My name is Gal, I'm the co-founder of Crowdvocate, and today we're going to talk about streamlining customer marketing by associating it with the journey and product insights, and how all that can impact advocacy and upsell.

I'll start by giving a little intro to Crowdvocate, then I’ll run through the pillars of B2B customer marketing and share some tips on how to get started. Then we’ll look at how to use data to streamline engagement across the customer journey and how to engage with your customer advocate base at scale. Lastly, we’ll explore how customer marketing drives revenue and how to leverage references and advocacy for upsell opportunities.

Let's dive in.

The pillars of customer marketing

Crowdvocate is the only purpose-built platform for customer marketing that can also be leveraged by product marketers. It's a holistic approach to managing advocacy programs. lifecycle engagement, upsell, expansion, reference automation, loyalty rewards, and much more.

It's a holistic approach because we believe that customer marketing is holistic. For us, customer marketing is everything post-sale. On top of what customer success does, customer marketing can also scale adoption and content for your customers. We run events, user groups, and CABs. Customer marketing can also look after communities and user forums.

Engaging all of those activities and leveraging the data from them is part of what customer marketing can do, both for the company and the community.

Of course, there are different types of advocacy. There are reviews, customer stories, and customer feedback and input. There are reference calls, and there’s reference content. And then there's lifecycle marketing to drive upsell, cross-sell, and expansion. There’s also the overall communication of activities, events, and whatnot.

The thing is that for your customer, all those activities are part of the same thing. They all form the sum of their engagement with you. They don't see the separate programs. They’re a user of product X, and within their journey, they onboard, they join a user group and maybe a customer advisory board. They might be active in your community and maybe take a reference call or say yes to an upsell.

That's their journey. That's how they see it, and that's how you should see it too. You need to tie all the pieces together.

Four tips to get started with customer marketing

Before you do that, here are four tips to get you started. We've seen them work with all our customers. The key thing is not to start with a platform with a plan.

Tip #1: Define your strategy and KPIs

What’s your year one goal? What numbers do you need to reach at the end of the year? Maybe that's the number of advocates. Maybe it's the number of upsell revenue or campaigns that you run. Maybe it's the number of people that participated in reference calls or the number of deals that leverage reference calls. There are so many things you can track, but your targets have to be numeric.

You also have to agree on your goals with management in mind, and the best way to start is by understanding the company's KPIs and aligning with those. If the company wants to focus on upselling this new feature, the customer marketing program should support that.

Tip #2: Collaboration is key

You want to collaborate with everybody. Customer marketing is the quarterback of the organization. You're talking to internal marketing teams because you need their help, and they need your help with demand generation because that requires customer-generated content.

You’re talking to sales because they need references, which are obtained and approved by customer success. Product teams can help you move more messaging and get feedback. And of course, you have to get executive sponsorship to run these programs.

Tip #3: Talk to your customer

You also want to talk to your customers. Talk to them directly. When customer marketers don't have direct access to customers, it's not good. You want to be able to talk to the customers and find your own champions, not just trust your account managers or CSMs to tell you who the champions are. You should also try and find more accounts and people within those accounts that your cross-functional colleagues haven’t realized are champions,

You want to consult at least your top 20 customers. Treat them like your internal CAB, and they’ll tell you what can work, what they're willing to do, what rewards should look like, and what programs they think are cool.

Tip #4: Measure and share

And the last tip, of course, is to measure and share. You have to track and measure numeric results, and then you have to blow your own horn. You have to let the whole organization know about the influence of customer marketing.

How to streamline your engagement with advocates

Those are the four tips to get started. Now, let's talk about how you engage with customers throughout the journey.

Screenshot showing a table that described the customer journey from 'customers first login' to 'upsell message'

Let’s look at a typical customer journey. When customers start working with your product, they receive a welcome message, then they go through onboarding. At some point, they become activated users – maybe after a month, maybe after three months.

And then, ideally, you start turning them into advocates. You might ask them to write a review, participate in an event, give a quote, and so on. And at some point, you might even want to advance that journey and invite users to join your customer advisory board as a consultant or maybe join a beta group. Later, your company could upsell or cross-sell to these customers.

You want to tie all these stages of the customer journey together. The way Crowdvocate does that is by tying that journey to company data. We leverage CRM data, for example, showing which products customers do and don’t have. That helps us identify upsell opportunities. We also track how frequently they’re using the product, whether they’re satisfied, and their health scores.

Maybe a customer logged into the community. Perhaps they're even a contributor. Perhaps they signed up to the academy, finished the courses, and got certified. They might be active in the blog and interested in specific types of content. We take all that data from the CRM and other data sources and then apply it to the journey.

Combining all those data points gives you a holistic picture of the customer's journey. That's how you can tie all your activities together and engage in the journey in a way that suits the customer.

Different people with different titles in different countries using different features of your product in different stages of their lifecycle should get different messages that are relevant to their journey. That's how you activate users – by tailoring your engagement to them. All communication should be personalized to their journey and where they are with your product.

screenshot showing to graphs. On the left is the same table on customer journey. On the right is an advocacy score timeline from 'referral' to 'joined reference pool'.

When we do all this, that basic customer journey we talked about becomes much more insightful. We can build a timeline for each customer, showing CRM data, advocacy activities, and how each one taps onto another as they climb the ladder of advocacy, becoming more engaged and developing a true partnership with you.

When you track the customer's advocacy activities, you can raise the bar each time you reach out. If you see that they’ve joined the reference pool, you might want to ask them to speak in a webinar. If they’ve spoken on webinars, maybe you could see if they’d like to speak to an analyst. That's how you grow the customer into a champion.

You can use data to learn about each customer and where they are in their journey. Maybe your CSM or account manager is only engaging with three contacts on that account, but there are 20 users within that company, some of whom love your product and are happy to talk about it. They could be your Trojan horse, your go-to in that company when you want to run a campaign with them.

I get a lot of questions about how to tap into executives. Well, maybe you want to start people further down in that company who can bring the executives to the table, or maybe you need to create different journeys for executives, for power users, and junior users. Engagement data helps you see all of that.

Building engagement at scale

When you have data, you can build personalized engagement at scale. You’ll be able to identify the individuals most suited to different types of advocacy activities, based on their job title, segment, and use case, and then reach out to them.

And how do you reach out to them? Reach out to them everywhere and anywhere in any way. Some customers will answer an email, but only 20% of them might open the email to begin with. Some customers will respond to an in-app message, but if they're very senior, they might never be in your app. Some customers will engage on Slack, by text, by visiting a designated customer portal, or after seeing a pop-up when they join your virtual events.

That's how you engage at scale. You don't tell them, “This is where you have to go,” or, “This is how we engage.” You let them choose from a basket of different engagement types, and add that data to your CRM. That way, your team can see who’s engaged, who’s an advocate, how they like to engage and how frequently, and how we're going to leverage them this month and the month after that.

How advocacy and referenceability impact revenue, loyalty and upsell

The last thing we're going to touch on is how you leverage customer marketing to create business impact. Customer marketing can influence all the pillars of revenue that SaaS companies, and indeed most companies, have.

This is a screenshot showing a table with three sections: new sales, upsell & expansion, and loyalty and retention. This is referring to business impact.

Customer marketing influences new sales. Reference calls, customer stories, and reference content can all help you close deals. Reviews can bring leads, and a lot of advocacy activities influence demand generation and support new business. For most B2B companies, between 40 and 70% of new deals have touched advocacy in some way, shape, or form.

The second pillar of revenue for companies is upsell and expansion. Upsell and expansion normally account for roughly 40% of a company's revenue. We saw that more than ever in the pandemic.

Companies started saying, “If we're engaging our customers in our advocacy program, why don’t we leverage that for upsell? If they love us so much, why don't we increase their share of wallet? Why don't we market to our customers and turn them into even bigger customers?”

For that, you need advocacy. You need to find a customer who had feature A from your platform and added feature B. Then, you take that customer story and serve it to your existing advocates who haven't yet purchased feature B.

Advocacy, customer stories, and even reviews can all serve upsell, cross-sell, and expansion campaigns. If you want to expand to another division within a bank, you can use your champions in division A to promote your product to division B. Why do a whole external campaign and try to target that bank via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter when you already have champions in a different division?

Lastly, research shows that the more engaged customers are, the more loyal and likely to repurchase they are.

So, advocacy and customer marketing influence retention, and you want to prove that. You want to show that the accounts that engage in your customer marketing programs retain more than others, ideally 30 to 50% more.

Proving your impact

As we’ve seen, customer advocacy and reference programs have a business impact. They impact new revenue, they impact upsell, expansion, and cross-sell revenue, and they impact retention revenue. To prove it, you have to track the right data.

We sometimes talk to customer marketers or advocacy managers who tell us that their metrics focus only on how many advocates they have, how many customer stories they created, or where they stand on reviews compared to their competition. Those metrics are great, but they're not the metrics that your CRO, CMO, or CEO cares about. You have to tie your programs to dollars. You can do this by building revenue-driven campaigns.

You can add, for example, an upsell campaign. You want to start by working with product marketing to identify a cohort that is ready for upselling right now. Within that cohort, you need to find your champions. From there, you can run a nurturing campaign where you educate your champions about a new feature.

You can even survey those customers about the pain that your new feature solves, then give them social proof from another customer within the program who has taken that upsell journey. Finally, you can ask them if they’d like to talk to an expert in sales. If you add that lead to your CRM, you can track it. Think of it as a CMQL – a customer marketing-qualified lead – and pass it on to a sales colleague to close that deal.

You want to measure that, of course, and attribute it to ROI. If you have a platform that tracks this automatically, that's great. If not, you have to find ways within your tech stack to show how many referrals turned into deals, how many references influenced deals that closed won, and how many upsell campaigns turned into opportunities and revenue.

You also have to agree with your internal teams, like sales, how much of that is attributed back to you so you can show your execs the direct attribution of revenue you have. The easiest way to do that is to say, “Listen, can we agree that one percent of every deal that advocacy influences is attributed to customer marketing?”

Most sales teams will say, “Sure, one percent, who cares?” One percent of $100 million is a million dollars, which is not that big, but you can still attribute that and show that you influenced $100 million and have direct attribution of $1 million. That’s going to help you in conversations about getting a bigger budget for your function.

Let’s sum up

We’ve covered what customer marketing is in our eyes and how it relates to the entire customer journey. We’ve looked at the pillars of customer marketing and the many ways we can engage with our customers. We’ve also discussed how we can help move our customers up that advocacy ladder.

I’ve shared some ways you can tap into the customer journey and grow the lifetime value of each of your users, not only in terms of their share of wallet, but also because they’ll help you bring in other new customers with their advocacy. Finally, we’ve looked at how you show the value of customer marketing and use that to grow your internal resources and team.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope it’s given you some food for thought.