We touched base with our team to get you 11 proven, real-world customer marketing ideas you can incorporate into your customer marketing program.
What is Customer Marketing?
Customer marketing is inseparable from customer advocacy. Together, they’re about building a community that benefits both your brand and your customers.
You do this by building structured journeys for your customers so that they succeed when using your product. The goal is to drive their success, not just as an account but as an individual who could one day become your brand advocate.
Why You Need a Customer Marketing Strategy
Market conditions aren’t great right now. With recession fears, mass layoffs, and widespread uncertainty in the air, marketing teams are feeling the squeeze.
They have less spend and headcount at their disposal but are under more pressure now than ever to deliver. But the cost of acquiring new customers hasn’t gone down – it’s increased! So, what can you do to drive profitability, but with a less than ideal hand?
Well, the good news is that you actually do have an ace in your hand: Your customers!
It costs 5X more to acquire a new customer than to keep one. Yet by increasing your customer retention by just 5%, you could drive 25% to 95% more profitability. You unlock this stream by driving upsells, cross-sells, referrals, and references.
But while it sounds promising, you can’t just ask your customers to lend you a hand. After all, why should they? What have you done for them?
This is where customer marketing comes into play. It gets your company to work in a way that empowers your customers to achieve their goals. Your company becomes customer-obsessed, and, as a result, your customers connect with your brand. That connection leads to loyalty and fuels their advocacy. And that’s how you drive profitability.
Whether you’re laying the customer marketing foundation in your company, or supercharging it, try these 11 customer marketing ideas. Integrating them will help you achieve your goals.
11 Customer Marketing Ideas
1. Set Up Customer Advisory Boards
Customer advisory boards (CAB) deliver valuable feedback to your C-level executives and leaders. They can be powerful brand advocates, especially if you amplify their voices and spotlight their leadership at high-level engagements and events involving other leaders.
You can build CABs by bringing in external advocates – like influential customers or strong leaders in your industry – who believe in your company’s mission and vision.
2. Nurture a Community
Communities are an interesting customer marketing idea as they take on different forms.
For many companies, communities often start out by playing a customer support function. Their typical KPIs center on things like ticket deflection and ticket reduction. However, you’re leaving a lot on the table if you relegate your community to just a passive support role.
Ultimately, you want to nurture your customer community into a space for your users to connect, learn, and engage with each other. But for the community to be really successful, you must build it in close collaboration with your customer. If you don’t get their input, they won’t take part in it.
The best way to build a customer community is to loop your customers in when you’re building and administering it.
3. Leverage Zero-Party Data
Get a deeper insight of who your customers are by using surveys and digital tools. Understand who they are, what their use cases are, and what they want to be successful. Just be mindful of how often you are gathering this data and if there are other teams within your organization – like CSMs and Product Marketers – so that you don’t make duplicate asks.
4. Build Empathy
Understand your customer as both an account and as an individual. What’s driving the person behind the title?
Build strategies that develop the individual or person. When it comes time to renew, it’s that person who’ll go to bat for you and put their name on the line. So, you have to take responsibility to make sure they’re thriving.
5. Involve Your Customers in Marketing
Make your customers the protagonist of your stories – not your tool. So, shift from creating case studies to writing customer stories. The individual is the hero of your story. They’re taking on all of the work in making use of the product you’re selling.
6. Build Personalized Journeys
Leverage different channels – like your community and email – to take your customers on a journey. That journey should cover each key milestone, i.e., discovery, signing, onboarding, go-live, ongoing success, renewal and expansion.
It’s on customer marketing to orchestrate the connective tissue of your organization. Yes, you’ll get help from key internal people – like CSMs and AMs – who’ll help at the micro-level to guide customers. But it’s on customer marketers to build the email drop campaigns, the challenges in your advocacy hub and other assets to drive the journey.
7. Craft a Personalized Onboarding Experience
Show your customers that they’re important to you by tailoring the onboarding experience. Make sure the onboarding process aligns with their needs and sets them up for success.
8. Create a Runway for Customer-Generated Content
Today’s audiences don’t want to see slick marketing copy. Rather, they want to see and hear from their peers because they’re authentic and credible.
Build processes that involve customers in your content engine. Empower their voices. Position them as thought leaders and subject matter experts. Your customers will help you connect with more people and break through to new audience networks.
9. Empower Your Customers’ Voices
We’re not just talking about customer advocacy. Rather, we’re looking at championing the needs and interests of your customers in your company.
Get each of your key teams to have a customer-focused resource. Collect customer feedback – and close the loop by showing them how you used their input. Invite your customers to demo or test new features and updates. Basically, show your customers that you value their voices when setting your product roadmap.
10. Personalize Your Rewards and Gifts
Rewards are a given, and it’s very rare to find a customer marketing and advocacy program these days that doesn’t offer it.
So, you need to go a step further and personalize your rewards and gifts.
The starting point is to learn who your customers are (i.e., the people, not their roles or titles) by uncovering their key dates (such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc), hobbies, and interests.
Next, respond with gifts or rewards they’ll personally resonate with. You can even curate your rewards catalog with things they’ll find interesting.
11. Plan for Growth
Every strong customer marketing strategy is built on engaged people and fine-tuned processes.
But as the number of people and processes grow, you need to think about scaling your program. This is where investing in a dedicated customer marketing platform comes in.
There’s no hard and fast rule as to when, but here are a few questions that’ll help you grasp the right time:
How many customer advocates (i.e., as individuals) do you have right now?
Can you visualize those advocates?
How many times do each of those individual advocates deliver an act of advocacy?
If you can’t answer any of those questions, then it’s time to think about integrating technology and tools to help you scale your customer marketing and advocacy program.
Doing so will help you prevent advocate burnout as well as track and measure the impact of your program. Overall, the right customer advocacy platform will also help you quickly visualize how many advocates you have, what they’re doing for you, and design strategies to grow your roster.