What is Customer Marketing?
As simple as it may seem, Customer Marketing is exactly what it sounds like: creating efforts to market to your current, existing customer base as enthusiastically as you market to new leads. While not a new concept, building brand loyalty through customer marketing is experiencing a renaissance. Customer Marketing, however, is anything but simple; it is a complex experience of making customers feel valued, understood, and ready to share with others.
The first step is soliciting feedback from current customers; getting your current customers to re-engage with your brand after purchase may seem like it would be hard to do, but this first contact is much more about them than about promotional language. Customer marketing means getting feedback when the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind so that any wrongs can be quickly righted and any successes can be duplicated with future customers.
The next step is to get a good timeline for future outreach. Think about the lifecycle of your product and when there might be an opportunity to offer a renewal, an upgrade, or a different, complementary product. While some of these offers can be automated, it is also worthwhile to incorporate as personal a touch as possible when making that all-important outreach for a second sale.
The third step is to offer happy customers the chance to share with others. Some companies go the route of offering affiliate perks, where businesses who share your products with others receive incentives, while others simply make requests for honest reviews on prominent websites.
While many other steps exist depending on your unique industry, the general trend of showing a customer that you weren’t simply trying to make a single quick sale, convincing them at the right time to try another product, and then asking them to share their experience more widely creates much more ROI than any batch of new leads could possibly offer.
Why is Customer Marketing Important to B2B Companies?
B2B companies are often working with a product or service that has complementary options, potential upsells or upgrades, and renewals for services or support. Unless a B2B company has no potential for resale to a single client, they can benefit from Customer Marketing, since the ROI is higher when you only have to rekindle a relationship with a past customer rather than finding and wooing a stranger.
What’s more is that B2B companies actually value using the same supplier again and again; if you make it a seamless and excellent process with wonderful products and services, they are predisposed to want to keep working with you simply because it is easier than doing research to find a new vendor.
You can most effectively use Customer Marketing with B2B companies by demonstrating an excellent understanding of their industry and their needs. This information can come from the feedback you solicit after making a sale. Your customers may actually drive your product innovation if you are well-attuned. They will let you know that they would pay more for a particular feature, and you can stay ahead of the competition in your loyal customer base as well as your product line.
How has Customer Marketing Changed in Recent Years?
Obviously, before digital marketing, especially email marketing, much of the reliable business available to companies was based on customer marketing. However, after years of campaigns that sought many new leads but left very little time or budget for nourishing current customers, Customer Marketing is coming back. It is a great way to distinguish yourself, not only to your current customers but to new leads as well: current customers leave public reviews, offer referrals, and share with their fellow businesses about how positive their experience has been.
Customer Marketing, however, doesn’t mean you can’t scale effectively. With the innovations available through chatbots, personalized email campaigns, and feedback forms, you can do much of the work of maintaining a personal relationship with a customer with automation. The key is to have a sales representative or support staff member available immediately if the customer needs human-to-human outreach.
Dos and Don’t of Customer Marketing
- Encourage sales to form close relationships with contacts at high-value client companies. A drawn-out conversation with a past customer who controls a major account is never a waste of time; if they end the conversation happy, they may be the key to a doubling of business when you offer a new product line.
- Create marketing materials specifically for past customers. It doesn’t hurt if the materials can benefit current customers too, but making materials in response to current customer’s desires can really make them feel valued. These materials don’t have to yield lots of new leads if they convince a few customers to make you their exclusive suppliers.
- Respond to the data. If you discover that a particular kind of outreach seems to be the trick to converting a first-time customer into a repeat customer, treat that as a valuable sign and implement it.
- Make Customer Marketing impersonal. It is just as possible to become obsessed with conversion rates and open rates with current customers as with new leads, and Customer Marketing works best when every possible element is personalized to the customer.
- Wait for the customer to figure out your value. When you have information about how useful a product is, offer it to your current customer so that they continue to reach their ROI goals for the product. One of the best, most organic methods of Customer Marketing is simply through ongoing training and support for the first product or service they purchased because those contacts and pieces of information help them maximize their investment in your brand.
- Leave sales and marketing in separate silos. Sales and marketing have to work together to make Customer Marketing as effective as possible. Sales teams have valuable insight and feedback from past customers, but marketing teams also know the profile of past repeat customers and may already have some insights into how to make a cost-effective push to get them back in the pipeline. Constant communication is key.