Does Your B2B Digital Marketing Focus On Customer Loyalty?

We often hear advice to follow the “golden rule” — to treat others the way we want them to treat us. In fundamental ways, this should also be at the core of our internet marketing strategies because it is key to earning customer loyalty.

In simple words, if you want loyal customers, you should be loyal to them. To understand this methodology, it is helpful to analyze marketing practices from the customers’ perspective.

Working with a variety of business-to-business (B2B) companies, we sometimes deal with the tricky question of how we can create a clever internet marketing campaign to get customers’ attention online. This tactic alone may work for the short-term gain, generating abundant interest and traffic, but attention itself is not going to win any company a long-term, loyal customer.

While companies often ask how they can get customers to love them, they may be unaware of their betrayal to their customers when incorporating factors such as hidden fees noted in the fine print of offers or data-tracking tactics.

For companies that do not trick their customers in these ways, most of the time their services can keep customers satisfied. But satisfied is still not enough. Satisfaction is a feeling about the past. Loyalty is a behavior for the future and a habit that is much harder to change.

In my experience, in order to have loyal customers, you have to do more than win their satisfaction. You must be loyal to them. Being loyal to our customers means we treat them the way we want to be treated. It means to care deeply, and it means to help them succeed.

Follow The Golden Rule

Today, we live in a world of transparency. Social media channels and digital tools have given companies the ability to communicate in real time to a large target audience. The internet has also enabled customers to hold us accountable for what we have done.

Whether you are developing a new website or replying to an angry user on Facebook, put yourself in the customer’s shoes to address all dimensions of the experience you are offering. Make no mistake, this is an extremely difficult thing to do — to view your marketing efforts through the lens of the customer. Sometimes, however, it is not possible to create a great customer experience without addressing issues along the entire value chain or even the business model itself.

For example, a client of ours in commercial lending received feedback from customers requesting direct support from account managers throughout the lending process. In order to treat the customers the way they wanted, the firm planned to improve its customer service by increasing the direct interface between the account managers and the clients. However, the account managers also function as the sales department and require a significant amount of time to chase and close deals. In order to increase the client interface with the account managers, the company needed to look at changing the responsibilities of the account managers or developing a different client-facing role in the company.

Truly Care About Your Customers

Most companies do a great job training employees with the hard skills to do their jobs but often lack the training to improve soft skills for building relationships with and caring about customers.

To change this approach from the marketing side requires rethinking the branding, the messaging and the measurement. Instead of targeting pre-sale touchpoints along the customer journey, such as marketing efforts geared towards researching, comparing offerings and discount promotions, companies that truly care about their customers must focus on the post-sale marketing efforts, such as delivery, onboarding, education, services and support.

Caring about your customers also means customizing your internet marketing to address individual needs. For example, the simple tactics of addressing customers by their name and referencing information that the customer has shared with you can make the experience more personal and show that you care about the person, not just the transaction.

Help Your Customers To Succeed

The best marketing advice that I ever received was from a client, who is greatly respected by his colleagues and peers. His advice was to develop marketing strategies and plans that help your client deliver impressive on-target results.

To do that, your marketing strategies must include efforts to educate and support customers and focus on how your products or services will make a customer’s job better. Think about the user benefits and the desired relationship with your customers when developing those marketing materials.

A client of mine practices this principle across every business unit and has achieved great success with customers. The company specializes in safety training and goes beyond delivering hands-on training services to its customers. Everyone in the company genuinely cares about safety and puts customers’ needs on top of everything else. Not only are the company’s training courses highly customized to meet the specific requirements of each client, the team often goes the extra mile, researching solutions for unique implications to make sure people are taught correctly. Glowing testimonials from long-term customers on their website are a great validation of the company’s loyalty to its customers.

With more and more B2B services moving to the subscription model and long life cycles, the key is to focus on driving customer retentions and service referrals instead of the initial purchase. In my opinion, the companies that embrace this principle of being loyal to their customers will have a long-term advantage over others in their industries.

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