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Increasing retention

James Evelegh attends ESco Connect and comes away with six tips for increasing renewal rates.

By James Evelegh

Increasing retention
Speaking at ESco Connect (L-R): Jon Bickley, Lyn Hughes, Natasha Littleton and Debbie Stenning. Photograph: ESco

It costs much less to renew an existing customer than acquire a new one. Renewals might not get the blood pulsing like new business wins, but small improvements in renewal rates can drive big increases in profits.

The theme of last Friday’s ESco Connect event was ‘Engagement & Retention’ and we heard from a lively panel (Anthem’s Jon Bickley, Wanderlust’s Lyn Hughes, First News’ Natasha Littleton and Database Vision’s Debbie Stenning) about how improving the former will increase the latter. Here are some of the tips I came away with:

  1. Invest in your product. It won’t matter how creative your renewals team is if your product is not worth renewing. Become indispensable.
  2. Build engagement from the start. The business of retaining a subscriber starts on day 1 of their subscription by making them feel special, adding value and encouraging involvement.
  3. Promote auto-renewal. Those paying by continuous payment methods renew at much higher rates. Obvious really. One caveat though: don’t communicate with them any less.
  4. Create a segmented renewal series. Personalise your messages depending on who they are, where they’ve come from, what they’re interested in, how long they’ve been a subscriber for and… their likely state of mind. Start at birth and don’t stop at lapse.
  5. Measure the right things. What are the key indicators of success and failure? Monitor them and act on them.
  6. Get the basics right. The following are expected: timely delivery, instant access, intuitive self-service, helpful support. You get little credit for doing them well, but renewal rates drop when you do them badly.

At the end of the day, some parting wisdom from ESco operations director Alistair Wood. He encouraged attendees to reflect on what they’d heard and to come up with one thing they’ll change as a result. Good advice for anyone going to a conference…