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Customer Engagement

How Focusing on the Customer Experience Helped Sonos Fuel 300% YOY Growth

Unique customer-centric content, flexible online retail, and personalized marketing messages quickly paid off for this audio brand during COVID.

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[@SALLY ANSCOMBE/Stocksy United]

At the onset of the pandemic, Sonos, a leading audio brand, lost 90% of its business from all retail locations – their main source of revenue for nearly 20 years. And at the time, only 10% of its sales came from ecommerce. 

They were pressed to find a new way to connect with customers — one that required reimagining the customer experience (CX) to get high-quality audio into people’s homes.

Sales jumped ahead five to 10 years in a single quarter.

Patrick Spence, cEO of Sonos

To help recoup the loss from physical stores, Sonos created online experiences that were a mix of entertainment and retail, including a partnership with Disney’s hit show “The Mandalorian,” a followup series to “Star Wars.” During October, customers who purchased qualifying speaker sets from Sonos received a six-month subscription of the Disney+ streaming service.

While Sonos was dedicated to growing their direct-to-consumer (D2C) business prior to the pandemic, they spent the last two years investing in Salesforce Customer 360, an integrated CRM platform that unites every team around their customers. Putting the customer at the center of every transaction was always a long-term goal for the audio brand. “Traditionally, the retail piece has been really important in the consideration cycle for customers. We’re a sound product. Many of our customers want to see it, hear it, listen to it,” said Lindsay Whitworth, senior director of global D2C at Sonos.

With an integrated tech stack now added to their Commerce Cloud features, Sonos was able to personalize marketing efforts and launch a D2C storefront in just a few months. The result? High-performance audio products that sold online — even without a customer listening test – and sales that shot up 300% from the previous year.

Create an entertaining customer experience

The company’s customer-first approach was critical in driving significant revenue growth. To transition the retail experience online, the team produced exclusive curated radio content to make life at home more enjoyable for customers – and showcase the high-quality sound products their customers (and audiophiles) enjoy.

“From the beginning, we wanted Sonos Radio to be a way for listeners to explore not just music culture, but radio culture, too,” said Joe Dawson, head of Sonos Radio. The brand also launched travel abroad exclusive radio stations; a series of six international channels curated by local residents to provide unique audio experiences that compliment Sonos hardware.

This content proved effective as a way to make the brand relevant to a growing (and captive) audience seeking new experiences at home while nurturing existing customers with unique content.

D2C that puts the customer first

In a recent conversation with Patrick Spence, chief executive officer of Sonos, he shared that sales jumped ahead five to 10 years in a single quarter. He admits that his team was shocked to see the number of customers coming to and purchasing without having heard or seen their products. “It was surprising to see our customers shift quite quickly and comfortably to buying our products online,” said Spence.

Additionally, Sonos updated their supply chain process with options such as instant fulfillment and automated delivery updates. This allowed them to meet the changing demands of customers in a new all-virtual world.

The company also made data-backed decisions about new product launches, like the Sonos Arc, a premium cinema-quality audio experience, which rolled out in May. This product was a direct response to proprietary research which showed that everyday listeners prefer the same speaker quality as professionals in the audio industry. Unsurprisingly, sales of this new tier of home audio have been good.

Personalized messaging for customer-centric engagement

To deepen the CX even further, Sonos personalized their marketing stories based on customer listening data. Behavioral data captured and analyzed in Marketing Cloud – for example, the type of music that customers like most – helped them launch personalized marketing campaigns across owned and paid channels. This enabled them to retarget customers with blogs such as seasonal product stories and cart abandonment emails to drive traffic back to their online store.

By keeping customers top of mind, Sonos shows us that the success of your business depends on your ability to create new customer experiences that build meaningful relationships through digital interactions. Creative thinking and an integrated tech stack can quickly yield results – and keep your customers engaged.

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