The Customer Marketing Playbook: Best Practices to Keep Customers Hooked
In a PLG-driven SaaS world, marketing has a new meaning.
It’s no longer limited to pricey ads, promotional content, and outbound tactics. Instead, it encompasses the entire customer journey, from acquisition to retention—with a key focus on the post-purchase experience.
Given that 60% of customers will switch to a competitor after just a single bad experience, SaaS companies are increasingly looking for ways to deliver value, create customer delight, and maximize satisfaction.
This is where customer marketing can make all the difference.
Customer marketing enables companies to engage and retain customers through exceptional support, an optimized product experience, and more.
In this guide, we’ll explore the fundamentals of customer marketing for B2B SaaS companies and walk you through:
- What is the purpose of customer marketing?
- Customer marketing vs. product marketing
- 5 reasons why you need a customer marketing strategy
- 4 critical customer marketing challenges to overcome
- 6 customer marketing tactics to maximize customer retention (+ examples)
But first, let's get the basics down.
What is customer marketing?
Customer marketing focuses on keeping your existing customers happy and satisfied in order to increase retention and win customer loyalty. These efforts aim to engage existing customers, fulfill their expectations, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.
A customer marketing strategy differs from the traditional customer success setup where each customer is assigned a dedicated CS manager.
Instead, it doubles down on the goal of increasing customer lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases or long-term contracts and boosting upsell opportunities. It also leans heavily on user feedback and on-demand support to enhance the product experience.
The result? Customers keep coming back for more—like a magical, never-ending bag of chips!
What is the purpose of customer marketing?
96% of B2B SaaS companies consider customer marketing critical to the overall success of their business. Why?
Customer marketing drives revenue growth through existing customers by:
- Turning them into brand evangelists
- Training them past the point of purchase
- Marketing them new products and features
- Providing self-serve support to drive adoption
Customer marketing vs. product marketing
Product marketing plays a pivotal role in connecting the dots between product development, sales and marketing. Product marketers:
- work closely with product teams to develop go-to-market strategies and drive conversions
- create messaging and positioning that resonates with potential customers, potential being the operative word here
- collaborate with sales and marketing teams to ensure that the product is effectively promoted and sold to customers
Conversely, customer marketing focuses on building long-term relationships with existing customers. Customer marketers:
- Design personalized marketing campaigns for every customer segment
- Deliver relevant self-serve resources for customer education and engagement
- Collect feedback and announce upgrades to create a frictionless experience
5 reasons why you need a customer marketing strategy
92% of surveyed executives said their customer marketing budgets are growing or are solid. Another 76% believe their customer marketing program will have greater importance over the next year compared to the previous 12 months.
This data makes one thing clear: as B2B companies look to prioritize customer experience as a key driver for growth, customer marketing will play an increasingly important role in maximizing revenue.
In other words, customer marketing is the new black.
So, get ahead of the competition and discover five critical reasons why adding a customer marketer to your team is essential for success:
1. Drive Deeper Product Adoption
Successful customer marketing begins with understanding how customers use your products or services. You have to identify users’ expectations to effectively educate them on how your product can fulfill their needs and aspirations.
By analyzing customer behavior, teams can create personalized experiences to build product stickiness, drive deeper adoption, and win long-term loyalty.
Customer marketers can drive deeper product adoption by:
- Proactively creating feedback loops to improve the customer experience
- Building customer education resources to address user pain points based on customer data
- Analyzing user behavior and usage data to pinpoint opportunities for upselling or cross-selling
2. Turn Customers into Evangelists
Brand evangelists are customers who love your product so much that they become advocates, promoting it in their network. Think word-of-mouth marketing on steroids!
They spread the word about your product to their friends, family, and colleagues with an enthusiasm and passion that is hard to match. Their recommendations carry weight and credibility and can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition and business growth.
Customer marketers can turn customers into evangelists by:
- Cultivating a feedback-driven culture to continuously improve your product based on user feedback
- Intricately tracking individual customer preferences and interactions to deliver hyper-personalized support
Create interactive product demos and explainer videos in minutes
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3. Build a Key Differentiator for Your Brand
Exceptional customer experience is your silver bullet to succeed in crowded markets. A customer marketing program empowers B2B companies to go above and beyond to meet their customers’ needs.
By delivering empathetic support that makes customers feel valued and heard, you can set yourself apart from the competition and establish a powerful brand identity.
Customer marketers can build a key differentiator for your brand by:
- Building a product training library to deliver quick, on-demand support
- Sharing customer feedback cross-functionally to create new capabilities for users' evolving needs
- Creating a culture of customer-centricity that values feedback and emphasizes responsiveness
4. Boost Retention and Win Customer Loyalty
Winning customer loyalty is like baking a cake—it requires the right ingredients, process, and amount of time and effort. Customer marketers wear their baking hats to connect with existing customers personally, build meaningful relationships, and turn them into brand ambassadors.
Customer marketers can boost customer retention by:
- Creating a seamless onboarding experience that sets clear expectations and provides value from the start
- Providing ongoing education and resources to help customers achieve their goals and stay engaged
5. Increase Upsell Opportunities and Grow CLTV
With a keen focus on understanding user needs and preferences, your customer marketing strategy can maximize customer lifetime value (CLTV). It identifies upsell and cross-sell opportunities for different customers to drive expansion revenue.
Customer marketers can increase CLTV by:
- Creating targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with specific customer segments and drive repeat purchases
- Finding upsell opportunities for complementary products or premium features that add value to the customer experience
4 critical customer marketing challenges to overcome
While customer marketing can produce incredible ROI, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Let’s explore four key customer marketing challenges to plan for:
1. Understanding customer needs and preferences
Staying on top of constantly changing customer expectations can be tricky. You need granular data to track usage and engagement for every user and identify anomalies.
Siloed data and the absence of cross-functional operations make the situation even more challenging. This is evident by the fact that just 22% of business leaders believe their teams share data effectively.
Without a unified view of a customer’s interactions with your product, you’re missing out on valuable insights to improve their experience.
2. Making workflows to align marketing and CS teams
While both marketing and CS teams may be working toward the same goal—driving customer engagement and satisfaction—they often have different processes and metrics for achieving that goal.
Creating workflows to bring both teams on the same page can be a challenge. It requires a deep understanding of the customer journey and open lines of communication between marketing and CS.
Balancing the needs of marketing (driving client acquisition) and CS (retention and upselling) is equally difficult. Finding a way to balance these priorities and create workflows that benefit both teams can be tricky, but it's essential for driving long-term success.
3. Creating content to deliver a frictionless experience
Even the slightest hiccups along the road can create frustration among users—or worse, lead to abandonment.
Creating high-quality customer education and support content takes significant time, effort, and money. Ensuring that the right documentation is delivered to the right customers at the right time requires a robust system and process. Plus, not every team has the resources to invest in pricey content creation agencies.
On top of that, tracking customer engagement with documentation and identifying areas for improvement adds to the challenge.
The good news: a powerful product documentation tool like Floik empowers you to create self-serve content in multiple formats within minutes.
Create a full-fledged knowledge base with how-to guides, explainer videos, and product walkthrough snippets. Host your knowledge with custom branding, embed the individual content pieces anywhere, and track user interactions—all from a single dashboard.
Floik records your screen and converts any actions taken into a customizable step-by-step guide with screenshots, click marks, text, and more. Convert this guide into a video with your voiceover, or turn it into an interactive demo with a single click.
4. Measuring the ROI of your customer marketing program
One of the biggest obstacles to measuring the ROI of customer marketing is the lack of clear and standardized metrics. While revenue and customer retention are essential indicators of success, they don't tell the whole story.
Customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty are also important metrics that can provide insights into the effectiveness of customer marketing programs. But measuring these metrics can be difficult since you can’t quantify these values easily.
5 customer marketing tactics to maximize retention (+ examples)
Let me set the stage for you.
You're a customer success manager at a B2B SaaS company, and you've been handed the goal of increasing retention by X%. While you've tried all the old tricks in the book, the results have only been disappointing.
Now, you’re scrambling for more ways to boost customer engagement and retention.
Thankfully, you don’t have to look far. We’ve curated five customer marketing tactics to ramp up customer engagement and keep them coming back for more.
1. Conduct customer research to understand expectations
The success of your B2B SaaS business relies on how well you understand the voice of your customers. Knowing their expectations and pain points can guide your product development and marketing efforts.
Tara Robertson, the Chief Marketing Officer at Bitly, contextualizes this well:
“Great customer knowledge is just as important as great product knowledge. Spend as much time getting to know customers as you do getting to know your product.”
So, customer research is naturally the first step in your journey of building a customer marketing powerhouse. In her speech at SaaStr, Tara also shared the impact customer research can create for marketers.
Here are a few best practices for conducting customer research:
- Conduct jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) style interviews to recognize your customers’ needs, pain points, and aspirations
- Send automated emails to collect customer inputs based on their actions (for example: if someone downloads an eBook, ask them for topics to cover in your next one)
- Analyze all support requests and tickets to identify the most pressing or common problems that users need help with
- Review sales call recordings to note down their objections, concerns, and reasons for choosing/not choosing you
- Use social listening tools and mine data on third-party review platforms like G2 to understand customers' likes and dislikes for your competitors
Organize this research into a database to guide your entire customer marketing strategy.
2. Segment users and define your marketing model
A customer marketing framework takes a segmented approach to customer engagement and support. You have to divide customers into different tiers based on their order value. So, a high-value customer becomes a VIP, and low-value or free customers follow next.
Define your customer marketing models based on this segmentation. Here’s how:
- High-touch: This is ideal for high-value customers (enterprise clients), where a dedicated customer success manager is the first line of contact. A high-touch customer marketing model typically includes:
- White-glove onboarding
- Round-the-clock support
- Regular check-ins with the CSM
- Bespoke solutions for product implementation
- Tech touch: This is ideal for mid and low-value paying customers, where CS teams can launch automated and tech-driven customer marketing campaigns. A tech-touch customer marketing model covers:
- Self-service support resources, like a help center and product playbooks
- Triggered communications based on actions, like onboarding emails
- In-app messages to drive adoption, like tooltips and embedded guides
- Data-driven customer segmentation to deliver relevant content and messaging at scale
- Low touch: This is ideal for free/trial users who can potentially turn into paying clients. This includes a mix of tech and high-touch customer marketing, with practices like:
- Limited but personalized interactions, such as periodic check-ins
- Minimal support resources are shared through email or available in the help center
- Customer feedback collection to make them feel heard
Whether you’re building a high-touch resource repository or going for the tech and low-touch models, Floik can make all your product content creation a breeze.
Create your own library of self-serve resources in various formats to cater to different types of customers. Embed your Flos anywhere or share them via email, chat, or other channels to resolve customer queries in seconds. After all, what’s better than solving a customer’s problem in the blink of an eye?
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3. Educate and engage customers with helpful self-serve content
Customer self-service is one of the biggest pillars of customer marketing. Empower your users to troubleshoot problems, answer questions, and get the best out of your product on their own with:
Case studies: Case studies provide real-life examples of how your product or service has helped other customers solve their problems. They demonstrate the value of your product and can be used throughout the buyer's journey to provide social proof and validation.
Use case guides: Use case guides offer step-by-step instructions on how to use your product’s capabilities to solve specific problems. They help customers understand how your product can fit into their workflows and can be a valuable resource for onboarding new users. Here’s a use case guide for Jira made with Floik:
Feature walkthroughs: Feature walkthroughs are videos or interactive guides that demonstrate the best ways to use specific features. They help customers navigate the product interface to build stickiness and can be especially helpful for complex features or workflows. Here’s a feature walkthrough video and guide built using Floik:
Post-onboarding playbooks: Post-onboarding playbooks provide a roadmap for using your product and include best practices, tips and tricks, and other resources to help customers succeed. They can be customized for different customer segments or use cases and can be a valuable resource for driving adoption and retention.
Knowledge base: A knowledge base is a repository of information about your product. It typically includes how-to guides, troubleshooting articles, and explainer videos. A well-organized and searchable knowledge base is a must-have to help customers avoid any roadblocks while using your product.
Strong self-serve support content will empower customers to succeed with your product and reduce the burden on your support team as well.
Here are four key reasons why business leaders are turning to customer self-service.
4. Collect customer feedback consistently and act on it
At the heart of any successful customer marketing strategy lies a fundamental principle: listening to your customers.
A customer-centric approach that emphasizes open communication channels and a proactive response to concerns, questions, and complaints is crucial to building long-term relationships with your customers.
Customer marketers can facilitate an ongoing dialogue with customers through various channels, like:
- Focus groups
- Social listening
- Customer advisory boards
What’s more, leveraging customer feedback and insights to develop case studies, use case guides, and feature walkthroughs can help build trust with potential customers and drive user adoption.
5. Take a community-driven approach to marketing
A strong customer marketing program aims to foster a sense of community and provide constant value to customers beyond the initial sale.
To truly engage customers, customer marketers should go beyond simply collecting customer feedback and develop a community-driven approach that provides value, creates trust, and encourages active participation from customers.
Connect with your customers by:
- Building a meaningful community forum
- Hosting online and offline events on interesting topics
- Providing a space for customers to provide honest reviews
- Encouraging them to share their experiences and ideas for improvement
Introhive’s Customer Summit is a great example of building a community for and with your customers. The company hosts this annual event to create an insightful learning experience for all attendees with expert speakers, interactive events, and more.
Maddy Fleagle, the Director of Demand Generation and Customer Marketing at Introhive, considers this event as a sign of their diligent customer retention efforts.
Over to you: Create your customer marketing program with Floik
Creating a customer marketing program is similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece is important, and each piece needs to fit in its place for the picture to be complete. Getting the pieces to fit together perfectly takes time, patience, and experimentation.
To create a successful customer marketing strategy, businesses must be aware of their customers' needs, preferences, and pain points. This requires consistent data analysis, active listening, and a customer-centric mindset.
By prioritizing customer marketing and continuously adapting strategies to meet changing customer needs, businesses can create a loyal customer base that becomes a powerful driver of growth through advocacy and word-of-mouth referrals.