In the B2B space, best-in-class customer success departments have always been focused on the account rather than than individual. Now that account-based marketing (ABM) is becoming the new normal, marketing departments are finally catching up.
No matter what you call it — account-based marketing, account-based everything, account-based engagement, and so on — the focus remains the same. B2B companies need to rally their entire sales, marketing, and customer success teams to turn best-fit accounts into brand advocates.
So, how can account-based marketing help drive customer success?
Customer Success vs. Customer Marketing
First, let’s answer an important question: what’s the difference between customer marketing and customer success?
As the name suggests, customer marketing as a function handles all marketing initiatives involving customers. This includes everything from creating case studies to launching upsell campaigns to communicating new product features to current customers.
Customer success, on the other hand, is the department (and the mindset!) that’s responsible for helping your customers be successful with your solution.
As you might guess, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the two, which is why it’s so important for your marketing and customer success teams to work in tandem. In this post, we’re going to focus on that sweet spot where customer success and account-based marketing intersect.
How Terminus Takes an Account-Based Approach to Customer Success
When the Terminus platform launched in 2015, one of the first positions we hired for was Customer Success Manager (CSM). There’s no way to be successful if your customers aren’t successful, so we’ve been dedicated to the customer experience from the beginning.
Two years and hundreds of customers later, our customer success team has grown to fifteen full-time employees. We also hired a dedicated Customer Marketing Manager at the end of 2016 whose job it is to align our marketing and CS teams around the customer experience.
Terminus is an account-based marketing platform, so it’s no surprise that ABM plays a role in everything we do. Read on to learn three ways we use account-based marketing principles to turn our customers into successful Terminus users and brand champions.
1. Customer Onboarding
Until recently, our customer onboarding program was run exclusively by our customer success team. They’re very hands-on, and they onboard new customers through a series of phone calls and emails.
One of our marketing initiatives is continuously leveling up the onboarding process and fill our CSMs’ toolboxes with everything they need to help our customers be successful with Terminus right off the bat.
To do this, we’ve created customizable presentations for our CSMs to personalize to each of their customer accounts, along with two cornerstone pieces of content for new customers: “How to Get Started with Terminus” and “How to Measure Success with Terminus.”
Now, our onboarding process looks like this for each new account:
- Welcome Call + Direct Mail – When the deal is done, new customers receive a welcome email from their Account Executive that introduces them to their CSM. Their CSM schedules a welcome call and sends them a goodie bag of Terminus swag.
- Educational Content – After the welcome call, the customer receives an email from their CSM featuring key content they can use to get started with Terminus. This includes collateral created by marketing, such as our guide to getting started with the Terminus platform, the ABM Framework, and other key resources.
- Campaign Launch Call – Next comes the campaign launch call, in which the client’s CSM helps them set up and launch their first account-based marketing campaign with Terminus. Typically two weeks after the campaign launches, the customers have a follow-up call with their CSM to discuss progress and optimize their campaign. On this call, they’ll set up a cadence of future calls, usually biweekly depending on the clients’ needs.
Our onboarding process is still mostly manual, but we are in the process of using ChurnZero to create an onboarding email nurture series that will complement the existing phone calls and other personal touchpoints our CSMs have with customers.
The onboarding series will feature the most important content we feel customers need to consume in order to get ramped up as quickly as possible with Terminus. This email series will provide value to our customers and allow our CSMs to put an even greater focus on helping our customers one-on-one.
Once we have our automated onboarding nurture in place, we’ll be able to begin tracking the success of our onboarding efforts. Using ChurnZero, we will be able to measure how those efforts are positively impacting engagement with the Terminus platform.
2. Product Adoption
While our sales process always involves multiple decision-makers, we found that sometimes we only have one end-user of Terminus at our customer accounts. In the past, this has presented some challenges when our point of contact has changed roles or left the company, forcing us to (literally or figuratively) resell our product all over again. As you can imagine, this can put the progress customers have made with our product on hold as the new point of contact gets up-to-speed.
To solve this problem, we’re working on increasing product adoption among our customers and ensuring we have multiple advocates at each account. We’re doing this in a few different ways.
First, we’re focusing on providing our customers with exclusive content they can put to use immediately. In 2017, we’ve been scaling our customer webinar program to a monthly cadence. These webinars dive into pain points our customer face and areas of opportunity to get more out of Terminus. In them, we incorporate both strategic and tactical guidance to engage a wider audience of account-based marketing practitioners within our customers’ organizations.
We’ve also started tracking our Net Promoter Score to measure how willing customers are to recommend Terminus to their colleagues. We started measuring our NPS in late 2016, and now we’re working to optimize the process using ChurnZero to get more participation among our customers.
If we’re successful with our adoption efforts and our customer marketing efforts as a whole, we should see both our NPS and the number of promoters increase over time.
Finally, we’re beginning to leverage ChurnZero to increase adoption by identifying clients that haven’t logged into the Terminus platform in recently. The next step will be to tailor our messages even more to our customers’ activity within Terminus.
For example, if someone hasn’t logged into the platform in 30 days but has a campaign running, we’ll send them a message encouraging them to log in and view their campaign results. If a customer account has only run one campaign in five months, we’ll send them a message encouraging them to launch another type of campaign.
3. Air Cover
Finally, we need to make sure we’re consistently engaging with multiple stakeholders at all our customer accounts. We do this by sending out a customer newsletter full of useful content, upcoming events and webinars, and product updates. A lot of this content is exclusive to our customers and can’t be found anywhere else, which is a great way to engage our customers on a weekly basis. Not only that, but we can see which content and topics are resonating with our customers and identify potential pain points, both at an aggregate level and the account level.
Perhaps most impactful way we provide air cover is our customer conference. Last December’s conference, Terminus Untapped, was the first of many to come. Customers came to Atlanta from around the country to learn from one another and from industry experts during the one-day event. Untapped was an awesome way for us to interact with our customers, share the visions for Terminus, get their feedback, and above all, thank them for being partners.
Using Account-Based Metrics to Track Customer Success
As with anything else in business, we need to measure results and prove that our customer-focused efforts are making a difference.
Once our customer marketing program is more mature and we start seeing definitive results, we’ll use account-based customer success metrics — like expanded reach within accounts, higher product adoption, increased referrals, and increased customer satisfaction — to report on our success.
To learn more about the role account-based marketing plays in customer success, download the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing now. This 62-page e-book will help you understand the fundamentals of ABM and map out your strategy with the help of checklists, worksheets, and how-to advice.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from Shauna Ward. Shauna is a Content Specialist at Terminus: Account-Based Marketing. She believes in the power of storytelling to amplify the voices of impactful brands and nonprofits through writing, digital marketing, and advocacy. Shauna also works as a fiction editor for independent authors and is a vocal defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her on Twitter at @wardshn and connect with her on LinkedIn.