Customer Success Marketing is a 2015 Priority
As we kick off 2015, one of the areas that the Gainsight customer and extended community will be working on the most is effective communications and customer touches, at scale. Regardless of whether your company has a low- or no-touch model and you can't individually call or email every customer or if you have a high-touch model and you want to get the right message to the right person at the right time, every business model and company can benefit from Customer Success Marketing.
In planning your program this year, you have a partner and expertise on your Marketing team. Great customer success outcomes - advocacy, references, loyalty - have long fallen under their domain. Now that Customer Success has solidified as a critical revenue driver directly responsible for the customer relationship, programmatic workflows similar to lead nurturing, recommended offers, and announcements will become the norm for your CSM team.
Let's take a look at your playbook for this year.
Strategy: Coach Towards Desired Outcomes
In the rush to define "customer marketing", definitions got a bit murky. "Marketing" became the catchall term for anything sales-related and "nurture" was offered to cover relationship aspects of communications and adoption. What limits this model for Customer Success Marketing is that traditional marketing matured in a one-time customer acquisition world. The concept of lifecycle marketing has only recently been introduced.
Anthony Nygren of EMI Strategic Consulting suggests "coaching" as the framework for building your program. Coaching is the never-ending effort to influence behavior in the direction of adoption, expansion, renewal, and maximization of lifetime value with always more on the horizon. With coaching as the goal, each new communication should be looked at on the spectrum of immediate influence to long-term influence. Comparing a new feature announcement to a monthly newsletter - the first aims to influence adoption or upsell immediately while the latter builds a goodwill channel of communication for recurring company events like webinars.
Get Started with the ABCs
Given the many cooks in the customer relationship kitchen, a traditional inside-out perspective, and limited resources, many companies struggle to get started with customer success marketing programs.
Jen Gray, customer success and marketing extraordinaire at Adobe, has implemented 3 customer success marketing stepping stones in each of her programs (Qualtrics & AtTask in the past)
- Align: Break down silos with an audit of all communications and map of the ideal customer lifecycle. The goal of this step is to find the most effective, formerly one-off communications and make them programmatic to scale your CSM team.
- Brand: After defining the ideal lifecycle, get some practice by writing/refining the onboarding messages. Look back into the pre-sales cycle for the tone, promises, and senders to ensure a smooth handoff and consistent message.
- Communicate: Lastly, with email the dominant form of communication in business, mastery of an automation platform by at least one member of the team is a requirement to take advantage of templates, branding, and data-driven triggers for sending. Most customer success solutions have email marketing integrations and a rare few even offer email capabilities custom-built for CSMs.
How Does This Look For My Org Structure?
My prediction, having worked with many sales and marketing teams is that there's no rush to clearly define who "owns" this. Just as sales and marketing aligned with field marketing and sales enablement reporting to either organization and bridging both, the customer success marketer can be a marketing or customer success headcount.
We'll be presenting more research and recommendations on Customer Success Marketing as the year goes on so keep checking this space!