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Customer Share Marketing: Getting the Most Out of Your Customers

Customer share marketing is the development of an orderly, outbound, offensive marketing plan that is designed not only to retain customers, but also to grow customer share — increasing the amount of business each customer does with your company.
This chapter is from the book

I spent a number of years on the other side of a one-way mirror watching sports fans talk about the products that they used to educate themselves about their favorite sports, teams, and individual stars. I was always amazed at the number of serious sports fans who renewed or even extended their subscriptions well before they expired, and some without any prompting at all on the part of the company.

These were the customers in the very center of the target—the most profitable customers in the database—because they kept coming back, year after year, without any arm-twisting, convincing, or expense on the part of the company.

I once received a telephone call from a subscriber who wanted to take advantage of a special promotion by extending his subscription for 14 years! Think about that. He wanted to take advantage of an offer that would save him money on his favorite magazine by essentially prepaying for more than 750 issues—or well into the new millennium!

Though this is an extraordinarily rare case, it dramatizes the bond that can be built between a customer and a brand over time. Because the editor of the publication had once taken this subscriber's call and followed up with a personal letter, he was a customer for life. Maybe even beyond life!

Customer Share Marketing: Tapping Customer Loyalty

Historically, the acquisition of customers has been an offensive marketing initiative that requires a thoughtful strategy, a step-by-step plan, and a lot of money. The retention of customers, on the other hand, has rarely been afforded such a deliberate, organized, and well-funded process. More often, retention has been the by-product of a string of acquisition or branding campaigns, or has been gained through the satisfactory fulfillment of the promise that a product's advertising makes. If the advertising claims that the product takes out the toughest stains and succeeds in doing so, there's no better means of retention than the successful delivery of a promise that provides a solution to a customer's problem.

The development of an orderly, outbound, offensive strategy specifically designed to retain customers is rare indeed. Many of today's marketers would be hard pressed to even articulate what their specific retention or customer share initiatives are, or even if they had any.

Customer share marketing is the development of an orderly, outbound, offensive marketing plan that is designed not only to retain customers, but also to grow customer share—increasing the amount of business each customer does with your company. Customer share marketing goes beyond the retention of customers to build trust with each customer on a one-to-one basis. Customer share marketing is the art and science of:

  • Driving your best prospects and customers to your Web site by using all relevant online and offline marketing initiatives.

  • Capturing permission from both prospects and customers who have expressed an interest in learning more about what you have to sell.

  • Using that permission to initiate thoughtful conversations by email with prospects and customers for the purpose of enhancing customer relationships and building trust between buyer and seller.

  • Creating appropriate commercial opportunities through permission-granted email efforts for the purpose of increasing the amount of business with each customer.

These four major actions define the practice of customer share marketing. It starts by using all forms of online and offline marketing to drive prospects and customers to your site: running ads and promotions, sending direct mail, renting email lists, sending opt-in email, and partnering with other sites to drive their traffic to your site via an affiliate marketing program.

In Table 9.1, you can see that some of these initiatives are dedicated and budgeted Web marketing initiatives, such as the development of online advertising or opt-in email campaigns. Other mass-marketing initiatives, such as URL tagging in national advertising or on product packaging and retail shopping bags, simply take advantage of the substantive and widespread marketing energy that only mass-marketing efforts can generate.

Table 9.1 The Elements of Customer Share Marketing

Four New Ps


1. People

Identify Your Customers

2. Preferences

Identify Their Product Usage

3. Permission

Obtain Their Permission

4. Precision

Comm unicate One-to-One

© 2001 Customer Share Group LLC

Once prospects arrive at your site, it's about engaging them with relevant content and encouraging them to sign up for one of several permission-granted programs, such as e-newsletters, email updates on specials and new product announcements, contests, sweepstakes, and polls.

Ultimately, it's about creating outbound, permission-granted communications with your prospects and customers, sending them messages that are engaging and entertaining, while motivating from a sales perspective. Though many companies still view email—even permission-granted email—as a nice, customer service-oriented outreach program to prospects and customers, you will learn later in the book that some major marketers are effectively using email to move the needle on incremental sales, both online through e-commerce for companies such as Nordstrom and offline through increased brick-and-mortar retail sales for companies such as Pepsico's Frito-Lay brand.

Customer share marketing in no way replaces market share marketing, but instead works in tandem with market share marketing efforts to create a second opportunity to sell to interested prospects and customers. Customer share marketing moves the marketing conversation to a quiet, one-to-one place, delivering messages that are more relevant to recipients.

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