We’ll just come out and say it: customer marketing conversations and campaigns aren’t always the smoothest for customer success teams, nor do they tend to foster winning retention statistics. While many customer success managers (CSMs) are well-versed in the day-to-day activation and implementation conversations with customers, introducing them to additional services, turning them into advocates, and having upsell conversations, their customer marketing strategies and results can often fall short. Customer marketing if done right can have a positive impact on retention. Here are four ways customer marketing can improve customer retention:
1. Make it less about the ‘marketing’ and more about the ‘customer’
While this is true throughout the entire customer success industry, it’s even more important when it comes to customer marketing. If you want to keep customers happy and retain them as customers, make your marketing conversations about them. Ask them about new features they’re interested in, new industries they’re thinking about expanding in to, or any new customers they’ve recently acquired on their side. Having a better idea of how your customer’s business is operating and how they’re strategically planning to move forward can help you target your customer marketing conversations and make them more targeted towards the customer rather than a blatant marketing ploy.
2. Ask them to beta test new products or offer them as an ‘early release’
Instead of going head-first into an upsell conversation or trying to ‘sell’ additional services to customers before you even know if they need them or not, try easing into the conversation. One tactic is offering customers the opportunity to beta test a new service or product. This way, customers have the ability to give feedback, they feel valued for having been asked to help test a new product before their peers, and they can see whether or not this new service product, feature, or service fits in with their current operations. Another strategy is offering certain customers early releases of products. These should also be positioned as a ‘unique opportunity’ on a ‘limited basis’. After all, everyone likes to feel special, and signaling your customers out as top tier can help increase retention rates.
3. Position your customers as superstars in the marketplace
While asking your current customers to participate in a case study or external marketing exercise might not sound like the first way to improve retention, it can actually work – if you phrase your ask the right way. Your platform is most likely one of many your customers are using, so how are you going to get them to say yes to you, and increase customer satisfaction in the process? There’s nothing wrong with a little flattery, and customer marketing is the perfect place for it. Customer advocates are more likely to keep using your business, so it makes sense to invest in strong advocacy program resources. Ask your customers to participate in a case study or webinar to showcase their innovative or one-of-a-kind application of your product to position them as superstars in the marketplace.
4. Don’t just ask over email – host customers in person or at events for a more personal touch
There’s something to be said for a personal touch, which is why so many deals are won face-to-face. Customer marketing and retention are exactly the same. Just because they have gone through implementation and are happily using your product doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a similar personal touch. Make it a point to meet face-to-face with your customers to discuss any marketing opportunities, or even to just ask them how they are doing with your product or service. If your team is heading to a conference or tradeshow, invite your customers personally to accompany your team and share their story, either at a booth or in a session, to really help share their success with others. This shows you’re dedicated to the customer relationship and want to continue showcasing their success in the industry.
How is your team currently handling customer marketing?
While customer marketing is a critical part of increasing satisfaction and retention, it’s often a process of trial and error to see what programs work the best for your CSMs and your customers. How is your team currently handling customer success? Is it a function of the CS team or does it fall under marketing?