5 Secrets of Customer Retention Marketing

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Retention Marketing has become one of the most strategic marketing initiatives in the past few years. After all, it is 81% less expensive to upsell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. In addition, customer retention deepens the relationship between the vendors and their clients and creates larger customer life time value in return.

But what are the secrets and best practices that marketers can put in place to create customers for life? Here are five recommendations for success. These five tips are gathered collectively from strategies employed by some of our most successful customers and their use of Birst for retention analytics.

1. Identify customer tipping points
Use analytics to understand customer life cycle. Create cohorts of customers such as new, early, expanded and mature stages, and learn customer behavior in each stage. Integrate data from product usage, customer feedback, support cases and payment information to identify early signs of churn signals.

2. Create a frequent communications calendar, programs and
loyalty incentives

A programmed sequence of letters, events, phone calls, rewards, special offers, follow-ups and magic moments creates positive energy, communicates your value to the customer again and again and reinforces the reason they’re doing business with you in the first place.

3. Align marketing with product, customer service and support teams
What you say vs. what you do has a huge impact on your company’s long-term success and customer retention. The design, quality, reliability and serviceability of your product or service must meet the standard your customers expect. Work with your product and services teams to deliver on the value that you (as a marketer) are promising to your customers.

4. Create communities
Bring your customers together. Annual user conferences are one of the most successful venues for your customers to share ideas and expand on the value they have been getting form your products. Online communities and social networks also create active forums to increase customer advocacy, trust and loyalty.

5. Sell and sell again
Contrary to popular belief, selling is not about throwing your product over the wall. Selling is about allaying your customers’ fears and being actively engaged with them in each step of the way to victory. Instead of chasing yet another sale, strike while the iron is hot. Demonstrate that you care – and do care. Create a customer success team who is on a mission to stay engaged, understand customer pains and offer solutions. That is the only way to deepen your relationships. At Birst, to do that, we follow these six principles.

There are plenty of success stories to share here, but a great example of retention analytics at work is the leading digital document management software and how Birst helps them analyze user behavior within each customer segment to identify profiles that are likely to churn. These insights have empowered their executive team to put in place new ways of mitigating risks and preventing churn.

To learn more about this use case and other marketing analytics use cases check out our “10 Ways to Put Your Marketing Data into Sharp Focus” e-book.

This article originally appeared in Digital Marketing Magazine and in the Birst blog.

The Marketing in All Things Human–From Beers and Diapers to Life Insurance and Games

diaper and beerSome twenty years ago, the classic example of diapers and beers became the legend that gave rise to a thriving industry: data warehousing and BI.

The folklore goes something like this:

A big retailer mined all of their customer transactions, looking for correlations that would better inform their business. To their surprise, they discovered a direct correlation between the sale of beer and diapers –mainly on Friday afternoons and to men between the ages of 25 and 35. It turns out that men were often being asked to bring home diapers for their newborns and they were picking them up on Friday nights after work. The correlation was found when these same men also picked up beer. What did the supermarket do as a result? They put the beer display next to the diapers, discounted one item but not the other. Sales shot up.

While stories like this have been used to showcase data-driven marketing, we’ve come a long way since. These scenarios were able to identify trends by grouping individuals into blended averages, but the retailer didn’t have a clear picture of the actual person they were dealing with. They were dealing with proxies, using general demographics data to underpin campaign or pricing activities. Since then, “personalization” has taken a whole new meaning and today, distinguishing and recognizing consumers as unique individuals is not only a possibility, it’s an expectation.

The new approaches to personalization and product recommendations work by discovering the relationships among activities of each customer and blending that with contextual data about the customer’s location, sentiments, or life event in order to present the most relevant product, at the exact right time. This includes analysis of historical snapshot information that follows the customer over time and predicts future purchasing behavior as well as data in real-time – for instance – from point of sale.

At Birst, we have seen this kind of product recommendation in both wealth management and gaming.

For instance – one of the largest banks in Canada is using analytics to provide insight to its financial advisors so they can make new product recommendations to their clients at critical junctures of their lives – i.e. when changes in marital status, retirement, income levels or new family members happen. By constantly monitoring changes in customer demographics and correlating the population with similar groups of the same characteristics, financial advisors are able to promote additional products (e.g. life insurance) to existing clients when the time is right and when the client is ready for that type of conversation. The results have been astonishing: the financial advisors with analytics have gathered twice as many assets under their management as the ones that did not have analytics. Since then, the bank has gone to spread the success to all its advisors and management team by putting analytics at everyone’s fingertips.

In another example, a leading children’s educational entertainment company uses Birst to measure player behavior within their products. By understanding user behavior within the application and matching that with sales data from their CRM system, they are able to effectively market new games back into their most active user populations.

Marketing is getting more personal. As analytics evolve to better leverage the data that consumers are actively contributing – such as location, life events or even health information from wearable devices – marketers will become smarter about understanding their customer as people with behaviors, emotions and unique human natures.

Companies that learn about their consumers in richer and more complete ways will gain a significant competitive advantage and find more opportunities to bridge the gap between people and the products and services they offer.

To learn more about how analytics is used by marketers today, download our new e-book.

This blog was originally posted here.

Farnaz Erfan

Finding Wheelchairs in 1s and 0s: The Power of Location in Data

RTLS (real time location systems) have long been embraced by retailers to monitor store foot traffic and secure merchandise. Today, hospitals are also making use of the technology. RTLS systems are used to track and identify the location and status of objects in real time, using sensors that monitor physical or environmental conditions, such as temperature, sound, vibration, pressure, or motion.

For healthcare providers RTLS means hard-dollar savings! With thousands of assets in constant motion each and every day, it becomes very difficult know what is used where, when, and why. These assets are core to providing care; therefore, dirty, in-use, or broken equipment can completely break the processes that take place in healthcare facilities. Simple activities like finding a piece of equipment can consume most of a caregiver’s time, slowing down patient flow, adding costs, and even impacting patient care.

How can a healthcare organization overcome this issue and put their location data into real use? —>By using powerful analytics. Let’s explore. There are two types of analytics:

1. Historical analysis. By understanding the actual utilization rates of equipment, hospitals can better estimate the inventory levels they need to have on hand, tailoring future purchases to maintain optimum inventory levels.

2. Real-time analysis. Monitoring the usage of equipment in real time and providing alerts when rental equipment is sitting idle, or when a piece of recalled piece of medical equipment enters a patient room,  or when par levels of clean and available equipment are not maintained, boosts the performance of the organization, improves staff efficiency, increases patient satisfaction, and improves patient safety and quality of care.

A great example of applied analytics in healthcare is what Intelligent InSites has implemented within their enterprise RTLS Asset Management software solution. Using this tool, some of their customers save up to $30,000 a month by monitoring real-time information on rental equipment and eliminating unnecessary expenses, such as paying for unused equipment. Intelligent InSites embeds Pentaho Business Analytics as part of their RTLS software solution. Their RTLS healthcare platform enables hospitals and healthcare facilities to analyze data from RTLS and RFID tags on medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or IV infusion pumps, gaining visibility into the location or status of these assets, identifying operational bottlenecks, and ultimately improving their patients’ safety and satisfaction.

Great use case, great story! But what are some things to look for when you are searching for business analytics software?

1. Big Data Support. Sensor and wireless data are considered new and emerging sources of information. Data feeds from RFID/RTLS tags are typically stored in a NoSQL database, such as Hadoop HBase, MongoDB, CouchDB and XML data stores. While transactional sources, such as point-of-sales data, will continue to use relational data formats, the value of an analytics platform lies in the visibility that it provides across all sources of data, comparing and contrasting one data set to the other.  Be sure to look for a business analytics solution that has a broad spectrum of data source connectivity, including both un-structured and structured data sets.

2. Embedded Analytics. Aberdeen research shows that the greatest benefit of business intelligence lies in the value of embedded analytics within an enterprise app. Rather than asking your end users—namely doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and knowledge workers—to switch back and forth between their business processes and the analytical application to drive insight, you can cut the latency and deliver analytics in real time.

A great example of this is Intelligent InSites’ embedded analytics from Pentaho that provides data on asset locations, status, usage, utilization and availability, directly from the end user’s RTLS Asset Management application. At a glance, hospital staff can locate the nearest available wheelchair or stretcher, saving valuable time.

3. Power to the User. Given that most users in healthcare are doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, ease of use and an intuitive user interface is one of the most crucial selection criteria. These users should not only be able to easily read and understand packaged reports, but also have interactive design tools to build their own analysis and dashboards.

Selecting the right Business Analytics software for your location data requires some level of due diligence. Know that you are not alone: location-based intelligence and analysis is applied across all types of industries. Whether you are a retailer looking to understand your customer preferences, a hospital tracking your equipment and resources, or even a horse race sponsor connecting your race track data to betting shops and TV screens, analyzing real-time location data unlocks immediate value.

What location data are you analyzing? Drop me a comment.

Farnaz Erfan

This blog was originally posted on Business Intelligence from the Swamp.

Powered By Pentaho – Embedded Analytics in as Little as 8 Weeks

This week we announced a new program for ISV and SaaS providers called “Powered by Pentaho.” I received several questions from clients and press so I thought I would share them with you to help explain the details behind this great new offer.

What is Powered by Pentaho?

Powered by Pentaho enables Pentaho OEM partners to deliver market-leading analytics capabilities in as little as eight weeks. The new OEM program is a response to the rapid rise in Pentaho’s 2011 OEM sales bookings, which grew more than 130 percent over the same period in 2010.

What does this 8-week program entail?

Pentaho provides the training, support and integration recommendations that best fit your solution objectives. You do the development and quality assurance. Keep in mind that all throughout your development cycle and thereafter, you have access to Pentaho experts who are intimately familiar with the Pentaho architecture and APIs. The best way to picture this is to think of Pentaho’s engineering team as an extension of your own engineering team. We want you to become successful, go to market fast, and build market leadership using our business analytics.

What about Pentaho makes this possible in eight week?

Pentaho technology – We provide embedding options that require little to no development. All you need is basic HTML skills to change the look and feel of our product to match your style and branding. We refer to these options as ‘Bundled’ or ‘Mashup.’ Pentaho offers more in-depth integration level, for OEM partners that require extensions and customization. We often see our OEM partners start with a re-branding and single sign-on approach and later move to a deeper integration.

Pentaho support and training – Pentaho has built services specific to every phase of an OEM’s software development lifecycle. You can not only go to market faster, but also build your future releases, changes and modifications much easier. These services include:

  • Architecture Workshop – Learn the best practices and best integration strategies for your development approach;
  • Tailored Training – Get your engineers and support staff a solid foundation for developing and troubleshooting your solution;
  • Development Support – Get your engineering staff access to Pentaho Java developers with in-depth knowledge of Pentaho architecture to get you to market faster.

Am I the right candidate?

This program is ideal for companies with information-centric software or packaged applications that want to go to market faster with attractive and sophisticated business intelligence and data visualization capabilities. All our customers who have successfully done this in eight weeks or less have a set of common characteristics. They typically have:

  • A phased approach, usually starting with a Bundled / Mashup type embedding option;
  • Data sources that have been prepared, cleansed, and put into a business analytics / reporting format. Pentaho has tools to help you do that;
  • At least one developer – with HTML and some Java skills – staffed – who has taken part in our training and architecture workshop classes.

Does Pentaho have proof points?

To date, hundreds of ISVs and SaaS providers have become Pentaho OEM partners. Marketo is a great example. Marketo was looking for both a modern, flexible technology and a true partner to help them build a brand new business analytics product. With Pentaho they were able to go to market in just eight weeks, delivering a feature-rich product that became a new source of revenue.

We have several great resources such as white papers, webinars, OEM Partner success stories and more. Visit pentaho.com/explore/embedded-bi/ for more information.

Farnaz Erfan