A few years back, WordStream CEO Ralph Folz was having his quarterly review meeting with our VP of Customer Success, Kristen Yerardi. What started off as a normal check-in turned into a huge wake-up call.
“When we looked at the amount of money we spent nurturing prospects to become customers, we were embarrassed that we didn’t spend the same amount, or even remotely close to the same amount, for our current customers,” said Kristen.
There’s really no definitive answer, but sources say that the cost of acquiring a new customer is up to 30 times that of keeping an existing one. And the good old 80/20 rule tells us that 20% of your customers bring you 80% of your revenue.
According to Kristen, “As we matured as a company, it became very apparent that customers not only valued our product, but also valued the fact we were subject matter experts in the area of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). The Customer Success team not only teaches customers the software, we also teach them PPC, and how to be better paid search marketers.”cus
Part of this education came in the form of monthly customer-only webinars. “The monthly webinars we were doing had insanely high attendance rates,” Kristen said. “Customers were also asking for more product information. What has changed? How do they use tools? What PPC strategies can be employed via WordStream?”
When looking at all those factors, adding a Customer Marketer to the WordStream team was a no-brainer.
From that day forward, customer retention became a major focal point for WordStream. And that’s where I came into the picture.
Before diving into the good stuff, let me share a little about myself. I wasn’t always a Customer Marketer. I spent the last five years in the world of prospect marketing, focusing my efforts on generating qualified leads for Sales. When the opportunity arose to become the company’s first Customer Marketer, I hung up my lead gen jacket (not to be confused with a jean jacket, I’m not that cool), and decided to shift my focus to helping WordStream customers.
What Is Customer Marketing?
If you’re asking yourself “What the heck is Customer Marketing?” here’s my definition: Customer marketing targets activities and campaigns designed specifically to drive retention, customer loyalty, advocacy, growth and community participation for current customers.
My role at WordStream has been to educate, inform, and assist customers at every stage of their journey, whether newcomer or professional, and to provide outstanding customer service to enhance their WordStream experience. Being the first person at WordStream to take the lead on customer marketing, I had to build the role from the ground up…seriously, we had zip, nothing, nada!
Making the transition to customer marketing has been an extremely rewarding experience. I may sound a bit biased, but I truly believe WordStream has the greatest customers. I’ve heard first-hand some truly incredible customer stories and have seen the rise of passionate WordStream advocates.
Due to all this amazing customer activity, I wanted to share my experience in the hopes of sparking some ideas and creativity for companies looking to get their customer marketing efforts off the ground. Here are five customer marketing strategies I’ve used over the past year and a half that have helped keep WordStream customers very happy.
#1. Make a Great First Impression
If you’re on a first date and you spend more time looking at your phone than conversing with the person sitting across from you, the chances of landing a second date are slim. The same goes with your customers. If you start off with a bad first impression, don’t expect them to stick around for long.
To start off on the right foot with your customers, make sure you’re setting proper expectations. Here at WordStream, after a new customer signs on, they’re handed over to our Customer Success team, who will work with them on on-boarding and software training. Their sales rep’s initial email sets the proper expectations and lets the customer know exactly what to do next.
If possible, use video to further explain the on-boarding process and set expectations. Some excellent video production companies I recommend are Simplifilm and LessFilms. We use the following video on our on-boarding landing page.
Create a Customized Experience
No one customer is the same as any other. They all have different learning levels and experience, and they come from a wide array of industries.
At WordStream, we build out a personalized training curriculum that fit the varying needs of every customer. One of the first things we ask customers when they come on board with us is to provide us with some details so that we can find out who they are and what their needs are.
With this information, we build out a personalized training curriculum that is completely tailored around the customer.
Awesome, right? Well, we don’t stop there! With the details they provided in their on-boarding survey, we’ll send targeted emails during their training process that aligns perfectly with their goals and experience level.
For example, let’s say that Erin just got started with paid search advertising, so she’s at a beginner level status. Her main goal is to increase conversions in her company’s AdWords account. She’ll receive educational content that is geared toward beginners and focused on increasing conversions (since that’s her ultimate goal). Here are some examples…
To take it another step further, since Erin told us she works in the Travel industry, we’ll send her PPC content relevant to her work.
It’s the Little Things
Every customer that comes on board at WordStream will get some awesome “swag,” which includes a hand-written note from their dedicated Customer Success Rep, and a small gift, like a T-shirt, headphones, or a gift card. It’s a small touch, but it speaks volumes and lets our customers know we truly care about their success and appreciate their business. Here are some examples…
The point of all this is, again, to make a great first impression with your customers. Make sure you set proper expectations, and give your customers a personalized experience that aligns with their business and needs. Show your care and appreciation by sending a small gift. It’s the little things that go a long way!
#2. Put Your Customers In The Spotlight
What better way for your customers to learn than from their peers, who are likely going through similar relatable experiences?
We pride ourselves on thought leadership here at WordStream, but when the idea came to me to let our customers be the teachers and give them a voice, we jumped at the opportunity.
Once per month, we feature one of our customers on the WordStream blog. We call it our “Customer Spotlight” series. Our customers share a little back story about themselves and their business, then they dive into their PPC experience and share tips and tricks on how they’ve become successful online advertisers. (Here’s the full archive.)
The Customer Spotlights have also been a great source of brand exposure for our customers. Sometimes, small businesses don’t have time for PR, since they often have a small team trying to do it all. Take Koru K9 Dog Training, above. We’re happy to raise awareness for customers like these!
#3. Get Personal With Face-to-Face Events
In this day in age, technology is our main source of managing communications with our customers. We rely heavily on email and online chats to provide support to our customers. Let’s face it though – nothing beats a face-to-face interaction.
If you have the resources, I highly recommend trying out a live, in-person event. Recently, we teamed up with our friends over at Google and had our very first customer event, live at Google’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a huge milestone for WordStream as a company.
We took our expertise that customers know and love, and brought it from online to the big stage. Not only did customers benefit from all the great educational presentations we had lined up, but we benefited too! Listening to our customers face-to-face and getting direct feedback on our product and services was invaluable. It was also very rewarding to hear how much WordStream’s software was helping them, as small businesses, succeed at PPC.
Overall the event was great and customers had a blast. But if you’re not ready for a big event, try testing out some small local meetups.
The point I’m trying to make here is, taking the relationship to a more personal level creates this “humanized” experience with your customers. We’re people working with people, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Here are some photos from the event…
We had a little too much fun with the photo booth. :)
#4. Always Stay Top of Mind
Making a great first impression and ensuring your customers are on-boarded successfully is key, but don’t end the relationship there. You always want to stay top of mind with your customers. If not, chances are that over time they’ll become less engaged, and may ultimately phase your product and/or services out of the picture. So the question is, what should you do to stay in the picture?
Here at WordStream we’re constantly staying in touch with customers. On a monthly basis, our Customer Success team will make sure to do routine check-ins with customers. Layered on top of that we send out frequent email communications, which include:
- Monthly newsletters
- Product updates and releases
- Industry news and trends
- Performance tips and tricks
- And much more!
We also conduct monthly customer webinars with content that’s created exclusively for customers. These webinars offer the opportunity for customers to ask questions and get on-the-spot advice.
What Does it All Mean?
In summary, applying these customer marketing strategies has definitely helped boost client satisfaction here at WordStream. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Ok Chris, where’s the proof?” Well, check out our online reviews – we’ve grown from zero reviews to over 140 in only one year while maintaining a 4.5 out of 5 rating on G2Crowd.com. We were also recently named highest in customer satisfaction in our space by G2Crowd.
Obviously other factors come into play when you’re talking about customer happiness. We have an amazing Customer Success team that provides outstanding customer service, we have a product and engineering team that is always innovating to make PPC easier for businesses, and we have a rock star marketing team that helps educate both our clients and our prospective clients.
By paying attention to the little things and making sure your customers are top priority, you too can increase customer happiness.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisMcHale11.