Lead Gen vs. Customer Marketing
Organizations don’t spend an equal amount of time or even close to enough time on marketing to current customers as they spend on nurturing new prospects. The reason this occurs is that Marketing teams are under severe pressure to generate demand around the product. CEOs need to show new logo wins in every board meeting, so their pressure to fill the pipeline gets passed on to Marketing. Naturally, the focus shifts from engaging current customers to the acquisition of new leads. In today’s day and age, organizations have understood the importance of retention and have formed Customer Success departments that are focused on improving product usage and creating positive customer outcomes. In spite of this trend, customer marketing efforts remain minimal.
Limited Marketing Efforts
Marketers look at customer marketing in a limited fashion by including customers in the monthly/quarterly newsletters, and providing references to the Sales team when they need it during the sales process. Sometimes customer quotes are used in press releases, speaking engagements, and as analyst references as well. Customer Success uses the marketing aspect of their role to educate, inform, and assist customers at every stage of their journey, and to provide them with a positive experience. There is significant marketing effort involved in terms of the content of the emails, webinars, guides, and videos that educate and nurture customers.
What Type of Marketing Are We Doing?
A lot of different terms have been created to define marketing activities & campaigns for customers including customer marketing, retention marketing, adoption marketing, win-back marketing campaigns, advocacy marketing, and much more. If we house all of those under the overarching term of customer marketing, we can keep things simple. At the core, the aim of customer marketing is to strengthen relationship of the customer with the brand and product. Successful customer marketing can only be implemented if Customer Success and marketing come together in a partnership. There is a lot of untapped potential (that most organizations are not realizing) of being able to engage with their customer base way beyond reference and pre-sales types of activities, including onboarding, adoption, customer advisory boards, community participation, advocacy programs, product adoption, events and expansion programs.
A CS and Marketing Partnership
An important requirement for a Customer Success and Marketing partnership is the establishment of a common data framework and exchange of data between the systems of record. Tomasz Tunguz has recently written a blog post on this topic in which he writes – “As a movement forms around customer operations, integrating this data across the 20 or 40 tools that a go-to-market organization might use is critical.” A common example to illustrate this problem – when Sales needs a reference for a deal, Marketing might struggle to find the relevant reference, all the while this knowledge exists in the Customer Success system of record. Mapping data from Customer Success experience back to marketing campaigns improves efficiency. Marketing and Customer Success should come together with a single objective – to keep customers excited. As long as a customer is excited about the company (vision, product, roadmap, culture, events), their loyalty is assured.
What Can Customer Marketing Do For You?
If you look at the recently successful companies that have gone public like Atlassian, NewRelic, or privately held companies with high valuations like Zoom Video communications, they all have relied on customer excitement and viral adoption for growth. These companies focused on building brand advocates, rather than on pure customer acquisition strategies, right from the start. Sometimes it’s the little things that makes a big difference, and Marketing can play a big role here with Customer Success.
Customer Success can identify the key moments and Marketing can help in putting together a great experience for that moment. A few key examples are a newly onboarded customer could get company swag like a t-shirt or welcome note, and a specific customer milestone could be recognized and celebrated with a gift card. Dedicating a few marketing resources to Customer Success could go a long way in ensuring that customer marketing gets the attention it deserves.
Marketers are content experts and understand how to put a great campaign together. In contrast, Customer Success teams understand customer behavior and their objectives. If these efforts are not coordinated, and the two departments are not aligned, then customer marketing will be the problem child, that no one owns.