With our yearly State of Customer Marketing and Customer Marketing Salary Reports, we get a ton of information on customer marketing and the common threads shared between every customer marketing and advocacy professional. 

When considering the barriers and pain points people regularly face in these kinds of roles, it’s nice to know you’re not alone in your struggles. At the same time, if these threads are so common, it’s high time higher-ups, and overall company support systems should be doing something about them. 

In this article we’ll go through:

Customer marketing pain points and internal barriers

In 2024, there are a few very clear throughlines in common pain points between participants, the more notable being a lack of resources (be it budget, headcount, or bandwidth) and a lack of internal support and stakeholder buy-in from leadership teams:

“Resources - I’m a team of one. I have to wait “in line” for design and copy resources. Like most, I wish my budget and resource support mirrored the amount of ARR customers contribute vs new business”
“As a team of one, it is not having the time and/or resources to do all of the things I am asked to do and want to do, especially around success stories and content creation.”

Facing obstacles when it comes to things like headcount, accessing design and copywriting resources, and more can put a big strain on even the most simple everyday tasks. 

When teams feel like they have to compete with other teams or priorities to get an equitable allocation of budget and resources, there is a big risk, not only of a lack of support but also a build toward siloing from other teams. 

Allocating resources for customer marketing teams based on the value that existing customers bring in, is essential. 

Solution recommendations:

Here are some ways senior management and leaders can help alleviate these pain points.

Resource allocation strategy:

  • Implement a prioritization system: Develop a clear and transparent system for prioritizing marketing projects based on their potential impact and strategic importance. This should include considering the holistic impact of advocacy and engagement strategies too, to ensure that customer marketing initiatives are not constantly pushed to the back of the queue.

Resource expansion and cross-training:

  • Expand the marketing team or cross-train existing team members: If new resource allocation isn’t possible, make sure to at least prioritize training for team members to be able to manage these difficult workflows - offer them the support where you can if your budgets are truly as stretched as possible.

Though it is a good thing that the understanding of customer marketing with other teams and stakeholders increasing a little a year on, a lack of understanding of what the role actually entails is still a prevalent internal barrier for many:

“There’s a misunderstanding of CM’s role. There’s an expectation that CM alone is responsible for retention, which as a Saas company just isn’t feasible.” 
“There is a lack of executive buy-in on Customer Marketing role, it’s currently seen as a ‘catch-all’ for all things retention.”

There is often a misconception about the scope of customer marketing within organizations. 

Some stakeholders expect customer marketing to bear the sole responsibility for customer retention, which can be unrealistic given that customer retention typically involves multiple teams and strategies beyond just customer marketing.

It should be considered a company-wide responsibility if companies want to see any kind of sustainable growth. 

On top of that, customer marketing teams that are battling a lack of buy-in and clarity from executives will be left with a complete lack of direction in terms of what to prioritize, and even what their purpose is when considering their relationship with company-wide goals. 

Solution recommendations:

To improve the effectiveness of customer marketing teams facing these kinds of issues, executives should consider the following:

Educational initiatives and communication:

  • Establish clear communication channels: Create open lines of communication between your customer marketing team and other departments, fostering collaboration and ensuring that responsibilities and expectations are well-defined. This can be things like monthly or quarterly cross-functional meetings, but even social events can help stave off the siloing of specific teams - this is particularly true for small or remote departments. 

  • Plan educational meetings and programs: Organize training sessions or workshops for internal stakeholders, including executives, to clarify the role and scope of customer marketing. Make the time for your customer marketing team as a whole (not just leadership) to ask clarifying questions and discuss the priorities that benefit both the team and the company direction as a whole. 

By implementing these strategies, organizations can overcome misconceptions about Customer Marketing's role, gain executive support, and ultimately enhance their customer retention efforts.

Some less common challenges were:

• Those in the process of transitioning to a more customer-centric approach.

• Not being able to access customers due to customers’ lack of willingness to engage in opportunities or compete with other teams for time.

• A lack of time to get tasks done.

• Struggling to achieve and track certain metrics for leadership.

Customer marketing and external barriers

This year, we also asked customer marketers what kind of external barriers they were experiencing. Again we had a few common threads. The most common answer was in getting customers to respond to outreach:

“The volume of emails that customers received from all the companies. It’s difficult today for them to select what is really important.”

The quote highlights a common challenge in customer marketing, which is the saturation of customers' email inboxes with messages from various companies. This oversaturation creates a hurdle for customers in distinguishing and prioritizing essential communications from the noise. 

As a result, it becomes challenging for companies to capture and hold customers' attention effectively through email marketing efforts.

Solution recommendations:

Segmentation and personalization:

  • Implement advanced customer segmentation: Begin by prioritizing your most important, key customer segments, and monitor how often you’re communicating with them via email. Competing with your own correspondences alongside others will bog down your customer inboxes even more so. Send only highly relevant content to each group to increase the likelihood that customers will find the emails important.

  • Personalize email content: Use data-driven insights to create personalized email content that speaks directly to each customer's interests and needs. Personalization can significantly improve open and click-through rates, as customers are more likely to engage with content that feels tailored to them.

Preference management and opt-in strategies:

  • Offer preference management options: Provide customers with the ability to customize the frequency and types of emails they receive. Allow them to opt in or out of specific email categories or topics. 

  • Respect unsubscribe requests: Ensure that your unsubscribe process is straightforward and that customers who choose to opt out are promptly removed from your email list. This not only respects their preferences but also helps improve the overall quality of your email list.

Some customer marketers also experience resistance when it comes to providing stories, be it from the customer themselves or a PR or legal team:

“Getting customers to go on record for named case studies. I work within the security space so there is a reluctance to put a name to assets of this nature.”
“Legal approval to share stories.”

The quotes highlight challenges related to obtaining customer endorsements and testimonials in the context of the security industry. In such a sensitive sector, customers may be reluctant to publicly share their experiences or have their names associated with case studies due to privacy and security concerns. 

Additionally, legal approvals play a critical role in ensuring that customer stories can be shared without violating any confidentiality agreements or regulations.

Solution recommendations:

Anonymized case studies:

  • Offer anonymized case studies: To address the reluctance of customers in the security space, consider creating case studies that highlight the benefits of your product or service without disclosing the customer's identity. Focus on the challenges faced and solutions provided while maintaining strict anonymity. This can alleviate concerns about privacy and security.
  • Develop a clear legal framework: Work closely with your own legal team to establish a comprehensive framework for sharing customer stories. Ensure that all legal requirements, including data protection and confidentiality agreements, are met and that customers' rights are protected.

  • Streamlined consent process: Make the process of obtaining customer consent for sharing their stories as simple and straightforward as possible. Clearly explain the purpose, benefits, and potential exposure of their stories, and provide them with control over how their information is used and shared.

Customer marketing delights and the future

We didn't only focus on the negatives, our survey also covers some favourites in the industry too! On top of customer marketing delights, our reports also covered things like:

  • Global salaries
  • Team structure
  • Customer marketing and leadership
  • The future of customer marketing
  • and much, much more.

Make sure to set yourself up to continue the year as informed as possible on the current state of customer marketing and its salaries. Find your own copy below.