Why Great Customer Marketing is Your Best Weapon in a Recession
Great customer marketing is a useful investment in the best of times, but it’s crucial during a market downturn. As businesses attempt to preserve cash flow and make drastic adjustments to their buying and spending decisions, it’s imperative that businesses don’t lose sight of the customers they’ve already won. When practiced consistently, a solid customer marketing strategy can increase retention which in turn increases profits—because we all know it’s more cost efficient to retain an existing customer.
On a daily basis, your customers are interacting with people who could be interested in the solutions you have to offer—and this communication is happening in circles you don’t have access to as a vendor. This is known as the dark social : “According to a study by Ogilvy Cannes, 74% of consumers consider word of mouth as a key influencer when making purchasing decisions”. Particularly during a recession, word-of-mouth and testimonials from your customers have the opportunity to build pipeline because as marketing budgets shrink, companies want a “sure thing”. Buyers would rather invest in a software that has a track record of providing value.
How Customer Marketing impacts your pipeline
Your customers have the choice to advocate for your solution every time they talk to their peers, so staying top of mind for your customers means increasing the odds of being their top suggestion. The dark social happens when your customers are exchanging advice with their peers, or providing feedback on new solutions. With the help of your customers’ referrals, you’re avoiding the heavy investment typically required to fill your pipeline with new opportunities—helpful when your CMO has just slashed your marketing budget!
Effective customer marketing will help you build an established and consistent relationship with your current customers and turn it into a win-win situation: “Seventy percent average increase in top-line revenues reported by companies who have invested in digital customer engagement” — Twilio’s 2022 State of Customer Engagement Report.
Let your customers do the talking
If you’re able to, consider creating and moderating a community made up of your own customers. Creating a space where people who use your product can exchange best practices and share industry tips and tricks will allow you to create a two-way connection to your customers that goes beyond email and Zoom calls. It doesn’t even have to be a community or forum; here at PathFactory we host our Success Series, office hours and B2B Visionaries and they’ve been successful at engaging our customer base, and providing us a pool of talented advocates to tap into when we’re looking for case studies, testimonials, and event speakers. By providing these types of opportunities help your customers build their brand as well (see what we mean about ‘win-win’?). As customers interact with your product, opportunities for up-selling (expanding their current plan) or cross-selling (adding a new solution) may arise from their exposure to initiatives and tactics that their peers are working on.
Customer Marketing increases your knowledge and understanding of the needs, challenges and use cases of your customer base. During precarious times like a recession or market downturn, it’s imperative that you keep your finger on the pulse of the challenges your customers are facing, and create as many lines of open communication as possible. Customer marketing will open up access to a sample of your addressable market whose insights can be incorporated into your product roadmap and your overall customer experience.
How to get started with Customer Marketing
Staying in touch with your customers on a regular basis seems like the obvious route. Still, it must be done in a relevant and timely fashion with respect to their journey. Email nurturing, customer-only events or perks, among other things, can help foster relationships built on trust and thought leadership. According to Qualtrics, your customer marketing strategy should encompass 5 dimensions of customer engagement.
- Longevity: The length of time over which interactions are spread
- Proactiveness: Whether a customer engages with a brand of their own accord, without prompting
- Repetition and frequency: Whether the interactions are frequent and similar, or sporadic and varied
- Context: The situation where interactions happen, for example, post-purchase, during consideration, only when there’s a promotion happening, etc.
- Volume: How much interaction takes place over the whole customer lifecycle
Once you’ve gathered data on how your customers engage with you, it’s time to put your insights into action. There are two things to consider:
- How do you connect the sources of engagement and pinpoint where customers are in their journey?
- How do you empower account managers to lead the relationship in a way that benefits both the customer and the business?
The best way to get sales and marketing teams on the same page is content intelligence. Bridging the gap between sales and marketing is key to offering a cohesive, personalized and relevant customer experience. Where the marketing team has the means to segment and address different groups of your customer base at once, the sales team can join that thread to keep the conversation going at the individual level and ensure that the right contacts engage.
Customer marketing initiatives and opportunities
Consider adding a few of these customer marketing tactics to your calendar this quarter:
- Onboarding campaigns to accelerate adoption
- Industry-specific insights or reports to establish thought leadership and reinforce trust
- Customer-only events to foster advocacy and create partnerships
- Launch new products or services to remind your customers of the value you provide
- Re-engagement campaigns to prevent attrition
In business, relationships with your customers are everything. This is even more true during periods of economic instability. By developing a mutually beneficial relationship with your customer, the value they see in your business will extend beyond simply using your product or solution. Through regular and thoughtful customer marketing, you have an opportunity to create advocates that will sing your praises in all the places you can’t reach.