Most marketing leaders have a pretty good idea of how important their customer marketing efforts are to the success of their business. After all, for years they’ve been bombarded with messages and promises about customer marketing like:

  • Reach buyers sooner!
  • Get hotter leads!
  • Accelerate the sales cycle!

But the words and actions often don’t jive, as the most common customer marketing activities often differ from the marketing metrics most companies have historically tracked.

A recent survey of more than 200 B2B organizations for the 2017 State of Customer Marketing Benchmark Report showed that over 60% of companies use customer references or testimonials as their primary customer marketing activities and 45% opting for customer user groups and customer events. Just over 40% also cited monthly newsletters as important pieces of their customer marketing mix.

And while marketers seemed to be going after customer references in force, the three most frequently tracked metrics cited in the survey–cross-sell/upsell revenues, renewal/churn rate, and customer satisfaction–don’t generally tie directly to marketers’ chief customer marketing activities.

For example, cross-selling/upselling opportunities was the top-rated metric for both the “are” and “should” categories, but customer referrals–a direct result of effective peer-to-peer marketing–ranked higher with marketers in “should be using” than in the “are” using category.  So, what gives?

What gets measured, gets managed

Part of the disconnect may be that while marketers evidently understand the value of customer marketing activities, they lack the systems, processes, and resources for actually measuring that value. The survey generally bears this out, showing that the metrics marketers are using are substantially different from the ones they think they should be using.

Organizations have invested years and countless dollars into various automation technologies and systems that simplify information delivery and come with an array of tools for slicing and dicing revenue, traffic, churn, and satisfaction data. So it only makes sense that both sales and marketing teams focus more heavily on using the existing tools in those platforms as much as possible instead of asking for new ones, lest their investment go to waste.

Unfortunately, most of those technologies offer few tools for similarly slicing and dicing information about customer advocacy or referrals and their impacts on revenue. So while there’s little doubt in any marketer’s mind that customer marketing can have an impact on revenue, the lack of insight and visibility into those marketing efforts makes it effectively impossible to track which customer reference activities deliver the greatest returns (expressed in “revenue influenced”)—or why they do.

At that point it’s really just a guessing game as to which activities to emphasize, which inevitably leads to wasted time and marketing budget, while also increasing the likelihood of your customers getting fatigued by seemingly random reference requests.

Measure the right things to increase revenue

The B2B buying game has fundamentally changed in recent years and the metrics marketers use to support the purchase process should too.

Today, the average B2B buying decision involves an average of six or seven stakeholders, depending on which research study you read. Each stakeholder has his or her own buying motivations, fears, biases, and opinions that require more targeted communications–particularly those about or from their peers in other organizations–to move the process forward than ever.

Marketers need to slowly move away–or at least de-emphasize–vanity metrics such traffic, clicks, and leads and obsess less over churn and renewal rates or customer satisfaction. Instead, they should begin focusing on deeper-dives into why, how, and in what ways peer communications (customer marketing) affects buying behavior and, ultimately, influence revenues.

To learn more about to more effectively drive net new revenue from your customer marketing efforts, contact us today for a free demo.

 


 

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Brian Vail
Brian Vail is the VP of Marketing at RO Innovation. With over two decades of experience managing global marketing teams, he has a passion for leveraging the Voice of the Customer to drive results for the marketing initiatives he oversees.
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