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LSA15: What is Being Done to Combat SMB Churn?

As traditional media and digital pure play channels struggle to find the right mix of service and scale, no one seems to have fully cracked the code on local digital media sales. However, a panel of experts provided some best practices they are finding in retaining customers.

While still in “early days” of some organizational and strategic changes made within their organizations, Sharon Rowlands (ReachLocal), Sandy Lohr (Advance Digital), Ben Gibson (AdMax Local) and Benu Aggarwal (Milestone Internet Marketing) provide a look into what they are finding.

Moderated by Neal Polachek of BuzzBoard, the panel talked about everything from client communications to the perceived value of the products and services themselves. But before getting into what they find is working, each of the panelists were asked to define what churn means to them.

While the exact definitions varied, they all were centered around clients that paid for a product or service and then dropped within a set period of time. To combat this issue, the panelist shared what their organizations were doing:

  • Expectation Setting: Don’t shoot for the moon if there isn’t a chance to reach it. Make sure expectations are managed appropriately. Over perform, don’t over sell.
  • Analytics: Provide a clear view of ROI and performance of any campaign and do this on a regular basis. From follow up calls, to email updates, show clients how they are doing and make it understandable.
  • Communications: In order to better scale, automate communication processes as best you can, but phone calls are also necessary. Make the message clear, understandable and centered around ROI. Webinars, reports and the like are tremendous assets at proving value.
  • Sales: Let leads go if you can’t provide the performance they are looking for. Overselling results in unattainable expecations and ultimately churn.
  • Technology: Automate what makes sense, but you can’t use technology to replace relationships. Telling the story of performance requires more service, but technology can automate some of the communications activity.
  • Training and Staff: Let sales people sell. Don’t make it necessary for them to manage every aspect of the account. Bring on account managers to help and make sure to leverage the right incentives and compensate accordingly.

According to the panel, you need to look not only at the business that dropped, but the service or product itself. Products aren’t perfect and need to be refined and optimized, but the experience of a product or service needs to be reviewed as well.

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