It’s not a secret that having a deep understanding of your customer is crucial for marketing. We’ve talked about the value of creating an ideal customer profile. The more you learn about your customer, the better you can market to them and build lasting customer relationships.
But for us marketers, that’s easier said than done. Marketers rarely ever speak directly to a lead, prospect, or customer. Instead, we rely on customer data collected throughout the company.
How can you better access, understand, and use customer data? Start by working closely with your customer success team.
Why you should align customer success with marketing
We talk quite a bit about marketing and sales team alignment. Marketing efforts should be in-step with the sales cycle. Yet, we rarely talk about what happens after the sale is closed. At this point, the account moves to a dedicated account or customer success manager.
It is in marketers’ best interest to build relationships with customer success managers. Their close customer communication provides unique insights that lead to better marketing.
Some of the valuable insights that customer success can provide include:
Increased visibility into customers
Customer data can show you trends and patterns, but sometimes you need to know more. Customer success managers can answer qualitative questions about customers to enhance your data. Customer success managers have conversations that provide insight into the user’s behavior and changes over time. These details about the customer relationship can help marketers tell a more complete customer story.
Share customer reactions
Robust customer data is great, but it’s only historical. We don’t know what the customer experience is at a particular moment. Customer success managers can tell you how your customers are feeling about a product feature, a pricing change, or even a world event in near real-time.
Create a stronger customer profile
You can enhance your customer profiles with this qualitative and real-time information. Customer success managers can also provide feedback on these profiles to make them more accurate.
Measuring marketing programs using customer success data
Typically, we measure marketing against revenue. If marketing programs are successful, they lead to increased monthly or annual recurring revenue, or MRR and ARR, respectively.
Customer success is measured similarly. If customer success is thriving, MRR and ARR increases because of the lack of customer churn.
Consider measuring your marketing programs against which you can drive growth for customer success key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, perhaps customers who come in through a webinar are less likely to churn. By investing in more webinars, you’ll improve customer long-term value.
Using customer success documentation for content marketing
Customer success managers are content marketers. They develop resources for customers to better use your product. Usually these are ‘help’ or ‘support’ articles, but sometimes they are videos, walkthroughs, or webinars. They also have access to great customer profiles and stories.
The problem? Rarely do these pieces live on a company’s main marketing site. At best, they are on a help or support subdomain. At worst, they are PDFs that are shared privately with customers.
Why should these valuable pieces of content be hidden under a bushel basket? They provide a resource to customers and they often have high SEO value.
Consider repurposing this content on the blog or marketing site. If the content doesn’t meet your marketing guidelines, rework and rewrite.
How customer success can improve customer marketing
Most marketing efforts drive toward acquiring customers. Yet, once you achieve team alignment with your customer success and marketing teams, you may shift some focus to customer marketing.
What is customer marketing?
Customer marketing is marketing that’s focused on retention, not acquisition. This means that you create marketing programs for current customers, not future customers. It includes decreasing churn, but also upgrading and upselling.
For successful customer marketing, the marketing, sales, account management, and customer success teams must be in lockstep.
If there’s a dedicated role, i.e. a customer marketing manager, that person will report into both marketing and customer success.
3 ways customer success can amplify customer marketing
They can uncover new ideas
If a customer needs a resource, they’re likely to ask their dedicated success manager. Customers might request a new tutorial, video, or support document. If marketers have a close relationship with customer success, they will have a direct pipeline to useful content ideas.
They can collect qualitative feedback about customer experience
Was your new email campaign helpful or annoying? A customer success manager can get a customer on the phone and ask about the customer experience right away. Marketers don’t have to work in a black box or wait for survey results to understand the impact of their efforts.
They can identify customer advocates
An advocate who goes to bat for you is a strong way to both acquire and retain customers. Customer success can identify and cultivate advocates so marketing can best position them to engage new and old customers.
Should you have a customer marketing team?
How do you know when it’s time to refocus your efforts on customer marketing? Consider this checklist when deciding if you should hire a customer marketing team.
- You have a complete acquisition marketing and customer success team
- You’ve reached your goals for new MRR or ARR
- Customer churn is a major problem
- There’s a lot of potential to upgrade and upsell
How to communicate & collaborate with customer success
When aligning teams, the biggest challenge is aligning communication and collaboration channels.
Marketing teams typically use project management tools focused on task completion. Often, customer success works on a ‘ticket’ system designed to address urgent issues.
To smoothly integrate your teams, consider the following collaboration tools and techniques:
Customer relationship management (CRM) tool
Your CRM should serve both customer success and marketing functions. A unified CRM should have project management functionality, organize and centralize customer data, and provide visibility into how marketing impacts customer metrics.
Slack or internal chat
Especially in remote or hybrid environments, chatting is crucial to developing team rapport. Start a dedicated marketing/CS channel to openly share thoughts and ideas. This will help your team members feel comfortable working with one another.
No one wants to add another Zoom to their calendar. Yet, weekly stand-ups or report-outs are how we understand what is happening at the company. Consider assigning an ‘ambassador’ from each team to sit in on the other’s weekly meeting. This will give the teams insight into one another without adding to meeting fatigue.
There is no downside to better collaboration and alignment between teams. As a marketer across industries, my relationships with customer success teams have both enhanced my personal knowledge, and led to better business outcomes. When customer success and marketing work closely together, customer retention and revenue is certain to grow.
Want A Better Customer Experience - Align Customer Success And Marketing. Philipp Wolf. Custify.
Why Customer Success Should Own Customer Marketing. Will Robins. Gainsight.