Measuring customer marketing performance using quantifiable metrics is tricky due to the relationship-based nature of the role. That being said, there’re a variety of metrics to choose from and the ones you go for will depend on your organization and how you run your team.
Here’s a breakdown of the agenda. We’re covering:
- What metrics are and why they’re important,
- Factors that impact your metrics, and
- How your chosen metrics may change when presenting to stakeholders.
What are metrics?
Metrics are features used to monitor and record progress over time. Which metric you use will depend on what you want to measure, and the goals and priorities your team and overall business are working towards.
While you can keep a continuous track of the metrics you choose, you risk gathering irrelevant information you don’t know what to do with if you don’t have the right intention behind gathering this data.
Why are metrics important?
Metrics are important to help you keep track of your progress in certain areas, and measuring your successes is a no-brainer to make sure you and your team are hitting your goals.
Metrics are also great indicators of which parts of your marketing strategies are working well, and which need improvement.
They’re also the best performance indicators to go to higher-ups with when justifying budget and marketing spending.
Factors that impact your customer marketing metrics
The decision-making process is dependent on a few factors. These include the scope of the role, program lifecycle, and company goals. We’re going to go through all of these here.
The scope of your customer marketing role
When we talk about scope, we’re referring to where you sit within your organizational structure, the level of contact you have with other departments, and what’s specifically covered within your specification - the priorities your team has based on your company's overall goals - just to mention a few.
Like customers, organizations are also unique in how they approach everything and, as such, the metrics you choose will depend on how well they support your organization’s style of monitoring.
There are a few factors that will affect your decision:
- The department do you answer to,
- The departments you collaborate most closely with,
- How far you’re into your program lifecycle.
We’ll talk more in-depth about the program lifecycle in the next section but, for now, we’ll go over how your work interacting with other departments affects your metrics.
Our recent State of Customer Marketing Report for 2022 found that the most common departments customer marketers were positioned under were the following:
- Marketing - 59.3%
- Product marketing - 33.3%
- Customer success - 3.7%
Speaking directly to our Slack community, we also had other departments come up, specifically Revenue and Demand Generation. This’ll affect the way you measure your performance, as these departments all have different goals when it comes to interacting with customers, and the role customer marketing plays will reflect that.
Customer marketers are most commonly a part of the Marketing department. Quite often, marketing metrics center on specific campaigns; these metrics will usually be specific to the type of campaign being run.
For example, an email campaign may use metrics such as email opens, email forwards, and subscriptions.
For marketing, lead generation is a common measurement of success alongside ROI. These work less well for customer marketers who deal with existing customers exclusively but can potentially be applied when a customer successfully becomes an advocate.
Other metrics that can be applied include:
- ROI - Return on Investment - Taking into consideration things like premium subscriptions and successful cross-selling and upselling campaigns.
- Click-through rate - This is the number of people clicking on your ads and onto your webpage or sales page. This can gauge not only how well your listings and ads are doing, but also how well your copywriting reflects your company's branding and values to attract your target audience.
- Bounce rate - This is another way of monitoring retention. If a high number of visitors are reaching your page and immediately clicking off, then the number of visitors itself doesn’t matter. Customer marketers can use their position within the community to improve this.
Customer marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) and goals will also be affected by the team you’re positioned under. For example, customer marketing goals, when considered under marketing, may prioritize social proof or content.
Product marketing is more specialized again, with a clear focus on the product. Customer marketing makes up a part of many product marketing responsibilities but, again, the priority will be on the product and making a successful sale rather than on existing customers.
That being said, it’s existing customers that support the bottom line for revenue, and they’re already great sources for referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. Product marketing teams are often aware of this, and so metrics that consider this will be relevant.
Some metrics that apply could be:
- Retention rate - Part of a customer marketer's main responsibility is to retain existing customers by marketing other products and services from your company. Under product marketing, customer marketing will have a higher focus on supporting product marketing.
- Conversion rate - While this mainly refers to first-time customers, customer marketers can also successfully convert existing customers to other products through cross-selling and upselling campaigns.
- Invitation conversion rate - Customer advocates are an invaluable source for referral marketing. When their recommendations and invitations successfully convert others, this speaks to the performance of customer marketers successfully managing their customer advocacy programs.
Like Customer Marketing, Customer Success teams prioritize user experience and customer satisfaction over revenue. When satisfaction and customer experience are positive, this leads to a knock-on effect for retention and revenue.
As such, being positioned under a customer success team means performance might be monitored through customer feedback and other similar metrics.
Metrics that work for measuring performance under customer success will be things like:
- CSAT - Customer Satisfaction Score - This is a simple way to gauge the overall feeling within your customer base. CSAT collects customer satisfaction through a simple 1-10 score and can provide a quick way to see if recent campaign releases or changes are going well.
- NPS - Net Promoter Score - Like CSAT, this works on a 1-10 scoring system, but focuses on how likely customers are to recommend your product to other people. This can give a good idea of customer satisfaction, and display how close other customers are to converting to advocates.
- Conversion rate - Like with product marketing, the conversion rate is important, because the more customers convert, through cross-selling and upselling, in this case, the more likely they are to stay with your business. Customer loyalty is a great example of a successful customer journey.
KPIs under Customer Success will be more focused on renewal rates and content, and have an emphasis on retaining customers, and keeping those customers satisfied.
Learn more about customer marketing positioning within organizations. This article had a lot of contributions from our Slack community so give it a read to get professional insights on this topic:
Another aspect that will change metrics and goals will be where in the journey your customer marketing program is at. Young and small customer marketing teams will have different goals than mature, larger ones will.
This also has an impact when you manage multiple programs, especially if those programs are closely tied with customers - like customer advocacy groups.
For young communities, the most common goal will be growth. As such, the program will be monitored in terms of the number of subscriptions, renewal rates, referral rates, and others.
Growing communities should also consider monitoring the health of the program by also keeping an eye on acts-based metrics. This will mean keeping an eye on how engaged your members are, acts of advocacy, and referrals.
Dave Hansen, Customer Marketing Director at LRN mentioned that, with his more mature communities, he likes to focus on the 3 Rs - Reviews, Referrals, and References - alongside other content like case studies. But with younger communities, he likes to focus on nurturing the community itself without worrying about metrics.
“Instead of pressuring our young community to provide the 3 Rs or other content, we're focused on growth […] and engagement through discussions. No additional metrics or goals... let's build a strong foundation.”
This way, mature communities prioritize ROI through the relationships they have with their customers and, as a result, can bring new customers into the field. Young communities can focus on fostering a strong relationship with the customers first and foremost.
The priority here is to understand that, while metrics are important to monitor feedback, the priority for customer marketers should always be to build a positive and lasting relationship with their customers, first and foremost.
With young communities, it’s also important to understand that everything you try won’t work straight away, or at all. Make sure you take the early days to figure out what works for you. Then you can assign the right methodology to measure performance that applies specifically to your community.
Is your organization more focused on sales, products, or customers? This will affect your choice of metrics too.
Sales-led companies will prioritize customer acquisition over retention, so it's the job of the customer marketer to prove how much more customer retention is worth. Picking numbers-based metrics, specifically in regards to sales/revenue will get across to sales-led organizations that customer marketing work is producing results they care about.
Product-led organizations will prioritize the product, and look for ways in which customer marketing can improve their product numbers, features, and services. They’ll likely prefer a mix of numbers and relationship-based metrics.
Increased cross-selling and upselling numbers will support new products; getting customer feedback and having metrics on customer satisfaction can give them insights into where to take their products next.
Customer-led companies are where customer marketers can thrive. Again, metrics will be numbers and relationship-based. But your team’s success will depend on the customer experience with your team and the programs you run.
Fill out the form below to download our ebook on the essential elements of a customer marketing plan. This eBook focuses on six elements to build into your customer marketing plan, from the early stages to elements that’ll support you during growth and scale-up.
Metrics for stakeholders
We covered some of this when we considered which metrics would be most appropriate for monitoring performance when positioned under specific teams, but it’s important to understand that self-monitoring can sometimes look vastly different from the metrics you choose to present to your key stakeholders.
Now, we’re not trying to say you should trick your stakeholders, but rather that certain metrics will present a simpler view of your efforts that are easier for your stakeholders to understand.
The metrics you use to present your team's successes will be different. You’re involved a lot more in the day-to-day efforts of your team than your stakeholders will be, so solid numbers are a good short-hand to exemplify how your work has paid off for the company as a whole.
Key stakeholder vs. self-monitoring metrics
Self-monitoring metrics vs. the ones you present company-wide, or to your key stakeholders, will vary, mainly in how in-depth you go with them.
These metrics will get more in-depth with the day-to-day work practices and project timelines. These’ll be KPIs, but also discussion meetings and brainstorming sessions with the whole team.
It’ll consider the types of engagement you’re getting, where your customers are spending the most time, and more.
These usually consist of the ‘headline’ metrics. That'll be things like growth numbers, engagement numbers, and similar. When speaking company-wide, you want to keep as succinct as possible while still showing your team's achievements. If a particular metric impacts another team, that'll be something to bring up too.
Metrics for stakeholders
These usually make up a combination of the previous two. Stakeholders have an active investment in your work and so, you’ll want to update them on how the program is going, the goals you have for it in the future, as well as some reflections on what could be done to improve any stumbling blocks you experienced on the way.
While they require more detail than company-wide reviews, there’s still a focus on impactful stats. Getting the big numbers in front of them will prove the successes you’re talking about.
Discover further key customer marketing statistics
Understanding the landscape of your position throughout the industry is vital to improving your own customer marketing processes. But not to worry, we’ve got your back!
Our State of Customer Marketing Report for 2023/24 shows a birdseye view of everything customer marketing related, including metrics. The report also found:
🏆 The largest value drivers for customer marketers this year were customer feedback collection (29%) and cross-selling/upselling (21.8%).
❓ Surprisingly, 59.3% of customer marketers said that just 0-10% of customers were considered advocates this year
🧡 This year, the most popular metrics were divided between case studies at 17.5% and acts of advocacy (16.6%).