“It’s All About Giving Value” – Interview with Jake Stainer
What are the best retention strategies for B2C businesses? Are coupons a good fit for customer loyalty schemes? - Jake Stainer, founder of InflectionGrowth shares his insight on the topics of customer loyalty and gives tips to wanna-be marketers.
Recently, customer retention became the priority for many businesses – do you think that customer acquisition should be sacrificed on the altar of customer loyalty?
In my opinion it depends what stage your company is in and your current churn rates. If you’re a new business you should focus on customer acquisition to prove product-market fit and get to a critical customer mass (e.g. $1M in ARR).
What’s more, without customer acquisition, you’ll lack data on what your customer retention numbers actually are so you need a big enough sample size to come to any conclusions.
When you’ve hit your critical customer number, let’s say $1M in ARR, then you need to create an always-on customer retention program in order to retain your top customers. This isn’t a one-off thing - it should be an on-going program and you need someone dedicated to this. A lot of companies find themselves too focused on acquisition, and then it comes to bite them when they realise that customer churn is eating into their growth at an exponential rate.
In summary, focus on customer acquisition in the beginning, and then build an always-on customer loyalty program when you reach a defined critical customer mass where you are able to measure your current retention rates and get data from it.
If a company already got a critical customer mass and now wants to focus on keeping these customers by their side, what, in your view, are the best customer retention strategies for B2C models?
It really depends on your product and business model. The best strategy is to really understand and speak to them regularly- you need feedback loops in place for this and a centralised database of this information. For example, build an Airtable and store all of your customer feedback in there - you need a centralised insights hub for your whole organisation.
Feedback loops to get insights from:
- Customer support tickets.
- Customer reviews.
- Net Promoter Score.
- Churn survey (e.g. when a customer cancels a subscription with you).
- Re-active outreach to a customer who hasn’t purchased with you in a while simply asking them what you can do.
Make sure you have these set up and running, in a single place (e.g. an Airtable), and take action with them! The closer you get to your customers, the more successful your business will be.
What do you think about coupons as a tool to leverage business growth and drive customer loyalty?
Coupons are tricky, as they can decrease your revenue and de-value your brand – so they need to be done correctly! First, they can be used to great effect to reward your customers for referring other ones. We did this at Typeform where we offered a 10% discount on your subscription for every customer you referred - and this program amounted to 10% of new monthly revenue!
Second, you can gamify your buyers experience by allowing them to unlock different rewards depending on the actions they take.
For example, you could reward them with a % off coupon if they:
- Reshare one of your social media posts.
- Write a review of your product on their blog, or review site such as TrustPilot.
- Invite one of their friends to purchase one of your products.
- Give you a video testimonial to use in your marketing campaigns.
So when used in the right context, coupons are a great way to get more out of your customers to impact your business in all levels of your funnel.
Now, to change the subject a bit, I’d like to ask you several questions on your individual experiences in online marketing. Looking back at your past jobs, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Two big things I would have done differently:
One: I would have read more books in general around business, marketing, sales, etc. I have a huge reading list this year as I feel I still have big gaps in my knowledge. There are some classic books which are a must, such as: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and Thinking, Fast and Slow.
Think you’ve read all the books out there? Next time you’re traveling and at the airport, go to the bookshop and get a book you wouldn’t normally read - you’ll be surprised what you can learn and how you can apply it to what you’re working on.
Two: I would network with more people. This is how I’ve learned the most! So get LinkedIn Premium and start reaching out to other people in your industry, attend local meetups, and when networking ask if they can introduce you to anyone else! Take notes and keep a networking notebook of everything you’re learning and revisit it regularly.
What is the most crucial marketing principle that you try to follow in all your business activities?
Stainer: It’s all about GIVING value. (there are two keywords here: give, and value).
At every stage of the buyer journey, you need to be giving value at every step of the way, it could be a surprise eBook in your onboarding emails, a postcard in the post, or a joke in your ad to make your customers laugh.
This is what is going to set you apart and move you into a much more relationship- and empathy-driven world of marketing - where brands no longer compete on functional product benefits due to the forever lowering barriers to entry - but now on emotional benefits and a big part of this is your brand.
A brand is not a logo, or a colour or a name. A brand is every part of your business - from the support you are offering all the way to how you treat your new employees. It’s something your customers relate to, and your employees live every single day.
Now the final question for today, what advice would you give to aspiring marketers? What should they focus on, what to learn and where to look for the most accurate information regarding growth marketing?
I would reiterate my points from this interview:
- Read a lot of books, you have never learned anything. Wake up early every morning and read for 1 hour before starting your day.
- Network with other people in your industry through meetups, events, and reaching out on LinkedIn - this will accelerate you in your career and marketing knowledge. You’ll be surprised at how open people will be with you.
And some bonus ones:
- Have a side hustle – start your own product/website and get in the trenches with your own thing.
- Don’t be afraid to fail – failing means you’re learning and you’re getting better! Accept failure as a way of learning - you can do it!
Jake is Founder of InflectionGrowth, an online community for SaaS marketers. He currently runs multiple startups, is Head of Digital Growth at TravelPerk, and helps SaaS businesses achieve inflection growth online.