Customer Marketing: The 2020 Guide [+ 3 Powerful Strategies & Examples]

Not all customers are the same.

Of course, we know this!

So, why are marketers still ignoring the immense impact that customer marketing strategies have on sales?

This could boil down to a number of reasons such as:

  • A lack of understanding of the definitions of customer marketing and retention strategies
  • A disconnect between marketing and customer success or support teams
  • An unwillingness to invest in automation and tools to enable and measure these strategies
  • A general lack of awareness and inspiration
  • Budget constraints

We’re here to demystify this as we explore bullet-proof customer marketing strategies to grow your brand.

What is customer marketing?

Our favorite definition of customer marketing by Marketo.com is:

Customer marketing, or customer base marketing, is marketing that extends beyond acquiring customers and aims to identify and market additional products or services to existing customers, retain them as customers, and develop them into advocates.

And here’s how other top sources define customer marketing or customer engagement marketing:

Customer marketing definitions

Basically, customer marketing strategies are focussed on the following:

  • Marketing to your existing customer base instead of targeting strangers
  • Turning leads into customers and customers into advocates
  • Nurturing brand loyalty by building relationships with customers to drive retention
  • Identifying and building a stream of potential customers for advocate marketing
  • Providing personalised recommendations based on customer purchase history and browsing behaviour to up sell/ cross sell
  • Providing after-sales customer support to improve customer satisfaction to drive retention
Customer Marketing Activities
“What activities form the basis of customer marketing?” – The State of Customer Marketing Report 2017 (Influitive)

3 Customer Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Brand

1. Warm welcomes

This is an important marketing strategy for new customers. As soon as a customer signs on or purchases your product, give them a personalised, thoughtful welcome. This can be in the form of a “getting started” email, a sign-up voucher, or by simply welcoming them to your community and offering a few tips on how to make the most of your product or service.

The first contact is all about creating a positive first impression and demonstrating the standard of service your customers can expect from your brand during and after the on-boarding process.

Brands doing this well: 

Lush

Lush does this very simply with a welcome email, including a few popular picks to get started with. This is a good way to inspire new members to make their first purchase.

Airbnb

Airbnb creates a strong connection moment from the very first email by welcoming new users to their global community of travellers.

Asana

Like Airbnb, Asana welcomes new teams into their community. The welcome email gives the new customer 3 easy steps to get started on creating a task, thereby driving usage of the product and ensuring customer success on the platform.

Customer Marketing Examples
Images via Shopify.com and GetVero.com

2. Brand ambassador marketing

You’ve landed that beautiful welcome email, and your customers are feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Now what?

Start building up a pipeline of customers who are actively giving you feedback from the get-go. These types of customers are your advocates and they’re extremely valuable as both returning buyers, and as brand ambassadors. Identify these customers and start gathering their stories for a steady stream of fresh content!

Word-of-mouth marketing using existing customers is one of the most powerful customer retention strategies you can employ.

Here’s how you can put natural brand ambassadors and their stories to good use:

  • Publish customer testimonials on your website
  • Blog about newsworthy customer success stories
  • Distribute stories through newsletters and social media
  • Re-share positive and constructive feedback on social channels (leveraging user-generated-content)
  • Interview brand ambassadors for fresh video content
  • Invite top-level ambassadors to participate in customer-only podcasts
  • Create an Ambassador Board – a sort of “brains trust” to represent and speak for your customers at decision-making levels in your organisation

Brands doing this well: Zapier

Zapier has done a great job of using customer stories and testimonials in their customer marketing strategy. The Zapier blog has a deep and detailed list of guides, tips, and content dedicated to common challenges facing customers, industry insights and expert advice.

Customer Marketing Examples - Zapier
Images via Zapier.com

Airbnb

Airbnb regularly re-posts stunning pics from customers and super-hosts (who are essentially their biggest ambassadors). This is a smart of way of encouraging brand mentions on social media, and leveraging word-of-mouth marketing.

Tip: If you are just getting started with customer marketing and engagement strategies, re-posting UGC on social media (with permission) is one of the most cost-effective activities out there – it’s basically free!

Customer Marketing Examples - Airbnb
Image via @airbnb on Instagram

PS: looking to get started on your brand ambassador marketing strategy while you’re at it? We have just the thing, check out our course to Ambassador Marketing.

3. Customer success and customer marketing alignment

The work is not done once you’ve converted a sale. The importance of customer satisfaction in marketing cannot be stressed enough – this is your low-hanging fruit, and a start in reducing churn.

Now here’s the kicker.

What if we told you that customer marketing can improve customer satisfaction, and that you could be at the forefront of customer marketing by aligning customer success and support with marketing teams? It makes perfect sense when you see the relationship between revenue impact and customer satisfaction.

Revenue Impact and Customer Satisfaction
“Satisfied customers buy more” – State of Customer Marketing Report 2017 (Influitive)

“This correlation is strong. Companies with moderate and high revenue from customer marketing efforts report that their customers are satisfied or very satisfied. On the other hand, companies whose customer marketing efforts have poor, limited or no results also show neutral or dissatisfied customers. There are many facets to customer marketing and the responsibility of generating revenue cannot all be tied to customer satisfaction. However, it is a significant and clear factor. Satisfied customers buy more.” ~ State of Customer Marketing 2017 (Influtive)

Customer Marketing: How Much Should Customer Success Own? – Lauren Denault 

Listen to your customers, thank them for compliments, incorporate their feedback into product improvements. Remember: their success is your success. #CustomerMarketing #CustomerSatisfaction Click To Tweet

Clever ways to improve your customer satisfaction as part of a customer marketing strategy:

“When we say “talk to your customers,” or “listen to your customers,” … it can also mean sending surveys that include long-form response fields, or building quicker in-app surveys into your roadmap to uncover moments of friction.” ~ Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré B2B SaaS Consultant, Growth Marketer, and Copywriter.

  • Maintain a consistent response rate to customer feedback, whether on email or social media.
  • Run surveys and polls to rate and improve on customer satisfaction. Use this amazing list of survey and form building tools to get started.
  • Close the loop and follow up with customers to report back on fixed bugs, product improvements etc.

Brands doing this well:

Uber

Uber occasionally sends out emails to regular users to participate in surveys. These surveys help the brand to gain insights into how they can continue improving the everyday experience of their service, while identifying their own brand advocates in the process.

Uber customer satisfaction survey

Bringing Client Success and Customer Marketing together

“The core tension between marketing and customer success is that there actually isn’t tension. Marketing is responsible for generating new leads before the point of sale, and customer success is responsible for everything that happens after.” ~ Hubspot.com

  • Improve your response rate by aligning with your community management teams to catch and respond to social media posts, forums or review site entries
  • Bring your customer success and support teams to the marketing table by inviting them to contribute to the marketing strategy using their deep customer insights, thus creating a core Customer Marketing Team.
  • Align customer success metrics (e.g advocacy) with marketing (e.g retention)

Tip: You don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. Get in the fast lane using this excellent guide on How to Align Your Marketing and Customer Success Teams.

Why should you get on board with customer marketing?

In a nutshell, you simply cannot do without it any longer if you are running an eCommerce business. It can cost up to 5 times more to attract a new customer vs retaining one. In addition, marketing budgets are slowly being eaten up by media giants like Facebook and Google, why not invest a portion of that budget into targeting your own database? Among many others, some of the biggest benefits of customer marketing strategies include:

  • A notable increase in customer retention and a boost in sales from your existing customer base
  • A greater focus on customer satisfaction
  • Positive word-of-mouth recommendations from customers who turn into brand ambassadors
  • Longer term relationships with customers
  • The ability to gain deeper insights into shopper behaviour
  • Constructive feedback from customer communities to help improve your products and services

References:

Customer Marketing – Marketo: https://blog.marketo.com/category/customer-marketing

Proven strategies for customer marketing: https://www.copper.com/blog/customer-marketing

Benchmark Report: 2017 State of Customer Marketing: https://influitive.com/resources/benchmark-report-2017-state-customer-marketing

Five Times Customers Asked For Change and Brands Actually Delivered it: https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/5-times-customer-change/

21 Best Welcome Email Examples to Engage Customers in 2019: https://www.getvero.com/resources/welcome-emails/

12 stats that prove why personalisation is so important: https://econsultancy.com/12-stats-that-prove-why-personalisation-is-so-important/

How to Write an Effective Welcome Email: https://www.shopify.com/blog/welcome-email

Here’s What Customer Marketing Will Look Like in the Very Near Future: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-marketing/heres-what-customer-marketing-will-look-like-in-the-very-near-future/

Why Customer Success Should Own Customer Marketing: https://www.gainsight.com/blog/customer-success-customer-marketing/

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