What Are You Doing to Acquire and Retain Your Best Customers?

You don’t need big changes in order to get it right

When marketers are focused on putting the best representation of their brand in front of their customers, it shows in their bottom line. But the problem is that many marketers have strayed from the basics and are distracted by a litany of next-big-thing technology: clean rooms, CDPs, machine learning and AI. Marketers’ attention spans are short, and there will inevitably be some bright and shiny, new tech coming down the road soon.

When you get back to the basics, the ultimate purpose of marketing is to produce incremental revenue, margin and profit for a brand. These three monetary elements all come from customers spending their hard-earned cash for products, access, subscriptions, entertainment or services.

When marketing can encourage a customer to buy again, to buy sooner or to buy more, incremental revenue is generated. If marketing can grow one customer and get them to buy again, sooner and more, great. And if marketing can get all customers to do this, even better. The customer is the asset; grow the customer, grow the business. Simple.

Start by looking inward

How marketers accomplish this should be easy. After all, everyone is a customer. However, think about your marketing: Would you want to opt-in for your own marketing campaigns and provide your email or would you turn off notifications? 

Most marketers can agree there is an opportunity to pause, adjust and get the marketing right. If the customer is the asset, then a brand’s best customers are the best assets that should be recognized and treated accordingly. Especially when you consider that a brand’s best customers are often less than 10% of the total, generating 50-70% of all revenue.

Currently, many brands are divorced from marketing. There is a chasm between the promise made and the experience delivered. A brand will profess they love their customer, they will treat them like a friend, provide them with nothing but the best. A promise is made with respect, privacy, protection, value and overall goodwill. Then the brand’s marketing delivers hundreds of emails with a “special offer,” a litany of text messages at random times of the day or night, a flurry of catalogs that fill up mailboxes, along with wildly creepy online experiences presenting a recently viewed product on most every webpage visited. How does any of that deliver on the promise of a great experience?

Choose your customer-based priorities

A great deal of a brand’s marketing focus is acquisition, followed by getting one-time customers to buy again. Yes, this is important, but it needs to be viewed in the context of the entire lifecycle. What about your loyal best customers?

To encourage customers to come on board, opt in and make a purchase, marketers often make offers. But “offer” today ubiquitously means “discount.” This is so limiting and flies in the face of financial goals. Certainly, discount is one kind of offer, along with recognition, appreciation, gift with purchase, special access, etc. While most customers will jump at a good offer that puts them on the right side of the red velvet rope, marketers need to be more insightful with their offer deployment.

Most marketing is based on hypothesis, where decisions begin with “I think …” But what is really necessary are insights to understand behavior segmentation, lifecycle path to profitability and the next 12-month future value for all customers engaged with a brand. With these insights, decisions can be made by marketers saying “I know …”

To get marketing right, big changes aren’t needed. Rather, foundational steps need to be in place. Customer strategy should be based on insights with a focus on your best customers to help frame the tactical campaign lifecycle playbook, which in turn will drive the channel and technology decisions.

Prioritize marketing by customer, by revenue, margin and profit, and then invest accordingly. Develop and honor a customer promise, tied to the brand with appropriate value exchange that is measured, reviewed, and refined, and bring marketing together with a single voice to make it clear to the customer … an orchestra vs. many individual musicians.

And don’t forget to measure results by growth of customer and thereby growth of the brand. Look at the success of the tactical campaign and the incremental revenue, profit and margin to help inform future campaigns.

By applying the right steps, marketing can acquire, retain and grow its best customers helping the brand’s business, while delivering on and exceeding their customer promise. Good marketing enables a victory for both.

Nick Godfrey, Stirista‘s SVP portfolio strategy, has helped some of the world’s most prestigious retail brands improve customer engagement and drive incremental revenue through lifecycle marketing and strategic marketing data and analysis. He is a co-founder of Customer Portfolios, which Stirista acquired in 2023.