A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Growth Marketing Conference in Toronto, at MaRS Discovery District, which was convenient because my office at Ecopia.ai is there! Throughout the course of the day I soaked up knowledge like a sponge from speakers talking about the new way to do direct mail (and do it well!), ad hacks for social media platforms, scaling a business responsibility with a growth mindset, hacking PR for your business…it was a whirlwind of a day to say the least. But what I kept coming back to, and what my notes reflect now looking back, is that my brain sees a strong, smart and unavoidable connection between customer success and marketing in order to take businesses to the next level.
I’ve decided to share my learnings in a couple of parts, to sort out my thoughts, and in speaking with a couple of people at, and after the conference, these themes seem to resonate across multiple businesses. I am a firm believer in a customer-first approach, anytime, anywhere. Blame it on my background in customer service, or my inherit passion for people, but I believe the way to make any business successful is to think of the customer (people) first. So whatever my career path, the customer is always top of mind to me.
As a marketer: I want to know customers’ personas, their buying habits, what ads they’re more likely to click on, how much time they spend on social media, the type of content they need to succeed, and how all of that impacts engagement or purchases: the top of the funnel. In my experience as a Customer Success Manager, I tried to find ways to make adoption and retention of products easier for customers, while building relationships to avoid churn, up-sell additional services, and ultimately drive more revenue to the company. It also helped that daily I was talking and connecting with customers, so I knew where their pain-points were, and how they used (or didn’t use) the product.
Both functions keep customers in mind, but I realized, when I was a CSM, I had very little interaction with marketing as a function. Marketing and Sales were constantly talking and aligned, but very rarely did marketing interact with CS.
Marketing helps build brand awareness, and brings customers into the funnel through digital marketing, content creation, events, conferences, and sales enablement. But once the customers are in, it seems to me that Customer Success takes over, building their own customer personas, templates and communications with customers. So, CSMs are expected to market to their clients, and in-turn they get the real, tangible feedback from customers. I cannot tell you the number of feature requests, or suggestions I received from customers, some good, some great, some things we were already working on. And when I would talk about those features, or suggestions, it would go to Product, who would let us know what they were working on…but I never once provided feedback to Marketing…. never once!
Looking back on this now, and listening to experts across technologies talk about product lead marketing and customer growth, I realized that siloing has crept in between these two functions (Customer Success and Marketing) because such an emphasis has been put on the relationship between Marketing and Sales, and the old debate of who needs who more. But we’re leaving out an important element of the team, and people who spend arguably the most time with customers: Customer Success. Shouldn’t all three be communicating in a way that drives the needs of the customer, first and foremost?
Has anyone else experienced this in their work place? I think the answer lies in part in having regular and meaningful interactions between Customer Success and Marketing, ensuring customer feedback is heard not only on the product side, but also to the teams who are building the funnel of new customers. I used to have regular meetings with Product, and Sales…but never Marketing, and the team I was on would have been able to provide invaluable insights for helping build out the top of that funnel by talking about the customer experience we were hearing about from current customers. This would allow for a more holistic and meaningful experience to the customer, which leads to more revenue, less churn, and better metric outcomes.
To grow forward, we must be innovative, collaborative and customer-centric, and more closely aligning customer success and marketing, especially in a SaaS business. Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!