This originally appeared in CMSWire.
By aligning product and customer success teams, B2B tech brands can grow existing revenue streams.
Loyal customers keep brands successful and growing. Every company wants to avoid churn and create brand advocates, but with competing demands, shifting buying behaviors, and macro industry factors at play, it can be hard to do so.
To understand top customer marketing challenges and how IT brands are tackling them, Alloy surveyed B2B tech professionals across the globe serving in marketing and sales functions. What they found is that brands are now looking to boost existing customer revenue through better engagement methods.
To gain a deeper understanding of the research, CMSWire spoke with Melissa Baratta, senior vice president at Alloy, to learn more about these methods, as well as the need for more aligned product and customer teams.
A New Focus on Customer Lifecycles
According to Alloy’s report, 67% of IT marketing and sales professionals say their companies placed a greater focus on serving existing customers in 2022.
Baratta pointed to a variety of factors driving companies to do so. For one, there are the fears of an upcoming recession. In a focus group conducted late last year, Alloy found that 80% of IT leaders said they expected revenue performance to remain stagnant in 2023.
“The sentiment is that [buyers] may have the budget, but it’s not going to be higher this year and even if it’s approved, they aren’t sure if they can actually spend it,” Baratta said. “So they’re being more cautious.”
In addition, record-setting investments into tech startups is leading to increased competition for customers. On the other hand, many smaller companies are being acquired or merged with others, which can prove disruptive to client bases if the brand isn’t intentional about how it communicates its new value proposition and positioning.
Buyer behavior has also changed. B2B tech buyers are far more willing to use self-service options and make purchases online than before and will easily switch if the buying experience or price point isn’t where they want it. They’re also expecting more learning opportunities around a brand’s products and services.
“There’s a lot of pain points and risks throughout that customer lifecycle, from customer satisfaction to engagement to education, and tech companies need to really address all of them,” Baratta said.
The Importance of Up- and Cross-selling
Generating strong customer engagement does more than just retain customers: it also gives brands the opportunity to expand their relationships with them. Alloy’s report found that 73% of respondents have recently increased their goal for growing existing customer revenue, while 41% have actually decreased their emphasis on net new sales.
According to Baratta, this has benefits. Although many customers now initially spend less when they first purchase from a vendor, focusing on engagement and expansion can generate additional revenue.
“If vendors shift toward customer engagement, expansion and really focus on customer lifetime value, they can grow client budgets pretty rapidly,” Baratta said.
However, traditional representative-led customer success models simply don’t cut it these days. Baratta explained that focusing on the entire customer lifecycle and trying to grow customer revenue means continuously engaging that customer.
“One individual does not have the bandwidth to carry that entire relationship, so clients will inevitably fall through the cracks,” Baratta said.
To better capture opportunities to grow existing customer revenue streams, companies need to understand there are many stakeholders involved in the process and get them all aligned. In fact, the report found that 70% of respondents thought their organization would be more successful if sales, RevOps, Marketing, CX and Customer Success were more closely aligned.
“It takes multiple teams working together to ensure customers feel engaged but also not overwhelmed,” Baratta said. “If they are getting constant touchpoints from all these different departments, it feels disparate. They need to make sure that the customers are engaged thoughtfully.”
Baratta suggested that companies start by holding regular roundtable meetings with leaders from every involved department to identify gaps and brainstorm opportunities around engagement strategies. Some companies have even evolved their customer success teams into customer growth teams, which makes collaboration easier.
Aligning on messaging is also crucial. “We have seen in the past that some companies are sending out hundreds of newsletters a month and that’s not an effective way to engage,” Baratta said. “If you get all of these departments together to map out a strategy, you can create a much better approach.”
Strategies for Engagement
When it comes to engagement strategies themselves, Baratta says the process is actually similar to the B2B buying journey, but with some tweaks. It starts with maintaining awareness even after a product is purchased.
“If your company isn’t top of mind for them, it’s easy for them to get distracted, especially as more companies go through digital transformation,” Baratta said, adding that it’s no longer just about product adoption, but consistent use.
According to Baratta, the best customer success programs build product stickiness through nurture streams, as well as ongoing user education. This can be accomplished through personalized notifications, in-product prompts or even outreach campaigns to unengaged users. To build truly loyal brand advocates, companies can also turn to online academies or certification programs, user conferences and owned communities.
Using multichannel engagement campaigns is also critical, given how much noise there is in the market. Understanding where and how customers want to interact with a brand can help companies deliver more personalized, relevant messaging.
Brands can also use these channels to gather feedback and measure sentiment. “You can also find customers that can really be advocates for your brand,” Baratta said.
Baratta emphasized the necessity of aligning teams across an organization to achieve these goals. B2B brands that can successfully do so stand to evolve traditional marketing strategies into customer-centric initiatives that generate real value.
To download the full report, “State of the Modern Customer Journey,” visit test-alloycrew.pantheonsite.io.