Happy Customers Are the Biggest Marketing Opportunity of 2023

As marketers, we pour our hearts into our work. We obsess over the perfect headline, rack our brains for attention-grabbing visuals, and spend hours polishing every piece of copy. It‘s this dedication that drives leads, grows funnels, and convinces prospects to become customers.

But while marketing has grown increasingly sophisticated, a single factor has quietly become more influential than even the most brilliant campaign: The voice of your customer.

In an age of unprecedented choice and near-perfect information symmetry, what your customers say about you matters more than what you say about yourself. The hard truth great marketers must face is this: No matter how much effort goes into building and refining your marketing strategy, something else will always have a bigger impact on buyers.

And that something is customer experience.

The State of Customer Experience in 2023

Today‘s consumers are savvier and more empowered than ever before. They have seemingly endless options at their fingertips, and unprecedented visibility into the companies they choose to engage with. The balance of power in the buyer-seller relationship has shifted firmly to the buyer.

Consider these eye-opening statistics:

  • 93% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase (Qualtrics XM Institute, 2022)
  • 79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family (BrightLocal, 2023)
  • A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue (Harvard Business Review, 2022)
  • 83% of consumers say they would recommend a company they trust to others (Salesforce, 2023)
  • 96% say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand (Microsoft, 2022)

In other words, in the eyes of your potential customers, what others have to say about their experience with you carries far more weight than even your best marketing copy. Your most powerful marketing asset isn‘t your finely tuned messaging or your cutting-edge creativity – it‘s the quality of your customer experience.

And the data proves it out: Reputation monitoring firm Podium found that 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. What‘s more, they found that the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.

As Podium‘s CEO Eric Rea puts it, "In today‘s feedback economy, the voice of the consumer has never been louder. Online reviews act as a powerful trust signal and social proof for consumers considering a new product or service provider."

Happy Customers: Your Secret Marketing Weapon

The good news is, if you can consistently deliver exceptional experiences that create happy customers, you‘ll unlock benefits that extend far beyond a few positive reviews. Satisfied buyers turn into repeat customers, voluntary brand advocates, and a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals that function as a powerful extension of your marketing efforts.

The value of a happy customer base can‘t be overstated:

  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. (Bain & Company)
  • 64% of consumers make a purchase after viewing a branded social video. (tubularinsights)
  • 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. (Neilsen)

Happy customers are the gift that keeps on giving. They not only expand your reach and credibility through social proof, they also directly impact your bottom line by purchasing more frequently and spending more over their lifetime.

As the old adage goes, it costs 5x more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Investing in making your current customers successful isn‘t just good for your reputation – it‘s good for your ROI.

So how can marketers harness the power of happy customers? Here are four strategies to get started:

1. Make Customer-Centricity an Organization-Wide Priority

Delivering consistently exceptional customer experiences that produce raving fans is not a task that marketers can tackle alone. It requires a complete organizational commitment to putting the customer at the center of everything you do.

Every single team, from product development to sales to customer service, must be fully aligned around the goal of customer success. Marketing can certainly be the catalyst and voice for the customer internally, but a truly customer-obsessed culture must permeate the entire company.

As Jeanne Bliss, a pioneering Chief Customer Officer and author of "Would You Do That To Your Mother?" explains, "Beloved companies decide to think about their business through the lens of the customer. They take the time to understand their customers‘ lives and design experiences that logically connect and make sense."

To create this level of alignment, consider the following:

  • Appoint a C-level customer champion, such as a Chief Customer Officer, to oversee the end-to-end customer experience
  • Develop a clear customer experience vision that articulates your ideal customer outcome and experience
  • Set customer-centric goals and KPIs for every department, not just customer-facing teams
  • Share customer feedback and insights widely and regularly across the organization
  • Celebrate and reward employees who go above and beyond for customers

When everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the front lines, is rowing in the same customer-focused direction, the results can be transformational.

2. Proactively Capture and Promote Customer Feedback

To leverage the power of happy customers, you first need a systematic way to identify them. This means proactively soliciting feedback at key touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

Some effective methods for gathering customer insights include:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to gauge overall customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend

  • Post-purchase surveys to assess satisfaction with a specific product or interaction

  • Customer interviews to uncover deep insights and potential testimonial candidates

  • User testing and focus groups to gather real-time feedback on new offerings

  • Social media monitoring to track organic brand sentiment and engagement

The key is to make providing feedback as easy and frictionless as possible for your customers. Use simple, concise surveys that can be completed in a minute or two. Offer incentives for participation, such as discounts or exclusive content. And be sure to close the loop by thanking customers for their input and outlining how you plan to act on it.

As you gather this valuable feedback, pay special attention to identifying your happiest, most enthusiastic customers. These are the ones who can become potent advocates and ambassadors for your brand.

3. Amplify the Voice of Your Best Customers

Armed with a roster of your most delighted customers, you can begin activating them as an extension of your marketing. Here are a few ways to showcase your customer advocates:

  • Case studies and success stories: In-depth explorations of how a customer achieved success with your product or service. These can take the form of blog posts, videos, webinars, or downloadable PDFs.
  • Customer testimonials: Brief quotes or videos from satisfied customers endorsing your brand. These can be featured on your website, landing pages, social media, or sales collateral.
  • User-generated content: Empower customers to share their own stories, images, or videos featuring your product or brand hashtag. Curate and promote the best submissions across your marketing channels.
  • Online reviews: Proactively ask happy customers to leave reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, G2 Crowd, or industry-specific review platforms. Monitor your reviews and publicly respond to both positive and negative feedback.
  • Referral programs: Encourage satisfied customers to refer their friends and colleagues with incentives like discounts, exclusive perks, or charitable donations in their name.

The most effective customer advocacy programs make participation as easy as possible. For example, you could:

  • Send a pre-written testimonial for the customer to approve with one click
  • Provide a simple form or survey for customers to submit their success story
  • Offer a "share now" button in your post-purchase emails or newsletters
  • Create ready-made social posts featuring your product that customers can instantly share

By removing friction from the process, you can dramatically increase the number of customers who are willing to go to bat for your brand.

4. Let the Customer‘s Voice Guide Your Messaging

As you collect more and more customer feedback and stories, you‘ll begin to notice trends and patterns in how your best customers describe their experience with your brand. These organic soundbites are marketing gold – they provide invaluable insight into the real-world language your customers use and the benefits they care about most.

Use these insights to infuse your marketing copy with the voice of your customer. For example:

  • Echo the exact words and phrases your happiest customers use to describe your product or service
  • Lead with the outcomes or transformations your customers care about most
  • Validate key marketing messages by backing them up with customer quotes or stories
  • Prioritize the features and benefits your customers rave about most frequently

By mirroring your customer‘s voice, you can craft marketing messages that instantly resonate and build trust. After all, your prospects are much more likely to believe a fellow consumer than a brand spokesperson.

You can even take this a step further by involving your best customers directly in your marketing processes. For example:

  • Invite your most insightful customers to participate in beta tests or focus groups for new products
  • Give trusted customers a sneak peek at new ad creative and gather their reactions
  • Ask long-time customers to join your customer advisory board to guide your product roadmap

When you put your customers at the heart of everything you do, you can be confident you‘re moving in the right direction.

Doing Right By Your Customer is Always Good Marketing

In business, as in life, actions speak louder than words. How you treat your customers – the experiences you provide, the relationships you nurture, the promises you keep – will always have a greater impact than your most eloquent marketing message.

By committing to customer success as your north star, empowering your biggest fans to tell their stories, and allowing the voice of your customer to guide your efforts, you can unleash a virtuous cycle of growth. Happy customers beget more happy customers, who in turn bring more business and prosperity.

So to all the marketers out there pouring their hearts into their work: keep crafting those brilliant campaigns. But never forget that your most powerful marketing asset is, and always will be, a satisfied customer.