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B2B companies are relying more on customer references and testimonials than on any other type of customer marketing activity, details a report [download page] from Influitive and Koyne Marketing. Based on a survey of 202 respondents, largely from B2B (77%) and hybrid B2B and B2C (16%) companies, the study indicates that this is the only activity with majority (62%) adoption.

Following references and testimonials are customer user groups/events (45%) and newsletters (41%) in the adoption rankings, per the report, while a group of activities sit at slightly more than one-third adoption:

  • Advocate marketing (37%);
  • Online customer community (37%);
  • Customer satisfaction/NPS (37%);
  • Cross sell/upsell campaigns (37%); and
  • Referral programs (36%).

Customer marketing is defined by Influitive as being “built around activities designed to drive retention, loyalty, advocacy, growth and community participation for current customers. The strategy, which is different from marketing with the goal of acquiring new customers, relies heavily on maximizing strong customer relationships.”

To measure the effectiveness of those efforts, respondents are most commonly turning to upsell or cross sell revenue, renewal rate or churn, and customer satisfaction metrics. However, relatively few are using these metrics, and the analysts point out that even lesser-used metrics such as customer influence revenue (via referral) and the number of customer-focused marketing campaigns should perhaps figure more prominently.

Of note is that a sizable 27% of the respondents don’t even track revenue from customer marketing.

There appear to be some large gaps in customer marketing usage and effectiveness when sorting by company size. For example, large companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenues were far more likely than small companies with less than $25 million to report that customer marketing has a moderate to high impact on their revenues (71% and 44%, respectively). Additionally, while almost one-fifth (18%) of the sample reported not having a customer satisfaction program, those companies were exclusively small companies, whereas most large companies have had such a program for more than 5 years. (It should be noted that segregating the results in this way resulted in small sample sizes, particularly for respondents from large companies.)

Nevertheless, such discrepancies can likely be traced to the importance placed by these companies on customer marketing. For example, while 55% of small companies consider these activities to be very important, that figure jumps to 86% among large companies.

Overall, about two-thirds (66%) feel that customer marketing will be very important in the future, and more than 6 in 10 will increase their investments in customer marketing by boosting budgets, staff or other resources.

Finally, the study reveals that skills that respondents believe are most important to successful customer marketing. Of the 9 identified, the top 3 were: relationship building; communication; and customer service. The analysts argue that the bottom-placed skill, event planning, should probably figure higher, given that customer groups and events ranked as the second-most used customer marketing activity.

The full report can be downloaded here [download page].

About the Data: The customer marketing benchmark survey was administered online between August 10 – September 17, 2016. During that period, 247 responses were collected, 202 of which were complete enough for inclusion in the analysis. The data was analyzed using SPSS to ensure the statistical validity of the findings.

Some 59% of respondents come from companies with up to $25 million in annual revenues, while 10% had revenues greater than $1 billion. More than three-quarters (77%) hail from B2B companies, while 7% are from B2C companies and 16% from companies that target both B2B and B2C.

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