How Marketing Drives Loyalty and Retention

With Loyalty Come Retention and Revenue Growth

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How Marketing Drives Loyalty and Retention ...

Marketing Strategy

88% of account managers believe that high-quality levels of customer service will help them grow their accounts. However, Gartner research has shown that “while high levels of customer service do, in fact, increase the likelihood of customer retention, they have no statistical or meaningful impact on growth.”

Instead, helping customers learn new ways to grow their business has been proven to add value and grow existing accounts. For your account manager, surrounded by responsibilities, administrative duties, and sales targets, it could be hard to provide this additional insight to customers while maintaining quality customer service.

Let your Marketing team help.

The Role of Marketing

Historically, the role of Marketing has been to listen and to build relationships, with other specialties focused on other stages of the process:

  • Advertising raises awareness,
  • Public Relations finds third-party endorsements,
  • Sales tells people about the company’s solutions,
  • Marketing focuses on customer relationships.

In recent years, roles have morphed and responsibilities have shifted. However, we lose something valuable when we eliminate these distinctions. Marketing traditionally has been the sole department in a company which is an advocate for the customer. Everyone else in the company is employed to promote the company’s product or service. The marketers are there:

  • to listen to needs and trends,
  • to translate what problem someone poses into language that aligns with existing solutions in the marketplace,
  • to educate potential customers on how to frame their challenge and potential ways of solving their issue, and once ready,
  • to invite them into a dialogue with a sales representative to flesh out an application of the company’s solution to the potential customer’s unique needs.

As more companies focus on frictionless transactions that might not even require sales agents to step in, marketers must remain engaged in the sales process and ongoing service with customers.

Setting, Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

A common complaint of SaaS solution clients is that they were told the solution would do something it doesn’t actually do. Another compliant is, after purchase, they learn that it would cost thousands to customize the tool for the client’s particular needs. These situations lead to disgruntled customers who learn not to trust anything a salesperson says.

Much of the buying process happens well before a conversation with a sales representative. As Gartner notes, a conversation with a sales rep likely will not be the final step before a purchase. [emphasis mine] Marketing and sales need to work in parallel rather than looking at it as a static handoff from one to the other.

All of this emphasizes the need for a solid value proposition which clearly and transparently conveys what someone can expect from the brand and from the products or services of that brand. If the expectation is that “this is the top-of-the-line solution,” then a potential client has every reason to expect white glove treatment, prompt response to requests, and customization. If the expectation is set that a solution is a cost-effective solution to the most common needs in an industry, then the customer knows that there will be some trade-offs for reaching a lower price point.

Every communication, from the first advertising seen to onboarding efforts through contract renewal messages, each of these needs to be consistent about what one should expect in terms of quality, price and timing. All interactions, whether from marketing, sales or the customer success team, need to deliver on the expectation set, explicitly or implicitly, in the brand value proposition.

However, meeting or even exceeding those expectations, while supporting retention, will not, per Gartner, help with revenue growth through upsells, cross-sells or even referrals.

As more companies focus on frictionless transactions that might not even require sales agents to step in, marketers must remain engaged in the sales process and ongoing service with customers.


Leveraging the Tools and Strengths of Your Marketing Team

Account managers and customer success managers (CSM) have many responsibilities on their plates. Ensuring contractual promises are met, proactively supporting their clients, and meeting retention and additional sales metrics across multiple clients is challenging. Under the pressure to meet specific requirements of their individual clients, there is little time or opportunity to look at macro trends or to request materials which could help address those concerns.

What is regularly overlooked is the role your marketing team could and should play in the ongoing support of clients. Start by asking how regularly is marketing brought in to hear what challenges the CSM team faces? Could the issues be addressed globally through an email campaign, webinar, or video message from the company president? These efforts could be deployed (and tracked) by marketing to all of the clients, segmented as needed, and then analyzed against sales metrics. These actions would free up needed time by the CSMs, provide some scalable, consistent treatment across clients, provide usable metrics to evaluate effectiveness, and give insight into challenges, bugs, and business opportunities.

By shifting some of the responsibilities to the marketing team, which is equipped to convert Subject Matter Expertise into deliverable materials, at scale, the company can achieve more without adding head count to their sales or CSM teams, and free up time for them to deliver the personalized service in which they excel.

Retention vs Loyalty

Mere retention does not equal loyalty. Loyalty requires an emotional investment, manifested in a belief in the value of and in the benefit of the object of one’s loyalty. If a promise or two gets broken or if a mistake happens, loyal customers are willing to give a company the benefit of the doubt.

If we think of what could trigger an emotion, we need to consider the personas in our client base. What drove them to an initial purchase and what convinced them to make the final purchase?
For example, with a software company, an organization may have compliance requirements which require a validated system to record behaviors and activities. An individual may not have that much personal feeling involved in the decision. If a tool does the job and is within budget, then they’ll move forward with the purchase.

However, if a system is too complicated, not easy to use, or if it fails to perform a task that impacts an individual’s core job performance, then a solution which addresses the emotion of frustration can inspire loyalty out of a sense of relief. This loyalty will be hard to overcome by an alternate solution. Fear of returning to that frustration will be an underlying emotion in any sales discussions about switching solutions.

A benefit which generates an emotion is at the heart of loyalty vs simple retention.

This loyalty can also trigger advocacy, generating the word of mouth and reviews which keep the flywheel going for additional sales.


Customers don’t see the distinctions among marketing, sales, advertising, or PR. From the customer’s perspective, it is one company. The customer’s experience should be consistent with the original expectations set by their initial exposure, from first touch to last.

However, putting all the responsibility for retention and growth on the CSM team is an old-school approach.

With a unified CRM, where marketing, sales and service all work from a single source of truth, like with the HubSpot suite, trends can be spotted and addressed. Scalability is possible, because of automation, reporting and ease of communication.

For start-ups or many SMBs, a dedicated Customer Experience role isn’t always possible. CX used to be part of the brand team’s responsibilities. With a centralized CRM and marketing automation tools, these organizations could improve retention and add the business value consulting Gartner refers to when many of the tasks handled by account management teams are returned to marketing. This consolidation frees the CSM team to focus on what they alone can provide.;


Learn more about how Marketing can impact your business!

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