problems in the online community before starting a conversation with an agent.
There are two types of online communities — free and owned.
The free online communities are hosted on social media platforms that offer community features like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. It is completely free of charge and comes with an already built-in audience. On the other hand, you are dependent on the platform’s terms and conditions and policies and don’t own your database.
The owned online communities are self-built on a separate platform which you own. It is a space which offers the same features like the social media but gives you more control and flexibility in terms of competition and communication style and approach. An online forum is a great example of owned online community.
Before creating and launching your own online community you should think about the following aspects:
Have you chosen the right platform?
According to HubSpot, there are two types of forums. The first type is based on shared interests and brings together people, who are interested in the same area of specialization. It allows them to connect and exchange information with other professionals.
The second one is an informational forum and it aims to help users search and share information for your products, services or related topics.
After determining what the forum’s purpose is, you should start thinking of how to achieve the community goals.
Are your tactics adjusted to the community’s purpose and goals?
Think carefully about what your members will expect from the community. How will they benefit from the community and the information shared there? How are you going to maintain members’ engagement rates high?
Have you identified the key stakeholders?
Stakeholders are groups of people who affect or are affected by the organization’s actions, objectives or policies. There are two types of stakeholders — internal (C-suite, employees, managers) and external (media, distributors, government, customers, providers, competitors, etc). Because every group have a different level of interest, involvement, and power, they require different communication and efforts.
Key stakeholders are those who have the highest level of interest in and power to affect your organization or campaign. You should manage them closely, work and engage with them regularly, in order to maintain the relationship.
Examples of key stakeholders of your online community:
- Managers. These are the people who will undertake the managerial process of the community.
- Chief Marketing Officer. In most cases, this is the person who is responsible for the project.
- Members and followers of the community.
Have you set up KPIs?
Every member joins your community for a purpose. Whether they find what they are looking for is what determines how significant the community is for them. To track these “achievements” and the overall success of the online community, you should set up KPIs and track them on regular basis.
These include market share, customer sentiment, engagement rate, operational efficiency, support cost, customer satisfaction score, feedback, market research and others.
How will your customers discover your community?
You can promote your online community in plenty of ways.
- Contact your customers from the database directly and invite them to join the community.
- Spread the word on social media. Actively tweet and post on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other channel where you have a solid base of followers and high engagement rates.
- Promote the community on your website and blog.
- Involve all the departments and teams and let them talk about it.
- Encourage members to invite their friends, colleagues or connections with a shared interest. You can additionally offer a reward scheme or engage your audience in online contests.
- Use the power of influencer marketing. Identify relevant influencers to your industry and ask them to promote your community.
4. Email Retention Marketing
Email marketing is considered the most effective marketing channel for existing customers by 56% of the US digital marketers. It is the most preferred one because it is affordable, timely, personalized and easy to track.
Personalization is one of the key factors of email marketing. Collect data for each of your clients and use it to tailor content to the client’s needs and demands. If you address the recipient of the email by name, he or she will be more likely to read your entire message and sympathize and become loyal to your brand.
Email marketing campaigns can have different purposes such as informative, promotional, educational, explorative, etc. This leads to different types of retention emails in order to achieve the campaign goals.
Let’s review the most common and effective ones:
Educational Email Series
Learning how to use software can be a complicated and time-consuming process, which quite often disrupts the employees’ workflow.
Educate your customers on how to use your software products proficiently so they will be able to get the maximum advantage from it. Once they feel comfortable using it, they will be more likely to purchase it again.
Sending emails — inviting customers to rate and review your software product — is a great opportunity to show to your customers that their opinion matters to you. This approach can also help you collect customers’ testimonials and reviews, which can be shared on social media, blog, website, etc.
The approach is not sales oriented, although it encourages customers to explore your products by sending them back to your website. For this purpose, it is important to have well-designed review pages with additional relevant content to lead the user further along the buyer’s journey.
Welcome and Thank You Emails
There are so many software services and product nowadays that customers have a great number of options to choose from. That is why you should express your appreciation and gratitude to your clients.
By sending personalized emails, you are not only keeping your customers engaged, but also showing them how important they are to you, which strengthens the relationship and builds trust. Say thank you, congratulate them on new achievements and awards, or send them greeting cards for the festive season. Make them feel special.
The Good Old Newsletters
Sending newsletters is another great way to maintain regular communication with existing customers and keep yourself at the top of their mind. Newsletters are another opportunity to educate your customers and keep them interested in your products and services.
Once your clients become part of your database and you have the necessary data, it will be easier for you to match the content to their interests and industry. Newsletters’ relevance, quality, and personalization are the most important factors for the success of this retention marketing approach. Don’t forget to look at the KPIs in order to refine the process and improve your performance
5. Content Management and Production Strategy
Content marketing has been one of the top marketing strategies for generating leads and acquiring new customers. However, it can and should be integrated into the retention marketing strategy. Especially in the tech and software market, where the competition is immense, losing existing customers shouldn’t be an option.
The buyer journey doesn’t end with closing the deal. Spend time to develop content for each stage of the client journey. For example, it is quite important that software companies have clear and well-structured content on how to set up and use the software to its fullest. A research conducted by Preact shows that customers will leave a SaaS company because of a poor onboarding process (23%).
The type of content every customer requires depends on the product or service they have purchased from you. The most important thing is to keep it relevant and extremely specific to the reader’s business nature and challenges.
If the content is more general, tailored to different industries and doesn’t touch the areas that are painful to the client, then the content wouldn’t be beneficial to the reader. Therefore, deep research into the current business obstacles and demands of your existing customers is crucial for creating the right content that will catch their attention.
Content marketing is also a great opportunity to build and strengthen personal relationships with customers who express a bigger interest in your brand. By providing them with high-quality content, that is educational and engaging, they will start talking about your products to their friends, family, etc. They are your company’s advocates and ambassadors.
The immense competition and technology progress has a great impact on the software and tech SMEs nowadays. Whilst global companies won’t feel such an effect by slight revenue decrease, small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford that.
To join the digital marketing landscape and keep up-to-date with the newest digital trends can be the turning point for the success of your business. Converting leads and acquiring new customers is much more time and cost consuming than retaining the existing ones.
That is why including the existing customers in your marketing efforts is crucial. Professional marketing advice and support will help you to stay on the top of the competition and ensure the stability of your business.