How to drive retention and customer loyalty
Ryan is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Iterable, the growth marketing platform that maximizes lifetime value by enabling you to create better experiences for—and deeper relationships with—your customers.
In a world rife with product parity and seemingly unending consumer choice, what is it that separates the great brands from the good ones? It’s customer experience. Brands winning the war of experience are bringing in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors. Every interaction, every message, every touchpoint matters to customers.
With so much at stake, brands must maximize the value inside their data and leverage the full power of their growth stack. If your product and marketing teams are the “brains” designing your experience, your stack is undoubtedly the “brawn” making it possible.
Strength in numbers
That’s why Iterable has invested countless hours of research and diligence in order to recommend the key tools that sophisticated teams need to build their own, modernized growth stack. Backed by the right tools, brands of all shapes and sizes can elevate customer experiences throughout their entire journey—from first encounter, through sign-up, to long-term retention.
Making it personal
We recently introduced the four pillars of personalization, where each pillar represents a critical step of the personalization process. As proficiency at each step grows, brands unlock even more of their growth potential.
But we know it’s not simply product or marketing know-how that gets the job done—it takes a strategically built stack and free-flowing data. In this post, we’ll be talking about some of the key tools that make such a process possible.
These are the core four pillars of personalization:
- User Segmentation: finding the perfect audience
- Lifecycle Mapping: creating immersive journeys
- Workflow Building: engaging at opportune moments
- Dynamic Content: connecting with tailored messaging
Let’s take a closer look at each of these pillars and explore how today’s tools make each of these goals possible.
1. User segmentation
All campaigns start with a target audience in mind. Gone are the days of spray-and-pray blasts—today’s brands have incredible segmentation resources at their fingertips and are capable of selectively engaging key audience cohorts when the right moments strike.
To do so, we start by prioritizing the desired traits of our target audience at the outset of a campaign build. Most brands have a baseline understanding of their target audience at the get-go and often rely on their email service provider’s (ESP) data for segmentation. That’s great! But remember, as data-driven marketing’s importance grows, it may be worth investigating the benefits that a customer data platform (CDP) brings to the growth stack.
CDP—Easy as 1, 2, 3
Leaders in the CDP space include mParticle, Segment, and Tealium and each does a fantastic job of leveling up the data management playing field. CDPs help automate the standardization and storage of stack-wide customer data. When you’re ready to build an audience, your CDP ports a new, enriched customer data set directly to your ESP for deeper segmentation. Whether it’s demographic, behavioral, or lifecycle data, your data will be ready whenever you need it.
Want to message new users from a certain sign-up source? Target lookalike customers with specific offers? CDPs help you peel back all the different layers of customers’ data and market with pinpoint precision.
Importantly, savvy brands can leverage a CDP to join data from across the stack. Data from all the tools in your stack joined with product usage data in Mixpanel, for example, enables you to understand the complete customer lifecycle and identify key cohorts. Those cohorts are pushed to Iterable to take action via workflow building and leveraging dynamic content based on the attributes of the cohorts.
A Data & Marketing Association (DMA) report showed that marketers found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. 760%! Clearly, getting the right message to the right people pays dividends. As you strategize your stack buildout, a CDP might be a great resource if you want to put your hard-earned data to work.
2. Lifecycle mapping
There’s a lot of planning that goes into dialing-in a great customer experience that drive retention. Take a moment to think about your customers’ lifecycle—there’s a slew of required steps, actions, conditions, behaviors, and milestones to get from entry to exit. Any missteps or snafus impeding their progress runs the risk of breaking their entire experience.
With so much at stake, it’s important to recognize the value of mapping out the mechanics of each stage to ensure a smooth journey. Naturally, this exercise is rife with speculation and predictions about how customers should behave. But why would you guess when your stack can show you an actual map?
Modern brands lean on product analytics tools to get a better understanding of how customers are using their products, services, and websites (you can see why this insight might be valuable to dialing in details of your lifecycle). Mixpanel is a leader in this space and helps teams use real customer behavior analysis to develop products and grow loyalty. But wait, you might be thinking…I thought we were talking about growth marketing, not product development? Don’t worry, we are!
For many brands, product and marketing goals (and those of the broader go-to-market organization, frankly) are one and the same: attract customers, get them to use your products, and retain their loyalty. And as these teams collaborate more regularly, there’s a vested interest in using the tools that both teams can benefit from.
When it comes to lifecycle mapping, product analytics tools are effectively cheat sheets detailing how customers are using your products. Growth marketers can use this same information to uncover the key milestones of engagement:
- The behaviors new customers take as they start engaging with your product
- The flow of activities leading up to a transaction
- Adoption hurdles and timeframes of waning interaction
- and much more
Using this data, you now know where your customers are actually going. As you plot the different journeys taking place, the campaigns and types of content to advance customers from stage-to-stage should become clear—that’s the same type of clarity your product teams have. Targeting the people, the times, and the campaigns that bolster the journey just got a whole lot easier.
3. Workflow building
Workflows, in our opinion, are the most critical infrastructure of your entire customer experience. Think about it—even though you’ve built a robust lifecycle map, it’s your workflows that shepherd your customers through the journey. Inside your dream stack, this is where a cross-channel platform like Iterable comes into the mix to power unified customer experiences.
We’ve talked a lot about customer experience in this post, and this layer of stack tools is really where the rubber meets the road. Tools like Iterable enable marketers to inject a human touch that ties brand story and customer interactions together.
Building from the ground up
Traditionally, you might’ve thought of this as the ESP layer of their stack. Yes, email is a massively important channel, but we’re challenging modern growth marketers to think beyond the inbox. We’re talking contextual, behaviorally-driven interactions spanning across all the customer channels—that degree of sophistication spans well beyond email alone.
To maximize stack efficiency, we want to cultivate a free-flowing data environment helmed by a platform capable of reading and transforming that data into impactful engagements.
Having data is important, but using data is critical.
Inside Iterable’s Workflow Studio, all your data stands at the ready. We’ve made it easy to assemble different markers of demographic and engagement data together into workflows attuned to specific audience cohorts. For instance, let’s talk through a workflow buildout of a hypothetical onboarding experience.
Great onboarding establishes early levels of trust, helps new customers feel comfortable sharing future data, and fuels retention (most brands do this with a meaningful welcome campaign).
Let’s quickly go over how our stack lines us up for success:
- Our CDP captures customer details upon account creation and sends them to Iterable.
- Our Mixpanel-informed lifecycle map identifies the first 48 hours after signup as an optimal messaging window of high engagement. Mixpanel also shows us that engaged customers have a high likelihood of converting during their first week.
- Iterable’s segmentation tool isolates the particular Mixpanel cohort meeting specific marketing onboarding criteria.
In this hypothetical scenario, our stack has given us all the knowledge needed to build the perfect workflow. We know the customers, we know the operative timelines, we know our campaign objectives, and we know our customers’ next milestone. Now it’s time for us to shine!
Inside Iterable, we can easily create a targeted campaign that drills into all of the different nuances of our customers’ experiences to date—pulling in personal details about their signups, triggering messages at specific times coinciding with behaviors, following up after inactivity, delivering messages across specific channels, moving customers to new flows upon completion, and much more. And here’s the kicker: engagement data from that onboarding campaign is fed back into Mixpanel where it can be analyzed against in-product engagement data to determine how your marketing influenced actual behaviors.
An interdependent stack not only optimizes customer experiences, but it adds incredible potential to scale (look no further than the data feedback loop we just talked about). Research shows that engaged customers are worth 23% more than your average. When stack intelligence powers workflow decision-making, elevating the end-to-end customer experience to millions of customers is practically second nature.
4. Dynamic content
By this point, I’d like to think our case for boosting the capabilities of your stack is a strong one…but wait, there’s more! We speculate that when most consumers think of a brand’s “marketing,” more often than not, it’s their content that comes to mind. Since content is the most overt component of customer marketing—the copy, images, layouts, CTAs, and beyond—it needs to resonate with each recipient.
When marketing to millions, getting content “right” for every one of your customers seems daunting. Notably, Iterable has some powerful content personalization tools you can read about here, but we want to highlight some sleek dynamic content tools that really add some shine to your messages.
The messages you send to customers on a regular basis serve as an extension of your entire customer experience. The lines between website, app, messaging, and general presence get blurrier each day. So as long as a message has your brand name on it, expect your customers to judge it. All the more reason to spice things up, right?
More like WINbox
Dynamic and interactive content providers like Movable Ink add enhanced visual depth to emails. Adding components like automatically generated hero imagery, products and offers catch eyes. Showcasing clickable polls, visualizations, and feeds, on the other hand, drives clicks. With dynamic content, every message becomes personalized and “click-worthy.”
In a similar vein, geo-targeted messages from companies like Radar are yet another powerful flex of personalization in play. In a pre-COVID world, growth marketers were uniting online and offline experiences with location-based campaigns. And as we’ve adapted to more of an at-home economy, geo-specific information like delivery times and live location sharing are the critical experiential details that customers crave.
Incorporating dynamic content resources into your stack will undoubtedly help you scale up your personalization capacities. And when you consider that investing in a leveled-up personalization strategy reaps $20 for every $1 spent, such functionality looks even more attractive.
Stack up success
There’s more than one way to build a powerhouse growth stack. There are literally thousands of tools to choose from, but the crux of customer experience lies with data. Think about the four categorical pillars we’ve talked about to make sure any new tools you select use data to effectively contribute to the experience you’re building.
Enriching your master data store with all the contextual details gleaned from your stack will help you reach new depths of understanding within your products, your marketing, and most importantly, your customers.
- Audience building becomes second nature as you identify key customer cohorts with ease.
- Mapping your customer lifecycle is a breeze because you have the clarity to assess how your entire cohort population interacts with your product.
- Creating personalized and actionable workflows for those cohorts feels practically intuitive since you know the specific outcomes you’re driving them toward.
- Serving individualized, dynamic content to millions of customers is failsafe because it’s tied to the specific customer attributes of your target cohorts.
Creating an interdependent stack that feeds off perpetual data feedback loops is a dream state for many. But we’re here to tell you that it’s possible and within reach, once you commit to an experience-first ethos. As you explore the product and marketing technology ecosystem, don’t get distracted by flashy tools that promise the world. Choose those that seamlessly work together in a stack that accomplishes your desired goals.
Your customers will thank you.
Contact us here if you’re interested in learning more about the experiences you can create with Iterable.