Customer-Centric Marketing is Critical: Email is the First Step


As marketing leaders, many of us place high value on our organization’s ability to deliver personalized and contextually relevant customer experiences—in email and other marketing channels. But as Gartner recently pointed out (and many of us are experiencing firsthand!), the  senior marketing leadership role has evolved.

We’re now architects of the customer experience, and tasked with nurturing those relationships. We have to know what the customer wants and be equipped to give them a consistent and personalized experience—every time they interact with our organization. When their needs, wants, or the competitive landscape changes, we have to be nimble enough to respond.

I’m incredibly proud to be a marketing leader at Litmus because we have forged a strong and meaningful relationship with our customers—and the email community at large—over the years. In that spirit, I’d like to share how we’ve applied a customer-centric focus throughout our organization—fueled by our marketing program.

Personalized experiences don’t end in marketing channels

When we surveyed marketers for our 2021 State of Email report, 55% were making personalization a priority in their email program; 35% were focused on enriching their customer profiles in order to do that.

Email is one of the rare channels marketers can (and should) use to form a direct customer connection. It provides access to first-party data and engagement signals that tell you exactly what your audience cares about.

Email is the first place we see if an audience is engaging.

Through our Litmus email program, we recognized trends that concerned the email community—from Dark Mode to bulletproof buttons to Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)––before they were mainstream.

We applied this insight to produce timely, relevant, and valuable content for our audience, across all channels. We collaborated with our product engineering teams, customer support, and sales teams to make sure we were equipped across our organization to help our audience navigate these topics.

How we addressed them in each channel was very different, but we knew what mattered to our audience because we saw the early indicators in our own email program.

Retention is key to revenue

Marketing’s role has evolved into one that has to address the prospect journey and the full customer acquisition, retention, and expansion life cycle. That requires a continual feedback loop with other teams whose work impacts the prospect and customer experience. It sounds complicated, but simple information exchanges can have a major impact.

To retain customers, we know it’s critical to learn (clearly and quickly) which pain points our staff is talking with customers about, and the nature of them. We hold a simple quarterly meeting with our customer support and marketing groups to stay informed about customer experience, from the very people who solve customer problems every day.

With that view of the customer experience, our marketing team can identify how to help customers avoid confusion entirely, and scale processes to make them more repeatable and effective.

The voice of the customer is everywhere (if you listen)

Many organizations focus so much on prospects that they know more about them than customers. But there is so much customers will share if you ask—especially when they are early in their journey with your business.

In email, preference centers can be a way to gain that information. It’s a snapshot into what your customer is interested in at a given moment—straight from them. It may not feel like a formal “voice of the customer” exploration, but it’s valuable insight.

For Litmus Live 2022, we’ve applied the voice of the customer to bring what we hope will be a more inclusive and beneficial email conference for all. This once in-person experience went virtual last year due to the pandemic. This year, participants told us they wanted a virtual experience again—and we have a global audience we’d like to include. So, Litmus Live 2022 will be both fully virtual and budget-friendly.

When we start to focus on next year’s event, we’ll check in to see what our audience wants at that time. (Which could mean a virtual, hybrid, or fully in-person event!) Regardless, we’ll involve the voice of our community to help us decide the best approach.

The role of the marketing leader might be getting more challenging, but you don’t have to be equipped with state of the art research or a massive budget to adopt a customer-centric marketing strategy. It really can be as simple as using the customer insights you already have through your email program and other sources—and getting creative with how to make them actionable.


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