Your business needs customers to be successful. Ergo, for your company to thrive, you need satisfied customers who continue benefiting from your product or service and stay with your brand for the long-term.
In fact, customer satisfaction is one of the key brand differentiators in the modern market. As marketing professionals, we know that acquiring a new customer has significantly higher costs than retaining an existing one. And to retain existing customers, we have to unite with sales and services to build an army of evangelists for continual business and new customer recruitment.
Successful Customers Guide Marketing Efforts
All marketing content should be written with your company’s buyer personas and ideal customer profile in mind. These resources aren’t just crafted based on gut feelings and opinions. They require thorough research with the goal of identifying not just who will buy, but who will benefit and continue to be a source of revenue for your company in the long run.
“What makes a successful customer is what should inform your personas. It’s not just who you think you should target — it’s who you should target based on who successfully uses your product,” says Karin Krisher, New Breed’s Client Experience Lead.
In order to create a comprehensive representation, persona creation should be a collaboration between marketing, sales and customer-facing product and service teams. Each of these parties can provide unique insight into what a successful customer looks like for your company.
Sales can provide insight into the challenges that emerge within the buying process and who decision-making authorities are. Your product or service delivery team can tell you who is benefiting the most from your company’s solution.
“You really shouldn’t make marketing targets, in my opinion, without understanding both the details and at a high-level what type of use of the product or service makes the most sense,” Karin says.
Generating customers who can find long-term success with your product or service isn’t just good for your company as a whole; it makes your job as a marketer much easier. Your company’s best-fit customers won’t just have high lifetime values, they’ll also be willing to provide positive reviews, testimonials and case studies. That’s how you gain long-term evangelists.
Generate Leads Who Will Become Successful Customers
Buyer personas and successful customers have a chicken-and-the-egg relationship. Your buyer personas should be informed by your successful customers so they can be used to target high-fit prospects who will in turn become successful customers.
To bring in high-fit leads, you need to create content and messaging that resonates with the right people and be strategic about who you qualify.
“You want to make sure whoever you’re saying is a marketing qualified lead is actually someone who can make use of the product,” Karin says. “It can’t just be someone who’s interested in the product. For that reason, you would create fit scores, not just interest scores.”
Instead of basing your qualification score solely on the content they’ve engaged with, you need to also take into account how closely they align with your ideal customer profile (ICP).
If for whatever reason, your lead qualification system cannot take fit into account, then you need to create fit through interest. To do this, you need to match your marketing topics to the specific needs of your ICP.
For example, someone probably isn’t searching for “how to increase landing page conversions on a B2B SaaS website” unless that’s a specific need they already have. So, their interest in that topic indicates a level of initial fit.
Marketing is for More than Getting MQLs
Marketing efforts fuel a flywheel — not a traditional marketing funnel. If the MQLs you generate aren’t becoming SQLs, opportunities or customers, then you’re not truly contributing to your company’s growth.
“Ultimately, your business is what gives you a job. Everyone’s goal should be not only the end sale, but also long-term customer success,” Karin says.
Unfortunately, focusing on contribution to revenue instead of MQLs is easier said than done — especially if you’re measured on MQLs.
The benefits of disqualifying poor-fit leads are obvious: if the leads actually become customers, they’re going to be unhappy with your company’s solution and might leave negative reviews and publicly share their discontent. That bad publicity makes your job as a marketer more difficult.
However, the case for not qualifying mediocre leads is more difficult to make. They might not be ideal customers, but they’re good buyers in the short-term. They won’t renew or expand the scope of their engagement with your company, but they also won’t be so unsatisfied that they churn before your contract ends.
Plus, while those mediocre leads might not help your company grow in the long-term, qualifying them will help you meet or exceed your marketing goals in the short-term. But short-term wins won’t help you grow your marketing strategy over time.
“Your real goal as a marketer, your real KPI, should be long-term revenue. From the business perspective, it’s very clear,” Karin says. “It costs much less to retain a customer than to acquire one, and you as a marketer should also be contributing to the long-term bottom line.”
If you can show that the best-fit customers for your company came in through marketing, you can make the case for changing your goals and expanding your department. Bringing in customers who have high customer lifetime value, and who your service or product team enjoys working with, proves that your marketing is working.
If your KPIs are short-term, start making that case by tying your activities to desired outcomes instead. For example, measure your month by how you’ve contributed to long-term revenue as opposed to whether you’ve generated 30 MQLs.
How Marketing Can Contribute to Customer Success
Align demand generation marketing with product marketing
There are two sides of marketing: demand generation marketing, which attracts and nurtures prospects through every touchpoint of their buyer’s journey, and product marketing, which focuses on the value proposition and messaging of a specific product or service. Those two facets can overlap pre-sale, but demand generation marketing stops after the acquisition of a prospect.
Even though those two functions differ from each other, they still should be driven by similar strategies.
“I think a lot of companies view [product marketing] as ‘we’re gonna talk about our product,’ and not as ‘when do we talk about it? At what cadence? With who? After which triggers have been expressed?’” Karin says.
Demand gen-side tactics like segmentation can help ensure customers are receiving personalized, contextually-relevant communication that helps them gain more value from their engagement with your company.
“In the software industry, product marketing often occurs in-product, and then marketing isn’t involved at all,” Karin says. “Or, it’s an email about the product that’s blasted to a list containing people already using the product. In that case, you’re showing them you don’t really care about them as individuals.”
Product marketing and demand generation marketing should be collaborating with each other and customer success managers (CSMs) to determine how to keep customers using the product or expanding their use of the product.
A feedback loop between marketing and customer success will strengthen both teams. CSMs can help marketing identify pain points, and marketing should be enabling CSMs to deliver customers the right message through the right channel.
Enforce Consistent Branding
Content impacts perception, and perception affects the bottom line. Customer communications don’t just contribute to customer success. They also contribute to your company’s brand — and brand is a marketer’s responsibility.
“Every piece of content created within your company, whether it’s an internal reference article or a Vidyard you’re sending a client about a service, should generally have the same tone and voice,” Karin says.
Your content repository is more than what you have online. It includes everything: every email, every internal document, every social media post — and all of that needs to align with your brand.
Your brand should be cohesive throughout each interaction prospects and customers have with your company. Off-brand communications can be detrimental to your company’s credibility.
“Anybody can write an email — and I don’t just mean an email that you send from HubSpot to a defined list. Anyone in your company can write a terrible email to a client or a prospect,” Karin says.
If a customer decides to screenshot a poorly written email they received and that goes viral, marketing will have to clean up the mess. So, training your entire company on your brand and how to communicate it through every interaction will help create a positive customer experience and make your job as a marketer easier.
Marketing needs to keep customer success in mind when targeting and qualifying leads and should be working with CSMs to help with customer retention and satisfaction.
If marketing’s MQLs aren’t becoming customers, then marketing is not contributing to their company’s bottom line. Instead, marketers should focus on bringing in leads who will become successful customers.
“You’re growing their business. They’re growing your business. That’s what customer success looks like,” Karin says.