Top 8 Winning Strategies for B2B Customer Retention

Hands holding a phone and customer reviews floating out of the phone
By Joshua Ridley |

For content marketers, helping your B2B clients attract new customers is an essential part of your work to grow their business and, in return, grow yours. But it doesn’t stop there. You also want to ensure those customers stick around. A Content Marketing Institute study reveals that 78% of top-performing B2B marketers use content to build loyalty among existing customers. Here are eight winning strategies for B2B customer retention.

1. Share tips from fellow customers

A key pillar of B2B customer retention is making your audience feel heard. Research your customers’ preferences, behaviors and opinions about how they get the most out of your service or product, and share that with their peers. One approach is creating B2B campaigns featuring loyalty content such as “tips and tricks” guides based on customer feedback. Other customers can then gain valuable insights from their peers about making full use of products or services. It could also be useful to create guides, such as peer-to-peer FAQs, that sales reps can share with customers. 

It’s one thing to read product or service reviews from random customers, but it’s different to read reviews from people who work in the same industry or role as you. This is especially important in the B2B space. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy, which continues to stand the test of time. Having your consumers tell the story of your brand’s product or service can make a tremendous impact on prospective buyers. 

2. Encourage customer feedback

Implementing customer feedback is vital for B2B customer retention. Use surveys, social media, and other customer listening tools to engage and respond to your audience’s concerns. Follow up with them so they know their voices were heard, sharing whatever changes or improvements were implemented based on their feedback. This, in turn, sends a strong signal that the company is looking to serve its customers better and isn’t taking them for granted. Using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, which measures the loyalty of a company’s customer base, can also prove valuable. Survey questions can include asking customers to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely they are to recommend the company to a friend. 

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3. Anticipate customers’ needs

More than 85% of customers want businesses to anticipate their needs. Many customers believe it is the responsibility of brands to anticipate and exceed their needs and expectations, and this attitude holds sway for both professional and consumer cohorts. Use data analytics or other resources to anticipate changes in customer behavior or preferences and adapt accordingly. Try introducing complementary services or products to a group of loyal customers who agree to be part of a pilot program to confirm whether you’re on the right track or need to consider other approaches. For long-term B2B customer retention, maintain your commitment to satisfying the needs of your customers.  

The B2B customer journey can be unpredictable at times—customers may decide to stop buying your service or product and decide to go in another direction. It is extremely valuable to anticipate your customer’s needs. Doing so will retain them and encourage brand loyalty. Going the extra mile with not only the content you are generating, but also in making your customers aware of all you have to offer, can positively impact your B2B customer retention. 

4. Stay connected, professionally

Staying top of mind with customers and creating meaningful experiences can help with B2B customer retention. Share content beyond the purpose of selling your product or service. The difference between content marketing and other methods is that content marketing’s primary goal is to help customers rather than sell to customers. Consider creating an exclusive collection of content including personalized thank-you videos or getting-started demos. Experiment with different email campaigns that regularly deliver feature updates and related examples designed to inspire. Also consider hosting live and virtual events that give customers the chance to connect, ask questions, and share their experiences.

It’s critical to remember that the B2B customer retention relationship is different from B2C. We want our customers to think of us, but only during work hours. Disruptive marketing is out. Let’s avoid sending communications during sacred personal time and ensure that the relationship and your brand’s perception remain professional and appreciated. 

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5. Commit to your customers

Continue to nurture relationships with your customers to improve B2B customer retention. Digital touchpoints through omnichannel strategies, such as using emails, social media or text messages, could require a more extended period of time before customers commit to additional purchases. This gives B2B companies the opportunity to foster long-term relationships with their customers (think warmer leads, where existing or potential customers are already on a sales journey) instead of targeting one-time buyers. According to PwC, consumers will pay a 16% price premium for a great customer experience. Going the extra mile for your customers is a rewarding experience for both parties. Contrary to the B2C customer journey, B2B customers typically take more time to come to a purchasing decision. It is vital to nourish relationships so that when customers finally make a decision, they decide on you. 

6. Borrow from the B2C email playbook

Email is the way for B2B customer retention. According to Hubspot, 99% of email users check their inbox every single day. B2C brands often turn to upbeat, personal messages to promote their offerings. B2B marketing tends to be more technical or buttoned up. Though both approaches are valid depending on the brand and the product, B2B marketing should take a more personal tone—especially when it comes to email campaigns. That could include incorporating seasonal or holiday mentions in your messaging or thanking customers for their loyalty. When digging into your B2B email strategy, keep in mind that your strategy should differ from B2C emails. This means perhaps a slower cadence, sending during the work day, selecting different days of the week and so forth. Understand that everyone can be susceptible to a crowded inbox and that we want your email to stay on top. We know a thing or two about email, we surpassed our own benchmarks by 2X.

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7. Communicate that you innovate

Take customer feedback (as mentioned in point number 2) and implement the learnings into your products or services to improve B2B customer retention. Communicate how your business is rolling out new features, fine-tuning existing products or programs, or adopting new sustainable practices based on the latest research. These are clear signs your company hasn’t taken customers’ loyalty for granted and grown complacent. You should also have cross-sell and upsell plans for your customer segments, so they have the right products and services that meet their needs.

8. Spend resources on the right customers

Strategic customer segmentation is pivotal for B2B customer retention. Invest your time and budget wisely when it comes to identifying customers with long-term potential value. Upon reviewing your customer segments, it’s wise to invest more resources in customer pools that invest more in your brand, since their investment with your business will grow deeper. On the other hand, newer customers may have lower expectations in comparison but should still be given exceptional service. Your B2B customer retention plan should include strategies like personalized messages from a relationship manager. With these ideas in mind, helping your B2B clients foster customer loyalty can give them a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace. It’s good for their business—and yours as well.

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