A new report has found that business-to-business (B2B) customer marketing is on the rise and attracting more executive attention.

The majority of B2B executives plan to increase investment in customer marketing in 2017 to improve customer experiences, and to retain and grow accounts, according to Toronto-based advocacy marketing platform developer Influitive Inc.’s 2017 State of Customer Marketing report.

Conducted on Influitive’s behalf by San Francisco, Calif.-based customer marketing advisory firm Koyne Marketing, the report surveyed more than 200 CEOs, heads of marketing and customer success leaders, primarily from B2B companies.

It found that 93 per cent of businesses “expect that their customer marketing efforts will take on greater importance,” and that 62 per cent “will increase their staff or budgets in the area in 2017.”

Less than half of the respondents surveyed said their customer marketing efforts were tied directly to revenue metrics – including cross sells, upsells, and account renewals – and Koyne predicts this could lead to a stronger connection with revenue going forward.

Influitive founder and CEO Mark Organ expressed excitement over the expected increase in customer marketing, but adds that he is not surprised more companies need to realize the revenue potential.

“Customer marketing as a function is professionalizing, adopting new ideas, people, strategies, processes and technologies. I have seen this same trend firsthand with the demand generation function a decade ago, and believe customer marketing is similarly transforming into an area of vital importance,” he explained in a Jan. 10 press release.

The report also identified what businesses consider the three main skills that are vital to the success of current customer marketing efforts: relationship building, communication, and customer service.

However, respondents were clear they know that more must be done. Only 61 per cent reported being satisfied with the results of their current customer marketing efforts, highlighting a significant opportunity for growth in the customer marketing arena.

“The skills required from customer marketers are more akin to what’s traditionally needed from a star sales representative,” said Steve Gershik, CEO of Koyne Marketing. “Today’s customer is looking for far more than just a transaction with a brand. So, modern marketing organizations need to hire customer marketers who can focus on deep, authentic relationship building.”

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