Magazine article CRM Magazine

EarthLink Connects to a World of Loyalty: Analyzing Churn Helped the Internet Service Provider Improve Not Just the Targeting of Its Messages, but Its Overall Customer Retention as Well

Magazine article CRM Magazine

EarthLink Connects to a World of Loyalty: Analyzing Churn Helped the Internet Service Provider Improve Not Just the Targeting of Its Messages, but Its Overall Customer Retention as Well

Article excerpt

It's always cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones, something that a tough economic climate has made increasingly clear to many companies. EarthLink, one of the largest Internet service providers (ISPs), managed to connect with this reality, but Stuart Roesel, the company's director of customer insights, analytics, and strategy, reports that it's no easy feat--in fact, Roesel says, it's nearly impossible without three key moves. (See box, "EarthLink's Links to Success," right.)

EarthLink has been a SAS customer since 2006--using the SAS Enterprise Miner solution, Base SAS, SAS Enterprise Guide, and, more recently, SAS Campaign Management--but the ISP is continually updating and expanding its predictive modeling programs.

Complicated analysis is great--for analysts and statisticians. "When you take that out to product management organizations and the people with marketing degrees, they have a difficult time with what that means," Roesel says. The company was in search of a cohesive analytics solution that would provide a single view of the customer. More specifically, EarthLink needed a better mechanism for associating customer churn with specific customer attributes and products.

In a program begun earlier this year to identify and further understand the intricacies and nuances of customer churn, EarthLink has applied modeling and segmentation to connect with customers and keep them aboard. The collaboration--between EarthLink's customer insights, analytics, and strategy team and its product marketing, merchandising, and loyalty team--has uncovered interesting statistics in the areas of product marketing and loyalty. The real goal in the analysis is to build engaging life-cycle experiences, Roesel says. Those experiences have enabled EarthLink to not only lower churn rates to record levels, he says, but also raise profitability and customer satisfaction to all-time highs.

The combined SAS toolset helped EarthLink develop what it calls its Loyalty 2.0 blueprint, part of which involves analyzing churn. Traditionally, EarthLink would score the entire base on a customer's propensity to churn in the next 60 days. "That drove a very broad strategy and one lifecycle," Roesel says. "Today, we do our propensity to churn modeling within each segment and have created unique lifecycle experiences across identified key engagement and touch points."

Now EarthLink focuses more on the most-profitable customers and spends less time on customers who are bound to churn regardless of intervention. …

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