Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing
In our latest report, Humanizing and Analyzing Human Relationships to Drive Revenue, Retention and Returns, we got to sit down with Informatica's SVP and Head of Marketing, Ash Parikh where he provided an inside perspective on how B2B brands can foster their relationships to create value for their customers beyond their lifetime. As Ash himself puts it: “It’s not about driving business for the brand; it’s about the brand delivering value throughout the lifetime of the customer—it’s a partnership, not a transaction."
Q: How has 2020 impacted customer engagement?
A: In a world changed forever by the pandemic, people aren’t traveling, seeking out new forms of entertainment, or physically shopping in stores. It’s a brave new “digital” world. Customers are now looking to see how they can do things safely, how they can get additional value from what they have, and how they can stretch their precious dollar even more. It’s now, much more important to retain customers, than acquire new ones.
Q: Has this changed your view of customer lifetime value?
A: Absolutely. We all know the metrics involved with LTV, but metrics aside, it’s become a lot more about conversational engagement. Let’s think about what happens in a typical subscription business model, especially now when customer retention and renewals are a top priority. You really need to know the buyer’s journey. What is the customer is trying to achieve at every step of the way? What benefit are they looking to gain? What challenges are they looking to overcome? Where are they going to truly find value? You need to present the customer with a map of what you can deliver as a brand, and more importantly, ongoing value.
Today’s B2B buyer is a lot more informed: they’ve done their research. Today, you not only need to think not just about landing the customer but making sure they see quick value in the product or service but continue to do so throughout the lifetime, and beyond. After all, the legendary “demand gen funnel” is no longer a static, linear and finite model, but more of a dynamic, flexible and infinite “demand gen flywheel.” To do this right, you need to provide the best connective tissue between what a customer perceives as value, and how well you’re delivering this value to them. This can only come from delivering great customer experiences throughout the lifetime of a customer. In fact, as we have just discussed, not just throughout but beyond the lifetime of a customer, as the focus should truly be on winning back a customer’s business.
Q: How do you measure and track the customer relationship?
A: From a marketing perspective, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity. You have leverage modern digital technology such as intent and affinity data to understand every single heartbeat of the customer when they’re dealing with your systems and solutions, such as engaging on your website, downloading a piece of collateral, reading a blog, visiting a virtual booth during an online summit and all other touch points throughout the buyer’s journey. Is there real buying intent? Are they just browsing? Are they looking for deeper information about a particular product or service? As a marketing organization, you need to look to deliver true value. Build a partnership with the customer and become a trusted advisor, and they’ll come back to you to learn more, engage more, interact more and, effectively, buy more.
Q: What customer data-related challenges must marketers overcome?
A: Identifying, measuring and reporting on KPIs such as the number of times a customer visits your website, or whether they open your emails or not, or the amount of time they spend viewing a video, are all what I call table stakes in a modern, data-driven marketing organization. What I really want to know is the customer’s true intent so that I can follow up with the right content, the right offers and the right recommendations, at the right time. And also listening for data “signals” that can proactively alert you that a customer can be a future flight risk, so you can take remedial action to deliver great customer experiences, well in advance. So, it really boils down to always endeavoring to provide personalized value, and demonstrating that it is a partnership, not just a transactional relationship. To differentiate as a marketing organization, especially in this post-pandemic rush to inundate customers with a lot of digital noise, you need powerful and deep data-driven insights to build such an enduring partnership with a customer, that is based on intent and affinity data, to deliver personalization, which in turn delivers that precious value throughout the customer’s lifetime, and beyond.
LTV is a two-way street: You keep delivering value, and they will keep coming back for more!