How AdRoll drives 97% customer retention by helping customers outside the app

How AdRoll drives 97% customer retention by helping customers outside the app

September 13, 2017

When you're a small company, you have the time and personal relationships to be creative about customer retention. You can chat with new customers directly about their progress and what they want from your product.

This gets harder as you grow your customer base, but it remains just as important to retain your existing customers. It's just as necessary to show that you're invested in the success of customers, but you don't have the time or the personal connection to each customer that helped you build relationships in the beginning.

Fortunately, you can use data to scale your personalized customer communication, like the ad retargeting company AdRoll has. They developed a series of personalized email campaigns that helped them maintain a 97% customer retention rate, which is way above the B2B SaaS industry average, and maximized lifetime value.

Below, we'll go through a few of AdRoll's marketing strategies for customer retention, as fully explained in our Data-Driven Marketing e-book.

How can you connect in the inbox?

There is no shortage of ways to reach out to your customers. You can set up email drip campaigns, message them in-app, leverage social media, solicit feedback in surveys, send them weekly newsletters—the list goes on. This makes it easy for marketers to reach out and encourage customer loyalty. More and more marketers are, like growth manager Max Blaha at AdRoll says, “trying to attack retention from a marketing angle.”


The above campaigns are super generic and likely to be archived, ignored, or marked as spam. We can do better, especially if we can provide personalized and valuable messages to all customers.

This is how AdRoll approaches their retention marketing strategy: they present data to their customers in a way that's cognizant of how the customer will use it. For AdRoll, that looks like this:

  • Sending automated emails with reports and metrics about that user's account
  • Offering personalized insights for improvement, tied to specific points of customer data
  • Pairing calls to action with positive messages and incentives to keep making progress

AdRoll has seen that making it easier for existing customers to understand what's going on, motivates them to take action and continue using your product.

Automate performance reports for easy personalization

When AdRoll developed their data-driven retention campaign, the team knew the goals of both existing customers and new customers were to generate more conversions and more ROI with their ads.

To help customers, AdRoll could provide data on their ads' performances and show where there was room for improvement. AdRoll did this by designing an email that delivered customers their monthly metrics: impressions, clicks, conversions, and total ROI.

AdRoll made this data available in a concise report in the body of the email — customers didn't have to log into the product or navigate through different dashboards to have access to this useful information.

By automating these emails, AdRoll made sure that delivering the right information to the right people was a scalable process, resulting in extremely high retention rates (Tweet this!). For a deeper look at these results and the experiments that led to them, check out the full chapter on Data-Driven Retention.

How to set it up

This type of report requires an understanding of what drives customer engagement. Here's how you can set up your marketing efforts to automate the emails reports to run on their own, at scale:

  1. Identify the data. What usage data from your product will be most useful to your customers and relates to their big-picture goal? To avoid overwhelming your customers with data, choose 3-5 metrics to start.

  2. Identify your data source. Figure out where that data lives, whether it's an internal database, an external analytics tool like Amplitude.

  3. Transfer the data. Make sure you can push the data from its source into your email marketing tool of choice.

Customize insights according to individual customer data

The AdRoll team engineered their personalized performance reports to provide an additional layer of motivation. When a customer shows low performance for a certain metric or is missing data, AdRoll offers specific tips for improvement, introducing a new way for them to see real growth.

For example, the email above was sent to an existing customer that wasn't tracking their ROI in AdRoll. Their personalized suggestion in the email explains the benefits of tracking ROI, and provides a call to action that leads the customer to complete a specific goal.

This is actionable enough that the customer can complete it relatively quickly and get a rush of dopamine. It also connects their actions in the product to tangible progress and results, creating a better customer experience and increasing brand loyalty to your product.

How to do it

This is how you can set up and automate personalized insights for customers:

  1. Choose a metric. Choose which metrics constitute “poor performance” that you report to your existing customers.
  2. Determine the action. What suggestions, user actions, or resources (like how-to videos) can you provide to customers struggling in each of these areas? This is what the user will do once they react to the metric you chose.
  3. Connect suggestions to customer data. You now have everything you need to build If/Else statements that match performance metrics to suggested actions, and can create emails personalized for each customer's metrics.

Personalized insights create invested customers

AdRoll uses a unified outreach strategy that leverages both customer data and different email tactics to communicate with their customers. This helps the customer do more of what they want to do in the product, ultimately resulting in high retention rates.

Do away with writing Hello, {{ customer.first_name }} and start using the right tools and data to get your customers to take your advice, make improvements, and build workflows within your product that accomplish their long-term goals.

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