Heather Watkins knows a few things about customer marketing. As Director of Customer Marketing at Optimizely, and former Director of Customer Marketing at Marketo, she’s experienced some impressive successes in the field.
While at Marketo, her team increased community participation by 130% over 12 months; increased the number of actively participating community users each month by 40%; maintained average program renewal rates of 90-95%; increased the number of reference customers by 150%; and created more than 170 new customer content pieces.
And now, she’s building her customer marketing strategy – and team – at Optimizely. In this post, Heather shares her expertise and her vision for how companies can achieve successes like these by putting together and leveraging the talents of the Ultimate Customer Marketing Dream Team.
Let’s take a look at who the members of the team are, and the roles each member plays in the customer marketing organization.
Customer Marketing Program Manager
The Customer Marketing Program Manager should be responsible for developing strategies around how to get people to use more and buy more, says Heather.
As such, the person in this role would be in charge of building out programs and campaigns to engage customers and encourage upselling through content – essentially “owning the customer calendar from a content perspective.”
Specific responsibilities may include:
- Identifying buyer personas to tailor content to the buying journey
- Driving customer nurture programs by providing relevant and personalized content in the form of webinar series, blog posts, white papers or eBooks
- Owning the email communication necessary to connect with customers and keep them engaged throughout the customer lifecycle
Programs like these can help companies answer questions such as: Can we improve product usage by providing targeted, relevant educational content to our customers? By looking at current product usage, and creating educational and how-to content around little-used product features, for example, customer marketers can determine whether or not they are making an impact.
Best candidates for this role? Those with backgrounds in demand generation who understand how to build awareness, get people interested, and convert.
According to Heather’s vision, the Community Manager would develop online and offline community building, including owning social media strategies needed to support these efforts. In short, they are the face of the organization to the customer.
Specific responsibilities for this role could include:
- Developing in-person events such as user group meetings or road shows
- Leveraging social media channels to engage with customers, create awareness, and support community efforts
- Creating a world-class online community experience that engages and delivers value to the ecosystem
- Being a voice of the customer internally
- Working with directly with product and engineering to ensure that customer’s ideas are incorporated into the product roadmap
The Community Manager can also own champion or MVP programs, suggests Heather. These programs involve taking the people who are most active in your community, such as user group leaders, conference presenters, and community product experts – your top advocates – and creating ways to help push their brand.
Some ways the Community Manager can help promote and engage top advocates include:
- Inviting them to quarterly meetings with your product team or executive staff
- Having them as guests at VIP events
- Giving them a first look at product releases before they go out, and
- Leveraging them on the tradeshow floor to talk to other prospects
“They are our best promoters,” says Heather. “Having these advocates talk on your behalf like that is extremely impactful on the business.”
Best candidates for this role? Anyone who has been active within their customer community, and who understands your product, is passionate about customers, and is somewhat technical and data-savvy. Heather adds that typically, those with a strictly technical support background are not the best fits for this role.
And, although managing sales references falls under the Advocacy Manager’s responsibilities, Heather is careful to point out that this is not a reference manager job.
“You can find a lot of reference manager jobs out there,” she said. “Typically, these roles involve one-way communication (references or case studies), but aren’t focused on building value for the customers who participate. ”
With advocacy, on the other hand, “we’re advocating on behalf of them, and they’re advocating on behalf of us,” she explained.
The Advocacy Manager should also be in charge of:
- Generating sales and marketing references
- Getting advocates to post online reviews
- Soliciting award submissions from and for advocates
- Coordinating advocate speaking and press or media opportunities
- Managing advisory councils
- Creating and managing a program that adds benefit and value to the advocates
- Managing special voice of the customer projects, such as an NPS® program, to help engage Promoters
Best candidates for this role? Those who understand both the needs of sales, as well the needs of the customer success team. Heather comments that people with backgrounds in both of these areas “are really unique and give you a great perspective as an advocacy manager.”
Partner Marketing Manager
The final member of the Customer Marketing Dream Team is one that Heather mentions is might not traditionally fall into customer marketing: the Partner Marketing Manager.
She notes that, because partners interact with customers daily, they’re one of the most active advocate segments a company can have, and they should be communicated with and engaged appropriately.
On the communications side, the Partner Marketing Manager should coordinate partner communications on a variety of fronts. This could mean providing regular product, sales and marketing updates to partners via webinars or e-mail newsletters, or providing marketing support and encouraging partner collaboration via a self-service partner portal.
This person would also be responsible for communicating partner messaging around integrations and other services to end users, as well as motivating partners to get certifications or complete other company-sponsored programs designed to enhance added value.
Best candidates for this role? People with backgrounds in sales and product marketing typically do well in this type of role, as they understand what partners in a selling capacity need, and have the product knowledge necessary to communicate how partner services can add further value for customers.
Tying it all together
Heather’s overall vision for customer marketing is to build a movement that makes customers feel successful – like they are part of something larger than themselves – and propels their careers forward.
Heather notes that each of the Dream Team positions makes up a critical piece of the customer marketing puzzle, but in the end, “Everybody cares about the customer and wants to give them the best experience.”
What does your Customer Marketing Dream Team look like? Share your ideas in the comments below.