Move over, sales leads: customer engagement, retention and advocacy are the new critical contributors impacting revenue, according to benchmark research from Influitive and Demand Metric which has identified five major trends that are set to govern the future of customer marketing. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Traditionally, customer marketing has been an under-funded, under-valued and under-appreciated function on the marketing team, especially compared to its counterparts such as demand generation and content marketing. Today, however, new benchmark research released by Influitive, the advocate marketing experts, reveals that customer marketing is becoming increasingly important.

The study, entitled 'Move Over Leads', developed in conjunction with global marketing research and advisory firm Demand Metric, identifies five big trends for the future of customer marketing and how it can help generate scalable, repeatable revenue from existing customers:

  1. Customer marketing is on the rise
    Formerly something of a "backwater" of the marketing organisation, customer marketing is on the rise: 84% of the participants in this study say customer marketing will become more important over the next year, and 69% plan to increase their investment in customer marketing staff, budget or other resources.
  2. Customer marketing is key to achieving revenue goals
    Almost every organisation in this study affirmed the importance of customer marketing as a strategy for achieving revenue goals, even though just half were satisfied or very satisfied with the results of their current efforts.
  3. Not all customer marketing efforts are equally effective
    Although more organisations report using tactics such as customer events, reference programmes and communities, those that emphasize customer satisfaction programmes, customer referral programmes and renewal campaigns - the three least frequently used activities by the full survey sample - are actually realising a greater revenue impact from their efforts.
  4. Customer marketing success means greater satisfaction
    Those companies whose customer marketing efforts result in moderate to significant revenue impact are almost twice as likely to report customer satisfaction at the highest level. In contrast, those companies whose Customer Marketing efforts produce no or minor revenue impact are more than twice as likely to report customer satisfaction at neutral or worse.
  5. Combining it with a customer advocacy programme
    Demand Metrics' chief analyst Jerry Rackley recommends creating a customer advocacy programme built around the customer marketing activities that generate the greatest revenue impact, namely customer satisfaction and referral programmes, and ongoing engagement to ensure renewals.

"We know from this study that most organisations feel that Customer Marketing is an important strategy for achieving revenue goals," concluded Rackley. "However, just under half are satisfied or very satisfied with the results of their current efforts. There is plenty of room for improvement, and the study provides compelling reasons for investing in making customer marketing perform better. The value of this benchmark study is that it identifies some best practices that will help organisations get a real revenue impact from their Customer Marketing efforts."