As marketers, we’re always chasing the next big trend and trying to come up with new and innovative campaigns that will enable us to stand out and resonate with our target audience. What many of us fail to realize, however, is that our own customers can often speak better to our value than a quirky ad or paid campaign, meaning that developing solid and lasting relationships with them can pay off big in the long run.
Leveraging your current customers to secure new leads is one of the most effective marketing techniques at your disposal. Your current customers understand your lead’s pain points, speak their language, and have amazing results to share that show how your solution works. They can make the case for your product in less time than it takes for leads to go through an entire nurture campaign. That’s not saying you should abandon those efforts (because they are extremely important to creating an enjoyable customer journey), but it’s essential that you have several customers who are willing to speak to your organization’s excellence.
Your current customers aren’t just valuable in helping you attract new leads. When you fully leverage these relationships, you’ll find that there’s immense room for growth within your current customers. If you do your due diligence in collecting customer insights and checking in with clients to make sure they’re getting the most out of your products and services, you’ll discover that many of them are great candidates for upsell or cross-sell opportunities.
Still not convinced? Keep reading to learn 4 ways to leverage your current customer base to drive more business.
1. Collaborate With Customers to Develop Success Stories
As I previously mentioned, your customers likely have great results to share that prove the value of your product or solution. It is also very likely that they are already sharing their success among their marketing friends and putting in a good word for your brand. And while that might help you secure one or two new customers, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t find a way to share these stories with a wider audience.
Developing customer success stories is simple (the hardest part is just scheduling a brief 30-45 minute interview) and can result in significant ROI. For example, a good success story can help you close a deal if a customer is looking for a particular use case that resonates with the challenges they are currently facing.
To make sure you have all your bases covered, a good place to start building your success story library is by identifying a few happy customers in various industries. Reach out to them and ask if they’d like to schedule a time to talk and collaborate with them to create content pieces you can share through your website, automated nurture campaigns, and social media.
Don’t worry if you’re new to reaching out to customers to secure interviews — the process is much simpler than you probably think. You can identify happy customers who might be willing to talk to you by speaking with your account managers, reviewing customer surveys and net promoter scores (NPS), and monitoring social media for any positive mentions. You can even place a prominent callout in your customer communications to see if your contacts are interested. Chances are that many of them will jump at the opportunity. After all, who doesn’t love some free publicity?
2. Invite Your Customer Advocates to Spread the Word on the Web
In a world where customers are accustomed to conducting thorough research before making a purchasing decision, establishing a positive web presence is invaluable. To do that, however, you need customers who are willing to leave a good review on an industry website or rave about you on social media. This sort of advocacy is critical to your success.
Your target audience likely references popular and trustworthy websites when weighing their options. Inviting your customer advocates to leave a good review for you on these sites can help you put your best foot forward. Although many customers won’t need an incentive to share their feedback, sending a small gift (such as a Starbucks gift card) is a great way to show your appreciation and increase your chances of securing a review.
You should also make it a priority to have a positive presence on social media, especially since many of your current customers and leads are likely active on these channels. A great way to do that is by encouraging your advocates to share positive results they’ve experienced on their personal profiles or company accounts, making sure to tag your company and use relevant hashtags. This will improve your chances of appearing in relevant searches and help you establish positive brand recognition among your target audience.
Act-On’s Advanced Social Media Module can help you easily monitor mentions and engage with your customer advocates. Continuing the conversation by commenting on their posts will allow you to keep the momentum going on their own profiles, improving your chances of showing up on your prospect’s feeds. You can also re-post any posts that really stand out on your own social media profiles to ensure your followers see them as well.
Your high-intent leads are probably evaluating several options when the time comes to talk to Sales. They’ve probably already read up on everything you have to offer and maybe even sat through a demo, so what they’re looking for at this stage is additional proof that you can truly do what you say you do.
This is a great time to pull out some of those success stories you’ve developed. Or you can go the extra mile by scheduling some time for your leads to chat with current customers. This allows your prospects to ask questions they wouldn’t be able to ask one of your salespeople and learn more about how their peers are benefiting from your solution.
To increase your chance of success, you should aim to set up leads with customer advocates who work in similar industries or have similar use cases. Getting as targeted as possible with your customer reference will help ensure that they can provide helpful answers to all your lead’s questions and highlight your organization’s best features.
4. Nurture Your Customers to Improve Retention and Match Them With New Products and Services
We’ve talked a lot about how to leverage your current customer base to charm new leads. A mistake that many companies make, however, is failing to acknowledge the opportunity for growth that exists within their current customer base to drive product adoption.
Your current customers have already demonstrated that they believe in the value of your brand, so half of your work is already done. Your task now is to keep them happy and offer them opportunities to grow with your company.
An easy and effective way to do that is by entering your customers into automated nurture campaigns that share best practices about your product and offer the opportunity to learn about new products and/or services. You can then track engagement to automatically segment customers that are prime upsell or cross-sell opportunities and enter them into relevant campaigns to help them learn more about these new options.
Last but not least, you should also be tracking customer engagement to identify which customers need a little bit more love. Integrating your CRM with a marketing automation platform can make it easy to flag these contacts so that your account managers can reach out to them directly to offer extra support. Studies show that attracting new customers costs 5X more than retaining current ones, so it’s in your best interest to show them that you’re committed to their success.
Marketing Automation Can Help You Build Long-Lasting Customer Relationships
Whether your focus is customer retention or converting more leads, the right marketing automation tool allows you to leverage your current customer base with ease. Act-On can help you easily distribute content, develop automated nurture campaigns, collect valuable customer insights, and even manage your social media efforts so you can drive more ROI from your current customers.
If you want to learn how to leverage marketing automation to strengthen your customer relationships and drive more business, check out our eBook “Optimize the Customer Journey” (linked below).
And, if you’d like to learn more about Act-On’s capabilities and how our marketing automation platform can help you build a more comprehensive and effective digital marketing strategy, feel free to fill out this brief form to book a demo with one of our digital marketing experts.