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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jun 6, 2019 14 min read

What Is Customer Marketing?

What Is Customer Marketing

Your Customers Need To Be An Active Asset In Designing A Proactive Revenue Growth Program

What Is Customer MarketingToo many labels already exist for different types of marketing. I’m not trying to introduce a new one, but I am shining a light on an area of marketing that rarely gets enough attention.

Marketing targeted to your existing customers is one of the first places we look for revenue when we start with a new client.

One of our partners, Influitive, defines customer marketing as “activities designed to drive retention, loyalty, advocacy, growth and community participation for current customers. The strategy, which is different from marketing with the goal of acquiring new customers, relies heavily on maximizing strong customer relationships.”

This type of marketing is more and more important. As all of our businesses become more transparent, making sure your customers are having amazing experiences with your firm is key.

Here’s how you can leverage customer marketing to have a major impact on your revenue generation.

Cross-Sell Campaigns

Rarely do companies realize full value from their current customers. Recent research from a CMO Council survey published on B2B Marketing Zone shows that most companies (77%) surveyed are not realizing the full revenue potential of their existing customers.

It’s not uncommon to find this with our clients and prospects as well. In fact, most of the business leaders we work with look for new revenue from new customers, when they should be looking for new revenue from existing customers first.

This is where cross-sell campaigns can be very effective. Remember, your customers already know, like and trust you. They’ve been doing business with you for some period. When you’re talking about new prospects, getting them to know, like and trust you can take a salesperson days, weeks or even months and years.

Marketing to existing customers is almost always faster and more efficient because of their awareness and trust in you and your company.

Cross-sell campaigns to current customers typically take the form of email outreach. Your customers are already subscribed and have already opted into email communications from your company. You can effectively grab their attention and drive conversions.

Starting with strategy is key here. What action do you want your customers to take when they get the email campaign? What message do you want to deliver that drives them to act? How do you want them to feel? Emotion is a big driver of campaign performance in email.

Also, don’t try to do too much in a single email. Don’t try to get them to review multiple offers with multiple clicks. Try to focus their action into one or maybe two action options.

Keep the email campaign content short and to the point. People only spend 10 to 20 seconds reading an email, so anything lengthy will likely be ignored. For more information on general email marketing performance, click here

Finally, don’t look at any campaign as one-and-done effort. Make sure you have a series of three to six emails that continue to reinforce the story over time (usually a two- to three-week period). Most people need multiple touches to cut through the clutter and grab their attention.

Upsell Campaigns

Cross-sell and upsell campaigns are similar. Upsell generally means customers are buying more of a single product as opposed to new and different products in addition to what they already purchase.

One way to position this type of customer marketing is to have a deep understanding of each customer’s usage patterns.

An example of this includes customers who buy products that get used and you know the volume they purchased typically lasts a certain amount of time, so you remind them it’s time to reorder before they run out.

Not only does this drive the purchase to be sooner than usual, but it provides the customer with a value-added service, reminding them and preventing them from running out.

You could argue that this idea is cross-sell and upsell, but you might be wrong. We work with a John Deere distributor and created a customer-targeted email campaign to everyone who buys tractors and mowers.

The campaign is designed to sell maintenance services. Hardly anyone brings their equipment in for service, but service represents a highly profitable and underused part of their business.

Now, once someone makes a purchase, they are automatically enrolled in an email campaign that reminds them when they need service, provides an incentive for them to make an appointment and continues to remind them until they show up or schedule the service.

Customer Success Stories

Today, companies are using their customers to tell their story, and these stories can take a variety of formats. Regardless of the format, you need customers who are willing to go on record for you. They have to be willing to participate in your marketing with you and help you tell your story.

Video is one of the hottest marketing vehicles being deployed right now. You want video that highlights and focuses on your customer. The video should be about them and their business, not you and your company. But the video shows how the company has benefited from your product or service, so while it’s not directly about you, its clear you’ve been part of their success.

Video can be used in email, on the web, as part of the sales process, in social campaigns and even at events or trade shows. The uses of these video success stories are varied, and the power of video is its ability to tell your story quickly, usually under three minutes.

Written case studies are equally important when it comes to customer success stories. Plenty of people still want additional details only available in a documented and designed customer case study.

These can be shared within an organization as well as used on your website to drive conversions and lead generation. Typically, these types of content are good signals for people deeper in the buyer journey.

Content like this is often downloaded when people are in the Rationalization Stage or the Decision-Making Stage of the Cyclonic Buyer Journey. Just like visits to your pricing page on your website could be a significant buying signal, downloading or visiting a case study page is also a strong indicator of buying intent.

Having the right collection of customer success assets is critical to creating a compelling and remarkable buyer journey with your marketing. Leveraging those tools in the sales process is equally important to having a tight, highly effective sales process that turns lead into new customers.

An Inventory Of Referenceable Customers

Speaking of the sales process, getting references to prospects is almost always a challenge from a sales perspective. It’s important that you actively manage your customers and constantly cultivate advocacy-oriented relationships with as many as possible.

What that means is you are always cultivating a robust collection of referenceable customers for sales and marketing to lean on during the sales process.

You can reward these people for helping you. You can reiterate how important it is that your company grows so that they can continue to get new and innovative products and services from you. It’s a true win-win.

If you want to blend references and video together, you can create (like we do for a lot of our clients) what we call a reference reel. Instead of providing references (which typically take about two weeks to play out), a reference reel is sent proactively before prospects ask for references.

You let them know that the people in the video are more than likely to be the same people they’d be talking to and this is a quicker, easier way to give them the information they’d be looking for anyway.

This doesn’t eliminate references, but based on our research, it typically reduces the reference requests by 50% — and that is dramatic. Think about how less frequently you’d be bothering your customers with requests to do references.  

Online Reviews

What Is Customer MarketingLike it or not, the experiences our customers are having with companies are highly transparent. People are writing about them everywhere, including on Google, Facebook, industry specific review sites, company sponsored review sites and more.

When someone wants to learn about your business, they don’t ask you. They look online. Its just like when you want to try a new restaurant and start with Yelp or Trip Advisor.

This means you need to be more proactive when it comes to reviews. You have to ask for them, you have to monitor them, you have to manage them and you have to be aware of the negative reviews that come along with this new normal.

Even the best restaurant on the planet probably has some negative reviews. It’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time. Just like a restaurant, you want to make sure you have many more positive reviews than negative reviews.

What makes this most challenging is that the people who tend to review your company are not your happy customers but rather the customers who feel slighted. This means you need a system to engage your happy customers and get their experiences on these review sites too.

Consider a program that rewards them for their positive review. Make sure you have someone responsible for reaching out and reminding them that their reviews are important, appreciated and valuable to everyone.

In our experience, customers are happy to leave short reviews, but they do need to be reminded, encouraged and recognized for their extra effort. The more formalized the program, the more consistently you’ll find positive reviews for your company.


Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on referrals. For many companies, referrals are the lifeblood of their business, especially when they don’t have a steady stream of new leads and sales opportunities coming into the organization.

Referrals are always important, and your customers need to be reminded, encouraged and rewarded for their contribution in this area too.

People generally want to refer you, but if you’re not top of mind, it’s easy to ignore the opportunity when it arises.

By creating a proactive referral program, you can systematically reward people for referring you. Now they feel appreciated, they are regularly reminded and, if they’re comfortable with the referral, theyre more likely to do it more frequently and more consistently.

Make sure you reward for the referral, not the sale. Getting the referred prospect to select you is your sales team’s job, not your customer’s job. If you are rewarding them, reward them for the lead.

Many companies, especially bigger ones, have polices against accepting gifts from vendors. You need to understand those policies and make sure whatever reward you’re considering falls within the acceptable parameters.

Mike rootbeerFor example, our gourmet root beer with a custom label is rarely an issue with customers. It’s low value and consumable, making it the perfect “thank you.” There are several ways to make sure your customers can happily and easily accept your thank-you gift.

When it comes to revenue generation, don’t overlook the current customer base. It’s often the fastest and most efficient way to generate additional revenue. Marketing to your customers should be part of any revenue generation program and should be an ongoing part of your active campaign.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.