The best of the internet this month – March 2016

This is where I share my favourite customer marketing related posts, resources and tools I have discovered in the past month.

Not all of the content was written this month, but it is when I came across it and I think you’ll find it interesting/useful too.

This month’s reading

To show respect for your customer’s time (and increase performance), every email you send needs to be as relevant, important, and valuable as possible. Active Campaign has put together a list of 25 emails that target each stage of the customer lifecycle.

You need to bring more to the table than a good product or a good deal. You need to persuade people to come and stay at your table in the first place. Here are customer.io’s collection of 5 motivational principles to help make you a powerful communicator, no matter what message you’re trying to get across.

The most powerful aspect of cohort analysis is that you’ll not only see that customers leave and when they leave, but you can start to understand why your customers leave your app—so that you can fix it. Why you need cohorts to improve your retention.

There’s a way for you to make finding the right content to resonate with your audience easier; ask your shoppers to create content. Check out Shopify’s 4 tactics to drive traffic and sales with user-generated content.

Email subject lines are our first (and sometimes only) chance to make a good impression on our subscribers, so making them interesting and compelling is essential to your email marketing success. Read how to write email subject lines that make people stop, click and read.

Here are five particularly note worthy user onboarding experiences worth taking the time to cast your eye over, and cherry pick the best ideas.

GrooveHQ’s owner runs a regular blog series where he answers questions readers have sent in. In this post he explains why he does it, and why you should too.

Matthew Barby outlines some of the best techniques that you can execute to grow your email list, some of the tools that will help and how you can prevent your list from becoming worthless.

Well-researched personas can be a useful tool for marketers, but to do it correctly takes time. But what if you don’t have that time? Here is how to do persona research in under 5 minutes.

And finally, a nice little explanation about the difference between features and benefits.

Thanks for reading

If you have written any posts or created any amazing content related to customer marketing, and you’d like to see it added to a future best of the internet post, get in touch with me here.

6 Things I’ve Learned Working with Social Influencers

This is a guest post by John LaMarca, Director of Marketing for social community ‘6Tribes’.

I lead marketing for a new social media startup called 6Tribes, which connects like-minded people around the things that they’re passionate about, using the concept of tribes.

We’ve had great success over the last few months in growing some of these tribes using YouTube influencers. I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most out of these partnerships, so I thought I’d share 6 things that I’ve learned.

Do The Right Thing 

Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your YouTube influencers, let them do their thing, their way.

Now, I’m not a micro-manager by any stretch of the imagination, but it is tempting to request that an influencer’s sponsored content contain all of the relevant information about your product that you’d like prospective customers to know.

The thing is, they know their audience better than anyone. They’ve built that audience, and the relationship with them, on trust and by being true to themselves, so you need to let them integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content.

Audiences are sceptical of advertising, and will often tune out messages from brands, but when they see content from an individual they like, trust and follow, they are more likely to be receptive to that message.

In an ideal world, your influencer won’t be getting paid to promote your brand, but instead give a brand they love access to the engaged audience that they’ve built.

The Social Network 

Ask them (nicely) to promote you across all their other relevant channels, be it Instagram, Twitter, Vine or Pinterest.

In the world of social networks, this is equivalent to multi-channel marketing. Plus, this cross-promotion is beneficial to them as well, as more video views will help them secure other brand partnerships.

A Very Long Engagement

To get the most from your marketing spend, it’s important to plan for long- term engagement.

Great, you’ve managed to land an amazing influencer who creates wonderful content for you and puts lots of lovely people in front of your brand, or in the case of 6Tribes, into your app.

Well, what happens to those people after the initial activity that resulted from the campaign?

Of course you’ve worked hard on your product to ensure that this new audience will stay, but it’s vital that you come up with a plan to give yourself the best chance at long-term engagement.

At 6Tribes, we have lots of different tribes based on interest or lifestyle, such as Car Spotters, LGBT, Twisted Humor, Deep Thinkers, Anime & Manga or Animal Lovers.

We’ve had the most success when we’ve actively planned for long-term engagement by doing one or all of the following:

1) Get the influencer to become an active member of your community

At 6Tribes, we often have an influencer join or create a tribe in the app, and then participate in some way, such as a live Q&A.

This integration can also be promoted in the sponsored content, and it’s a great way for the audience to gain access to their favourite YouTube stars.

It also shows the audience that they not only believe in the product and want to promote it, but they are also willing to become a user themselves, which is great for the brand.

2) Pass the torch

At 6Tribes, we have tribe leaders who look after their communities. When we’ve run successful influencer campaigns, we’ve often worked with those influencers to hand-pick a tribe leader to hand over the reins to after the campaign is over.

This person is generally the most engaged and active user in that community, so it’s a great way to keep engagement in the community high.

3) Complement and amplify the influencer campaign

This can be achieved by targeted promotions on other marketing channels, such as Facebook or Instagram ads.

I know that this sounds like common sense, but many marketers are so focused on the influencer campaign that they forget to use other channels at the same time.

For a social media network like 6Tribes, putting more people into the tribe at the same time has an exponential effect on engagement, which leads to greater overall retention, and keeps the VCs happy when it’s time to get your next funding round.

A View to a Kill

Bigger isn’t always better. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience. It doesn’t matter if they have 300K subscribers if only a smaller percentage actually engage with the content.

There are plenty of metrics available beyond what you can see for yourself, for example in the case of YouTube, video views, so ask the influencer to provide whatever stats they have available about their audience.

Of course, it’s not just about metrics, you should also look at how the influencer engages with the audience in terms of style and tone, and if their community aligns with your brand.

The best influencers find a way to seamlessly integrate the sponsorship into their content, like this excellent video from Loey Lane, a social influencer focused on positive body image, who has helped us build out our Radical Self Love tribe.

The Professional 

Before you begin working with an influencer, you should consider whether you’ll want to work with an agency or try to work directly with the influencer.

There are some great agencies out there like FameBit that offer curated or self-service packages. They have access to some of the most popular and up & coming influencers, and enable you to easily work with several influencers all at once, but you’ll have to pay for that access.

If you decide to contact influencers on your own, make sure that you do your research on them and can communicate why you’’d like to work with them, what you have to offer, and what you expect in return.

It can be more time-consuming this way, but it can also be more rewarding as you’ll be able to communicate directly with them and hopefully build a longer-term relationship that can bring success to both parties.

Play it Again, Sam

Now that you’ve had some great content created, use it as another marketing asset to promote your brand. And don’t forget to engage with the content that’s been created for you: commenting, liking, and reposting are all great ways to increase the lifespan of your sponsored content.

In summary

Let the influencer integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content 2. Ask influencers to promote your sponsored content across their other networks 3. Plan for long-term engagement 4. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience 5. Decide if working with an agency is right for you 6. Engage with the sponsored content and add it to your stable of marketing assets

 

VR Marketing – Top 5 Brands Using Virtual Reality in PR Right Now

In the early 90s, virtual reality (VR) was set to completely revolutionise the tech and gadget world forever – and then it didn’t. Alongside 3D cinema and polarised glasses, it was merely a case of ‘not just yet’ and the fad soon died out.

People weren’t ready for it, and neither was the technology.

Fast forward to 2016 and VR is cool again. We’re now living in a world where the full capabilities of virtual reality – with its ability to transport users to immersive alternative realities – is being used in new and exciting ways as a commercial tool to sell and promote products.

Now technology has updated and the potential is seemingly limitless, virtual reality looks like it’s here to stay this time.

2016 will celebrate the official launches of some of the most hotly-anticipated VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, which will firmly put tech into the hands of consumers.

So much so that Business Insider estimates the VR hardware market will be worth around £1.9 billion by 2020.

With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at five PR campaigns that have successfully used virtual reality to market and sell products, whilst creating an experience like no other.

The Crashed Car Showroom

To promote car safety, NRMA Insurance used the Oculus Rift headset to simulate what it is like to be in a car crash.

People were sat in a real car linked up to a hydraulic system that moved the car in sync with virtual movements.

Once seated, the driver was completely shrouded in a 3D world and could move their head around to examine the simulated location of being in a driving car.

The aim was to recreate the experience of crashing so they could properly understand the severity and importance of road safety.

New York Times & Google Cardboard

When two huge brands collide, they’re able to form the ultimate promotional tool. In November, the New York Times partnered up with Google to create a fantastic VR advertising project.

Google created its very own handheld virtual-reality gadgets and delivered them to more than a million subscribers of the New York Times print newspaper.

Using their smartphone, subscribers were encouraged to download a special NYT VR app that would aim to completely change the way they consume daily news.

The partnership involved creating a series of short films based around hard-hitting news subjects, including a story of a child caught in the Syrian refugee crisis.

The campaign showed how VR could have an impact on the future of journalism and with news outlets constantly looking for ways to bring back straying audiences, VR may be the way forward. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, said:

Our magazine team has created the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality, to shed light on one of the most dire humanitarian crises of our lifetime.”

Jakku Spy

Right now, it seems that wherever you go there is some form of Star Wars themed marketing around and it will come as no surprise that virtual reality has got itself involved as well.

In the lead up to the release of The Force Awakens in December, Lucasfilm teamed up with Google and Verizon to allow fans to visit the planet of Jakku – the home of Rey, the main character in the film played by Daisy Ridley.

Using their smartphone and Google’s VR eyewear, people could jump directly into the action and explore the planet, whilst there was a series of in-app messages that were constantly updated the closer the movie release date got.

Coca-Cola and the World Cup

During the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, Coca-Cola created an unique football experience like no other.

Visitors were taken to a mock locker room in the Maracana Stadium in Rio De-Janeiro and were asked to put on Coca-Cola branded VR headgear which allowed them to run straight on to the football pitch to play for the home nation.

The campaign gave people the chance to play in the World Cup and experience something that millions of people across the world dream of – all thanks to Coca-Cola.

The Goosebumps VR Adventure

To celebrate the release of the Goosebumps movie in 2015, Sony Pictures created a VR adventure that transported cinema goers straight into a world that presented plenty of thrills and frights, including many of the infamous monsters from R.L Stine’s much-loved children’s novels.

Using D-Box motion chairs in select theatres and Samsung’s Gear VR headset, the experience threw fans directly into all of the film’s action in what could best be described as a theme park-style adventure ride.

The result was a thrilling and fun experience that helped create a buzz around the film’s upcoming release and showed just how much of an immersive and creative platform virtual reality can be.

If VR technology really is going to take over the world like we’re lead to believe, maybe these five ideas will serve as inspiration for when we’re able to create our very own marketing campaigns with virtual reality. The great thing is, it’ll be here sooner than we think.

Ben Martin is creative director at the PR and creative agency Peppermint Soda.  

8 customer survey mistakes to avoid and get better results

No one knows your products like your customers. They will always find new and unthought-of of ways to interact with your services that either break it, or highlight new opportunities to improve.

Regular customer surveys help you gauge your customers’ attitudes towards your brand and your products, as well as benchmark your performance over time.

Unfortunately, writing an effective survey is not as simple as many people think.

Any mistake in your survey makes analysis and reporting either difficult or impossible, and an opportunity is lost.

Here are 8 common mistakes people make when writing and formatting surveys for you to avoid.

Overlapping values

This occurs in multiple choice questions, where we ask the respondent to choose from different values. I commonly see the following:

How much do you typically spend?
a) £0 – £5
b) £5 – £10
c) £10 – £15

So if I spend £5, do I choose a) or b)?

Two questions in one

A very easy trap to fall in to is asking two questions in one. For example:

“How useful do you find Widget Inc’s Online Support Database and the email support centre?”

In this example, I may find the online support database very useful, but the email support centre a waste of time.

Which way do I go?

Biased questions

You have to keep your questions neutral, and not guide the user to think a certain way. For example, this type of question presumes they liked it in the first place.

“What did you like about our product?”

A better way to phrase this would be:

“How would you rate our product for the following…?”

Presuming they can give an answer

There will be questions that not every respondent can answer. This may because they haven’t used the product in that way, or they simply can’t remember.

That ties in with another point; don’t ask people to think back over extended time periods, it is unrealistic to expect accurate answers.

Rather than forcing them to give a knowingly incorrect answer, or essentially asking them to guess, always give an ‘NA’ or ‘I don’t remember’ option.

Inconsistent presentation of the scales

Keep scale ratings consistent throughout your survey so that e.g. 5 = very good in every question. This also goes for the way you present the scales to the user.

How would you rate our support?   Very Good, Good, Poor, Very Poor
How would you rate our reliability? Very Poor, Poor, Good, Very Good

If you choose to have “Very good” on the left for one question, it should always be on the left throughout the survey. This is to prevent respondents training themselves to just click there without really reading it properly.

Using large scales

I have never understood surveys that use any scale bigger than 1 to 5. Beyond that, it becomes very difficult to differentiate what those values mean.

For example, how does a 6 differ from a 7? This is especially so when we go even higher up to a 1- 100 scale.

Being too long

The longer your survey goes on for, the more people you will see drop off before the end. I personally would keep any survey to 10 – 15 questions, or maybe 20 as an absolute max.

Anything over that and you can expect really low completion rates.

If you spread the questions over a number of pages, give them a progress update (a filled in bar, page X of Y etc.) so they know they don’t have long to go.

Not testing your survey before launch

Always pre-test your survey, either within the business or a small sample of customers.

Analyse the completion rates and look for any confusion or road blocks. If it all goes perfectly, then release the survey!

Sending your survey

There are some really good survey software providers out there. A lot of companies use Survey Monkey, but I think the templates are looking very dated now. I personally would recommend taking a look at Survey Gizmo, and Typeform.

Good luck!

The best of the internet this month – February 2016

This is where I share my favourite customer marketing related posts, resources and tools I have discovered in the past month.

Not all of the content was written this month, but it is when I came across it and I think you’ll find it interesting/useful too.

This month’s reading

A good automated email strategy drives sales and retention. Here are 7 automated email campaigns that win customers and keep them coming back.

The health of a SaaS business is directly tied to its ability to retain its customers and prevent churn. This blog post discusses how to measure customer happiness, and how to actively manage your business to achieve it.

If you don’t understand how customers think about your product and the process of a free trial, you’ll have a much harder time convincing them to convert to a paid account. Improve free trials by getting to know your customers.

TechValidate’s research found that “30% of companies using gamification improved registration conversion rates by upwards of 50%.” This post by ConversionXL looks at how to use gamification to retain more customers.

Ever wondered how some brands attract passionate brand fans? Here are 4 strategies Disney use to create freakishly loyal customers.

Zapier has usefully shared the data that drives customer support for over 600,000 product use cases.

Since they launched automated emails at Intercom, one of the most common use cases has been re-engaging customers who have stopped using a product. In this post they look at how to do that effectively. Churn, retention and reengaging customers.

Matching reality with perception is one of the key things that defines a happy or dissatisfied customers. Is honesty really such a bad thing in commerce?

And finally, here are 5 tactics customer.io used to reduce their customer churn by a third.

Thanks for reading

If you have written any posts or created any amazing content related to customer marketing, and you’d like to see it added to a future best of the internet post, get in touch with me here.

The 3 most important emails you’ll ever send

Email is one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal. It is also one of the easiest to get wrong.

Email sets the tone, raises (or lowers) expectations, drives sales/renewals and can act as a barometer for customer happiness.

The three most important emails you’ll send are:

  1. Your welcome email
  2. Service/product satisfaction confirmation
  3. The opportunity to give feedback

In this post I will look at these emails in more detail, with advice and copy you can use in your emails.

1. Your welcome email

In my eyes this is not just one of your most important emails, it is one of your most important pieces of marketing full-stop.

This is your customer’s first window into your business and the product they have bought, so it has to be good.

Your welcome email must be much than just a simple hello or confirmation of the order.

From how it looks, to what it says and what it asks them to do, it all needs a lot of thought and attention. Ensure your customers get off on the right foot and instantly develop a positive opinion of your business.

What do I do next?

The biggest question a welcome email should answer is “What do I do next?” Is it log-in, activate something, phone you…?

Put this information prominently at the top of your welcome email like a call to action button on your website, and don’t bury it in paragraphs worth of text.

Get them using the product

The more your customer uses your product, the more likely they are to stay with you and buy more.

Obviously you’re welcome email should provide all the information they need to log-in, but it should also contain information on how to get started with your control panel and product.

You don’t need to put all the information into the email, but you should link to guides/ resources that provide step by step information on using their product.

Encourage referrals

One thing Dropbox do very well is incentivise word of mouth through the promise of more free storage space.

This starts instantly with their welcome email and a link to their storage bonus page with instructions on how to claim it by advertising them via social media or referring a friend.

You can do the same!

Here is an example welcome email you can use:

Welcome to Widgets Inc

Hi [Name],

Welcome to Widgets Inc, it’s great to have you on board. Your account has been set-up and is ready for you to use.

Here are your login details

Account login: http://www.widgetsinc.com/login

Username: XXXXXX

Temporary password: XXXXXX

You will be prompted to update your password when you login for the first time.

Let’s get social

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest Widgets Inc news, new features and releases (which we highly recommend you do), then feel free to follow us.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WidgetsInc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WidgetsInc

Here when you need us

If you need any help getting started, you can check out our [link]knowledge base[/link] for some handy hints and tips. You can also call us on 01234 567 890 or email us at hello@widgetsinc.com. We’re all ears.

Earn rewards referring a friend

We hope you enjoy using Widgets Inc, and as a thank you for spreading the word, we’ll add [reward] to your account for every friend you refer. Click here to login to the [link]rewards section of your control panel[/link].

[Footer]

2. Service/product satisfaction confirmation

A typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers (Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner).

Additionally, news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience, and for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs).

These stats hit home how important it is to reach out to customers early on in the relationship, and make sure they are happy.

This email should be sent within 24 – 48 hours of their purchase, and provide links and contact details for the customer to contact you if they need help, or if they are unhappy with the product/service.

Here is an example email you can use:

Do You Need Any Help With Your Widgets Inc Account?

Hi [Name],

Thanks for choosing us to manage your XYZ.

I’m getting in touch to find out how you are getting on, and if you need any help?

We have an extensive Knowledge Base that covers the most commonly asked questions. These include:

  • How to set up your ABC
  • How to activate your DEF
  • How to pause your GHJ

Do you have any questions?

If you have any questions or would like some help, we are on hand to help 24×7. Call us on 01234 567 891 and we’ll be able to get you on your way.

[Sign off footer]

If the customer is happy, then great. You’ve also primed them where to go for help if they have any issues in the future.

If they are unsure how to use the product, rather than risk them mentally opting out and eventually churning, you can address this by linking to support articles or directing them to your customer support team.

If the customer is unhappy, you are giving them clear directions on how to express that dissatisfaction, rather than giving up and churning.

3. The opportunity to give feedback

Feedback can one of two ways.

  1. Your business accepts it, but ignores it or dismisses it.
  2. Your business accepts it, and thrives on the positive changes you can make to improve customer experience and satisfaction.

I’ve worked for companies that do both.

The first had a terrible reputation in the market and was stagnate at every level. The second had passionate brand fans and was considered a market leader in its niche.

Customer feedback is your opportunity to be better.

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You can find out how satisfied the customer is with you and give them the opportunity to provide feedback via an open form.

An example email to use:

A Quick Question About Your Widgets Inc Account

Hi [Name]

I would appreciate it if you could spend a little time answering a couple questions, to let us know what you think about our services.

On a scale of 0 – 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a colleague, friend or family?

[NPS scale and radio buttons]

Is there anything else you would like to let us know?

[Open text form]

[Submit]

[Sign off footer]

If you ignore the small niggles customers report, over time these snowball and before you know it fixing them is now a major project that drains resources.

Big projects and sweeping changes are cool to work on and promote, but it is the hundreds or thousands of tiny feature tweaks and improvements that are greater than the sum of their parts.

In summary

The common theme that ties these three emails together is your business’ state of mind.

Are you making a sale or a new customer? Sales are one-offs, customers can be for life.

If you want a customer, then it is in your interests for them to be successful and help drive future development. The best way to do this is create an automated, regular line of communication with them.