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A portion of the recently released 2015 B2B Marketing Trends, Predictions and Forecasts Report Research raises loyalty marketers’ eyebrows and has them shaking their heads in appropriate frustration. As we always state, and hear, there is a profound paradox: “It is the most opportune time to be a marketer and also the most challenging.”
When B2B marketers from leading companies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia were asked: “What would be (according to you) the five marketing challenges faced in the year 2015?” respondents indicated that their top concerns were primarily acquisition-related: “converting leads to customers” (52%) “acquiring new customers” (40%) and “generating more leads” (38%). Conversely, a mere 29% listed “targeting and personalization,” 22% listed “driving customer loyalty and satisfaction”, and “consistent customer experience” nearly bottomed out the list at 16%.
What’s alarming and just plain misguided is the fretting at the top of the scale over customer acquisition (important, yes), yet the lesser concern about even more important customer retention, and other elements of customer loyalty. But the marketing paradigm has traditionally been (and now it is easier) to acquire those in a mass, yet sometimes irrelevant, manner versus creating a mutually beneficial relationship between brand and customer/client.
Yes, let’s first acknowledge the old chestnut about the higher cost of acquiring customers versus retaining them. Harder to gain than retain.
But a more subtle and more powerful element is at play with retention, one that can lead to achieving that acquisition goal. Word-of-mouth. Advocacy.
A new customer may be wowed by his or her new partnership, and speak well of it to others. Yet, a long-time patron will likely do the same and much more, and with more passion and greater credibility. Lifetime customers have had many chances to lose “the new car smell,” yet they remain. And the potential customers can understand and believe the long-time loyalty of people they trust.
What’s more, the brands themselves can trust loyal customers. Those customers know the products and the experience, and they know how they can be improved. Thus the power of the voice of the customer, particularly one with a longer, more dedicated view.
What these survey respondents are clearly overlooking is that the customers satisfied by the targeting and personalization and consistent customer experience that lead to loyalty are integral to the success of the concerns at the top of the list: In this ranking the cart of conversions, acquisitions, and lead-generation is running ahead of the loyal horse that can help carry it along.
About the Author: Mark Johnson
Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.
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