Acquisition and Retention Marketing: Using Data-Led Insights to Improve Your ROI

To maximize your return on investment (ROI), it’s essential that you effectively reach and engage your target audiences. Successful organizations maintain long-lasting relationships with their customer or donor audiences by using various retention marketing principles.

Whether your organization is a for-profit or non-profit, loyalty is essential to success. Loyal customers or donors become your biggest promoters, provide a steady source of income and can help your organization continue to grow from generation to generation.

But how do you find new customers or donors? Start by looking into your current loyal supporters. Whether you analyze existing data or create new data by surveying your audience to obtain insightful information, gaining a greater understanding of what drives your audience to be loyal is an important factor in retaining them and finding more like them.

To succeed in today’s highly competitive market, for-profit and non-profit organizations alike need to rely on market knowledge and insights about constituents to create more personal connections with their audiences. By using data to identify your key audiences and discover their motivators, you can further acquire and retain supporters for your organization.

Retention Marketing should Start with the Facts 

As Author Dan Zarrella said, “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.”

Many marketers, however, continue to rely on organizational “truths” or “the way it’s always been done” as they develop their marketing plans. Unfortunately, when this leads to less-than-desirable results, marketers struggle with how to redirect their efforts. Gaining a deep understanding of your audience’s behaviors and interests is the solution to eliminate the ups and downs of trial and error, which often uses outdated or narrowly focused organizational beliefs.

There are several ways to gain deeper insights about your audience, including primary and secondary research. Primary research is when you “ask” your target audiences to answer questions to build a data set of facts about their interests and preferences. This data is typically collected through emails, phone calls and personalized surveys. Secondary research is based on analyzing existing data sets, and sometimes combining them to build a broader picture of your audience. Whatever approach you choose, the goal is to obtain relevant and undeniable facts that can be turned into action, such as recognizing the ideal messaging, cadence and channels that resonate with your audience.

Either way, obtaining this critical data is essential to success. The following methods can be especially powerful ways to glean insightful facts and statistics about your audience in order to optimize your marketing strategies.

1. Market and Customer/Donor-Specific Data 

Understanding the current market is the key to identifying critical information that drives audience behavior and customers’ purchasing decisions. With this approach, you can gain insights into your target audience’s preferences and their likes and dislikes of your brand, as well as optimize your messaging, product offerings, services and goals.

Customer/donor-specific data can help you generate invaluable insights into your audience’s expectations, their motivations, preferences and behaviors. By analyzing existing customer/donor data, organizations can identify commonalities among their customers or donors, which can help segment them into groups with similar interests and behaviors. This is important for developing targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with specific segments of your audience, leading to improved ROI.

Helpful market and customer/donor-specific research include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Campaign effectiveness
  • Product testing
  • Customer/donor satisfaction and loyalty
  • Market segmentation analysis
  • Competitive analysis

As you are examining your data, don’t forget to pay attention to what makes customers or donors leave as well as what makes them stay, helping you to recognize any avoidable pitfalls and correct them in the future. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

The types of facts you choose to analyze depend on your industry, audience and goals, but using a combination of all or most of these may provide you with the greatest insights and guide your retention marketing efforts.

2. Data Analytics

Analytics identify the most effective marketing messages and channels that cause your audience to take your desired action. Through valuable data analysis tools, you can measure your marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the ROI of each of your marketing touchpoints. By tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns, you can identify areas of improvement and optimize your strategies to drive better results.

In addition to the above market and customer/donor-focused analysis, recognizing different aspects of your audience’s engagement with your campaigns will provide insights that help you to stop doing the things that aren’t working and keep doing the things that are. 

A partial list of website-based metrics include: 

  • Impressions, page views and bounce rates
  • Traffic (organic, ad-based or direct)
  • Unique visitors vs. returning visitors
  • Conversions (leads generated)
  • Cart abandonment and purchase behaviors

Additional types of metrics include marketing email opens and click-through rates, as well as social media impressions, engagement and link clicks.

Some researchers break down analytics into three types: descriptive (what happened in the past), predictive (using data to make predictions about the future) and prescriptive (trend analysis based on data). Using these insights can help  reduce the downfalls associated with marketing by trial-and-error methods.

Hundreds of data analysis tools and programs are available online and through various apps. Clearly, the data can be overwhelming, so it takes a trained eye to understand what should be tracked, dissect the data, examine the results and make meaningful conclusions that can be shared with a marketing team for decisions about the next steps to take.

Two smiling women look into a shopping bag
Recognizing what drives consumer satisfaction is a key to retention marketing. Analyzing data about past or existing customers’ behaviors can help you generate new leads as well.

3. Personas and Look-Alike Audiences

There’s no denying the power of data in crafting targeted marketing efforts that help retain your current customers or donors. However, this effort can also create big dividends if you leverage this data to create detailed prospective audience profiles.

Creating personas involves identifying the unique audience segments an organization may have by expanding the information you know about them. Common traits such as their interests, income levels, age and family demographics may shed light on how to engage with and message these audience segments.

By developing this profound understanding of your existing donor or customer segments, you can identify new individuals who share similar characteristics, behaviors and needs and then develop a strategic approach to engage with them.

A better understanding of your audience segments can influence the messages and channels you use to engage with them and ultimately convert them into new customers or donors. With this actionable information, you can create targeted marketing campaigns which attract new customers while retaining existing ones.

You can also use this information to create “look-alike” audiences for paid advertisements on social media sites and for Google Ads. This method of advertising is useful in finding prospects whose interests and needs align with those of your existing audiences and personas.

Through these efforts, you can increase your top-of-funnel leads and eventually increase conversion rates. 

Continued Data Analysis in Marketing

Using a data-led approach in your acquisition and retention marketing efforts should not stop.

Measuring marketing success without an in-depth analysis of data and insights can only yield high-level results. It is important to continually track data insights that relate to your marketing campaigns' audience segments, messages, channels and drivers of response. By optimizing marketing strategies based on data insights, organizations can significantly improve the results of their marketing efforts.

In today's highly competitive market, having a thorough understanding of your market and your audience can play a significant role in guiding your organization toward marketing decisions that support retention and acquisition. When organizations have deep knowledge about their unique audiences’ behavior, motives and preferences, it significantly improves opportunities for increased engagement, retention, acquisition and a higher ROI.

By expanding your data attributes, segmenting your audience, analyzing data, developing personas and continually tracking success metrics, organizations can improve their marketing campaigns and drive financial growth. It is vital for CEOs, CFOs and CMOs to make informed decisions and implement data-led solutions in order to improve their ROI.

See examples of how Phoenix Innovate has used insightful data to create solutions for organizations in a wide variety of industries.

Kirk Vercnocke
Kirk Vercnocke


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Mark M Gaskill
Mark M Gaskill

EVP of Marketing Solutions

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