The Advocacy Channel Ep. 17: How Customer Marketing Influences Revenue and How to Prove It
Welcome to a brand new year of The Advocacy Channel!
Our first guest of 2023 is Dana Alvarenga. As the VP of Customer Experience at SlapFive, a customer marketing and advocacy software platform, Dana has plenty of experience developing customer marketing programs and knows how to make an impact.
While it’s now more important than ever to demonstrate the value of your customer marketing initiatives and get buy-in from your leadership team, Dana helps us understand how you can prove your value, and show what customer marketing can do for your organization.
Tune in to learn her keys to success in customer marketing, how to show that your programs influence revenue, and her four-step approach to building a customer program.
Check out the full episode below, or keep reading for our favorite pieces of advice from the episode.
Prefer to listen on the go? The Advocacy Channel is available anywhere you listen to podcasts.
How can customer marketers set themselves up to prove their value?
(Listen from 4:05)
Especially as more and more companies face financial concerns and budget reconsiderations, it can be essential to prove your value as a customer marketer, and show what customer marketing can do for your organization.
While Dana shares advice later in the episode on how to measure your impact, this starts with setting yourself up for success with the types of tasks you decide to take on. Dana emphasizes making sure that you’re not just doing tasks and checking off boxes because other departments told you to, but that you’re aligning your tasks with the high-level goals of your company.
From there, being able to show what you’ve influenced or changed in terms of revenue, growth, and expansion is, in Dana’s opinion, the key to success in 2023 and beyond as a customer marketer.
As you move forward, remember to make your role a larger scope and always tie it back to the impact of what the program can do: “Customer marketing isn’t just reference calls and customer advisory boards, it’s so much more. Bringing that to the surface is key.” (3:51)
What pitfalls do marketers run into when planning their programs?
(Listen from 8:40)
As the first phase in Dana’s four-step approach to building a customer marketing program, the planning stage should set the groundwork and establish your objectives.
In Dana’s experience, the most common way that customer marketers stunt their program growth during planning is by not taking inventory of the resources they already have. Whether it's a brand-new program or a refresh, the low-hanging fruit is the customers who already participate in advocacy activities for your company:
“Talk to product, talk to sales. There is a little black book in every department where people call the same person for product feedback or the same person for reference calls.” (9:02)
By taking inventory internally of what you already have instead of starting from scratch and not incorporating people within other departments, you’re able to make customer marketing a company effort that’s easier to gain traction. Even if you find only one or two customer names during this process, you’re still better off than starting from ground zero.
“Go back to your senior-level executives and find out this quarter’s go-to-market initiatives. Absorb all of that information, and go back and deliver what you’ve already supported with your customer program to help drive those initiatives. Don’t wait to be asked, be assertive.”
How important is ongoing management of the customer marketing program?
(Listen from 14:28)
Somewhere along the way, the mindset of “set it and forget it” made its way to customer marketing programs. While certain pieces of a program can be automated like sending out rewards and keeping track of participants, ongoing management isn’t something that can be replaced.
This mindset might have evolved from executive teams wanting marketers to be working on multiple things at once, therefore leaving advocacy programs to fend for themselves, but whatever the reason, the idea of “build it and they will come” just isn’t true here!
Dana reminds us that your customer marketing program is something you need to consistently nurture. This involves surveying the customers to make sure you are offering the right kinds of programs for them to be involved in or the right opportunities for them to share their voice. When in doubt, ask the customer.
This includes not only managing engaged customers but re-engaging the ones who consistently turn down requests to participate. Tap in with customer success and see if you can understand what someone would like to see in your program or why they are hesitant to take part.
How can you best collect and show the impact of your programs?
(Listen from 19:25)
Dana’s fourth phase of building a successful customer marketing program is all about tracking engagement.
“This is where you want to be tracking the engagement from the company level to the advocates, all the way down to the activity that they’ve done.” (19:40)
See what opportunities were influenced, such as a renewal, expansion, or a closed-won deal. Track how often the customer's voice was used, and where you used it. Whether it was used in a blog, used by sales, or carved out for social media, you want to see how many uses you got from a single customer interview, and what were the outcomes.
Knowing your numbers will be imperative in helping you prove impact: “All of the data, all of the numbers, is going to help with that impact.” (21:23)
If you’re still growing into these sorts of programs, using a spreadsheet is completely fine to regularly track the impact of the customer's voice on your company’s growth. No need for a full-blown management tool just yet!
“Somewhere along the way, the mindset of “set it and forget it” made its way to customer marketing programs. While certain pieces of a program can be automated like sending out rewards and keeping track of participants, ongoing management isn’t something that can be replaced.”
What’s one piece of advice you have for customer marketers already running advocacy programs?
(Listen from 25:15)
If you’ve already got a customer marketing program running, here’s Dana’s best piece of advice to keep proving your value:
“Go back to your senior-level executives and find out this quarter’s go-to-market initiatives. Absorb all of that information, and go back and deliver what you’ve already supported with your customer program to help drive those initiatives. Don’t wait to be asked, be assertive.” (25:27)
In other words, talk to your leadership team to get clear on what the company’s goals are, and do a little bit of detective work to figure out how much of these you’ve already impacted to keep up your visibility as a customer marketer.
Instead of just sharing static, top-level numbers like how many reference calls have happened or how many advocates you’ve talked to, Dana encourages you to dig deeper and uncover how your programs influenced different outcomes.
For example, explain how customer-led growth is happening within your organization and bring that to the surface, as these are things that the CMOs or CEOs won’t know to ask for, but helps them understand how customer marketing is a leading piece in the success of the company’s growth.
Listen to the full episode for even more expert advice on leveling up your customer advocacy initiatives. Special thanks to Dana for being on the show!
Sign up for the CustomerX Con Event Oct 17-18 Boston MA - www.customerxcon.com
Got questions or feedback about the podcast? Send us an email!