customer marketing

What Is Customer Marketing?

What is customer marketing, and how is it different from ordinary marketing? Read our quick primer with tips to find out.
Article Outline

Lead generation is on the to-do list of most marketers. And sure, you might have some successful strategies in place, but wouldn’t it be nice to capture some easier wins?

One of the best ways to land these wins is through customer marketing.


Companies have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer, compared to a brand-new one (the latter is only 5% to 20%). Research also shows existing customers spend 67% more than new customers.

The bottom line is that existing customers are easier to sell to, and they buy more.

So, if you want to capture more of that revenue, a great place to start is customer marketing. 

What is customer marketing?

Customer marketing is the strategy of continuing to actively market to your customers after you’ve made the initial sale by building relationships and improving your brand experience. Customer marketing helps promote retention, and foster upsells and cross-sells. The customers who know, love, and use your products are much more likely to purchase additional products and services in the future. 

And if they don’t love your products (yet), you want to provide value and help continuously, so when it comes time for renewal (or shopping the competitors), staying with your product will be the clear choice.

Why is customer-centric marketing important?

The cost of acquiring a new customer is roughly four to five times the cost of retaining an existing one. And yes, customer acquisition is important for growth, but if you don’t balance that with marketing to your existing customers, you can end up in a vicious cycle of churn and burn.

Here’s what that looks like:

  1. You onboard customer X.
  2. You lose customer X.
  3. You spend 4-5x more to replace customer X.
  4. And the cycle grows longer and more expensive…

Customer relationship marketing helps you to correct this imbalance to retain more customers, upsell, and cross-sell to achieve a higher customer lifetime value.

What customer marketing strategies should I use?

As you create your customer-led marketing strategy, most organizations have a couple of primary goals.

  1. Create happy customers. Why would they want to switch to a competitor? They love you!
  2. Grow lifetime customer value. They love you so much that they’re presold when you recommend other products and services.

Here are a few strategies for reaching these goals:

Personalize onboarding

Onboarding email: “We’re really great. Our product is really great. Us, us, us… {continues with corporate speak and canned messaging}. 

The customer’s response: Delete.

Oops, that didn’t go so well.

Let’s try again.

When your customer buys your product or service, you want to send them a personalized welcome email and onboarding series. The content should be specific to the product they purchased and give them resources, guides, and training that help them successfully use the product.

And remember, once you create this email, don’t set it and forget it.

Continue to talk to your customer service and salespeople. Ask about the problems that customers have during the onboarding process and then use that intelligence to create progressively better content.

Map your customer success journey

Map out the specific journey your customers take after purchase. The first step, which we mentioned above, is that welcome email. Now, you’ll want to target a few more touch points. Here are several to consider adding to your list:

  • Adoption and training. Your customer is brand new when it comes to using your product; what do they need to know? Again, chat with your sales and customer service teams and ask questions about where new customers get stuck. Use the answers to these questions to create training and resources to solve common problems and support your new customers.
  • Help customers understand the overall value. Continue showing customers the great ways to use your product, and reinforce its value. For example,

“Hey, customer, did you know you can do this cool thing? Customer X just recently grew revenue by Y% using this exact feature. Give it a try! Let us know how it works for you.”

And here’s a pro tip: You can use marketing automation to set up these experiences.

  • Expand the relationship, cross-sell, and upsell. Once your customer has some wins with your products, consider telling them about complementary products and upsells. Explain how these solutions can help them continue to grow their success.
  • Ask for feedback. Don’t wait until you’re close to renewal to ask for feedback. Ask early and ask often. Then, take that feedback to your team, look for ways to improve the product or service, and let the customer know how you’re using their feedback.

These are just a few potential options, but the point is to start thinking about the customer journey and then set up touch points along that journey to create stronger relationships.

customer marketing represented by a shipping client looking at content on his tablet
Delighting your customers with marketing content is a great way to keep them engaged with your brand.

Segment users with similar characteristics 

We can’t answer the question “What is consumer marketing?” without mentioning segmentation.

That’s because it’s the framework that allows you to personalize at scale.

Remember that welcome email we mentioned earlier? You can use it to segment your customers even further and help them reach their goals. For example, if you sell marketing automation, you might ask the new customer about their goals during that first welcome email.

Let’s say you learn their primary goal is to grow revenue through email marketing. You can use that data to segment new customers by interest and then provide personalized training, tools, and resources targeted to email marketing. Or you might discover a top interest is improving email deliverability. As a result, you send a comprehensive guide written by your internal gurus on the topic (by the way, we actually wrote that guide! You can check it out here).

When your customers reach their goals faster, your retention strategies will be more effective, and they’ll naturally want to grow their relationship with you.

Measuring your results

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll want to show results, right? And while customer marketing metrics are tricky to track since programs happen over a long period, you can still track them. A couple of metrics to consider include:

Lifetime customer value (LCV). LCV is the total revenue generated from a single customer throughout your entire relationship with them. For example, if a customer spends $100 per purchase, makes five purchases per year, and has been with your company for three years, their LCV would be $100 x 5 x 3 = $1,500.

ROI. With ROI, you measure the profitability of your customer marketing efforts as related to their cost. For example, if a customer marketing campaign costs $10,000 and generates $50,000 in revenue, your ROI would be ($50,000 – $10,000 / $10,000) * 100 = 400%.

New customer acquisition will undoubtedly be part of your marketing strategy in the future. But when you balance that strategy with powerful customer marketing efforts, you can make faster strides toward growth because you won’t be battling churn.

Do you want to know more tricks for keeping customers? We’ve shared our favorite strategies for using marketing automation to boost retention with your existing customers.

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