When it comes to marketing, customer segmentation is one of the most proven strategies. There are various marketing tactics that can be applied for different customer segments. And these segments are often made for new customers (or prospects). But if we zoom out a little and reach way above all the segments then we end up with just two final categories. New customers and Existing customers. Marketing that is directed towards existing customers is what we call Customer marketing. It is specifically designed to drive retention, loyalty, brand advocacy and community participation.
Your current customers are on a different phase of customer journey than your prospects. Your prospects have never heard about you before so your marketing efforts are directed towards educating them about your brand. Whereas your current customers have already gotten familiar with your company or product and are on a totally different page. Using a multi-purpose marketing strategy for existing customers will not only be ineffective but it may sometimes backfire too.
How you engage with your customers is quite important in keeping them satisfied and thereby driving retention. In fact, according to research, customer’s happiness depends as much on the quality of customer engagement as the quality of product or service they are buying. And customer marketing is a subset of customer engagement.
Having told the importance of customer marketing, let us dive deep into a few tangible steps you can take towards the same.
Align Customer Success with Marketing team
The logic behind aligning these two teams is simple. Customer success team has the raw information about the customer and the Marketing team has the presentation skills. This is just at the most basic level. Of course these two teams have a lot more depth in themselves.
But what I basically mean by alignment is that for any successful marketing campaign it is essential to know your audience. And Customer marketing journey being targeted towards existing customers, who knows them better than your CS team. The CS team understands your customer’s present and future needs quite precisely. They also have a fair amount of knowledge of the client’s business domain.
Sharing that knowledge with the marketing team would help them design campaigns that hit the target audience right on the spot. Based on the growing needs of customers, the CSM can either upsell or cross-sell better versioned products or services. Gaining the knowledge of the customer’s business domain would help marketing teams to speak their language in their campaigns.
But an important question. How does the upselling or cross-selling help in customer retention? Clearly, through building more business with your customers you are spreading the customer footprint in your company. And with more elaborate presence, retention becomes natural.
Organize conferences and events
Keeping in touch with digital means is surely important to meet the needs of your growing customer base. But occasionally getting in touch with them in person can no way be replaced. Humans have this innate need of socializing with our friends, families, colleagues or business partners. Getting to know your customers beyond their computer screen can add immense value to your relationships.
Organizing annual or semi-annual events where you call upon all your customers will help a great deal upon socializing with them. In events like these you get to interact with them in person where they can usually be more vocal about their pain-points, their needs and expectations.
This is a very useful opportunity to bring them on the same page as you are along with opening new avenues to deepen relationships. Getting a little bit personal also would not harm you but on the contrary would help strengthen credibility.
And if you want to share your company’s future vision or launch your products then this is when you do it. This is also the best time to show your achievements in the past one year to all of your customers at once. All these presentations you give to your customers will enable their deeper immersion into your company.
Making them feel special for doing business with you or may be even rewarding your most valuable customers can give them a special boost. By attending such events your customers would feel a part of a bigger community and that would go a long way in your customer marketing journey.
Always keep in touch
Just onboarding your customer and knowing they are regularly using your product is not enough. You need to stay in the picture to ensure they don’t forget you in their regular work life. Your touch points should just be at the optimum level so that it neither becomes too distracting nor too low that you lose your presence.
Ensure that every time you reach out to them you add some value to their business. It can be in the form of sending a newsletter of your organization. One thing worth including in your newsletter is putting your customers on the spotlight. You can feature a short case study or a story of any of your customers who got success through your product. It will have an immeasurable impact on other customers because they can learn and relate with them more easily. Sending newsletters like these is one of the essential addons in a customer marketing journey.
Other ways of touch points can be sending news about release of new versions of your products. Giving them an opportunity to know what new features are included in updated versions would always keep them engaged to your product . Google does it all the time with its products. And the vast community of followers always stay updated of its new releases.
Sending them industry news and trends and performance tips and tricks is quite resourceful too. The news can be relevant to their business niche along with the right placement of your product. Engaging with them in a broader way is much better than specifically targeting them just from the business point of view.
Customer marketing should not be confused with regular marketing strategy. It is more of an internal play of a company within its already specified field. You need to groom your customers and make them actively participate in the larger community you have beyond your organization. Because their engagement with your brand is what keeps them motivated to continue using your product.
Of course the business value they drive from your product comes much before any other retention strategy. Nonetheless, a customer-centric approach in every team, at every touchpoint is the only key towards greater customer retention.