When most people in the B2B space hear the term “marketing,” their mind immediately goes to customer acquisition or audience marketing. They think about driving new customers to B2B brands using content syndication, email marketing, and paid media.
Acquisition marketing is essential to B2B revenue organizations. But as B2B businesses – especially software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors – increasingly focus on recurring revenue, customer marketing is capturing a lot of attention.
We’re all familiar with the old business adage that it costs less money to keep an existing customer than to find a new customer. Customer marketing is the strategy that brings this adage to life.
Because acquisition marketing and customer marketing serve different purposes, they require different approaches. In some ways, marketing to your customers is the exact opposite of marketing to new prospects.
When a new prospect investigates a B2B vendor, the members of the buying committee are often trying to institute change. They’re exploring new tools that will enable new capabilities, new products, or new services. They might be looking to replace an existing tool with something they perceive as better or most cost effective. They may have simply outgrown the existing solution. For any number of reasons, the status quo isn’t cutting it.
When you’re talking to your existing customers, the tables have turned. Now, you are the status quo. And your new goal is to demonstrate that you’re providing value, adding new features and capabilities, and invested in helping your customers grow and succeed.
RELATED ARTICLE: How Marketing and Customer Success Team Up to Drive Revenue
In B2B customer marketing, you’re building loyalty by keeping your customers happy and engaged with your brand. You can do this by creating personalized experiences and nurturing the relationships you have. Good customer marketing strategies also open the door to cross-sell and upsell opportunities, which encourage customers to buy more and grow their relationship with your brand.
Customer Marketing: Where to Get Started
The first step toward launching a successful B2B customer marketing strategy is to gain a deep understanding of your customers’ needs, behaviors, and preferences. This requires conducting research and analysis that will help you better understand:
- Who your customers are
- What motivates them
- How they use your products and services
- What challenges your customers face.
You can develop these valuable insights in a number of ways.
Conducting Customer Research
You can gather feedback and learn about your customers’ successes and challenges by surveying your customers. You can also schedule one-on-one interviews with customers to dive deeper and get a better understanding of their situation. Because many of today’s sales and customer success calls are recorded and analyzed in systems like Gong or Chorus, calls are often available for marketers who want to listen.
“The voice of the customer” has become a popular phrase in marketing in recent years, and with good reason. You’ll only understand the desires of your audience if you’re asking them questions and listening to their answers.
Analyzing Customer Data
Use your data analytics tools to analyze customer behavior and engagement across different channels and touchpoints. This will help you identify patterns and trends, which can then be used to chart your customer marketing strategy.
Developing Customer Personas
Use the insights gained from your research and data analysis to create detailed customer personas that represent the different segments of your company’s customer base.
Map the Customer Journey
Map out the customer journey, from initial awareness to post-purchase engagement This will highlight your opportunities to improve the customer experience at each touchpoint.
Once you have a clear understanding of your customers, you can use this information to develop a customer marketing strategy that is tailored to your customers’ needs and preferences. This may involve creating targeted campaigns, personalized content, and customized experiences that resonate with specific customer segments, and leveraging customer feedback to continuously improve the customer experience.
The Skills You Need for B2B Customer Marketing
While there are significant differences in the ways that B2B marketers approach acquisition and customer marketing, many of the same skills apply to both strategies. Here are some of the skills you’ll put to work as you build and execute on a customer marketing strategy.
Customer marketing is dependent on the vendor’s ability to create and maintain strong relationships with customers. Relationship building is a “soft skill.” The better your customer marketing team is at listening to customers, understanding their challenges, and empathizing with them, the more effective your customer marketing strategy will be. Listening to customers and effectively communicating value and solutions to their problems will help you win.
The good news for B2B marketers looking to establish a customer marketing strategy is that your customers will generate plenty of data for you to analyze. The bad news is that you need to understand which data points are most important and what they mean. And that means you need to understand data analysis.
Like acquisition marketing, marketers working on customer marketing campaigns will need to identify trends, measure performance, and optimize campaigns. But customer marketing can also leverage data about how customers use products, their satisfaction, performance, and usage rates.
Armed with data on how customers use your product(s) and how well they are accomplishing their goals, your customer marketing team will be well-positioned to create the type of personalized, impactful campaigns they need to maintain and grow relationships.
Your customer marketing program can take the data you have available about your customers and use it to create personalized experiences. You likely know more about your customers than any other prospect in your market, so not using your knowledge to personalize is wasting a great opportunity.
Personalization allows you to speak directly to your customers’ needs. It requires marketers to be skilled at tailoring messages, offers, and experiences to specific customers or customer segments based on what you know about them.
It’s hard to succeed in any area of business without the ability to collaborate effectively with peers, but this is especially true in B2B customer marketing. Relationships with customers are complicated. In some organizations, sales reps and customer success reps both have relationships with clients. Navigating these relationships can sometimes be tricky.
The goal of the revenue organization should be a seamless and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. Whether the messages come from sales, customer success, or marketing, they need to be aligned. And if you can’t excel at cross-functional collaboration, you’ll have a hard time being successful with your customers.
Tools Commonly Used in B2B Customer Marketing
You cannot effectively market to your customers at scale and derive value from your customer data without the right tools. Here is a list of some of the tools your marketing organization is going to need to help retain and grow customer relationships.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
B2B marketers are already familiar with CRM systems, which are often considered the single version of the truth for marketers. Customer marketing can tap into the CRM to get a view of customer interactions, see customer data, and automate their personalized communications.
Marketing Automation Software
When it comes to automating personalized campaigns and workflows, customer marketers turn to marketing automation tools. These tools can use customer behavior and preferences to guide the next step in communicating with customers and selecting the offer most likely to succeed.
Personalization tools help marketers create and deliver customized content and offers that are essential to maintaining customer loyalty and growing relationships. These platforms help customer marketers put the knowledge and data they have on customer interests and behaviors to work.
Analytics tools provide insights into customer behavior, as well as campaign performance. They are essential to optimizing campaigns and improving the return on investment (ROI).
If your product collects data on usage and performance, then it provides a window into how your customers are using the platform and future opportunities. While post-sale discussions with customers in the SaaS market are often handled by the customer success team, customer marketing can use the data to identify opportunities to promote cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Understanding how other customers use your product and where they see the most return when adding new features or complementary products helps customer marketers understand the opportunities they should present to clients. ‘
Why Invest in Customer Marketing?
The reason it’s more efficient to hang on to current customers than find new ones is that the leg work of (and costs) associated with introducing your brand to a prospect is already done. Unlike acquisition marketing, customer marketing isn’t starting at step one. It’s starting at step seven.
But loyal customers who grow to trust your brand are valuable for other reasons. They give you insight into your target market and can be valuable beta testers for new products and new ideas.
Even more importantly, loyal, satisfied customers can themselves become marketers for your brand. They become advocates who share their positive experiences with your brand with peers and colleagues and even on social media.
This is the holy grail for many B2B marketers, but customer advocacy is a powerful tool. There will always be a certain degree of skepticism from vendor-generated marketing efforts. Customer advocacy, on the other hand, offers credibility.
Your brand will only achieve this level of customer marketing with a combined effort from all of the players on the revenue team: sales, marketing, and customer success.
But you can’t get there at all if you don’t get your customer marketing efforts started. The time is now.