Tuesday, May 5, 2009

D&B: Digital Body Language Throughout Customer Lifecycle

A lot of our conversation focuses on new customer marketing, but for many or even most businesses, the successful retention of their existing customers is equally critical. I had a good conversation with Jeff Yee at D&B Canada while writing Digital Body Language, and this was his core focus. By leveraging insights into interest levels, usage profiles, and adoption, he was able to optimize their subscription renewal efforts. Enjoy the case study:

D&B: Digital Body Language Throughout Customer Lifecycle

D&B (Dun & Bradstreet) Canada, given their leadership position in business and credit information, wanted to focus on the end of year renewals for their customer base. With significant existing market share renewal and retention was just as important to them as new customer acquisition.

The initial project they undertook to achieve this goal was focused directly on the
renewal period. A progression of emails, triggered by an upcoming renewal date, was sent to the customer at 90, 60, and 30 days prior to renewal. Over the progression of communications, the tone would become increasingly clear in order to encourage the renewal process.

Watching the results, the D&B team noticed two trends. The first was that the customer response to the emails increased as the renewal date approached. Early communications had open rates of 33%, but as the renewal date approached, these rates would jump to 40% showing a significant uptick in interest.

The second trend noticed was a correlation between the renewal interest and direct usage of the D&B service. Adoption was a critical driver of renewal regardless of product line or industry. To continue to grow their adoption rates, D&B then turned to understanding the digital body language of their customers as expressed in their usage of the service. The service was well instrumented, and provided excellent marketing insight into overall usage and feature specific usage patterns for each user.

Conceptually, the team split the customer’s first 12 months of their lifecycle into 3 phases, adoption, usage, and renewal. With the renewal phase now fully automated, the marketing team is now focused on the other two phases. Leveraging their understanding of the prospect’s actual system usage, combined with their insight into the relationship between usage and renewal, a series of onboarding communications will ensure every new customer is quickly and seamlessly able to derive value from the service, while a series of tips and tricks emails will then work from an understanding of what features are and are not being used to suggest areas in which a customer can see even more value from the service.

By taking their understanding of digital body language beyond marketing and into the customer lifecycle, D&B is focused on ensuring that their customers’ renewal decision is based on a year of maximum success with their service.

Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
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