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Stage 4: Retention Using Analytics to Predict What Customers Need Next

James Wheless
Global Managing Partner, Consulting & Services Integration, Tata Consultancy Services
Lakshmi Ramesh
Head, Media Center of Excellence, Cognitive Business Operations, TCS

Innovating the Brand Experience through Digital Transformation

Chief Marketing Officers have one of the riskiest roles in the C-suite, with most staying in office only 4.1 years on average.1 Diminishing budgets and higher performance expectations are compelling visionary CMOs to transform their organizations into high-value marketing engines that deliver an extraordinary brand experience at every stage of the customer journey.

This study shares fresh insights about how more than 500 enterprise CMOs in North America and Europe are creating impactful brand experiences for their audiences using digital technologies, now and in the future, with personalization that delivers customized, relevant messages for multichannel marketing campaigns.

In this report, we refer to “leaders” and “followers.” Leaders were 85 marketers whose metrics were directly connected to revenue, who fared well on those metrics, and who vouched for their accuracy. Followers were 95 marketers who used metrics that didn’t connect directly with revenue, and who fared poorly on the metrics they used.

Personalizing the Entire Brand Experience

Our CMO Study results have been released in four condensed reports to reveal top insights about how senior marketers currently use, and plan to use, evolving digital technologies to personalize the brand experience at every stage of the customer journey.

Stage 1: Create market awareness
Stage 2: Convince and convert prospects to clients
Stage 3: Customer support following purchase
Stage 4: Customer retention to upsell and cross-sell

Each report highlights what leaders do differently from the followers including:

■ The channels they use (both digital and non-digital), and the innovative ways they use those channels
■ The customer data they collect, and how they use it to personalize communications
■ The proficiency with analytics technologies used to identify prospects and personalize communications
■ The level of automation for key aspects of marketing, how much of that technology is in the cloud, and plans for the future
■ How adept they are at personalizing and up-leveling a dynamic brand experience

The Big Reveal: Most Marketers Don’t Focus on Customer Retention

Our series of reports shares results from the TCS 2019 CMO Study, including the number of marketers creating personalized communications in every stage of the brand experience. All marketers surveyed participated in the Awareness phase; most were involved in the Conversion stage (72%); and the Support stage comes in lowest at 37%.

In the Retention stage, it’s important to deliver a relevant customer experience and show a deep understanding of each customer to continue to build trust. Knowing your customer encourages repeat purchases, cross-selling, and upselling other products/services from the company and ultimately, turns them into brand advocates. In this report, we look at the top 6 insights from our study results for this phase of the customer journey.

Only 47% of marketers said they create communications in the retention stage of the brand experience—highlighting a huge missed opportunity to strengthen relationships with current customers.

Marketing Functions Creating Communications in Each Stage

■ Stage 1 Awareness: 100%
■ Stage 2 Prospect Conversion: 72%
■ Stage 3 Customer Support: 37%
■ Stage 4 Customer Retention: 47%
■ All stages: 19% of B2B marketers

#1 Only 47% of Marketers Are Seizing the Opportunities in the Retention Stage

This phase is about encouraging existing customers to continue buying from your company. If you can delight them throughout the entire experience, they will become customers for life as well as brand advocates, selling your products and services with word-of-mouth and digital recommendations. An amazing brand experience, powered by analytics, enables the business to profit from an existing relationship and capitalize on the goodwill earned from it.

According to one marketer, through the use of analytics and other technologies, this business services firm drove the number of its top 100 customers contracting for new services from 40% to 73%.

Missed Opportunity?
Marketers not involved in reaching out to existing customers are missing out on a big opportunity to leverage valuable data. For example, new technologies like digital sensors embedded in products are enabling companies to track how customers are using their products and services.

Example: A pharmaceutical firm we interviewed is bringing to market a system with sensors that can rapidly diagnose the health of livestock, leading to better outcomes for farmers and increased sales for the company.

#2 Marketer Engagement in the Retention Stage Varies Widely by Sector and Industry

Marketing’s level of engagement in creating communications at this stage varies by sector.

Involvement is highest in:
Retail 76%
Automotive 70%
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) 65%

Involvement is lowest in:
Industrial manufacturing 19%
Healthcare and life sciences 13%

B2C/B2B2C vs B2B:
At 58%, consumer marketers are more engaged than 19% of B2B marketers

#3 Marketers Use Fewer Communications Channels in the Retention Stage Compared to Stages 1 and 2

In this phase, marketers already have a common way of interacting with customers compared to Stages 1 and 2. As a result, Stage 4 marketers need and use fewer communications channels to reach their customers.

Involvement is lower in:
Retail stores/branches/field outlets 79%
Billboards 78%
Print media 77%

Involvement is lowest in:
Field sales 19%
Ads on online review forums 7%
Direct mail 4%

All stage 4 marketers use these two channels:
Digital media advertising 100%
Company website 100%

Other popular digital channels include:
Online video sites 77%
Mobile apps 72%

Marketing leaders are more likely to use certain channels than followers including:

Digital channels

Online video sites
90% vs. 73%

Company’s social media sites
52% vs. 38%

Ads on e-commerce sites
48% vs. 32%

Traditional media channels

Broadcast advertising
88% vs. 76%

Print advertising
83% vs. 68%


#4 Leaders Are More Active in a Wider Variety of Communications Channels than Followers

*Leaders are defined as marketers that measured their impact more directly on revenue, had stronger impacts, and could vouch for the accuracy of those impacts. Followers measured impact on non-revenue items, had less effectiveness on achieving those metrics, and were less able to vouch for the accuracy.

#5 Active Marketers in this Stage Tap Into Buying-Behavior Data to Personalize Communications

Active marketers primarily focus on three types of data to personalize communications with customers for cross-selling and upselling:

Past buying behavior with the company 74%

Demographic data 72%

Buying behavior with other companies 60%*

*This number is a significantly higher percentage than Stage 1 (47%), Stage 2 (44%), or Stage 3 (29%) marketers.

When it comes to personalizing communications in the Retention stage, Leaders use newer digital data sources more frequently than Followers.

Leaders are far more likely to use:

Customers’ real-time physical proximity

31% vs. 24%

Product-usage data captured by embedded sensors

15% vs. 3%

Followers are more likely to use:

Social media behavior data

35% vs. 27%

Past buying behavior with other companies

54% vs. 50%

Missed Opportunity?
Of all marketers surveyed in this stage:
Only 30% provide relevant videos
4% say they do not personalize cross-sellling and upselling communications

#6 Leaders Prefer Delivering Special Deals Over Useful Product Information

All marketers in the Retention stage focus on these messages:

76% Suggest products/services based on previous buying behavior

73% Provide special offers/pricing

71% Communicate useful product/service information

Leader are more likely to engage in this stage using all three message types:

Suggest products/services based on previous buying behavior
84% vs. 64%

Provide special deals and prices
84% vs. 56%

Provide useful product information
84% vs. 69%

Best Practices In Action: How Leaders Keep the Customer Satisfied

How a Pharmaceutical Company Is Using Sensors to Provide Personalized Customer Advice


Imagine the marketing challenge you would face if the end users of your product were incapable of communicating with humans, ever. That’s the problem experienced by a large pharmaceutical company’s division that makes drugs to improve the health of farm animals. It’s also a problem that digital sensors, machine learning and artificial intelligence are now tackling, says a marketing leader for the division, one that could have revolutionary implications for marketers of many types of products.

The company sells digital sensors that farmers implant in livestock. The technology gives the pharma company an unprecedented platform for Stage 4 in the brand experience: cross-selling and up-selling.

The sensors detect livestock and other farm animals’ health issues early. The sensors—worn in the ear of livestock, or around a pet’s neck—may signal that an animal’s behavior has changed, that its activity level has decreased, that it is scratching or running a fever. This data is then used to diagnose health issues. The diagnostic capabilities are powered by machine learning, and are expected to improve, pinpointing a growing variety of diseases.

Already, the pharma company’s automated, sensor-based approach is saving farmers’ labor costs. It minimizes human error associated with manually inspecting a herd. But it offers numerous additional benefits. By improving heat detection, sensors can optimize insemination timing and reduce disruption to the animal’s routine. By detecting disease early, it lets farmers use less expensive drugs and fewer doses than they would need once symptoms become obvious.

The sensors can also track how effective treatments are across the herd. The result for the animal owner: lower costs, greater efficiency, better animal health and enhanced output.

The pharma division marketing executive said the firm’s use of the technology is still in its early stages. However, the executive believes it will open a world of possibilities. When animal owners opt-in to share their data, the company can see that a herd or a pet is in need of care. It can then send personalized educational materials to the owner to add value and strengthen its relationship with the customer. It can also upsell or cross-sell remedies, and it can do this directly in regions of the world where such pharmaceutical marketing is allowed. The advantages to this approach over mass-marketing are profound. “We anticipate better-quality relationships with our customers because we are pinpointing their unique pain points,” said the marketing executive.

The company’s investments represent an emerging business model that depends heavily on leveraging data from the Retention stage in the brand experience. Under this model, companies are not only selling solutions, they’re also harnessing technology and intelligence—using sensors, data, analytics, automation and machine learning—to personalize their marketing messages and help customers better understand their needs.

Rather than using the “spray and pray” approach of mass marketing, the company takes on the role of an informed partner, helping customers better achieve their goals.

“The capability to gather this kind of data changes the way you look at your product portfolio,” the company’s division marketing executive says. “You think about honing your holistic offerings in a way that is data driven and that provides an edge over your competitors. You may also be able to expand your markets by using data to prove the value or even the return on investment of your products in a way that you couldn’t before.”
— Company’s division marketing head

About This Research

This short report is based on a portion of a 45-question online survey and phone interviews, to capture what CMOs do in the Retention stage (Stage 4) in creating communications to retain and nurture existing customers. In additional reports, we publish our findings on how the same marketing organizations are using digital technologies to personalize communications in the other three stages.

Our first release gave an overview of the initial research findings; the final master report provides a comprehensive analysis into the CMO Study results.

The CMOs we surveyed work in:

■ 11 industries
■ Companies with at least $500 million in annual revenue, with most in much larger companies
■ Firms with average revenue $10.6 billion and the average annual marketing budget was $392 million
■ About two-thirds (65%) were from consumer companies (both B2C and B2B2C firms), while 27% were from B2B companies
■ The remaining 8% worked in companies with a fairly balanced mix of B2C and B2B end customers
■ 60% work in North America, and 40% work in Europe

Research Goals & Methodology
Our research goals were to determine:

■ How technology-enabled personalized marketing content today is used throughout the brand experience for prospects and customers (in their marketing and sales campaigns, and customer support and retention initiatives)
■ The impact of such personalization and the key factors in making it effective
■ How CMOs and their organizations develop communications across all stages of the customer lifecycle

The research looks in depth at what marketers are doing in each of the four stages: what channels are being used by companies in different industries, different target end customers (consumers vs. organizations), and different countries; what data companies are using to personalize communications; how they are personalizing communications based on the data they possess on prospects and customers; and how the most successful marketers differ from the rest in channel usage, data for personalization, and types of personalization.

The study findings, based on a mix of B2C, B2B, and B2B2C, are segmented into key stages of the customer journey and have been released in 4 short reports, all of which can be found at

Stage 1 (Creating Awareness): Attracting the Digitally Distracted Prospect

Stage 2 (Prospect Conversion): Personalizing Content to Turn Prospects into Customers

Stage 3 (Customer Support): Interacting Digitally to Become Invaluable Customer Advisers

Stage 4 (Customer Retention): Using Analytics to Predict What Customers Need Next

Master Report: How Leading CMOs Captivate and Convert Customers for Life
This comprehensive report consolidates the findings and provides in-depth analysis and surprising new insights about how leading marketers differ from the rest in the innovative use of digital technologies, data, and analytics to personalize the brand experience—within, across and outside all four stages of the customer journey.

1Korn Ferry Institute study of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies by revenue, conducted in late 2016.


This infographic provides highlights from the 2019 TCS CMO Study about how marketers are personalizing communications in the Retention stage of the customer journey.

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