A customer marketing manager is like some kind of lab-made hybrid of a marketer and a customer success manager. Many don’t know what they do, and even more don’t know how to use them.
There are two key outputs of customer marketing:
Here at Orbit, we care about both.
As SendPulse puts it:
“Customer marketing is a brand’s strategy focused on existing clients. It aims to improve their satisfaction and loyalty and raise retention and buyers’ lifetime value.”
But that’s not the whole picture.
Customer marketing isn’t only about increasing lifetime value - it’s also an acquisition channel.
In this article, we’ll outline what a customer marketing manager does and why, aligning their role not just around pleasing existing customers but around helping spark the evangelism which follows! An evangelism which is unlocked by Community…
A customer marketing manager does exactly what you’d think they’d do; they market your product to existing customers by understanding those customers, engaging them, and trying to either evangelize or expand those customers.
Typical tactics could involve:
It’s pretty definitional to effective B2B marketing that you market to individuals. Colleagues rarely consume media collectively, everyone’s social feeds are personalized, and people search Google themselves. When you reach people for the first time, you’re hitting individuals - or as many marketing departments might call them: personas.
But individuals quickly stop being individuals.
If you’re in B2B, you’re not just selling to one person. You might have one contact at a company, or you won a customer through touching only one person, but you’re not really dealing with one person. That individual is your first-touch person.
The first-touch person can be looked at as a gateway. That person almost certainly has a network - what we might call a first-degree network and a second-degree network.
The first-degree network is their colleagues, the other people who are collectively paying for the product or service and are likely to benefit from it either directly or tangentially. These people probably already know about your product or service and may have been involved in the buying process. Among these people are likely to be other target personas who are pre-qualified; you know they get value from your product.
The second-degree network is your first-touch person’s broader network of friends and professional contacts. People spend time on Linkedin, at conferences, in professional communities, talking with former colleagues, meeting friends at barbecues… a whole range of places where people share professional advice and warnings. In this scenario, your first-touch person - if evangelized - will qualify their network on your behalf, recommending your product or services to people who they know would gain value from it.
Companies spend so much money trying to reach the right targets. The entire marketing department is crafted around this one goal. How easily can I reach our target personas, and how can I balance that price against how much I can scale the channel? If you’re a marketing leader then that question is basically your life.
And this is where customer marketing managers come in and start adding absolutely loads of value.
After studying the impact of referral business from existing customers, the Harvard Business Review study concludes that companies should implement schemes to further encourage and incentivize referrals as well as dedicating resources to these efforts:
“In particular, we expect that referral programs would be most beneficial for products and services that customers might not appreciate at first glance and in industries where it’s hard to identify valuable prospects.”
Schmitt, Skiera, and Van den Bulte leave us with three questions to consider in order to hone customer marketing efforts:
If you’re in a mature position and have a rough idea already of how much ARR uplift there is from referred customers versus non-referred, then you can calculate how many of those customers you would need to add to pay for the salary of a customer marketing manager, and determine how reasonable those acquisition goals would be. At which point, if you can find the right balance, you can see how the customer marketing manager pays for themselves and you’ve determined in advance what ballpark reasonable baseline goals would look like for the new hire.
If you’re a tiny company then you might not have enough customers to reasonably justify hiring a customer marketing manager, but you should still begin taking some of the actions a customer marketing manager would take and start figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s never too early for some customer marketing.
A customer marketing manager will typically look to engage your customers above everything else. Engaged customers will keep your product or service on their mind and locate new ways to deploy it - either for themselves, or for others as a recommendation.
This engagement could come through regular emails with product tips, in a way which straddles customer success and marketing. Or it could be through organizing events and webinars. It might mean starting a dedicated podcast laser focused around customers and their needs.
It may even be a case of marketing for your customers - doing case studies and testimonials where their success is front and centre and you show them off as much as you show yourself off. This kind of activity builds huge amounts of trust and encourages customers to share that article or video with everyone they know. It also builds a positive impression of your brand; your customers are smart customers.
A customer marketing manager is the person who may deliver some of these activities, or may lead and/or inform other activities undertaken by other specialists in your department. They’re a person with broad knowledge of marketing tactics, a track record of engagement with deep customer understanding, and a flair for teamwork and cross-functional working.
Too many companies are uncertain about their community management strategy.
According to the 2022 Community Industry Report from CMXHub, justifying the value of community is the second most prominent frustration for community professionals. Considering that the same report shows that 69% of communities contain customers, with 40% reporting that customers are their primary participant, it seems like there’s an obvious match between customer marketing managers and our communities.
The whole model of community value rests on two key premises:
You can’t create a good community without value creation. This is why people come to the community and participate in it.
This will primarily be the work of community managers of some description. We’ve often used the term Community Advocate instead to highlight the real relationship between the person working in the community and the community members. This is because the value creation side of community focuses on putting the members first and giving them a voice which can echo through the broader company. (You can read more on that here: The Role of a Community Advocate)
While great value creation can drive a community to reach and engagement, it is only half the problem.
Once that community exists and is generating value, you need to find a way to capture it.
This is where the customer marketing manager can play a role. By aligning with the community team and understanding the approach, a customer marketing manager can leverage the community to fulfil business objectives.
Orbit is mission control for your community. It is a Community Growth Platform to allow you to understand your community members across all the places they interact. You can gain community intelligence, take the most effective action, and assess in realtime your impact on business goals.
Value capture for your community starts here.
If you were a customer marketing manager, you could use Orbit to better understand your community’s pains and needs, and how you can craft your approach to help alleviate that pain. Your members each have their own profiles and Orbit makes it easy to enrich member profiles by adding preferred language, event tags, notes, and timelines so you can personalize your interactions with each community member.
You can monitor member activities and interactions in a unified view across dozens of services including Twitter, Slack, Discord, and LinkedIn. Orbit itemizes conversations across platforms so you don’t waste time context switching.
This means customer marketing managers can access a pool of customers with ease for any activity they’re aiming to complete. It totally eliminates the main challenges customer marketing managers face in engaging customers and opening the initial conversations. This allows them to move at a rapid speed and skyrockets their effectiveness.
By leveraging Orbit to bring value capture into your community, you achieve the three main goals community leaders strive for:
It’s not that customer marketing is one thing and community is another. It’s not that community professionals have to abandon engagement and focus on sales. It’s not that customer marketing managers should focus on top of the funnel.
These myths are outdated and no longer apply.
Both customer marketing and community work best when they work together. And they work together with Orbit.