What is Customer Marketing?

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Learn what differentiates customer marketing from traditional B2B or B2B marketing with examples from some of the best customer marketers in the business.

Marketing has always been a traditionally outward-facing activity. By that, we mean marketers’ core focus is to create materials to bring new customers and revenue in to the business.

But as concepts like customer loyalty become increasingly buzz-worthy, industry experts have taken a new lens to how effective these traditional strategies are in the long-run.

The new question on the table is—can focusing less on acquiring new customers and more on existing customers create a better business model? And so, the concept of customer marketing was born.

What is Customer Marketing?

Customer marketing is defined as anything that supports customer retention, loyalty, and participation. The end game is a belief that an investment in your existing customers will become your best “advertisement.” Their satisfaction will go on to create more growth.

But if we had to define customer marketing in just two words, it would be “customer relationships.”

To further illustrate the definition, here are some examples of some classic customer marketing activities:

  • Welcome messages/onboarding sequences
  • Sharing user-generated content (UGC)
  • Writing customer success stories
  • Polling and surveying customers regularly
  • Deals and sales exclusive to customers or members

Could you offer to run an errand for, massage the shoulders, and do the taxes of your every customer? Maybe. But that’s not what they want or need. It’s all about small gestures like the ones above that demonstrate value and inspire loyalty.

The results of customer-first marketing speak for themselves, and they could be just what your brand needs.

The most popular customer marketing activities determined by a study from Intuitive.

What Can Customer Marketing Do For Your Business?

It can generate more revenue, sure. But customer marketing has some bonus benefits. After all, a happy customer makes a happy business.

1. Reduced Churn

It’s no secret that it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does it retain an existing one. And customers who feel their needs are being met (and exceeded) have no reason to leave. By reducing customer churn you save you and your employees time and money.

2. Create Positive Social Proof

With customer marketing you build up an arsenal of stories from happy customers who love your product. And in 2019 customers trust their peers more than big brands. When you pad your marketing messages with real customer testimony, you create the commodity known as social proof.

Photo Credit: Resource Techniques

3. Increased Efficacy of Cross Selling or Upselling Campaigns

Customer marketing is all about creating an ongoing conversation with your audience. This rapport gives you much better chances at success with cross or upselling campaigns. Your audience is used to hearing from you for a variety of reasons that benefit them (deals, discounts, tips and tricks). They’re more primed by nature for these kinds of promotional messages.

4. More Organic Word of Mouth Marketing

According to The Incite Group, 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when they make buying decisions. And thanks to the internal and social media, everyone has a megaphone to share their opinions on a product.

How to Get Started With Customer Marketing

With traditional marketing, we talk a lot about making SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely). But with customer marketing, you’ll want to focus on the customer cycle.

The customer cycle is made up of four parts: Segment, Engage, Satisfy, Grow.

  • Segment: In a customer-first marketing strategy, personalization is key. The more a customer feels like a noticed individual, the stronger the bond they have with your brand. Segment your audience based on factors important to your organization: demographics, interests, industry, role, etc. More segmentation = more personalized material. Take the time to get organized and segment from the get-go, so you save valuable time and effort down the line.
  • Engage: This is the phase where initial customer contact is made. For text marketing, it would be your very first message or campaign. Here is where you’ll want to focus on a specific goal (upsell, retention, cross-sell, etc.). From there, develop a strategy and tactic for each of your segments based on what you know about them as consumers.
  • Satisfy: Check in often with your consumers to make sure they still derive value from you. It’s the overall customer satisfaction that will drive future revenue. Utilize tools like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge campaign success and your customers’ willingness to recommend you to their network.
  • Grow: At the end of every campaign you’ll want to evaluate your success. Identify the strengths and weaknesses and the ROI in comparison to your customer’s growth potential. Once you’ve identified your promoters, passives, and detractors, you siphon your marketing efforts to each group accordingly for optimum success.
Photo Credit: CMS Wire

6 Examples of Customer Marketing in Action

1. Welcome Messages- The Container Store

The welcome email or text is one of the best ways to indoctrinate people into your customer marketing funnel. As your first touchpoint, it should demonstrate value and help you get to know your customers. Not only are welcome emails a (welcome) courtesy, they can also be a space for you to kickstart segmentation.

The Container Store does this masterfully by inviting new subscribers to take a quick quiz to find out more about their styles and needs. In doing so, they are rewarded with a welcome discount. This exchange of perks for data is a great way to start off any customer marketing strategy.

2. User Generated Social Media Content- Apple

Good camera quality is one of the top decision making factors for people buying a new phone. Apple and Android fill their websites with quality photos and stats about why their devices are the best. But, in a clever customer marketing approach, Apple has dedicated space on their social media pages to feature real customer iPhone photos.

A perfect example of how to generate positive social proof.

3. Social Media Interaction- Warby Parker

Eyewear brand Warby Parker is known for their at-home try-on offers that sends you frames to try on and send back before you buy online. However, they also gained notoriety for using social media as a space to create a virtual showroom. Customers looking for opinions and advice take to twitter to receive the same service they would from a salesperson in a brick and mortar location!

4. Members Only Deals- Sephora

Exclusivity can be a great way to reward customer loyalty. In the beauty community, due to the large variety of retailers, loyalty is tricky. To help combat this, retailer Sephora worked out a massive rewards program for purchases that associate status and savings with regular shoppers. One of the staples to their rewards program is the coveted birthday email which gives you the option to choose your full-sized free gift!

5. Upselling Campaigns- Amazon

Amazon could teach a masterclass in the art of upselling. Through the power of suggestion, they take the guesswork out of what customers should purchase next. It combines elements of personalization with classic upselling tools for the perfect, subtle sell.

6. Showcasing Customer Reviews- ChowNow

ChowNow creates a variety of ways to experience their customer testimonials. From video, to full-length stories, all the way down to quick quotes. They feature customer testimony prominently on the website, social media, and advertisements. Theirs is certainly a model to copy if you want fresh ways to share your customer’s voice.

So there you have it, customer marketing revealed. From the theoretical to the experimental. There’s no wrong approach when your customers’ needs come first!

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