Unlike the neglected sneakers I keep under my desk for the day I will begin to take brisk walks after my lunch of kale and quinoa, the shoes of real runners are treated with respect.

They know that their choices in footwear are a critical part of their success to prevent injury and to improve performance and enjoyment.

A recent conversation about using data at the office brought up an idea we recommended to a running shoe retailer. After discussing how to create a valuable customer experience, we realized that the best approach was to foster a relationship that extended well past the sale.

Beyond educating its customers about what’s important in a running shoe, we thought a “born on” date idea would work well for a new shoe purchase, so the retailer could communicate with it’s customers personally to suggest ways to optimize the wear and to provide a reminder when the shoe is due for replacement.

Since running shoes only last 350 – 550 miles, keeping track of their wear is key. There are tons of apps that help do this. And we simply encouraged our client to close the loop on this communication to continue to add value to their customers.

Nurture Management

But the real issue in the example above is how to continue to delight the customer. By investing in customers after the sale, a company realizes benefits like increasing engagement, building credibility as an expert, positivie reviews, and seeking referrals. Not to mention the increased revenue a repeat customer brings.

For too many companies, though, owning the whole buying journey is not something marketers take on. Once they’ve attracted traffic and converted it into leads, a salesperson or the website itself completes the sale. Post-sale, that customer is handled by a customer service department.

Is that the best way?

Gleanster Research and Act-On Software recently released the results of a survey conducted with 750 marketing professionals at mid-sized B2B firms. They claim that the vast majority of B2B marketers are spending too much time and budget on acquiring new customers and not nearly enough on retention and expansion. Tom Kaneshige from CIO.com suggests marketers in this digital age consider themselves “customer experience stewards” and encourages companies to stop measuring success solely on acquisition activities.

Most companies that are really doing cool things with post-sale digital marketing are in the B2C space. My friend at work recently bought a dress on Loft.com, which triggered weekly emails with promotions on other dresses they felt she might be interested in. By suggesting similar styles that were on point, she ended up buying another from the company shortly thereafter.

Since some consumers might find this creepy, I asked her how she felt.  She said, “I personally find it helpful. There is so much information, so many products, so many choices. Marketers that take the time to craft messages just for me and my preferences will result in me spending more dollars with them versus their competitors.”

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