5 Tips for B-to-B Reactivation

May 02, 2012 10:39 PM  By

I am often asked: when is it more cost effective to invest in the reactivation of business-to-business buyers who haven’t bought in a long time versus investing in prospecting to acquire new buyers? As with all forms of marketing, proper segmentation of your target market is the key.


Profile your new customers, lapsed customers and repeat customers to determine which ones are more likely to buy again and which ones are not. You can use transactional data, like how recently they bought, how frequently they bought, which products they bought, and how much they spent. You should also use the products they bought and the channel through which they bought them. Patterns should emerge.

For example, it would not be unusual to see widely different amounts of time between purchases for certain products if you are selling multiple products. Nor would it be unusual to see a lesser or different propensity to buy again when you examine people who spent a great deal of money versus those who spent less.

Before doing any segmentation, make sure your data is clean and complete. You can check it or supplement it by purchasing data such as the type of businesses your customers are in, what their companies sell, their corporate hierarchy, etc. Keep track of these segments. Watch their behavior and the typical length of time between orders for each segment.

Differentiate between sites (companies) and individuals. Because of a lot of turmoil, buying, selling and downsizing in businesses recently, you may no longer have the right individual name on your database, but the company is still good and is purchasing, or could purchase from you under a different individual’s name. Use site penetration techniques to find these key individuals. One of the most successful site penetration techniques is to ask existing contacts for additional referral names at a company that already has a buying history with you and has most likely been pleased with your goods and services.

Do your homework. For example, study LTV (lifetime value) for each segment and compare the results. Compare the lifetime value of a reactivated buyer versus that of a new prospect you have converted into a new first time buyer. Many times, reactivated buyers have a much higher lifetime value than new buyers, so you can afford to spend more to reactivate customers and still come out with a greater ROI.

Also, make sure to study why the customer you are trying to reactivate no longer buys from you. None of your reactivation efforts will be successful if you have an intrinsic or operational problem like inadequate customer service, a product category that performs poorly or another competitive handicap.

Finally, test offers and multiple channels when you are trying to reactivate b-to-b customers, just as you would when prospecting. Do not assume the customer you are trying to reactivate knows you and loves your products. Time has passed.

You must resell your company, products and services, almost as you would to a prospect. Based on these results of your offer and channel tests, you can create an ongoing reactivation program. You can also use the data you receive with this program to develop a model that will help you predict which segments of b-to-b prospects are more likely to continue to buy from you. You can use this model to prospect more efficiently in the future and at a higher ROI.

Mary Ann Kleinfelteris president and owner of marketing consultancy Marketing Solutions Today.