Becoming customer-obsessed is the key to recession-proofing your marketing efforts. It costs less to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. Yet increasing customer retention by as little as 5% can drive 25-95% more profitability. To get there, you need to invest in customer marketing, and we have a few real-world customer marketing examples to help you get started.
What is Customer Marketing?
Customer marketing is a field of marketing that works to build strong relationships with your customers so that they eventually become your strongest brand advocates.
It involves an all-hands-on-deck strategy from customer-facing teams across your company. To create the journey from onboarding to customer advocacy, you’ll need to help your customers:
- Achieve their goals when using your products and services
- Grow as both clients – and just as importantly – as individuals
- Have a voice or input on the future roadmap of your product
These outcomes help drive customer loyalty. In today’s uncertain economic times, you want to reinforce your relationships with your existing customers. Yes, it helps with retention, but it also creates a runway for growth. Not only can increasing customer retention by 5% drive 25% to 95% more profit, keeping existing customers costs way less than seeking net-new ones.
What Does a Customer Marketing Strategy Look Like?
A customer marketing strategy has many parts, but ultimately, aims to do two key things: First, it drives your company to become customer-obsessed. Second, it’s the blueprint for your customer journey, from onboarding to brand advocacy.
With these goals in mind, a strong customer marketing strategy involves:
- Empowering the voice of your customers in your organization
- Building relationships with your customers, not as clients, but as people
- Growing customer communities that go beyond support/help websites and, instead, evolve into hubs for learning, growth, networking and friendships
- Making your customers the protagonists of your stories. People resonate with other people, not tools
Focusing on Customers in Marketing Drives Net-New Growth
Your existing customers are a growth engine in themselves. But that doesn’t mean that putting your resources into customer marketing and advocacy takes away from demand generation.
It’s the opposite.
Customer marketing can drive net-new customer growth by providing powerful content creation, content distribution, and brand amplification support.
Let’s take content marketing, for example. Today, customer marketers are trying to find ways to scalably build content that stands out. They’re asking, “Everyone’s producing blogs, webinars, and ebooks – why should a prospect consume my content?”
Well, one way to stand out is to deliver tangible value with an authentic voice. This means providing information that helps the reader, and comes from someone they trust. Customers are among the top people today’s audiences trust.
Customers who believe in your product and brand will want to help you out. Their acts of advocacy can take the form of influential blogs, impactful videos, and much more. Not only that, but they can amplify your content further than your official accounts.
However, to get that support, your company has to build a journey that takes the customer from onboarding all the way to advocacy. That’s the work of your customer marketing team. And what does that work look like? Check out the customer marketing examples below:
7 Customer Marketing Examples to Emulate in 2023
1. Exclusive and Personalized Experiences
Let your customers know that they’re on top. There’s no better way to do this than to give them something exclusive that they’ll remember and want to show off.
In this customer marketing example, our team created the “Boomerang Club” for our top customer advocates. Not only do our customers get recognition, but they get a custom boomerang engraved with their name to showcase their status.
The gesture recognized our customers, but also drove them to advocate for us on social. Now, their audiences are aware of our brand and, more importantly, how much we think about our top customers.
2. Help Your Customers Build Their Personal Brands
Remember to treat your customers as people, not clients. Look beyond their titles or roles, and think about helping them as individuals.
Here, we’re helping Jeni Asaba showcase her thought leadership to her peers and networks. At the same time, Jeni helps us build content audiences want (and from the voice of someone they want to hear).
You can help your customers build their personal brands in a variety of ways. You could publish their blogs on your website and amplify it on your channels. You can also connect your users to opportunities, like speaking at events or interviews with industry publications.
You shouldn’t be passive in this regard. It’s not enough to just post your customer’s blog. Take an active interest in what they’re doing and spotlight their efforts.
3. Celebrate Your Customers’ Achievements
Recognize your customers when they cross a big milestone. It could be anything from launching your product, winning industry awards, having an event, or anything that makes a splash. Show your customers that you’re actively invested in their success.
4. Connect Customers to Opportunities
This is where you can show you’re looking beyond the role and, instead, are thinking about your customers as people. Your customers have personal goals, professional aspirations, and plans of where they want to be in the near future.
In our customer marketing example above, we set up a job board for our customers. Not only does this help connect them with new opportunities, but it’s an exclusive experience. There are times when their fellow customers will give an early heads up about an opening, for example.
In addition, this job board also helps our customers seeking to build their own teams. They can put their new openings in front of people they know and trust.
5. Build a Community
Your customer community can be at the center of a lot of things for both your customers and your internal teams. No customer marketing program is complete without a plan to build and nurture a customer community.
First, don’t relegate your customer community into a passive support role to offload tickets. It should be a home that drives customers to share best practices, provide help to one another, and connect.
Second, make sure your community provides tangible value. For example, a job board offers tangible value by connecting your customers to new job opportunities. You can also use your community as a way to recruit beta testers and invite customer feedback (so that they have a voice in the direction of your product).
6. Rewards Are Nice, But…
We should preface this customer marketing example by stating that you don’t want to create a purely transactional relationship with your customers. Ending up in a situation where customers do lots of activities for the sake of points and gift cards isn’t good.
However, gift cards and other incentives could be part of a wider customer marketing strategy. It can be an effective way to drive customer interest in you earlier in their journey with your brand.
You should then build on that early interest by cultivating a strong relationship with the person. The key is reaching a point where they’ll advocate for you because they genuinely care about the product and your company.
7. Make Customers the Protagonists of Your Stories
When it comes to case studies, Ari, our VP of Customer Marketing and Advocacy, has a saying: “Luke was the hero in Star Wars, not his lightsaber.”
One mistake customer marketers make in their case studies is that they make it all about the lightsaber – i.e., our own products and services – and not the Jedis of the story.
Shift the focus of your case studies to your customers. In other words, create customer stories or champion spotlights that showcase their journeys to success. Discuss their problems, their experiences, their thought processes, and their solutions.
This approach will unlock a few things. First, it’ll show customers that you’re invested in their professional success. You’re putting the spotlight on them, not your product. Second, it gives audiences real thought leaders and personalities to look up to. When the people you trust do something successful, you’d want to use their thinking, actions, and, ultimately, their tools.
Learn More About Customer Marketing
The goal of customer marketing is to drive growth through your existing customers. You get there by becoming a customer-obsessed company. Here are a few resources you can use to start reaching that point.
- Webinar: Marketing’s Role in Customer-led Growth
- What is Customer Marketing?
- Keynote Presentation: The Future of Customer Marketing