B2B marketing is about generating leads, fueling pipeline, and growing revenue. A prospective buyer enters the funnel, learns about your business, and eventually becomes a lead before being passed off to the sales team to be converted into a customer.

Prospect, lead, sale; repeat. The cycle goes on.

Growing new business is essential, but a well-rounded marketing strategy will also need to engage customers after the deal has closed. That's especially true for B2B software companies, many of which follow a subscription-based business model that relies on customer relationships to maintain growth.

Acquiring a new customer can be up to 5x more expensive than retaining one, the data shows. That's why building a customer marketing strategy is vital to fueling long-term relationships for retention growth. Plus, there's additional revenue potential in cross-selling and upselling.

Let's explore the benefits of that approach and dive into effective tactics you can use to kickstart your efforts.

What is customer marketing?

Customer marketing targets the post-purchase phase of the funnel with the goal of increasing customer retention and growing loyalty.

The idea is that it's much easier to keep a current customer happy than it is to convince a new prospect to buy.

Customer marketing programs help to grow customer advocacy and build long-lasting relationships.

What are the benefits of customer marketing?

From customer success to implementation and sales, many areas of a business can benefit from customer-centric marketing support.

Provide better customer service

Not all of your customers are going to be happy ones, which is why businesses have customer service teams. As a marketer, you may not be personally fielding service requests, but you can still play a big role in improving customer service functions.

One of the simplest ways you can do so is to regularly monitor your company's social media channels and online presence. People frequently take to social media to share both positive and negative experiences with companies. Engaging directly with your customers online to address their concerns or to thank them for their kindness is a quick way to show them that you value their feedback.

Enable your sales team to upsell and cross-sell

Cross-selling and upselling contain massive revenue potential. The two tactics are similar, and the terms are often used interchangeably by mistake, so let's define them:

  • Upselling refers to the practice of selling an enhanced or upgraded version of the purchased product to a customer, thus increasing the buyer's overall spend.
  • Cross-selling is the sales technique of selling a related product or service to a current customer.

Create targeted marketing materials that highlight new product features or offerings and educate customers on the added value of those features or products. That could be as simple as filming an informational webinar or as complex as building out a separate microsite to highlight the new offering.

Encourage your sales team to use those materials during the renewal process to fuel both upselling and cross-selling.

Reduce customer churn

A high churn rate can be catastrophic for a business. Closing new deals is great, but if you're not able to keep your customers long-term you're dealing a blow to revenue and growth goals.

A critical function of customer marketing is to foster engagement and loyalty among your customer base. The more programs you have in place to regularly interact with your customers, the better position you will be in to gauge their overall satisfaction with your business and prevent churn.

Use these five easy-to-implement customer marketing tactics

1. Create personalized onboarding materials

The period after a customer first signs on is critical to establishing a foundation for a long-lasting relationship.

A simple way to make your new customers feel appreciated is to personalize onboarding materials that are easy to replicate for each new customer. It can be as simple as a custom slide deck featuring the customer's logo or a small welcome gift that shows your appreciation.

2. Feature customers in case studies and testimonials

Your happiest customers are your best advocates. Featuring testimonials alongside long-form case studies on your website is a powerful way to both engage with your customers and create content to help the sales team close more deals.

It may feel daunting to ask your customers to participate in a case study or to leave a testimonial, but as long as you plan ahead and respect everyone's time, your customers should be more than willing to lend their voice.

3. Launch a referral program

A referral program is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that gives your customers an incentive to share your offering with their peers. Referral programs are a popular marketing tactic among B2C companies, but they can be just as effective for a B2B audience if executed correctly.

For B2B organizations, the buying process is typically much longer than it is for consumers, so it's important to keep in mind that referrals aren't going to get you hundreds of customers overnight. However, a referral program can generate qualified leads, especially if you offer a free trial or discount for new customers.

4. Create a customer-focused webinar

Webinars are a useful tool for creating customer-centric content. They can be interactive or simply educational, depending on your intent.

You can approach webinar creation in various ways:

  • Product-based webinar: Educate customers on updates to your product or service and share tips on how to use them.
  • Case study webinar: Highlight a recent customer success story.
  • Q&A or round table discussion: Take a comarketing opportunity to partner with a customer and another business to discuss a certain topic related to your industry.

5. Use third-party review platforms

In the same way consumers seek out reviews prior to booking a hotel reservation, B2B buyers conduct online research and expect to see social proof before making a purchasing decision. The research happens before the buyer even speaks to a member of your sales team, so use the voice of your customers and put a proper review strategy in place.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews on third-party directories to share their honest opinions. Buyers seek out reviews on third-party platforms because they're considered less biased than the case studies and testimonials on your own site.

Your customers will be happy to know their feedback is valued, and their reviews will help your business look better online.

* * *

Customer retention doesn't rest solely on the shoulders of the marketing team: It's a group effort that requires every team to work together to ensure all customer-facing processes are streamlined to provide a world-class customer experience.

That said, it's critical for marketers in particular to look at the funnel through a customer-centric lens and pay more attention to the post-purchase phase. Doing so will ensure that your customers are armed with the resources they need to be successful and to sign on the dotted line—year after year.

More Resources on Customer Marketing

Customer Retention: How to Assess and Improve Your B2B Customer Lifecycle

How to Build an Effective B2B Customer Retention Plan

20 Reasons to Double-Down on Customer Loyalty [Infographic]

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Five 'Customer Marketing' Tactics to Boost Retention and Reduce Churn

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image of Izabelle Hundrev

Izabelle Hundrev is a content writer at Directive, a performance marketing agency specializing in organic and paid search services for software brands.

LinkedIn: Izabelle Hundrev

Twitter: @izabellehundrev