This article was taken from a fireside chat featuring Taylor Page at the Customer Marketing Summit, held by our sister community Product Marketing Alliance in September 2021. Since the chat, Taylor has since changed roles and is now Director of Customer Marketing and Advocacy at Kong Inc.

Like a lot of customer marketers, I came into the role sideways. My background is in nonprofits, but I’ve been working in the SaaS world for seven or eight years now. I've held pretty much every GTM role; I've been an account executive on a sales team; I created and ran a business development and strategic partnerships program; I’ve also been a customer success manager.

So I don't have a traditional marketing background, but I think having been in a lot of different roles, particularly customer-facing and prospect-facing roles, gives me a broader perspective on customer marketing. My experience is especially useful when it comes to working with customer success teams to drive positive outcomes.

Customer success versus customer marketing

The common ground between customer success and customer marketing is pretty vast. Both organizations are hyper-focused on existing customers and everything that working with them entails. We specialize in engaging these users, bringing them on board, and driving ROI so that they see the value of the product and want to expand.

And, of course, no conversation about customer success or customer marketing would be complete without the word retention. It’s a huge bottom-line driver for both organizations.

Despite their similarities, both teams have different strengths and different ways of achieving their goals. The customer marketing function I've built at A Cloud Guru is responsible for a range of one-to-many customer communication channels as well as customer advocacy. Newsletters, webinar invites, customer stories, and case studies all fall under customer marketing.

Like how there's no one route into customer marketing, there's no one way to set up a customer marketing team. I've seen it done many different ways at many different companies, but you generally see a customer communication component and some sort of customer advocacy or engagement component.

On the flip side, customer success tends to look fairly similar across companies. You've got a team of customer success managers all focused on larger customers. At our company, for example, if you purchase a certain number of licenses you get a dedicated customer success manager. They’re hyper-focused on developing deep interpersonal relationships with the accounts in their book of business.

Our customer success managers know their points of contact so well that they can tell you their husband’s name, the ages of all their kids, and where they went on vacation last year. On top of that, they understand the account’s high-level business goals and where the team fits into the broader organization – they have a lot of knowledge about their accounts.

Customer marketers have data and inputs, but they generally don't have as deep a knowledge of the people involved.

In my experience, that’s the lay of the land for both groups. They share a lot of common ground, but their perspectives differ, which can sometimes be a cause of tension.