As a starting point, take the outline of your customer lifecycle and plot out key milestones so you have a framework for continued engagement. These outlines can get complicated quickly, so start with these three core nurture programs aligned to your client journey segments as a foundation:
|Client Engagement Program||Client|
(or contract length)
Your account-based marketing (ABM) continues after the opportunity closes, so make sure your organization is aligned on your top accounts and the expected lifecycle so your nurture programs support your priority accounts.
If you’ve not yet established your target accounts, leverage insights from your client base to establish a clear account focus and priority set. It always starts with the data — the more detail you have on why your target accounts are critical to your business, the more effective your engagement programs and resulting revenue will be.
Client Nurture #1: Onboarding
An onboarding program should reflect the complexity of your offerings and reach across your client’s organization. If you have a turnkey solution that will be managed by your primary contact, your onboarding process is going to differ significantly from a business that requires a highly technical and customizable implementation process. These two extreme scenarios can help you build a blueprint that will appropriately welcome your new clients and immediately begin to demonstrate the value of their decision to partner with you.
Within the timeframe of your onboarding, let’s break down a few of the nurture objectives:
- Welcome and onboard your new clients.
- Help clients understand, adopt, and leverage your solutions.
- Identify and respond to potential issues.
Now we have a simple outline to start the initial client engagement program.
Next, you’ll need to think about the audience and what role they will play as they become familiar with your capabilities and how they can best leverage them for their success.
Key roles to consider within your client organizations:
- Primary contact: This is your champion and advocate. Make her a shining star.
- Daily or high-capacity users/program owners: Segment further to support variations on how they will use or leverage your solutions, or where industry/market differentiations require relevant messaging.
- Business and budget owners: They need to see demonstrated return.
- Innovators and thought leaders: They may not be familiar with you or your solutions. Provide industry insights and validation that you’re the front runners enabling their business objectives.
Consider these audience segments to structure the right messages to the right audience over the course of their first year with you.
Leverage your churn analysis to proactively customize your client outreach and share tips and best practices learned from other client experiences. Where you can be industry- or role-specific, this is going to deliver significant value and time savings to your clients.
Client Nurture #2: Retention
You need to keep a close watch over your new clients and how they engage with and leverage your offerings and solutions over the course of their first contract cycle with you. For some this might be 12 to 24 months, for others it could potentially be a shorter period of time.
If you’ve outlined the expected engagement track for your clients, you will have clear visibility to those that are performing and those that are red flagged with potential issues and might leave you. Be as proactive and insightful as you can when you think about your client retention programs.
Start this phase of your nurture engagement in alignment with the closing phase of your onboarding programs. Your retention rates will soar when your client engagement nurtures follow these best practices:
- Provide ongoing product knowledge and best practices for your clients to maximize the capabilities of your solutions.
- Set the stage early to promote the availability of improved and new offerings aligned to their business and industry needs.
- Demonstrate thought leadership and industry insight to help them stay innovative.
- Leverage predictive insights to react to your clients’ interests and behavior.
Most of all, engage and listen to your customers. You are building relationships — this is a two-way interaction. Make sure your engagement is client-centric as well as proactive, and establishes you as a must-have solution.
Client Nurture #3: Growth
Now let’s kick your client engagement and expansion programs into high gear. This is where your predictive, ABM, and lifecycle programs set you apart from your competition.
You need to share clear client insights widely across your organization to be successful with your growth strategies and demonstrate increased share of wallet. Propensity models will help you build your client segments to ensure you are delivering the potential for increased value as your clients expand their relationship with you.
A few key growth areas to consider in your ongoing client nurtures:
- Broaden your audience
- Be the bridge that aligns multiple business units
- Secure executive relationships
- Identify and work with your company’s resources to reach global or multisite clients’ their organizations as a whole
- Deepen offerings
- Promote your solutions’ advanced capabilities, enhancements, and version options
- Establish the business value for your extended suite of offerings
- Create customer-specific advisory boards and portals
- Collaborate with your clients regularly and share their best practices, challenges, and innovations
- Establish an easy process to capture client feedback on product advancements and optimization requests
- Showcase different customers each month, highlighting relevant case studies and industry recognition
Starting with these foundational engagement programs — onboarding, retention, and growth — provides the roadmap for you to expand the relationship over time and maximize the value of your relationships. It also provides the framework to maximize the value of capabilities like marketing automation, CRM, and predictive insights.
Once you have developed ongoing client engagement programs aligned to the customer journey, you’ll start to achieve:
- Customized messaging based on client insights and needs
- Client advocacy partnerships with recognized lifetime value
- Reduced churn with higher retention rates and increased revenue
We’ve laid the foundation, identified best practices, and put in place solid client engagement programs. After all this it’s time to measure success, so the final topic in the client expansion series will focus on:
- Client Measurement and Lifecycle Reporting
And if you’re interested in learning more about how our teams can work together to develop and execute client engagement programs, let’s chat!
Renee Gellatly brings over 20 years of industry insight to the DemandGen consulting team. She’s had the benefit of working with DemandGen as a client and now provides modern marketing thought leadership and expertise on sophisticated demand management strategies and solutions to our clients. Renee has worked with global marketing and sales teams from industry pioneers Oracle, Adobe, Cisco, NetApp and GE to understand their complex business objectives and to build out frameworks and programs that optimize technology for accelerated pipeline management and evolving customer retention and growth. She has a true passion for marketing technology and enjoys working with clients to develop a roadmap for continued measured success.