(Mostly Free) Marketing Strategies That Will Produce ROI in 2023

With a tech industry slowdown underway, marketers are under pressure to demonstrate that their tactics lead to revenue and profitable growth.

Even in the best of times, savvy CMOs are diligent about understanding and optimizing the return on investment (ROI) from their team’s efforts. With a tech industry slowdown underway, marketers are under even more pressure to demonstrate that their tactics lead to revenue and profitable growth.

At the same time, with tightening budgets, customers are now weighing the value they receive from you and comparing you to alternatives – whether they are brand-new or long-time customers. Particularly now, customers want their vendors to understand their needs and demonstrate empathy for their current situation, especially after the recent few challenging, unusual years. They want vendors to be partners and not just tool providers that come around when it’s time to renew. During economic downturns, vendors must focus on retaining customers from day one.

Retention, renewal, and delivering exceptional customer experiences are rarely perceived as the core job of the CMO and the Marketing department – these are typically the purview of Customer Support/Success, Account Management, or Renewals. However, Marketing can, in fact, make a strong impact in the area of customer retention – amplifying what the other departments are doing while drawing on less budget than most other marketing tactics.

A few marketing tactics will deliver strong ROI for teams willing to invest the necessary time and energy. Here are some suggestions:

Nurture your Customers

Marketers continuously need to be reminded not to take customers for granted. Assuming your customers will stick with you while you focus efforts elsewhere, such as going after new business, is dangerous thinking. Particularly in the current climate, your existing customers are not guaranteed to maintain their budget to remain onboard.

How do you nurture your customers in 2023?

      • Understanding and conveying value: Through interviews, surveys, existing relationships, and analytics develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and challenges. Gain visibility into the biggest problems they are trying to solve so you can help tie what they purchased from you to their top challenges. Help them understand and articulate the ROI in a way they may not have previously, and use this knowledge to create new content and messaging.
      • Provide visibility: Our customers love to be the first to know, and friendly, proactive communication goes a long way. Keep them abreast of what new products and features are coming and recent enhancements they may have missed. Provide easy access to strong technical content, tips and tricks, and education for customers to make the most of their purchases.
      • Foster 2-way communication: Pay attention to your communities, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and other places to uncover the conversations happening around your products. Proactively seek customer feedback and organize your company’s technical resources to answer questions and concerns through community channels.

Help Customers Understand Your Value and ROI

Now is the time to turn the volume up on demand for your products, even if customer budgets are getting cut. Offer “freemiums” and generous trial periods if prospective users do not have the budget now. This gives potential customers first-hand experience in the value of your product and the return on investing in your offerings. If they come to rely on your product, they will become advocates for expanding use in the future.

You Are the Expert – Show It

In the interest of providing helpful visibility and insights to your customers, use your company’s engineers, product managers, marketers, and some advanced customers – they always know something helpful about your products that no one has transcribed yet. Take extra time to extract this internal knowledge to share helpful information with your customers. Determine who these “hidden” experts are and ask if they are willing to record a conversation or share a brief demo. It’s now easier than ever to capture knowledge: turn it into a webinar, podcast, blog, bylined article, media interview, or an event speaking session. Keep sharing within the communities where your customers spend time and on social media.

Convert the valuable content and expertise you gather into formal education paths to help prospects and newer customers understand and use your products and plan their next stage of efficiency, productivity, and automation. Develop content and education for your more experienced customers as well to ensure they are fully utilizing the feature set you provide. Even if they do not have the budget now, show them you are preparing them for their future once they invest in scaling your solutions.

Nurturing your customers and cementing your position as a partner of choice does not happen overnight. It takes a cross-company effort and a different marketing focus for the long haul, but you will find the ROI well worth it. 


Cynthia Gumbert is CMO at SmartBear. She has more than 20 years of software and hardware experience, having held leadership positions at Quick Base, CA Technologies, and Dell. She has repeatedly supported double- and triple-digit growth at various fast-growing technology startups.