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Customer lifetime value emerges as top KPI

According to the experts at Marketo, marketers can expect to see a significant shift in marketing priorities over the next couple of years. The marketing automation company surveyed over 700 marketing execs and CEOs for their views on how marketing KPIs, required skillsets and technology tools will change by the year 2025. The surveyed marketers ranked customer retention, lead generation and customer lifetime value as their top three KPIs today (in that order). By 2025, they forecast that the order will switch, with customer lifetime value taking the lead at spot number one, followed by customer retention at number two (and lead generation will drop down to spot number six.)

The skillsets and technology tools that marketers need will make a major shift too. The respondents stated that they believe machine learning, sophisticated analytics, and neuromarketing will be the top skills that marketers need by 2025. They expect that many of the tools and tactics that marketers depend on today, like digital media marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, will significantly decrease in importance, as will pipeline generation and lead generation.

Customer reference marketing stands out as one of the best ways to boost both customer lifetime value and customer retention

As marketing priorities and KPIs shift, customer reference marketing stands out as one of the best ways to boost both customer lifetime value and customer retention. There are plenty of reasons for this. First and foremost, a customer reference program not only builds good rapport with the spotlighted customer, it also persuades new prospects to buy.

Many believe the primary purpose of a customer reference program (CRP), also known as reference marketing, is to strengthen a businesses’ bond with the spotlighted customer. Undoubtedly, CRPs improve a customer’s relationship with the sponsoring company by associating their name with the winning use of a product or service in exchange for wide publicity. Customers love seeing their name in print. It enhances their emotional attachment to the brand and company behind it. This is especially true when the story is prepared in objective, reportorial style in print, video, trade press editorials, social media campaigns or promotional HTML e-mails.

Can reference marketing also persuade prospects to seriously consider purchasing one particular brand over another?

The answer is yes. Today’s prospects do a lot of research on their own, before contacting a sales rep. Reference stories are one of the most popular types of content that they review. What is most valuable for them is when they can find a reference story to match their own situation, whether it’s an organization facing a similar challenge, the same type of company, or working with the same level of budget.

A lesser-known benefit of participating in a customer reference story is the chance it gives customers to enhance their non-purchase value by strengthening their emotional attachment to the brand and organization behind it. One way of reinforcing this attachment is to give customers other roles that enhance their non-purchase value – such as being a brand ambassador, or speaking at an event about their experience with your solution.

This benefit is often overlooked when determining the lifetime worth of a sale due to the challenge of accurately measuring the customer’s reference value. One way to better quantify this aspect is encourage customers to ascend various rungs of the loyalty ladder and turn them from commodity buyer to valued partner by being a product endorser.

Voice of Customer sessions, a respectful, professional way to show customers that you truly value their perspectives.

Another way to strengthen customer relationships (and gain valuable insights at the same time) is to hold a Voice of Customer session. Voice of Customer sessions offer a formal, structured way to capture the opinions, perceptions and suggestions of your audiences, and include in-depth analysis and recommendations based on the results.

These aren’t quick phone calls that annoy the caller on the other end of the line. Instead, these are scheduled, one-on-one interviews, with trained interviewers who take your targets through a list of carefully-crafted questions, documenting replies and probing for wider insights. They also offer a respectful, professional way to show customers that you truly value their perspectives.

Voice of Customer sessions can provide all kinds of information. They can be used to learn more about customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and retention, or even to find out the reasons why customers have left your company. They can be small or large, providing data and analysis to power a product launch for example, or background to support a local email campaign.

Download our whitepaper, “Guidelines for a winning customer reference strategy".
whitepaper winning customer reference program

Want to learn more about customer reference marketing, or the benefits of holding Voice of Customer sessions? Download our whitepaper, “Guidelines for a winning customer reference strategy", or read more about customer listening in our blogpost on “Voice of Customer” sessions as a way to uncover deep insights about your target groups. Or contact Anne-Mie, by email at, or call at +32 (0)55 59 10 01, to talk about your B2B marketing goals.

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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