Relationship Marketing: At The Intersection Of Customer and Product Marketing


Relationship marketing is the umbrella that houses product marketing, customer success, and customer support – but what does it really involve? Three of Boston’s best relationship marketers came together at Drift last week to share how they’re building customer-centric marketing teams.

Meet Maureen Plowman, VP of Marketing & Customer Success at Meteorix; Sasa Zelenovic, Customer Marketing Manager at Acquia; and O’Neal Rowe, VP of Marketing at Invaluable.

maureen.jpg Sasa.jpg oneal.png

They explained how to put customers at the heart of your business and the ongoing shift from a go-to-market strategy to a go-to-customer strategy.

Successful SaaS businesses today are driven by three things: customer acquisition, customer retention, and monetization. But if we know that’s the case, why do so many companies focus so much on customer acquisition, and spend significantly less on retention and growth? Growth without retention is not growth. Enter the go-to-customer strategy.

The Go-To-Customer Strategy

Go-To-Customer Strategy is the next level of the Go-To-Market Strategy. Its success looks different for every business based on its goals.

What is the Go-To-Customer Strategy?


“Success for a marketplace business is both supply and demand” – O’Neal Rowe Tweet: “Success for a marketplace business is both supply and demand” | @Drift

In a digital marketplace, this means understanding two audiences: the buyer and the seller. At Invaluable, they created a customer research hub to share best practices for success, especially for the top sellers. On the demand side, on-site personalization and curation, alongside email marketing, brings buyers recent and relevant results to generate demand. 

How to Measure Effectiveness

We love data, so how can we leverage it? By having an obsession with retention.

Customer satisfaction, conversion rate, and net promoter score (NPS) are key indicators of customer happiness. That’s not all – referrals, logins, and action completions are also signs of success. In other cases LTV and churn, cohort analysis, revenue per customer, and email engagement KPIs are prioritized to measure customer success.

These marketers want to create superfans. Not only are they creating awareness of the product’s capabilities, they are driving adoption and referrals. The focus is enabling customers to make the most out of the product.

What They’ve Learned

Relationship marketing requires patience; it takes time to win the customer’s trust. In order to enforce that commitment to the customer, Maureen recommends gaining executive buy-in early. Leadership has to set the example to build a customer-centric company.

Sasa advices involving the rest of the marketing team because ultimately, everyone is a customer marketer.  Encourage testing to find effective communication methods.

According to O’Neal, gain inspiration from outside the industry. Don’t just watch the competitors. If there’s an effective tactic in another industry, implement and measure it.

That last point is key – measure.

The Greatest Hurdles to Relationship Marketing

“Relationship marketing is not a marketing initiative, it’s an organizational mindset” – Maureen PlowmanTweet: “Relationship marketing is not a marketing initiative, it’s an organizational mindset” - @MaureenPlowman | @Drift

Customer advocacy needs to come from the executive level. Otherwise, the company doesn’t have a unified mission.

Lack of access to customer data presents many challenges. To remedy this, hire a data analyst and use the metrics to make informed decisions. This will reduce unmerited assumptions and build for the customer.

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