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What does marketing have to do with customer success?

Why should my Customer Success (CS) team think marketing?” is a question I often hear from CS leaders. My short answer is that CS must evolve with the customer experience, and the experience is more digital and personal than ever before. Marketing wrote the book on digital and personalized engagement, so “thinking marketing” in CS is an easy win for higher engagement. But there’s a much deeper rationale I’d like to share.

A few years back CS was predominantly support driven. However, CS has evolved and elements such as adoption and onboarding came to play, alongside with pillars of satisfaction, loyalty and, retention. For some companies, CS kind of ends there.

For others CS is taking on also revenue related aspects, such as quarterly business reviews, upsell or expansion; or marketing related aspects such as advocacy – be it reviews, event speakers, advisory councils, success stories, and more. 

This domain is still forming, and whatever works for SaaS companies may not fit other markets, B2B might act differently than B2C… responsibilities will shift, so will KPIs.

However, across the board I see three elements of sustainable success – Engagement, Growth, and Advocacy. To win in all three I believe Marketing, Sales, and CS need to build meaningful bridges of streamlined customer data flow and actions. Let me explain why and how this can be achieved.

CS teams are not marketers, but they can empower smarter customer marketing. They have a good hunch as to who might be relevant for cross-selling, they know of use cases that succeeded with their upsell and can be a success story for others. They can point out good technical references vs. leadership advocates that may reference to the decision process. They might even have a good idea as to who is the best person within the customer organization to support an expansion campaign.

On the other hand, CSMs would benefit from having marketing-driven insights. They would love to know what content customer X is reading or if she’s a contributor in the online community. They can leverage success stories, by industry, country and use-case, to get the customer excited about specific outcomes of full adoption. The health score could indicate if a customer is engaged on various touch points, such as educational, community or online content, even if they haven’t visited the product for 2 weeks. 

You see, the customer experience is dynamic across the life cycle and measuring their true health score is not an easy task. Yes, CS platforms provides a health score, yet wouldn’t it be great to add to that score aspects such as individual utilization of product users, social engagement, acts of advocacy, and c-level content engagement?

You want to collect, measure and gain insight on their behavior across omni-channel touch points along their lifecycle. (Click to Tweet!)

  • Maintain a digital relationship with each customer / product-user and build loyalty mechanisms within the customer journey. It will increase satisfaction and reduce churn, and it can also help indicate when something goes wrong.
  • Leverage your customer community for advocacy (while acknowledging their contribution) without adding to the CSM overload.
  • Create a mechanism for CSMs to ask for advocacy with one-click after a positive customer interaction and streamline advocacy input for marketing utilization.
  • Know when a user is interested in content regarding a new feature and automatically initiate an upsell campaign / call.

Structured bridges can prevent some collisions. How many times has marketing asked for a c-level speaker with a specific use-case, from a well-known brand? And bam! you’re on a collision course ???? (one of many collision-asks). Why?

Since CS doesn’t necessarily engage / nurture these contacts, and even if they did – they can’t know if the executive likes to speak at events, can speak, and are they good speakers. However, with a structured bridge, you could tag those leaders on day one, nurture them from marketing and CS, know their preference and capability, and streamline the ask automatically, just after getting a real time CS platform “approval” for healthy accounts only.

YES, Customer Success teams need to align with marketing in a way that streamlines individual users and customer-base loyalty, growth, and advocacy. Marketing data can add depth to the customer score, campaigns and touchpoints add insight to customer engagement, and automation, such as the Crowdvocate platform, builds relationships and customer activation at scale (Tweet this!) Most importantly, the customer experience can be improved, and LTV can be increased when this Marketing and CS bridge comes to life.

Move away from the “who owns the customer” conversation and go build those bridges!

To get started, I recommend the following: Set a Short Demo

  1. Map out all the customer digital touchpoints.
  2. Set with Marketing a process, campaigns per your objectives, and think of sub-activities that can be automated.
  3. Align on KPIs – not CS KPIs or Marketing KPIs – rather your company’s Customer Engagement Marketing KPIs.

You’re also welcome to contact me, my grandfather built bridges, it runs in the family ????


If you like this – please share 

If you’re doing it already – would love to hear about your experience and best practices.

Good luck,


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