Here at Customer Marketing Alliance, we’re dedicated to keeping customer marketing continually moving forward with our thought leaders, community members, and events throughout the year.

2022 saw our very first State of Customer Marketing Report, which went over a variety of different topics related to the position. This article serves as a sneak peek into the report and our conversations with our community members and survey responders. It’ll cover:

Changing for the better

Change begins with those involved. Customer marketing is a completely varied role with its thumbs in more than a few pies. So, we asked our contributors about the one change they’d like to see in the future for customer marketing.

Here’s what they said:

“I would like to see it elevated to the level of product marketing or demand. I believe there is not enough weight put into the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer.

I know, I know, you won’t have customers without a strong positioning and without demand, but the market really needs to put more emphasis on keeping customers happy, engaged, and increasing their share of wallet.

I feel like customer marketing right now and traditionally has just been looked at as a value add.” - Aunalisa Arellano, Head of Customer Marketing at Filevine

“I want customer marketing serving as a unifier across all of marketing by leading with a customer-first approach in everything that we do.” - Liz Greer, Product and Customer Marketing Manager at Salesforce

Becoming customer-centric is a trend that has been increasing in the last few years, but needs to be recognized more as a vital position for businesses that want to leave a mark in the market. Not only that but companies that are customer-obsessed work to prioritize customer engagement and retention.

This begins with the base values a company chooses to hold itself to. To see companies increasing the value of the customer marketing position within their structure shows that customer obsession is a priority. Read more on customer obsession.

“If my pie-in-the-sky dream could come true, it would be that organizations realize the top priority of any community is to first and foremost drive value to its members.

So often organizations see communities as a pipeline to fulfill their marketing efforts. And while they can help in this space, it shouldn’t be the focus. Let’s all collectively shift and put the needs of customers first.

When this happens, I guarantee everything else will follow.” - Jeni Asaba, Senior Manager for Community Engagement & Advocacy at Jamf

The biggest mistake when it comes to what advocates bring to the table is this link with marketing. Affiliate and advocate marketing are all legitimate forms of marketing, but your advocates are customers first, not just free labor for getting your name out there to potential customers.

The relationship between your advocates and your business must come first, specifically the value you can give them. Relationship marketing focuses efforts on nurturing the relationship with your existing customers.

Customer marketing is a fast-growing role

LinkedIn found customer marketing to be the 3rd fastest growing job title in 2021. With that in mind, we asked our survey responders a similar question: ‘Where do you see customer marketing going in the future?’. Here are some of the answers:

“Many indicators are predicting we’re in for a bumpy economic ride. As we look at the next year, it will be valuable to closely manage your program data, track the revenue you’re influencing, and understand your programs’ value against key organizational OKRs. Data will be critical as we meet whatever challenges may be coming.” - Elizabeth Raffa, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at HackerOne

With the fallout from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, the economic downturn will be a cause for concern for all companies. Customer marketing is in a valuable position to support companies through this, as it’ll be successful customer retention strategies that’ll keep companies afloat by stabilizing the bottom line, rather than customer acquisition.

Others that took the survey had different answers:

“I think it will become more formalized as a marketing specialty and eventually expand to industries outside of technology. As companies see the value in customer marketing, they will expand the teams and there will be subspecialties within customer marketing.”

“I anticipate that the interest in customer marketing will begin leveling off a bit as hiring cools.”

“It will become about community and engagement management.”

“I think that customer marketing will begin leading efforts with customer success and start owning more of the marketing strategy.”

“I think it will keep growing, especially in the US. For Europe, it’s a relatively new role but I expect it to become more common.”

“There’s so much career potential: I think there’s a huge career trajectory for customer marketing. If people are successful, I could see a driven customer marketer climbing the ranks to a Chief Customer Officer role.”

“Eventually, I see it moving out of product marketing (or a subfunction of any team) and becoming its own team within marketing.”

“There will be more emphasis on product-led growth being owned/ influenced by customer marketing.”

“I see customer marketing becoming a specialized role within product marketing, which is a strategic team within most B2B companies.”

“I see it taking over what used to be called “insights”. Customer marketing is more integrated into day-to-day operations, whereas insights teams tend to be more academic in nature.”

“There will be more clarity on what the function does within the organization, with clearer lines between customer marketing, product marketing, and customer success.”

“The next few years will see customer marketing reshaping and redefining itself to encapsulate more than just advocacy and community building.”

“It will be as important as Product Marketing/ABM, particularly for SaaS companies.”

What will our customer marketers prioritize going into the future?

The most valuable parts of customer marketing

There definitely is a future for customer marketing and it’s bright. We’re living in the age of the customer and there’s more attention than ever by companies to focus and prioritize on the post-sale customer journey and experience. With this being said, we wanted to focus on the parts of the role our customer marketing participants thought would become most valuable in the upcoming year.

With these insights, customer marketers can see what others will be prioritizing. Most common were answers relating to community and feedback:

“Definitely case studies.”

“It’ll be customer advocacy.”

“My priority is my customer community.”

“Our most valuable will be our go-to-customer programs.”

“We’re wanting to focus on capturing more testimonials and developing new advocacy programs.”

“Our priority is to begin understanding the customer better for epic campaigns, customer loyalty and referrals to new clients.”

“We’re looking to unify our processes by connecting our different programs together.”

“We’re going to be focussing on Customer Advisory Board and engagement programs, specifically focused on top strategic customers.”

There were a few that focused on other areas of the business, including increasing revenue, which can be done through cross-selling and upselling opportunities with your existing customers, and prioritizing events and campaigns:

“For us, customer marketing’s definitely becoming a more formalized function with dedicated associations/events popping up more frequently.”

“We’re going to be running always-on campaigns for sourcing up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.”

We asked our contributors the same question and here’s what they had to say:

“Relationship building has been, and will continue to be, the most valuable part of my work. It’s the foundation of everything else. So, if anything were to change, my hope is that it would be the awareness that building relationships with customers is what sets up any community program for success.” - Jeni Asaba, Senior Manager for Community Engagement & Advocacy at Jamf

This sentiment has been reflected more recently by Dave Hansen, Customer Marketing Director at LRN, in a recent article on customer marketing metrics.

He mentioned that, 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.”

Again, the most important part of customer marketing is relationship building rather than specific tasks. It’s through successful relationships that companies can flourish alongside their customer base.

“A greater importance is placed on customer insights and how we translate these insights into sales and marketing strategies.” - Liz Greer, Product and Customer Marketing Manager at Salesforce

“Advocacy. Customer advocacy is huge right now in the B2B space. I think it will only keep growing.” - Aunalisa Arellano, Head of Customer Marketing at Filevine

Our contributors are available to talk to on our Customer Marketing Alliance Slack channel, so consider joining our community to ask them about their part in this report. Our community is a fantastic resource to keep up to date with the landscape of the customer marketing position.

Customer marketers aspirations

We asked, “What are your career aspirations for the next year?”. It seems that the future of customer marketing is looking good with 49.8% of participants saying they want to progress up the customer marketing career ladder. 30.8% said they were happy where they were.

Graphic showing the percentage of responses for the question 'what are your career aspirations for the next year?'

It’s reassuring to see that customer marketing is a role that people are not only happy to continue doing but are wanting to progress through. Hopefully, we will see an even bigger increase as customer marketing progresses and cements itself into the business processes as a norm.

Customer marketing is a role that has been around for more than a decade now, and is in the process of fully maturing into its best realized version. Huge strides have already been made in establishing its value to businesses. Influitive’s State of Customer Marketing Report found that 98% of executives rate customer marketing as either very important or important to the overall success of their organization.

But we’ve still got a ways to go in this value being reflected in the resources and budget available to customer marketers. And we’re here to witness every stage of development for this role in the upcoming years.

Want to read more?

This article is a sneak peek into our State of Customer Marketing Report for 2022.

You can download the full report using the button below and unlock 70+ pages of unique insights into the current state of customer marketing and how it fits in with the rest of the market.