How Organizations Are Engaging in – and Measuring – Customer Marketing

October 13, 2014

DemancMetricInfluitive-Customer-Marketing-Activities-Oct2014Customer marketing – defined as “pursuing revenue from existing customers” – is considered to be important by roughly three-quarters of respondents to a new Demand Metric survey [download page] sponsored by Influitive, and a similar share believe that customer marketing will be important in the future. The survey – fielded primarily among B2B organizations – looks at the types of customer marketing activities and metrics being used today by respondents.

The most common activity is customer and/or user group events, performed by 61% of respondents, and followed by customer reference (testimonial) programs and online customer communities (each at 54%).

While fewer use customer referral programs (46%), customer satisfaction programs (41%) and renewal campaigns (31%), the study notes wide discrepancies in use among those reporting moderate or high revenues from customer marketing (53% of the sample) and those reporting low revenues or not tracking them (47% of the sample). Specifically:

  • 57% of those reporting a greater revenue impact from customer marketing are using customer referral programs, versus 33% of those reporting no/low revenue impact;
  • Customer satisfaction programs are used by 52% and 29%, respectively; and
  • Renewal campaigns are used by 44% and 17%, respectively/

That suggests that organizations should implement these types of programs (which currently are under-utilized) to realize better performance, although correlation does not equal causation!

Turning to the most broadly used metrics, the study identifies them as:

  • Renewal rate or churn (42%);
  • Customer influenced revenue via referrals/references (42%);
  • Upsell and/or cross-sell revenue (39%);
  • Number of customer-related campaigns (37%); and
  • Satisfaction (37%).


The order of use, however, doesn’t match the ideal rankings, per respondents. For example, respondents ranked upsell or cross-sell revenue as the top metric they should be using, although it falls third on the list of those currently used. Product usage or adoption also ranks higher ideally (#5) than currently (#7), while by contrast, respondents feel that less attention should be paid to the number of customer-related campaigns than is currently the case.

The report compares some of the differences in metrics use by revenue impact of customer marketing, finding that those reporting better performance are far more likely to be measuring renewal rate of churn (59% versus 29% for the lower-revenue-impact group) and customer influenced revenue via referrals or references (53% vs. 30%).

Overall, roughly half of respondents are satisfied to some degree with the results of their customer marketing efforts, although only 7% are very satisfied. For those wanting to do better, looking at the customer marketing skills identified as most important by those seeing a good revenue impact from their efforts might be a good start.

According to those respondents, the 5 most important skills (of 10 listed) are:

  • Relationship skills;
  • Communication skills;
  • Digital marketing skills;
  • Customer service skills; and
  • Creativity.

While those top 5 are shared by respondents reporting little to no revenue impact from customer marketing, the higher-impact group place more emphasis on relationship skills and digital marketing skills.

About the Data: The Customer Marketing Benchmark Study survey was administered online during the period of August 13, 2014 through September 2, 2014. During this period, 326 responses were collected, 237 of which were complete enough for inclusion in the analysis. The data was analyzed using SPSS to ensure the statistical validity of the findings. The representativeness of these results depends on the similarity of the sample to environments in which this survey data is used for comparison or guidance.

Some 28% of respondents come from organizations with more than $100 million in annual sales, and 79% reported revenue growth in their most recent fiscal year. More than three-quarters – 77% – are mostly or entirely B2B.

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