Customer retention with people-based search: old channel, new tricks

Marketing Innovation

Keep up to date on the latest announcements, events, and happenings from the connectivity community.

Customer retention with people-based search: old channel, new tricks

Marketing Innovation

Customer retention can often come down to timing. If you can work out when their loyalty is wavering then hit them with an offer they can’t possibly refuse, you win.

If you lease cars, you’d love to wave a new and improved contract under their nose just as they start considering a fresh set of wheels.  

If you’re an airline, you would like to remind them how many air miles they’ve clocked up just as they start planning a trip.

And if you’re a sportswear e-retailer, you want to offer them their team’s new shirt just as they’re searching for a game day outfit.

But while timing is key, data plays a role here as well. You need to know a fair bit about your customers to develop killer, hyper-targeted propositions.

That’s why email, display and social are natural go-to channels when it comes to customer retention. They let you use everything you know to communicate directly to a niche group of customers at a specific time. And as long as you’ve been diligently building customer personas, you’ll have the data to develop a message or promotion that’s far more likely to strike a chord.

Using search on the other hand, has never made sense in this context. Sure, it lets you target your customers at a crucial moment – the instant they’re looking to buy – but it doesn’t let you deliver ads to niche segments of your audience. You can only target keywords, not individuals.

This is all about to change with the advent of people-based search.

People-based search: kind of a big deal

People-based search combines the principles of people-based marketing with the power of search marketing. That’s huge for customer retention.

For the first time, you can combine what you know about your customers (using your 1st party data) with the search behaviors that signal actual, in-market intent.

This practice is redefining the potential of search, allowing marketers to deliver hyper-targeted messages to customers at precisely the moment they’re looking to buy (or shop around, or churn, or renew…).

Most importantly, it’s turned search into a powerful channel for customer retention. Here’s how:

Say you’re a home insurance provider and you want to make sure your existing customers don’t turn to your competitors once their contracts expire.

It’s likely that your customers will at least look for different options before they sign on the dotted line with you again. And it’s very likely they’ll use search engines to look for these options.

People-based search means you can get in front of these exact customers at the exact moment if and when they’re searching for new insurance providers.

That means you can deliver a tailored message to these customers based on what you know about them.

For example, if you know a group of customers have been loyal for the past few years you can mention this in the copy (and maybe throw in a 15% discount to sweeten the deal).

This kind of offer is hard to turn down.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. You’ve just been offered a deal from a company you know and trust. There’s no need for you to start a new relationship with another business, and all you have to do is complete a quick renewal process.

Crucially, you’re ready to make a decision – you’ve fired up your browser specifically to sort out your home insurance. Who wants to spend hours looking for better deals?

No other marketing practice lets you target existing customers – and those about to churn – at this crucial moment with such a specific message.

This combination of retention-driven targeting and intent-driven search gives you unprecedented power to boost customer retention rates across your entire business.

So next time you’re deciding how to increase customer retention, think people-based search.

(It’s also a great way to reactivate lapsed customers, manage audience suppression and add intent signals to your segmentation strategy – but that’s for another post).

To find out more about the discipline, check out our slideshare An Introduction to People-Based Search. In it, we explain what people-based search is all about, how it works and how to get the most out of it.