What do Customer Success and Direct Marketing have in common? Image

What do Customer Success and Direct Marketing have in common?

About 10 years ago, I completed the Interactive and Direct Marketing Diploma with the @IDM, in London. Outside of the stress of a two day sit down exam, the course and the business cases we developed were filled with extremely valuable information.

Although I now work in the Customer Success industry, I keep thinking of the key principle of Direct Marketing and how they can be used in a successful Customer Success strategy. Why? Because Customer Success today is precisely what I learned 10 years ago about Direct Marketing – the main objective is to maximize the Lifetime Value of your current and future customers.

When I was getting my direct marketing diploma, we boiled it down to 4 key principles of direct marketing: Target, Interact, Control, Continuity (TICC for short).

These major areas of focus in direct marketing fit perfectly with the tenets of Customer Success:


The first step to deploy a Customer Success strategy is to clearly identify your customer segments and how you will organize your team to manage them. The criteria to use could be the ARR, the size, the potential, the language requirements etc. Creating a target isn’t just a Customer Success priority either. Marketing and Sales should be involved to ensure that your company is targeting the “right” customers. The right customers are ones that are going to achieve success with your product and becomes advocates in the future, those are the accounts your company should be focused on closing.


 Based on your target customer segments, you can then define how you manage your clients. Will you need a high touch strategy or more of a

one-to-many approach

? What is the best way to engage your customers and have an efficient communication with them? How will your Customer Success communications align with corporate communications from your marketing team? What communications modality do your customers prefer (ie. Email, In-App Alerts, etc)? All of these questions need to be answered and outlined in a detailed distribution strategy. Alignment between teams is critical to creating an interaction strategy that works.


 Just like Direct Marketing campaigns, your Customer Success strategy and initiatives need to be measured and your KPIs need to be aligned with the larger business objectives. You and your leadership should be aligned on what success looks like for you and your team. Once you have the appropriate metrics in place, you should focus on driving the right behaviors by aligning team compensation to KPIs. Just like in Direct Marketing, you can ensure that through rigorous measurement, you and your team will be driving success at the org level.


Customer Success cannot come from just one department, it must be a mind-set adopted by the entire organization. You should start aligning your company around customer success by ensuring you have a firm understand of the customer journey with your organization. You would be surprised how many people at your company couldn’t answer the question “What happens once the customer takes X action.” They key as you map the customer journey and the associated action items is to think about them from the customer perspective. You have to resist the urge to optimize the customer lifecycle based on what you want the customer to do next and instead understand their context and what they are trying to achieve with your product. If you optimize based on the customer, you will ensure that you are creating a customer experience that will create success, advocates, and opportunities for maximizing Lifetime Value.

As the Customer Success revolution takes shape, the domains of many other departments are slowly coming together on behalf of the customer. You can look at Direct Marketing and see how it’s evolution slowly leads to Customer Success. The bottom line is every team, department, discipline is coming together to support Customer Success, and for good reason; Customer Success is where 90% of your future revenue will come from.

To create companies that scale, pull inspiration from wherever you can, because the future of your company depends on continuously adapting your strategy based on your customer targets, interactions and relationships.

This contributed post was written by Cyrille Saulnier | SVP Customer Success | Smart Focus