The best way to navigate the competitive landscape of B2B SaaS in 2024 is… wait for it… marketing and customer success working together.
I know these functions operate with distinct objectives. This is not a call to merge the two teams entirely (though that may be something you consider doing with sales and CS).
My point is that the collaboration of these two teams is a powerful catalyst for deepening customer relationships, enhancing customer lifetime value, and driving business growth. This blog post delves into how integrating customer marketing and customer success strategies can not only elevate the customer experience but also contribute significantly to a company's expansion and retention efforts.
By examining the definitions, roles, and strategies of both functions, we aim to provide actionable insights for those of you looking to harness the full potential of your customer-centric efforts.
Understanding the value of Customer Marketing
At its core, customer marketing is about nurturing existing customers, promoting loyalty, and encouraging continued engagement with your product or service.
Getting to those lofty outcomes involves targeted communications that inform customers of new features, updates, and ways to get even more value out of your offering.
Done well, customer marketing can lead to increased upsell and cross-sell opportunities, higher retention rates, and more robust customer advocacy.
Key strategies include:
- Personalized email campaigns
- Customer-focused content creation (like case studies, success stories, and webinars) and;
- Reference programs
For example, look at Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace for education professionals. Leveraging Catalyst playbooks and other targeted communication strategies, the platform saw a 16% boost in retention across its 2,600 customer base.
Comparing Customer Success to Customer Marketing
In case you haven’t already caught the connection, a lot of what CS does on a regular basis fits nicely into customer marketing.
To start, the CS function is dedicated to ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service—a very similar goal to customer marketing. Customer Success managers (CSMs) play a critical role in onboarding, supporting, and advising customers throughout their lifecycle.
By proactively addressing potential issues and identifying opportunities for customers to derive more value from your product, Customer Success initiatives significantly contribute to reducing churn and fostering long-term relationships.
Key responsibilities include:
- Onboarding and educating new customers
- Providing ongoing support and consultation, and;
- Gathering customer feedback to inform product development
When done successfully, Customer Success plays a crucial role in not only your customers’ success, but also in your business’s success through retention and customer growth. An example of customer success in action is a CSM conducting a quarterly review with a customer to assess their goals, discuss their usage of your product, and offer recommendations for improved workflows or additional features that could benefit their business.
You can even empower CS teams in a similar way to customer marketing—for instance, Snapdocs saved over 1,300 of CS admin time by using Catalyst to keep track of customer insights and touch points. This enabled CSMs to focus on human relationships (and a data-driven push for renewal and upsell) rather than worrying about fires every day.
In the next three sections, we will explore how these two functions can synergize to enhance customer experiences and drive growth, outline strategies for effective collaboration, and share real-world examples of successful integration.
The Synergy Between Customer Marketing and Customer Success
The relationship between Customer Marketing and Customer Success is inherently symbiotic, rooted in a deep understanding of customer needs, behaviors, and preferences. By sharing insights, data, and feedback, these teams can significantly enhance the customer experience and drive mutual goals of retention and growth while improving customer engagement and satisfaction.
That sharing isn’t just for conversation—it leads to real outcomes for both teams. For instance, if Customer Success identifies a common challenge among a segment of users, Customer Marketing can create targeted content or tutorials to address this challenge, thus driving engagement and reducing frustration.
On the other side of this partnership, Customer Marketing supports Customer Success goals by engaging customers with relevant content, updates, and opportunities that add value to their experience and help progress them throughout the customer journey. This not only helps in reducing churn by keeping customers informed and engaged but also identifies upsell and cross-sell opportunities that Customer Success can leverage. Moreover, customer marketing initiatives like feedback surveys and customer advocacy programs provide Customer Success teams with valuable insights into areas for improvement.
Strategies for Effective Collaboration
Shared Goals and Metrics: Both teams should work together to identify key objectives that support the overall business strategy. These might fall into some traditional metrics like improving customer retention rates and lifetime value. But they could also be more extended metrics like boosting customer advocacy in a specific way that makes sense for your organization and industry.
The key to success with shared metrics is shared measurement and action. Simply naming the metrics isn’t enough—you have to look at them and strategize the next steps to improve them together.
Integrated Customer Journey Mapping: Collaboratively creating an integrated customer journey map can reveal critical touchpoints where both Customer Marketing and Customer Success can interact with customers to enhance their experience. This map should outline the entire customer lifecycle, from awareness and acquisition through adoption, retention, and advocacy. By identifying and understanding these touchpoints, both teams can coordinate their efforts to deliver timely, relevant, and personalized customer interactions.
For example, during the onboarding phase, Customer Success can inform Marketing about common questions or hurdles new users face, prompting the creation of targeted onboarding emails or tutorial content. Similarly, insights from Customer Marketing campaigns can inform Customer Success about customer interests or areas where they might need additional support or training.
The key here will be contextualizing to your unique customer needs; if you pull from any templates or best-practice content, make sure you customize it.
Cross-functional Teams and Communication: Regular cross-functional meetings, shared communication platforms, and joint planning sessions can help foster an ongoing culture of collaboration.
You can also support this with infrastructure. For instance, creating a shared dashboard or reporting system can also help both teams stay updated on their collective performance against shared metrics. This transparency ensures that both teams are aligned in their efforts to support and enhance the customer experience.
Leveraging Technology and Data: Integrating Customer Growth Platform (CGPs) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can provide a unified view of customer interactions, feedback, and behaviors. This integration allows both Customer Marketing and Customer Success to access and leverage real-time data to make informed decisions, personalize customer interactions, and proactively address potential issues.
For example, a CRM can help customer success (and marketing) understand why a customer purchased in the first place. Then, using a CGP, Customer Success can track customer health scores and usage patterns; this can further inform Customer Marketing’s segmentation efforts, delineating campaigns based on product usage or satisfaction levels. This data-driven approach ensures that both teams are working with the same information and can act in a coordinated, customer-centric manner.
Challenges and Solutions in Collaboration
While the collaboration between Customer Marketing and Customer Success holds immense potential, it's not without its challenges. Common obstacles include siloed departments, misaligned objectives, and data integration issues. However, these challenges can be overcome with a strategic approach.
Siloed Departments: Foster a culture of collaboration by setting up regular cross-functional meetings and shared goals. Encouraging open communication and understanding—through both meetings and shared dashboards—can bridge gaps and promote a unified approach to customer engagement.
Misaligned Objectives: Aligning on shared KPIs and objectives from the outset, then measuring them collaboratively, ensures that both teams are working towards common goals. Leadership can facilitate this alignment by clearly communicating the organization's vision and how each team contributes to its success.
Data Integration Issues: Investing in technology, such as Catalyst, that integrates customer data across platforms is crucial. A unified data system allows for a comprehensive view of the customer, enabling personalized and proactive engagement strategies.
Integrate and Collaborate for Your Customers’ Sake
Integrating Customer Marketing and Customer Success is essential for B2B SaaS companies aiming to enhance customer experiences and drive growth. By aligning on shared goals, leveraging data, and fostering a culture of collaboration, organizations can unlock the full potential of these functions. We encourage you to evaluate your current strategies, identify opportunities for closer collaboration between Customer Marketing and Customer Success, and implement the practices highlighted in this post. Together, these teams can transform customer engagement, drive retention, and fuel sustainable growth.