6033% ROI, Defining Churn
Newsletter #78 4/2007
Drilling Down - Turning Customer
Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet
Customer Valuation, Retention,
Get the Drilling Down Book!
Hi again folks, Jim Novo here.
6033% ROI on a customer marketing program - in the dry cleaning
business? That's the report from a small business consultant who
has been doing some Drillin' for her clients. We also have a
question on the topic of customer churn in various industries - and
why so many companies do not know what their churn is.
Couple these stories with a "shocking" article on the
future of the Ad Agency business and a blog series on Measuring
Engagement and you have the April 2007 Drilling Down newsletter.
Here we go...
Best Customer Marketing Articles
Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario 2.0
Most people who read this newsletter are probably not all that interested in mass media as a marketing vehicle.
But I think just about any Marketing person would benefit from reading this incredibly stark view of the future in the traditional agency / mass media complex in this article over at Ad Age. Yikes!
To access the full article reviews and links to the articles
Sample Marketing Productivity Blog Post
April 3 - 29, 2007
With all the tittering in the advertising space about Measuring
Engagement, I thought it might be useful to lay out how customer
marketing and web analytics folks have been Measuring Engagement for
quite some time now. Why do the ad folks (especially the online
advocates) have to always invent new names for existing
concepts? Never mind, I know the answer to that question...sigh.
Anyway, the link below is to an index of the 5 part series and a
related book review:
the Measuring Engagement Series
You can subscribe to the Blog by e-mail if you want to, just go to
the Blog home page.
Questions from Fellow Drillers
Q: We have exchanged email a few times, and I don't recall if I ever said
thank you for your book. While I had been experimenting with many CRM
programs in my little dry cleaning shop, your book gave my thoughts
order and clarity to refine what I had started. Today, I see the world differently.
A: Well, thanks for the thanks!
Q: You may or may not remember me. Just after I sold my dry cleaning shop,
I had bought your Drilling Down
book. I was the dry cleaner who had been
doing rudimentary data mining and CRM with a point of sale system I had
developed in Regina, Saskatchewan.
A: I do remember. Internally, I was thinking, "Wow, this is going to be a
real test of the Drilling Down concept". I mean, I have seen it work in many small
businesses, but dry clean (seems to me) is a very tough, tough business.
Too many players, a lot of competing on price, etc. A great environment
for underground customer marketing in terms of beating the other guy - they
will never know what happened to them. But still, tough for small owner /
operator to have the "will" and time to really make it happen.
So yea, I remember...
Q: Well, I've continued working within the dry cleaning as a marketing
consultant. The programs I had developed in my shop have now been
transplanted into a few of my client's shops, and are bearing fruit.
Tonight one of my clients reported a ROI of 6033% doing direct mail to
certain customers in his market in California. Another client of mine
reported his fourth year of steady growth. One of my first clients has
been showing a 7 percent annual compound growth, and he is in a flat or declining market.
What began in my shop has been proven across North America, into Europe and Australia by my clients.
A: I can't tell you how excited it makes me to hear that.
Q: Jim, data mining dry cleaner's data is a blast.
You would be stunned at the quantity, and quality of data a dry cleaner gathers
today. Would you ever have thought data mining could be applied to suits and shirts?
Well yes, it can.
A: I am stunned, and I bow to your most excellent Drilling!
Q: Once again, thank you.
A: And thank you for sharing this, it's very, very exciting to hear. Like you
said, no other word for it than "stunning". I remain most stunned!
Keep me informed.
Perhaps you should write a book?
Reader P.S. If you own a service business that depends
on repeat customers and would
like to contact the fellow Driller responsible for producing
the results above, let me know. I'll send you her e-mail
address. I can tell you these are not the only success stories
she has to share with you...
Q: I work for an economics consulting firm based in Washington DC.
I am researching customer churn and customer displacement statistics across a variety of industries to try to
establish a benchmark of what is considered high and low customer displacement across many industries.
A: Nice to meet you, and a noble task!
Q: Do you happen to have any such churn statistics, or know if a place you
could recommend? I found plenty of statistics regarding churn rates within
the telecom industry, but am most interested in companies that are involved
in business-to-business relationships with their customers (such as the
relationship between a customer and a supplier). In addition, I would also
like to find churn statistics for customers who use multiple suppliers.
For example, a customer may go to several grocery stores rather than sticking
with one dedicated store. I would be interested in learning more about the
statistics companies in these types of industries use to track customer
A: The reason you find a lot of churn info in telco / cable is the end
of the customer life is easily defined by the disconnect, and these numbers
are reported publicly as part of annual reports and so forth. In many
other businesses like the ones you describe, typically the companies have
failed to define customer defection and so in their minds, there is no
churn because there is no defection.
A "customer", even though they have not contacted the company for 3, 5 or 10 years, is still a customer.
If the company thinks like this there is no churn rate to be measured, by
definition the company itself has chosen.
At the same time, defining defection is pretty easy to do by looking at the
transactional data and defining the patterns of defection, for example "if
a customer has not ordered from us in 3 years they are highly unlikely to
order again". That's defection defined; you just put a line in the sand
and say "3 years no contact is a defection". The company then should
declare customers in this status "defected" and then a churn rate could be
found. This is pretty easy to do, so if not executed, one of two
situations exist: either the company does not have the data or they don't
have the "will" to discuss, internally or externally, the concept
of customer defection.
A third possibility exists: the company in fact has the data and has
defined defection, but would never, ever speak to churn or customer defection in any kind of public forum because
this information is so critically important from a competitive and strategy perspective.
To discuss these numbers or the implications in public could have dramatic
consequences for company positioning in the market or stock price.
So if they have the numbers, they're locked in a safe somewhere.
As a result, I'm sorry to say, I do not have any broad-based "sources" for
you, save one possibility: a book called The Loyalty Effect by Frederick F.
Reichheld (1996). In this book, Reichheld goes through the business models
of 25 different companies that excel at retaining customers in different industries
, and proves out the financial model of customer retention using real data.
This is the book where the quote, "It costs 5x more to acquire a new customer than retain a current customer" (or
the various bastardizations) came from. So it might help you out.
The only other thing I can suggest is that "churn" is not always the word
used to describe these stats but is most often used when the disconnect is
easily defined, as in telco / cable; "displacement" is a rare use.
"Customer Turnover" is a popular phrase in Europe and is used by some in
the US; also "defection rate" is used quite a bit.
So if you're pounding on Google to try to find these numbers, try those
phrases and others you may find when doing these searches. Banking / finance / insurance is another area where the "disconnect" is
often easily defined, so you will find various defection rates in some of their case
If you are a consultant, agency, or software developer with clients
needing action-oriented customer intelligence or High ROI Customer
Marketing program designs, click
That's it for this month's edition of the Drilling Down newsletter.
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Any comments on the newsletter (it's too long, too short, topic
suggestions, etc.) please send them right along to me, along with any
other questions on customer Valuation, Retention, Loyalty, and
'Til next time, keep Drilling Down!
- Jim Novo
Copyright 2007, The Drilling Down Project by Jim Novo. All
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