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Customer Marketing Plan

November 22, 2023

There’s a paradigm shift happening in the marketing world, one that focuses on customer marketing to forge authentic relationships between customers and businesses instead of simply trying to sell a product. The importance of the role of a customer in marketing is becoming increasingly obvious, especially in the highly-competitive B2B marketing world. In fact, 86% of B2B software buyers reported using peer reviews as an important tool when making a purchasing decision. 

Providing a great product with great customer service sets you up for success, but fostering relationships with customers to become your advocates can take a business to the next level. This type of demand-generated B2B marketing can:

  • Reduce the buying cycle time
  • Increase qualified lead generation
  • Drive organic demand among ideal customers
  • Better align marketing and sales departments

So how can you identify and leverage your customers into brand advocates? With a customer marketing plan and the support of a full-service, Salesforce integrated platform like Orca to carry it out. In this blog, we will explore questions like:

  • What is a consumer marketing plan and why does it matter?
  • What are the various types of marketing plans for B2B customer marketing?
  • What are the elements a marketing plan needed to be successful and deliver value?

What Is B2B Customer Marketing?

Customer marketing in B2B businesses aims to build and nurture relationships which in turn results in referrals, testimonials, case studies, and advocacy—in essence, investing in mutually beneficial relationships has proven ROI for the customer and  the business. Customer marketing can be particularly effective for B2B companies, since over 60% of business leaders are more confident in their buying decisions after getting positive feedback from existing users. 

Let’s look at several customer based marketing examples that a company can use to increase sales. Our hypothetical SaaS accounting business, CalcU, makes a strategic plan for increasing revenue using customer marketing techniques. 

  1. They identify ten users who have had particularly good results from using their software solution by analyzing customer reviews, feedback surveys and event engagement. All ten users do not have to be the perfect 5-start customer—identify a mix of customer profiles and use cases to set the foundation for the plan.
  2. CalcU then reaches out to these customers to inform them of CalcU’s new customer marketing program. The initial outreach can stem from the customer marketing team or even a customer success manager who has a pre-existing relationship with the customer. It is important to note that messaging and timing are crucial. Be cognizant of renewal dates, product escalations or support tickets, holidays or conference schedules. Also, this program needs to be mutually beneficial for the business and the customer so be sure to share the impact for the customer. Make the outreach warm and inviting—some customers will even view this opportunity as a special honor to be welcomed into the program and take full advantage of this opportunity to connect!
  3. From there, CalcU increases engagement and presents opportunities to the customer to share their story. Based on your growing relationship, you will discover that a customer may not like public speaking so asking for a written testimonial may be more appropriate. Match interests to drive engagement. 
  4. With the necessary approvals, leverage content as much as possible. Take that written testimonial and turn it into a social graphic, add it to your sales collateral and celebrate that story internally to the entire company. Use your program success to break down department silos. Share the content and make sure teams are enabled to leverage the work of your program and your customers' time.
  5. To thank these users for their time and reward them as loyal customers, CalcU upgrades them to premium level memberships for no additional fees and promotes them in all generated marketing material.
  6. A few times over the next year, CalcU updates the customer about new customer marketing opportunities around events or talking to a prospect on a reference call. You do not need to give the customer your entire menu of program offerings on day one. After a year, CalcU requests another short interview to write a follow-up on the original case studies, showing the extra benefits their loyal users got after starting their premium memberships.
  7. Using customer marketing techniques in a systematic and thoughtful way, this SaaS accounting company increases revenue by 25% through a combination of new customer acquisition and customer upsells.

Customer marketing is a highly effective business practice that is being underutilized across industries. Part of this is because of the time consuming nature of manually carrying out each of these tasks. It takes time and dedicated staff to monitor users and identify likely candidates, track engagement to ensure they aren’t being overwhelmed with requests, and create high-quality marketing collateral using customer feedback. This is where an automated customer marketing platform like Orca comes in. We use automation to streamline these processes and more, resulting in less investment of staff hours and fewer missed opportunities for success.

Is Customer Marketing a Part of Product Marketing?

Sources discuss customer marketing vs product marketing, but in reality these two strategies complement one another instead of being at odds. Product marketing is more short-term goal oriented, aiming to communicate the specific benefits of a product to potential users, with a focus on reaching the target users for the business. Customer marketing does not fall under the umbrella of product marketing, but B2B customer marketing strategies do work well in tandem to support product marketing goals.

Let’s consider how CalcU, the SaaS accounting platform example from above, could leverage their customer-based approach to create effective product marketing for even greater returns. 

  1. Once top users of their software are identified, CalcU analyzes the user profiles to fine tune the ideal audience for their product marketing to be able to highlight unique selling points.
  2. When planning interview questions for loyal customers, a short question about which features are most beneficial is added to gather additional data and content ideas.
  3. Customer quotes are pulled from these interviews about specific features of the platform. These can be used strategically on feature pages on the CalcU website, and also in sales collateral for product marketing to prospective users.

The main differentiator to keep in mind between these two types of marketing is the primary objective: 

  • Product marketing: The main objective is to generate awareness, interest, and demand for a specific product or service. The focus is on acquiring new customers and driving sales.
  • Customer marketing: The primary objective is to engage, retain, and maximize the value of existing customers. The focus is on fostering relationships, increasing customer loyalty, and facilitating engagement with the business.

How Do You Create a Marketing Plan Step-by-Step?

By strategically combining the elements of a good marketing plan, it’s possible to create an effective customer marketing plan template that takes a step-by-step approach to success.

How to Make a Marketing Plan for B2B Customer Marketing

  • Step 1: Meet, Consult and Plan - Meet with key stakeholders within sales, customer success, and leadership, to gather feedback on the current state of the customer program or vocalize your vision. Ask questions about processes, uncover future concerns or identify a ‘perfect state’. Build from those meetings and formalize a plan.
  • Step 2: Identify Potential Customer Advocates - This should be done using a variety of metrics like usage, net promoter score, obtained success, and how well they fit your ideal customer profile. Aligning those metrics with the goals of your program can begin to match customers to a program. A platform, like Orca, that automates this identification process makes tracking and updating this list easy instead of a time-consuming chore. If starting from scratch, identify the low-hanging fruit. Those customers who have already expressed their willingness to write reviews, provide a testimonial or share their story at an event. Combine that with the personal knowledge of the existing, long standing relationship with the business and the foundation for your plan is off to a great start.
  • Step 3: Launch Program Initiatives - Initiates might start with a review project and grow towards a formalized Customer Advisory Board. Narrow down and further categorize ideal customers and advocates to nurture so you can target each group with the specific types of information for which they are best suited.
  • Step 4: Develop Campaigns - Integrate customer advocate campaigns into your marketing workflows with Orca’s seamless interface. Empower loyal customers to bring in referrals and launch their own advocate expansion campaigns, and automate tracking of the resulting response rate and lead generation. Provide opportunities for advocates to grow alongside the business. Every campaign may not be suited for every advocate so be sure to place a personal touch on outreach and strategy.
  • Step 5: Reward Loyalty - Give your customer advocates extra care and bonuses with loyalty programs, and incentivise internal adoption programs to grow usage among your team. Drive engagement with clear, repeatable and action-based messaging. Loop in leadership to drive the message internally and take advantage of all communication channels with your external customers. In some cases this is more than just email. Look at creative messaging within your customer community, in-app reminders, slack channels, or even newsletter callouts. 
  • Step 6: Monitor Success - Real-time metrics that integrate with your existing technology make monitoring progress seamless. Analytics and regular review makes visualizing the health of your customer marketing plan easy. Not only keeping track of your customer heath but also tracking program wins is vital for the long term success of a customer program.
  • Step 7: Keep Running Smoothly - Customer marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” plan. It's important to ensure adoption of the plan by your wider team, prioritize security protocols to keep data safe, and build internal processes around the marketing journey you are cultivating. Figure out what is working and what is not, continue to communicate with internal stakeholders and constantly build from there.

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of how to create the best customer marketing plan, let’s explore the types and elements that go into one in more detail. 

What Are 6 Types of Marketing Plans in Customer Marketing?

There are several important ways that companies can leverage customer advocates to contribute to business success. These are the six types of customer marketing initiatives.

  1. Referrals - Clients that advocate for your brand to the point of bringing new customers to you are the most direct way this type of customer marketing can bring value to your organization. Offering a program that rewards customers for referring acquaintances is one way to increase referral rates.
  2. Testimonials, Reviews, and Ratings - These bite-sized recommendations are easy to integrate into product pages to reassure customers that your product provides value to real-world users. Many advertising outlets (like social media platforms) also reward businesses that have high ratings and positive reviews, so your business is more likely to be featured prominently.
  3. Case Studies - Case studies with real-world details about how your solution made a difference to another business allows potential customers to envision their own positive results. Showing tangible results in a case study can make your product an easier sell to a potential customer, since they can see the ROI your solution provided, the time-to-value, and possible use cases they hadn’t considered before.
  4. Reference Calls - Potential customers may request to call and speak with another business that can vouch for the value you provide. Having a list ready of customer advocates who have experienced success with your product could be an important part of closing sales. It may even be useful to have multiple reference call lists of customers in different industries, so you can provide a similar type of business as a reference.
  5. Content Creation - Putting out high-value, innovative content can greatly contribute to marketing success for a business. Having a satisfied customer as a guest speaker at a webinar, on a podcast, or in an interview creates useful content that can be cross-promoted for both of you. Interviews can easily be turned into content for blogs, white papers, and social media copy that can be widely shared.
  6. Product Feedback- Soliciting feedback from your customers is an important part of customer marketing—customers feel heard and included, and you are able to improve your product to retain advocates and impress prospects.

Each of these actions can be used independently, or in conjunction with other plans from this list. They will each require a different approach to finding the right users, approaching them the right way, asking them the right questions, and using their contributions most effectively.

What Are 6 Elements of a Marketing Plan in B2B Customer Marketing?

We’ve just discussed the different types of customer marketing that are likely to produce a substantial ROI. In fact, using Orca’s platform and best practice recommendations our customers have seen ROI like:

  • 21% increase in win-rate
  • 12% increase in average selling price (ASP) in customer product sales
  • 9% decrease in the length of sales cycles

Now let’s explore the 6 elements of a marketing plan that should be in place to make any of the previously identified types operate best.

  1. Identify Ideal Customer Advocates - The first element needed in any customer marketing plan is to find passionate customers who would make great brand advocates. Orca makes advocate identification easy.
  2. Respect Customers’ Time - Once you’ve found the clients you want to focus on, make sure not to overdo it. Ask for only a small number of meetings, interviews, or reference calls, and make sure that you come prepared with thoughtful questions or resources. Orca keeps track of who you’ve reached out to and when, to avoid customer burnout.
  3. Use Developed Resources Well - Now that you have the information you need from customer advocates, don’t just let them sit. Create marketing and sales collateral, share pulled quotes on social media, and publish case studies so you get the value you want from the work that’s been done. 
  4. Automate - Customer marketing can be time-consuming and difficult without the right automation in place. Set your plan up for success from the beginning by leveraging a customer marketing platform’s automation capabilities during the planning stage. Check out Orca’s Advocacy Classification feature, to see how you can seamlessly achieve automation with no-code workflows.
  5. Integrate Marketing Efforts - Customer marketing relies on the idea that you have users with exceptionally good experiences with your product or service. This means to work most effectively, feedback from this marketing should be seamlessly communicated to other internal teams to improve the overall business mission. 
  6. Make It a Two-Way Street - Do not only focus on how a loyal customer can aid in your marketing efforts. Ensure that you are providing value and continuing to cultivate loyal users by providing meaningful resources or acknowledgment in return. This might include upgrading their subscription level, cross-promoting them in content, hosting customer appreciation events, providing referral bonuses, or a simple handwritten thank you note. Learn what they value or would benefit from and grow from there.

Orca: Dive Deep with Customer Marketing Plans You Can Use

Achieving success with customer marketing doesn’t have to be a time- and resource-intensive headache. Orca’s platform optimizes and automates the tasks you need to perform to be successful— without the hassle. Let us simplify your workflows and increase your ROI. 

Learn more about how to elevate your customer marketing plan today—book a demo or get in touch.

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