The 5 Key Components of a Killer Customer Marketing Strategy

It’s easy to see marketing as a process specific to attracting and converting prospects — the practice of generating and capitalizing on potential customers’ interest.

But once that potential has successfully been removed from the equation, and the prospect of winning a prospect’s business is no longer prospective, are you supposed to stop marketing to them altogether?

Absolutely not.

Your current customer base is a perfectly lucrative wellspring of new and sustained business opportunities that you should constantly be tapping into. That’s where the concept of customer marketing comes in — a school of marketing that allows you to get much more out of your customers than their initial business.

Let’s take a more thorough look at what customer marketing is and a picture of the five key elements of a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.

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Customer marketing is, in large part, the art of building customer loyalty and enthusiasm in the hope that those elements will ultimately translate to new business. And in the context of the practice, the term “new” takes on multiple meanings.

“New” business could mean existing customers buying new products or services as you develop them. It could mean current customers upgrading the products of yours they currently leverage or upping the tier of your service they subscribe to.

Or, and perhaps most importantly, it could mean customers being enthusiastic enough about your business to evangelize to their friends and family about how awesome your company is to attract new customers for you.

Ultimately, a solid customer-driven marketing strategy is a way to leverage your current customers as marketing assets. The process is incredibly useful — but often tricky to navigate. Here are some of the key components of an effective customer-driven marketing strategy.

1. Leverage buyer personas to segment and understand your customers.

This point applies to virtually every kind of marketing, and a customer-driven marketing strategy is no exception. The success of these kinds of efforts inevitably leans on your ability to understand and approach the people you’re trying to appeal to. That’s why it’s in your best interest to use detailed buyer personas to guide your customer marketing efforts.

As per HubSpot’s own definition, a buyer persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on data and research.” Who are your customers? Can you identify multiple segments with different interests and sensitivities? What kind of customer marketing will best suit those various bases?

For instance, say you’re in the B2B SaaS space, and various iterations of your software are consistently bought by both freelance developers and decision-makers at midsize businesses.

Those two groups would warrant the creation of two separate personas — ones that will probably be fundamentally different in how they approach your product and can be best appealed to.

Say you’ve recently released a new paid add-on to your program tailored to appeal to companies with over 100 employees and want to sell to established customers.

If you wanted to create an email campaign to support your customer-driven marketing efforts, you would refer to your midsize business decision-maker persona for cues on appropriate messaging and specific contacts.

That way, your customer marketing effort would be adeptly targeted. You would reach the most interested customers with appropriate content — all without bothering or alienating your other base.

One way or another, you have to know your customers before you can market to them effectively. Creating, maintaining, and referring to detailed buyer personas is central to that process. You can learn more about the nature and process of creating buyer personas here.

2. Provide exemplary customer service.

Two of the primary endgames of a customer-driven marketing strategy are garnering customer loyalty and facilitating customer evangelism. Those factors tend to hinge upon your customers’ experiences — their experiences with your product or service and their experiences with your company as a whole.

The latter tends to be easier to control than the former, so investing in customer service is always a must. Make sure your customer support infrastructure is sound.

Be thorough and responsive when addressing individual customers’ problems and concerns with your product — whether that be through email, over live chat, on the phone, or in person.

Have that structure in place and those resources on-hand to ensure that any potential problems your customers might have are immediately, patiently, and thoughtfully addressed.

They’ll help you delight your customers and provide specific insight into what you could be doing better — two actions that will inform your customer marketing strategy and allow you to maintain a happier customer base that will be more receptive to it.

3. Listen to and engage with your customers.

Customer feedback is central to the efficacy of any customer marketing strategy. How can you know what your customers want and expect out of your company if you don’t listen to them? If you ignore their thoughts and input, you’re undermining your ability to appeal to them as meaningfully as possible.

Pay careful attention to how customers are interacting with your brand on social media. Hear what they say over those platforms and be willing to adjust your product development, messaging, outreach, and customer-driven marketing strategies accordingly.

In many cases, just looking and listening won’t be enough. Engage with your customers online. Actively interact with them on social media. Ask for their feedback and insight yourself. Address issues and concerns that they might be raising personally.

Your customer-driven marketing strategy, at its core, is a means of cultivating and capitalizing on customer satisfaction. One of the best ways to do both is to let customers know that you care, are willing to listen, and will act on the feedback they offer.

Consistently demonstrating that you’re willing to do all that can be huge in the context of a successful customer-driven marketing strategy.

4. Incentivize loyalty.

Sustaining — if not consistently improving — impressive customer retention needs to be at the heart of your customer-driven marketing efforts. Your customers need to be loyal if you want to sell them on any new products or keep them on board as long as possible. But how can you help develop and foster that kind of loyalty?

The two prior points — providing exceptional customer service and engaging with your customers — are significant parts of that process. But there are certain programs and strategies you can implement to give your pushes for customer loyalty a little extra oomph.

Customer loyalty programs — incentivizing long term business with current customers through avenues like offering free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or even advance released products — are always worth considering when it comes to customer marketing.

Give your customers tangible, immediate reasons to remain loyal. Again, this point ties into the overarching theme this article keeps touching on — letting customers know you care.

The customers who have remained with your business want to know they’re not being taken for granted. And newer customers could always use a few extra reasons to plan on staying with you in the long run.

Customer loyalty programs are one of the better, more straightforward ways to supplement an effective customer-driven marketing strategy. So no matter the nature of your business, give some serious thought to incorporating one into your customer marketing efforts.

5. Have systems and strategies in place to generate referrals.

This point is where customer marketing and traditional marketing intersect. It’s one of the most clear-cut ways to translate general loyalty into new business — all while keeping current customers enthusiastic about your company.

There’s tremendous utility, versatility, and value in a well-constructed customer referral program. It’s essentially an official channel through which you can turn customers into evangelists — a program that incentivizes the projection of positive, customer-generated publicity.

If you can put together a referral program with simple instructions and attractive rewards, you can give your customers a personal stake in promoting your business.

It keeps them engaged, makes them articulate the value of your product or service to their friends, and ultimately wins you new customers while making the current ones that much happier with your business.

One of the main — or perhaps the main — endgames to implementing a customer-driven marketing strategy is to turn your customers into spokespeople. A customer referral program expedites that process.

Regardless of the size or nature of your business, you stand to gain a lot from carrying out effective customer marketing. Once you have customers on board, the last thing you should do is cast them by the wayside. There’s tremendous potential in meaningfully engaging with and appealing to them, so it’s worth your time to research and construct a solid customer-driven marketing strategy.

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Originally published Jul 27, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated July 27 2020

Integrations: The Newest Addition to Your Marketing Ops

Marketing isn’t just about campaigns, content, and creativity. There’s a whole lot of “getting things done” that needs to happen behind the scenes for campaigns to roll out on time and performance to scale.

This is where marketing operations comes in. Also called marketing ops or MOps, marketing operations is how a marketing team is run. It’s the processes, technology, data, and people that power a marketing strategy.

Of these key pillars of marketing operations, data sounds like the most abstract one. But getting the data right in your marketing ops is crucial.

How do you do this? By cleaning, organizing, and enriching the data in every app as well as integrating data between your apps.

An increasingly important role for any team or Marketing Operation Manager is maintaining data quality and connectedness. This not only includes marketing apps but also bridges to other departments in the organization.

Let’s dig into how to make this happen so you can scale the impact of your marketing ops.

What Are Integrations?

Integration brings different pieces of software together and enables their data to interact.

When done well, integrations enable your marketing team to:

  • Create the most holistic marketing ops strategy across your software ecosystem.
  • Allow data to seamlessly flow between key platforms and enrich each one.
  • Automate more tasks and free up time.
  • Provide stronger customer experiences with more accessible and insightful data.
  • Remove data silos and other barriers to collaboration.
  • Deliver accurate insights, reporting, and decision making.

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As an example of a valuable integration, think of your CRM and email marketing app. A good email list is a marketer’s most treasured possession, but for your email marketing to be successful, you need accurate and in-depth insights into each contact’s interests, behavior, and communication preferences. You can solve this by integrating data from your CRM.

The integrations that matter most to your marketing operations depend on your organization and industry.

That said, there are certain integration best practices that businesses with strong marketing operations follow. Let’s explore those.

1. Understand the Ecosystem Your Marketing Data Lives in

A strong marketing stack that your team loves using is a pivotal part of your marketing operations management.

This can include an all-in-one marketing platform or individual systems for:

  • Content management
  • Marketing automation
  • Lead Generation
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Project management
  • Communication

One of the first steps to perfect your marketing ops is understanding the ecosystem your marketing data lives in. Some valuable questions to ask are:

  • What data are we collecting in each app?
  • How should data interact with other apps?
  • How can we sync apps to enrich the data in each one?

With answers to these questions in mind, you can decide how best to integrate your apps and allow data to flow between them.

2. Ensure Clean, Up-to-date Data in Every App

To get the best results from integrations, you need high-quality data in every app. Dirty data in one app is bad, but the negative impact is multiplied for every new app it enters.

To prevent this, clean up the data in every app before adding new integrations. This includes:

  • Duplicate contacts
  • Inaccurate contact data
  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounced email addresses

With clean data in every app, you can seamlessly integrate your marketing platforms and create the most streamlined and effective marketing ops.

3. Make Your CRM the Heart of Your Marketing Ops

There’s a high chance your sales team is already using a CRM to store all of the key insights about your customers and their interactions with your business. That’s because centralizing your data in your CRM is one of the best things you can do for strong contact management.

One way to test the strength of your CRM is by checking if anyone in your business can answer questions about a contact and their interactions with your business – whether in sales, support, marketing, or billing – just by glancing at their contact record.

To make this happen, you can use integration to bring data from other apps into your CRM. The inverse is also valuable: syncing your CRM data with your marketing apps to enrich the data in those places.

Alongside syncing names and emails, you can choose which other information makes sense to have available in your other marketing apps. This could include:

  • Lead status/stage
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Customer Success Owner
  • Business size
  • Communication preferences

4. Use Contact Segmentation

Segmenting your contacts using lists, tags, and properties is a fantastic way to deliver the most personalized customer experience. But it’s also a key ingredient for effective integrations.

With an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution like PieSync, you can create customized workflows and sync data based on specific conditions. That way, you maintain the segmentation of your database across tools. These specific conditions could be configured according to If-this-then-that rules. For instance:

  • IF a contact’s Lifecycle Stage is ‘Lead’
  • THEN sync the contact to your email marketing tool and add to the list ‘List of leads’

If the contact stops being a customer, you can automatically reflect that in your email marketing app, remove the ‘Customer’ tag, and no longer send relevant communications.

To create powerful if-this-then-that rules, first segment data in individual apps, and then create connections across your ecosystem.

5. Create Strong Alignment With Sales Via Integrations

Your marketing operations strategy isn’t just about marketing. It’s essential to look at the other teams in your organization and understand how to create the strongest alignment.

The most important bridge for marketers to maintain is with sales. By working collaboratively instead of in silos, marketers can deliver the perfect leads for sales and both teams can share what’s working as well as opportunities.

To optimize your bridge with sales, you can integrate your marketing software with sales apps such as:

  • Sales CRM
  • Contact Management
  • Live chat software
  • Sales automation software
  • Integrations between your marketing apps and customer support software

With your marketing and sales apps in sync, both teams are in the best position to exchange data, deliver unified reporting, and do their best work both independently and together.

6. Integrate Customer Data with Your Marketing Apps

Although marketing usually has the strongest alignment with sales, make sure not to forget about your service team.

If your data is siloed, you run the risk of the nightmare scenario of sending a promotion offer to a customer who subscribed a week ago at full price.

With integrated apps and data, you can keep your customers in mind for every marketing campaign and create personalizations based on the products, services, and upgrades that are most relevant to them.

You can align your Marketing and Service team with either:

A good starting point is to make sure that all customer interactions and support requests are synced with your CRM. Marketers can then easily use this information to personalize campaigns and workflows.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Integrations

You can measure the impact of integrations in your marketing operations strategy by asking if:

  • Your data is accurate, enriched, and reliable in every app.
  • You have a centralized contact database that quickly gives you a 360-degree view of each contact.
  • Your marketing team is aligned with sales and can quickly collaborate.
  • You have removed all data silos.
  • You can personalize marketing campaigns for customers or exclude them from certain messaging.
  • You have clear marketing reporting that brings together data from all channels and apps and highlights key areas for optimization.

As you optimize your marketing operations, remember to look at the holistic view of your marketing stack and the individual pieces of the puzzle. By paying attention to the two in tandem, you can understand where to connect the dots for the best overall outcomes in your marketing team and throughout your organization.

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Originally published Jul 10, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 10 2020

Everything You Need to Know About Marketing Operations in One Place

One of my favorite movies is “School of Rock,” which also happens to be one of 2003’s best films.

In the movie, Jack Black poses as a substitute teacher at a private school, and, after noticing the students are musically talented, he turns the 10-year-olds into a fully-fledged rock band.

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