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Mastering Strategies to Retain and Engage External Audiences

Courtney Beasley

In the second installment of our two-part blog series derived from conversations at our Marketing Masters: 3 Essential Pillars of Communication for Achieving 2020 Marketing Goals online event, we’ll discuss effective external communication strategies for connecting with customers and prospects. (Read part one here.)

As the needs of your current customers and prospects continue to change, executing effective communication that showcases your value and addresses audience needs will be essential for maintaining a healthy business pipeline. In our second breakout room discussion at our Marketing Masters event, attendees discussed how to adapt communication strategies to retain and engage external audiences:

How to Retain Current Customers

While bringing in new business remains a priority for B2B organizations, reducing customer churn and retaining a healthy client base will be essential for the success of all businesses in 2020. Although the level of involvement marketing teams have in maintaining positive post-sale relationships varies from company to company, there is a big opportunity for your team to create communications that help engage and retain current customers.

Lisa Kuszmar, SVP of Marketing at AmWINS Group, stressed the importance of leaders taking time to touch base with their current customers to ensure their needs are being met. Just as the pain points have shifted for your company, keep in mind that your customers are also facing new challenges as many deal with budget cuts or changes in their overall strategy. Consistently reaching out to key personnel from your customer base is imperative for understanding how their business has been affected and how you can best serve them moving forward. Customer centricity has never been a more important value for brands to possess, so continue to find ways to act as a resource and show your customers that you value them.

Survey Your Customers and Find Your Biggest Advocates

While speaking with your customers is always a good way to obtain useful feedback and identify how you can continue to serve as a trusted partner, sending out customer surveys can be equally valuable in gaining a clear, honest understanding of your clients’ current pain points and how your marketing team can help alleviate them. Based on the results of your surveys, marketing can provide additional value by sharing relevant content that speaks to their specific needs.

Now is also a good time to identify which of your customers are the biggest advocates for your brand. As you continue to connect with your customers, consider how you can leverage your relationships for external marketing materials, like case studies or testimonials, or co-marketing opportunities, like co-hosted online events or co-branded content, that benefit both parties.

Formalize Retention Metrics and Activities

Setting up a formalized retention plan with specific goals and metrics within your organization is another effective way to help identify accounts that could benefit from additional support and attention. Based on client surveys, conversations and data, continue to track the health of your customers and consider what additional touch-points or offerings your marketing team can provide to reduce churn. Whether it’s sending your client contact a bottle of wine on their birthday or offering a discount on a new service offering, get creative in the different ways you can provide the most value to your customers during this time to ensure they feel supported.

How to Engage Prospects to Continue a New Business Flow

Given the current remote work structure and the cancellation of in-person events, strategies to engage prospects and new audiences in 2020 have shifted to primarily digital channels. Not only have marketers been tasked with pivoting their avenues to reach external audiences, but in some cases they’ve also had to adapt messaging to provide relevant content that addresses new needs. The attendees at Marketing Masters were quick to share tips on what channels and content strategies have proven to be most effective in driving demand and standing out from the crowd.

Get Creative in Leveraging Different Strategies for Growth

As marketers transition away from relying on in-person events for lead generation, finding a new marketing mix that can generate the same results for your business is a tall order. However, our marketing masters agreed that now is a great time to test and optimize new content strategies and digital channels to drive your sales pipeline.

A lot of marketers are turning to virtual events as an effective channel for engaging with prospects and maintaining personal connections with external audiences right now. But with the overwhelming popularity of webinars and online events in recent weeks, consider how you can be strategic with your event content and promotions in order to stand out in the crowded space. To avoid webinar fatigue, Meredith Albertson, VP of Marketing at Tealium, recommended promoting niche or industry-specific event content to a hyper-targeted audience to boost attendance and get qualified people in the room.

Distributing hyper-personalized content that directly aligns to the specific needs of prospective customers was another common external communications strategy voiced at Marketing Masters. Rather than overwhelming prospects with broad content, marketers can improve efficiency by segmenting their buyers and targeting the ones that have the greatest likelihood of purchasing. Rely on your tech solutions to help you identify these targets by analyzing intent and engagement data. Using these trends, you can promote relevant content and personalized resources that will be most impactful to moving your audience through the funnel. With the sophistication of current martech tools, remember that personalization can go far beyond using a prospect’s first name in your marketing communications. Continue to be creative in your hyper-personalization efforts to effectively engage your audience across channels and create a seamless personalized experience.

Remain Empathetic in Outbound Communications

It’s no secret that there are major global and cultural shifts happening in the world today, and marketers need to be hyper-aware of them to make sure they’re addressing events in an authentic way that makes sense for their business. Though companies have been impacted to different degrees, Randy Frisch, CMO of Uberflip, stressed that all marketers must assess and adjust their messaging in order to connect with their prospects. Even if your organization begins to see growth, now is not the time to take advantage of others. Be empathetic in your communications, and focus on creating content that adds the most value for your audiences.

As customer and prospect needs continue to switch on a dime, agility in messaging will be the key to staying relevant and seeing success. Continue to reassess your content with a critical lens to avoid coming off as tone-deaf or inauthentic, and make adjustments as needed on a regular basis. Not only do you need to continually reassess your messaging, but Shireen McCleary, PR Specialist at Amazon Business, also stressed the importance of constant evaluation and agility as the key to creating your plans for the future and finding success in the rest of the year.

Staying connected with your external audiences will be essential to moving business forward in 2020. For more advice on how to navigate communication challenges with internal and external audiences, contact our team or check out our B2B Marketing Communications Playbook 2020, which provides resources and recommendations on where you should focus your communication efforts.