Retention Marketing is All About the Customer

White Paper
Customer Retention

Retention marketing is all about people. Adopting this new customer-based advertising approach allows marketers to keep up with the evolving digital landscape. Download this guide to learn how, by using the right blend of data and technology, marketers can acquire, convert, grow, retain, and win back customers in one seamless omnichannel strategy.

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Understanding The Data Landscape

There are a dizzying number of types and sources of customer data, and this is what makes understanding the current data landscape so important. For retention marketing in particular, it is the valuable first-party data that makes it a powerful addition to any online omnichannel strategy. Data is categorized as one of the following: first party, second party, or third party, and here is how.

First-party data is data collected directly from the target individual, and includes website tracking data (e.g. cookies), CRM data, subscription information, or cross-platform data from mobile apps. Data in this category is considered the most valuable as it is of the highest quality, and is provided voluntarily by the contact. This category includes the most crucial and valuable information a marketer can collect, especially the in-app data collected from the most personal source of all: a mobile device.

Second-party data is first-party data directly acquired from another source by proxy, for example a “share with partners” checkbox. Obtaining second-party data generally involves an arrangement with a trusted partner, such as reciprocal exchange of customer data. Generally, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement as both parties gain access to new, or difficult-to-reach, audiences. In an ideal world, the customer also benefits as they are introduced to new products or services they are interested in, without having to look for them.

Finally, third-party data is purchased from large data aggregators or Data Management Platforms (DMPs), who gather it indirectly from a huge number of sources. The value of third-party data is in the sheer volume of information, although the downside is that this data can become extremely vague due to its broad nature. Worse still, depending on whether it is based on an inferred or declared demographic, it may not be at all suited for specific campaign segmentation.

Understanding the difference in value between different data types is the first step in enabling marketers to extend their ad strategies beyond basic acquisition to include retention. The deep understanding of specific customer interests and behavior provided by first-party data is the critical component of powerful site retargeting, Facebook retargeting, and smart digital advertising.

A Look At The Current Technology Environment

For new customer acquisition, it has traditionally made sense to use DMPs and access the huge volumes of third-party data they hold, gathered from a number of sources that stretch way beyond the resources of the individual marketer.

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DMPs allow marketers to easily create segmented audiences for digital campaigns by allowing access to mobile identifiers and cookie IDs, which can then be used in conjunction with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) that facilitate advertising.

From executing ad buys to targeting segmented audiences derived from the DMP data, these components facilitate real-time bidding so that marketers can extend their reach and target larger audiences.

However, the process where the DMP passes the audience to the DSP, using a feedback loop to optimize performance, is still only really suited for high-level acquisition.

As any marketer knows, the key to retention is building personalized customer journeys that inspire customers to keep engaging with the brand, which is where DMPs fall short. This is the old Internet, the one-way street of communication.

B2C Marketing Solutions

It is no secret that there are more marketing channels, more MarTech solutions, AdTech, CRM tools, and Analytics solutions than ever before. The changing landscape can be overwhelming at best and paralyzing at worst, because each technology uses its own approach to magically transform “data” into revenue.

But with the evolution of B2C relationships, is this increase in automation and technology genuinely creating better overall experiences for consumers? B2C marketing solutions allow marketers to automate data collection across sources and behaviors, with the aim of building the richest possible unified view of customers.

In theory, more data means better customer understanding, because all of the attributes and interactions across all touchpoints have been connected. Those customer insights form the foundation for providing the kind of positive and personalized experience that consumers have come to expect from brands, especially after having provided so much valuable data.

Even though first-party data includes the most valuable marketing insights derived from highly personal interactions, many marketers continue to spend time and money focusing on thirdparty data via DSPs and DMPs as a way to reach new potential customers, without really paying attention to their existing customers.

Within the scope of first-party data there is also a data value scale, where the email address, contact data, and social media information are most proximate to the individual, and therefore the most valuable. This information is incredibly useful to marketers, as it enables better targeting and increased relevance, both vital for digital retention campaigns. Rather than using DSPs and DMPs as a ‘smash-and-grab’ for acquisition, marketers should look at their own hidden goldmine: direct customer information.

Of course, first-party data is highly sensitive and private, so the secure storage and transfer of this data is vital. The customer has entrusted the marketer to look after this incredibly personal information, so it must be safeguarded for the benefit of both the marketer and the consumer, regardless of whether this is done internally or via cloud-based partners.

Advertising Potential: Email > Cookies

Cookies, which many e-commerce sites use as a way to recognize visitors and keep track of their preferences, have been the prevailing method of acquiring data for years. The problem today is that cookies can be a false friend, whereas email address tracking is now the most powerful and reliable first-party identifier of current and potential customers.

Before the rise of mobile devices and the proliferation of apps, cookies were king, but since every app insists on an email address, things have changed completely. In comparison with the freshness and proximity of email data, cookies now look unreliable and limited. The Amazing Ways Marketers Can Use First-Party Data article from Marketing Land summarized cookies as having four primary limitations in terms of data collection:

  1. Cookies get cleared, killing all visibility of which sessions are linked together
  2. EU cookie laws mean various markets have different rules about what cookies you can store, and what level of consent is required.
  3. Some browsers, especially on mobile, simply don’t allow stored cookies by default.
  4. People move between devices, but cookies are device-, and indeed, browser-specific

Email addresses, on the other hand, live in an organization’s CRM system or database, and are used for almost every single interaction, purchase, inquiry, or other form of communication. The email address becomes the constant thread that provides the clearest indication of what a contact is interested in learning more about, or potentially even purchasing.

From anonymous to known-customer data, the email address is universally preferred as the identifier of choice across devices. Not only can marketers use email to directly contact customers, they can also use it to extend targeting to adverts across social commerce channels including Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, and beyond.

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Elevate Ad Results With CRM Data

Combining first-party data with sophisticated marketing platforms, and pairing that with the changing digital habits of consumers, marketers now have all the ingredients they need to seriously transform their online strategy to include a retention focus via people-based advertising. Smart, data-driven ads revolutionize ad channels from simple one-way acquisition channels to a two-way communication channel, by putting a premium on relevance and reacting instantly to the customer’s engagement.

CRM-based advertising lets marketers use their first-party contact data to truly reach anyone online, wherever they are, with relevant ads that help persuade contacts – from leads, to existing customers. Marketers can extend their reach across networks without diluting targeting focus, and can drive engagement to provide comprehensive, exciting customer journeys. The critical aspect here becomes the marketer’s ability to accurately match first-party data with network profiles to target users on networks like Google and Facebook. With the right CRM ads tools, marketers can:

Reach Every Single Member Of A Contact Database

First-party data lets marketers easily connect with their entire CRM database across the web, regardless of engagement levels, even targeting inactive contacts or dormant customers.

For contacts who respond to email campaigns, or already shop regularly, marketers do not necessarily need to retarget them using expensive paid digital advertising. Marketers can improve the customer experience by not targeting them with products they have already purchased, while simultaneously maximizing reach.

Extend Multi-channel Engagement

People-based advertising represents a way to marry AdTech and MarTech, by using valuable CRM data to personalize ads with truly relevant content and executing it as effortlessly as any other campaign.

This blend of tech allows for better targeting capabilities regardless of contact status, complimenting retention efforts when deployed in automated multi-channel efforts across web, email, app, and push notifications.

Smarter Acquisition & Effective Retention

Thanks to the potential of first-party data, marketers need to update their definition of what customer acquisition actually means. Using profiling to identify traits of the most lucrative contacts means that smart audience exchanges can fine-tune acquisition programs to look only for contacts matching those parameters. With some smart programming, marketers can effortlessly amplify audiences and drive acquisition.

Retention campaigns can be transformed by using always-on campaigns that target entire segments of existing customers who may not be as active as they could be. Effortlessly encourage repeat purchases, and target churning prospects, by increasing your brand presence with relevant ads that complement the other channels.

CRM advertising essentially enables marketers to drive down the cost of acquiring new sales from existing customers, while simultaneously improving the customer journey. The email address becomes the key that unlocks the potential of people-based advertising, by enabling networks to deploy look-a-like audiences. The ability to identify profiles, and turn acquisition parameters into actionable social network wish-lists, makes access to Facebook and Google’s two billion users highly appealing.

Automating People-based Advertising

What will ultimately drive revenue, along with retention, is automating the integration of firstparty data. However, marketing automation needs to take a strategic approach in order to be successful, as poorly implemented automation can very quickly ruin personalization.

By using their available data, marketers are able to create audience segments, or persona groups, geared toward any number of activities or business goals. They can then match individuals using their email address across Facebook and Google to display targeted and relevant messages, as well as Instagram, YouTube, or even search ads.

Digital marketing teams already using the Facebook and Google Adwords networks will see no difference to their current workflow; they just add another layer of connectivity where audiences or look-a-like audiences do all the heavy lifting.

By capturing and storing every scrap of information available on known customer contacts, marketers are able to unify data, discover patterns, and automate the process of looking for the next best action to target those customers.

Pairing this interconnectivity with a platform capable of using the same data to personalize content at scale allows marketers to garner more value from existing CRM data, without increasing the workload for digital teams or driving advertising costs.

The moment a contact becomes a first-time buyer, their record automatically synchronizes with Google Adwords or a Facebook account, which then puts them on the marketer’s radar. From there, impressions can be analyzed, including how many clicks or how many conversations occur on each platform and device, allowing for even more refined ads in an automation-centric execution strategy.

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There are four primary advantages in using people-based advertising:

  1. Budget efficiency improvement: The ability to be more selective in ad campaigns by excluding existing CRM contacts saves costs, focusing advertising spend where it counts, and delivering the highest ROAS.
  2. Inactive customer reactivation: Using programmatic reactivation campaigns enables automatic targeting of customers who are unresponsive to emails, web, or mobile channels including SMS, push, and mobile apps.
  3. Paid search result optimization: Appearing at the top of search engines through selective keyword, target, and bid-value adjustments keeps the brand fresh in the contact’s mind. Enhance the customer journey, while ensuring that the most valuable prospects find you when they search.
  4. Conversion rate boosting: Marketers can enhance automated programs for lead nurturing, first-time buyers, churning customers, or any other scenario, by extending their personalized multi-channel strategy to include smart ads.

Adopting a CRM-based approach to online advertising allows marketers to transform ads from a simple acquisition-only channel to a truly personalizable retention channel. Existing customers can also be replicated by using similar audience groups, letting Google Adwords or Facebook advertising acquire new customers for you.

E-commerce Use Cases:

With CRM ads, some issues faced by marketers are rapidly becoming consigned to history, as technologies enable extended customer engagement with minimal effort. Smart deployable CRM data, when paired with execution capabilities, means that marketers can now:

Reach The Unreachable:

More than 50% of a typical email contact database is either opted-out, or opted-in but has never opened a single email. With peoplebased advertising, this problem becomes a CRM ads goldmine. Google Customer Match (GCM) and Facebook Custom Audiences allow known contact matching and targeting across social networks, boosting reach by up to six times. This helps marketers to disregard email non-response issues and target unreachable contacts in a programmatic manner.

Focused New Contact Acquisition:

Gone are the days of blanket ads hoping to snag those with possible interest in the brand. Smarter acquisition means using information on profitable customer segments as blueprints for Google and Facebook to find and target similar profiles with ads.

Keyword Search Cover:

When contacts search for products they demonstrate intent to buy, and keyword expansions are what allow marketers to capitalize on this by encouraging the contacts to come back and finish the purchase. With extensive keyword and audience linking, almost any type of customer can automatically be connected with a search term, so those with the highest affinity can be served with the kind of relevant ads likely to convert them.

Persuasive Strategic Orchestration:

Orchestrated marketing strategies across channels is one of the most powerful ways to drive results, by creating a multi-channel effect. When a customer is targeted with content across more than one channel, the conversion rate drastically improves. For example, contacts receiving Facebook ads as follow-ups to opening email campaign content are 22% more likely to convert compared to either channel on its own.

Effortless Win-back Management:

Defecting or inactive customers can be easily identified by any number of business intelligence solutions – but what is the point in emailing them with enticing email content if they’re so far gone from your brand that they don’t open the email? First-party data lets marketers target defecting buyers with automated win-back campaigns across all channels, finding them where they are most likely to respond.

Ultimately, adopting this new people-based, CRM advertising approach allows marketers to move forward in step with the evolving digital landscape, instead of always trying to catch up with it.

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