The Big Debate: Who Should Own Customer Marketing?

By September 3, 2020Blog

Customer marketingMarketing should own customer marketing, right?

“Marketing” is literally in the title, after all. No contest!

But wait. What about the “customer” part? Should Customer Success own it?

Depending on who you ask, you may get contention.

Customer Marketing = Advocacy

To some, customer marketing refers to advocacy activities like:

  • Getting references
  • Securing testimonials
  • Managing case studies
  • Encouraging product review submissions

In a nutshell, some companies believe it’s customer marketing’s responsibility to engage advocates. After all, customers can be your best hidden sales team!

Customer Marketing = Expansion

Others may interpret customer marketing as an operation focused on maximizing account expansion and upsell opportunities.

Treating customers similarly to top-of-funnel prospects and upsetting them is a huge undertaking.

This type of customer marketing requires dedicated resources to help formulate messaging and strategy, create campaigns, and manage communications.

Who’s the Boss?

Marketing? Perhaps the most obvious candidate is the Marketing department.

Marketing departments tend to have access to the budgets, tools, resources, and expertise required to execute on these multifaceted strategies.

Plus, economies of scale come into play. Marketing can leverage existing collateral and communications. With a little tweaking, this team can make those same campaigns relevant. 

Customer Success? That said, the Customer Success organization is another potential “home” for your customer marketing team.

Since this team is the closest customer contact point, CS pros will likely have the best view into which customers are good upsell candidates and what the best timing is for customer communications.

Customer Success is on the front lines, after all. CS employees as a result will have a unique input on messaging and strategy.

What’s the verdict?

The customer marketing function is complex, so there are a few aspects of this question that folks can agree on.

Adam WaidIn a recent UserIQ webinar about customer marketing, Adam Waid, VP of Global Customer Success for SalesLoft, described his experience with ownership of this crucial function.

Waid says it doesn’t necessarily matter if customer marketing lives under marketing or CS, but ultimately the function deserves a strong and well-funded home within any organization. 

“I’ve had it both ways in organizations where customer marketing has reported into me as a success leader or it’s reported into the marketing leader, and there are pros and cons to each,” Waid says.

“For me personally, because I have such a passion for marketing, I want control over what’s going on with the messaging, the funding, the budget, the focus areas, all of that. But not every CS leader has a marketing background so if you don’t have the experience there, you need to let them be under the team that has that experience.”

Kyle Lacy Kyle Lacy, CMO at Lessonly, says,

“I think that CS, customer marketing, Sales and Marketing should all live under a revenue function to begin with. So honestly, I don’t really care where customer marketing lives. I do care that there’s a revenue focus across all of these teams.”

Since every company structures itself differently, what really matters is that customer marketing is a strategic, well-aligned, and data-driven operation.

Find the home that works best for your customer marketing function. Just ensure the team is in lock step with Customer Success and Marketing to execute the strategy.

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