Aligning Marketing & Customer Success
Aligning marketing and customer success opens up a world of opportunity for both teams by creating new resources to reach customers and helping to develop a deeper understanding of what customers want.
By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals
In the world of business growth, the buzzword of 2016 is sales and marketing alignment. The organizations that do this well are experiencing dramatic gains. Similar benefits can be realized by looking beyond the sales funnel to the journey customers take once they’ve signed on the dotted line.
Pursuing strategic alignment between the Marketing and Customer Success teams offers a wealth of opportunity for companies to better understand the clients who do well with their offerings as well more thoroughly engaging customers once they’ve transitioned out of the sales process.
In spite of the opportunities that this kind of collaboration offer, it doesn’t see the kind of focus from managers and thought leaders that the relationship between sales and marketing offers. This deficit is probably because both teams focus on customers at radically different points in their lifecycle. Marketing on awareness and lead gen and customer engagement and churn for Customer Success.
Understanding how these two teams can compliment each other, even though they focus on different aspects of the business, can require some creativity. At the same time, they stand to complement each other by creating feedback loops between the two teams. The rest of this article will take a look at some specific places where the two teams can collaborate.
Customer Success Assets
In sales and marketing, we frequently talk about sales assets. Simply put, assets are any piece of collateral that can be provided to a customer to help provide them information about your product or service. These can run the gamut from service maps to technical product specifications.
Sales assets, however, are usually thought of in the context of moving new leads along the sales pipeline. Where most companies fail is in the information they provide to continue delivering value after prospects transition into paying customers.
Many companies offer help libraries but leave their clients to navigate all of this information on their own. The difference between this and the way the sales process provides information comes down to its curation.
The wealth of newsletters and syndication services on the internet show that people enjoy having things compiled and delivered to them. Curation is the driving value proposition of the sales process at a time when customers already have access to all of the information they’ll ever need to make a decision. The information that is the most critical to them is selected and delivered to them with commentary.
With programmatic content dictating which pieces of content get delivered to leads at different points in their life cycle, marketing is striving for a similar personalized experience to what salespeople provide.
It’s a given for most companies that their marketing department is the king of content. Turning out white pages, webinars, and new websites, there isn’t another team in most organizations that has the capacity to create and distribute value-added assets to customers on the same scale.
Similar to how sales assets are used, Customer Success can take advantage of collateral to continue engaging customers and bringing value over-and-above what the competition is offering.
By collaborating, Marketing and Success have an opportunity to produce relevant content and open up a new channel through which to distribute it.
Customer collateral falls under the umbrella of content, but the subject of content marketing goes well beyond the way that it gets used in the sales process itself. Customer Success has an opportunity to repackage this content to provide useful ongoing communications to established customers.
This kind of outreach has several benefits.
By using light touch communications on a regular basis alongside more in-depth calls, success teams can ensure that they remain top-of-mind for their customers. Being top-of-mind has tremendous implications, on resell and upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Maybe the most important of all, providing an ongoing drip of content marketing curated with existing customers in mind allows a company to provide value on a level beyond what their product or services does. This extended value proposition is especially critical when competitors come knocking and allows a company to differentiate themselves and drive loyalty.
Serving content to clients also allows a company to help guide how they interact with your products. By creating content around how to make the most of your product or service offerings through discussion of best practices and features, Success can help to deepen the experience for customers.
The goal with all of this is to position your company as a vital resource on how your customers can do their job better. By developing the relationship to this level, Customer Success can dramatically increase the stickiness of the relationship for customers.
Many of the tools that they need to do this come from partnering with the marketing department. Collaborating on new content in the form of blog posts, case studies, and white papers, as well as repackaging existing content can offer a tremendous impact on the value that Customer Success delivers to clients.
Every customer success manager has a deeply held understanding of how the customer journey twists and turns once the sale is closed. This knowledge is hard won and in most cases not fully understood by their counterparts in marketing.
The truth is that customer acquisition teams need this information desperately and rarely have it.
By having a map of who the different kinds of customers are and how they interact with your offerings, marketing can begin to tailor content to these different groups. Furthermore, by understanding which kinds of customers are the most successful, marketing efforts can be targeted to the most successful customer types.
Providing feedback from the Customer Success Team to the client acquisition elements of the organization provide an opportunity to create efficiency across several points in the company.
From a customer acquisition perspective, campaigns tend to get both more effective and efficient as they become increasingly targeted in their scope. Not only can you zero in on the specific needs of a group, but by focusing resources, companies can avoid spreading themselves too thin.
In addition to streamlining the customer acquisition process, focusing on clients who will be successful in partnering with your firm offers reoccurring efficiency in the form of lower account maintenance and a longer customer lifetime.
Tie it all together
Both Customer Success and Marketing inhabit environments that are rapidly changing, in the process, redefining how technology is applied and what the roles themselves demand. By collaborating across even a couple areas of overlapping expertise and need, both teams can expect to see tremendous benefits.
Marketing teams have developed a massive capacity to turn out content and distribute it at a high volume through multiple channels. Yet, marketing struggles to develop a deep understanding of who clients are and how they behave once they become customers.
Conversely, Customer Success develops and maintains deep relationships with the client base, but usually lacks the infrastructure for consistent content creation and distribution.
Both teams need what the other has. By tying these teams together, companies can find better ways of seeking new customers and retaining the ones they have. Pursuing alignment between Marketing and Customer Success should be a goal of every CEO in 2016.