Putting the “Marketing” in Customer Success - Beyond the Perfect Email

March 4, 2016 Nerissa Martin

Putting the “Marketing” in Customer Success - Beyond the Perfect Email

On the other end of the marketing funnel… is another funnel. If marketing and sales drive the marketing funnel, you could make the argument that the other end is (at least in part, especially at the beginning) driven by the customer success team, or by customer success marketing.

Kissmetrics’ Customer Engagement Funnel demonstrates what happens after the sale perfectly. The tactics involved to move customers from ‘unknown lead’ to ‘active user’ have corresponding tactics on the other end of the funnel to move customers from ‘active user’, to ‘advocate’.

Taking this one step further, if having a strategy and key performance indicators are essential for the sales marketing funnel, the same can be said for the success end of the funnel.

The tactics and strategy will be different and change for each company, but at its core, customer success marketing is about “...work[ing] to ensure that customers see value in the product, renew or purchase from the company again, and advocate the product to their network.” (Kapost, 2015)

Yay, More Work To Do. </sarcasm>

I’m the last person to suggest adding tasks to your list of to do’s. Fortunately, when it comes to putting the “marketing” in “customer success”, most of the work is already happening as part of the process.

What’s more likely (and more realistic) is that customer success marketing grows out of customer success. We take the questions and problems we have as a team and use marketing best practices to solve those problems, while achieving our goals of turning customers into advocates.

IRL, the tactics feel familiar to what we’re all used to. The only thing that might change is how we use them, and how they help us meet our objectives.

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For the New Customer

New customers need to know they made the right decision. At this stage, our objectives might be inspiring customers to want to use the product.

Onboarding calls and emails are designed to teach the basics to get these customers up and running as soon as possible and establish value right away.

At this stage, tailoring the message is key - especially if any special circumstances were discovered during the sales process (ie. they’ve been a customer before or someone at the company has worked for your company in the past).

Applying a generic onboarding process for every customer is a missed opportunity. Giving new customers the information they need for the account or subscription they’ve purchased is more likely to turn a customer into an advocate: at this stage, you’re putting them on the path to know what they need to be an expert.

That way, when they’re ready to upgrade, they have a clear understanding of the difference between what they bought and what the next level is.

Here’s what this might look like:

  • ‘Welcome’ emails that include articles from your knowledge base or resource center that are specific to their account type.

  • Use cases from other customers who have purchased the same subscription.

  • A section of your knowledge base dedicated to that account type.

  • Onboarding sessions that are tailored in case the customer has purchased any add-ons or extras.

From New Customer to Advocate

Support.

It’s not at one specific stage, it runs up and down the funnel. And it’s an essential part of customer success. It’s also a touchpoint where you can get feedback -- information that will be essential in the later stages of the funnel.

Depending on how you do things at your company, support might be involved at every stage or at the stages that take place after a lead becomes a customer.

It’s also where most of the content is created and used as part of the customer success process, which means it’s where you can have the most fun.

Going beyond providing clear and accurate answers to basic questions, content at this stage can inspire users to want to learn more about your platform and empower them to take real ownership.

In two words, at this stage you want to: blow minds. Here’s where you have the chance to show what your platform and app is really capable of. Take the opportunity: support content doesn’t have to be boring content.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve got your knowledge and how-to articles down, there’s lots you can do to elevate your customer success marketing:

  • Use video featuring your success and support team to answer FAQs.
  • Help Customers reading long emails with extensive steps by following a style guide. http://www.helpscout.net/blog/writing-support-emails/.

  • Host free webinars that go over your best practices, with an eye on the big picture.

  • Animated gifs that show stages / steps of a process and connect to next steps. 

Hello {Customer}, It’s Time to Renew.

In a perfect world, when renewal time comes around, we’d all have ESP and know what’s going to happen.

Even though what we might hear back from customers may come as a surprise, there’s still an opportunity at this stage to tailor messages, even if we’ve heard nothing from the customer in months or (clench) a year.

For help, using the next stage of customer success marketing can provide insight. Knowing whether or not a customer is likely to advocate for your company and services can help your team determine if they’re likely to renew.

A snapshot of your customer interactions over the last quarter and / or year (whatever makes the most sense) will help you figure out where on the scale of engagement and advocacy, and will help you tailor what you say - and how you say - to each of your customers.

For example:

  • If a renewal is coming up and the customer hasn’t logged into the app in a while, and hasn’t contacted customer support, start the renewal conversation earlier by asking if there’s anything they need help with and reminding them of the renewal date.

  • If it’s time to renew and a customer has started to log in again, it’s possible that they’re looking for a way to cancel. Another opportunity to ask if they need any help.

  • Use a dashboard or infographic to show customers key results or stats relating to the use of your app over the last year or a few months. Use this to lead into the renewal conversation.

Help Your Customers Help You

Advocacy is another stage in the funnel where your team has the opportunity to get creative with creating content.

At this stage, you might re-engage the marketing teams to help boost your relationship building efforts with this group.

Either way, once you know who your advocates are, and have established ways of communicating with them part of your job becomes making it easier for those advocates to vouch for you.

When established as an advocate, certain barriers can be removed. Here’s where you can:

  • Share questionnaires for customers who are interested in being interviewed for case studies, or potentially being featured in a webinar

  • Share content published by your marketing team, and ask advocates to share with their networks

  • Encourage advocates to share their content with you that demonstrates how they’re using your platform and services

In Conclusion, Let’s Be Honest.

Customer success reps are already customer success marketers, many of us just don’t know it yet. In our day-to-day jobs, there are a few ways we can incorporate more marketing best practices that can help convert paid customers to happy advocates.

But this talk about customer success marketing has me curious: What does customer success marketing look like at your company? Is it already a part of your process? Do you see customer success marketing as a part of your team?

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About the Author

Nerissa Martin

Nerissa is half of the Technical Customer Success team at Uberflip. She regularly contributes to multiple personal notebooks, her Evernote account, and the comment section on Gawker. In her spare time she works on making her apartment look like a Pinterest board and writing her first novel.

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