20 ways you can boost word of mouth referrals today

Word of mouth is your most powerful, and cost-effective form of marketing.

84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family and friends

…making this the most trusted source of information about a product or service (source: Nielson).

How to increase word of mouth?

The best way to prompt word of mouth referrals is through great product/services and customer support.

Brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive up to threes times as much word of mouth as less emotionally-connected brands (Source: Keller Fay Group).

Additionally, highly differentiated brands have greater levels of word-of-mouth, as these brands allow consumers to share own sense of uniqueness. (Source: Journal of Marketing Research).

However, you should still be proactive mobilising your customers, turning them into an effective sales force.

50% of people are more likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program.

39% say monetary or material incentives such as discounts, free swag or gift cards greatly increase their chances of referring a brand. (Source: Software Advice).

Quick and easy wins to increase customer referrals

With all this in mind, here are 20 quick and easy ways you can mobilise your customers to sell for you, and increase word of mouth marketing.

  • Use NPS to highlight your promoters
    Don’t treat your customers like one homogenous mass, pick and choose who you want to spend resources on mobilising

 

  • Don’t treat all your referrers the same
    Segment your customers based on their referral value (count ands value).

 

  • The more you love them, the more they will love you
    Send your power customers/VIPs a physical gift bag with exclusive badges, stickers, notepad etc. so they can show off their allegiance with you and feel part of an exclusive club.

 

  • Set up a monthly/ annual votes driven award
    E.g. ‘Website of the month’ – they can then promote and get people to vote for them.

 

  • Links in welcome emails
    Dropbox referrals start with their welcome email. They include 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!

 

  • Give customers something physical to pass on
    At the end of your transaction/ correspondence with a customer, send them something tangible they can pass on to friends and family. This can be as simple as a handful of business cards, a leaflet with your contact details or a full blown brochure.

 

  • Send regular discount/coupon codes
    You can encourage your customers to refer people through financial incentives that they personally benefit from. For example, give them access to coupon codes they can spread around, which in turn gives them money off their next order if someone then uses it.

 

  • Create a points system
    The more people they refer, the more points they earn, which they can use for future purchases.

 

  • Gamification
    If you already have a badge system, create one for the number of customers referred.

 

  • Thank your customer for sending any referrals
    They are much likely to continue if you do. A very simple, but effective idea!

 

  • Create one click sharing to their social media profile so they don’t even have to type!

 

  • Educate new customers
    Include a dedicated email about referring customers in your onboarding – new customers are naturally happy with you, they just bought from you!

 

  • Share this
    Add a form on your order confirmation page to share their purchase (like Amazon).

 

  • Tier your rewards
    Reward customer based on how many people they refer e.g. 1 – 10 get 5% off, 11 – to get 8% and so on.

 

  • Run a campaign
    Email your customers with a voucher code they can pass on to their friends and family for a discount.

 

  • Reward both the referrer and the new customer
    E.g. recommend us to a friend and you’ll both get 50% off your next order.

 

  • Create a targets
    Give targets for the entire customer base to hit which unlocks a prize or discount e.g. If your customers refer 1,000 new sales in a month they will be entered into prize draws to win some amazing prizes.

 

  • “Hey, have you seen this?”
    Help your customers start a conversation with their friends by creating content they want to share.

 

  • Listen to your customers and act
    Brands that actively engage with their customers and make changes based on their feedback are loved forever.

 

  • Add a social layer to your business
    This could be a forum or BuddyPress, but the idea is the same. Become a hub for your customers to share ideas and help position you as a thought leader.

In summary

I want to emphasise that these ideas are all the icing on the cake. They rely on you having solid foundations, and a product/service that customers are willing to associate themselves with.

They are not substitute for excellent customer service and valuable products and services.

If you already have that in place, then start mobilising your customers, and turn them into an effective sales force.

Brands supporting customers’ micro-moments are winning

People now turn to their phones or tablets to solve immediate problems, and they expect brands to deliver them with immediate answers.

It is these “How do I”, “Where do I go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy” micro-moments that now dictate our purchase decisions and preferences.

You need to become your customers’ go to source for solving problems with content.

For example, when choosing what to cook for their evening meal, research has found that while people over 35 are more likely to print out a recipe, 59% of 25- to 34-year-olds cook with either their smartphones or tablets handy.

Additionally…

  • 91% of smartphone users turn to their devices for ideas while completing a task.
  • Nearly one in three millennials say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.
  • 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in a store.

Source

“Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

Source: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/micromoments

Micro-moments are the new battleground

Micro-moments are there for you to take advantage of, with only 2% of businesses acknowledging they have a strategy in place.

The key is to identify which medium your customers use to discover and consume this information on their mobile devices.

These are typically…

  • YouTube videos
  • Step by step written guides
  • Map search

None of these are exclusive to big brands.

For example, if you have a device to capture film and audio (most smart phones are good enough for this) and a YouTube account, you should be taking advantage of this huge opportunity.

Creating your micro-moment content

Rather than dive straight in and start producing content you hope find an audience, you will have a lot more success if you create a content and promotion plan.

Step 1: Defining the content

Get your head out of this being a sales pitch for your products. People will see straight through that within seconds and stop reading your ‘guide’ or watching your video.

what-brands-stand-for-what-audiences-care-about-venn-diagram

People are looking for genuinely useful content that solves their immediate problem. First and foremost the content you create has to be:

  • Relevant to your business
  • As short and succinct as possible
  • Focused on solving the problem
  • Information-led content, not sales

Here are some great examples of this in action from YouTube:

Getfitfastsupplements.com have produced fitness videos, “How do I get fit fast?”

Home Depot have created videos to help me with my DIY, “How do I change my thermostat?”

Shopping channel QVC have targeted searches for recipe ideas to help sell their cooking appliances. “How do I cook a pot roast in the oven?”

Step 2: Researching the “How to” moments that matter to your customers

What are the questions and concerns people have that you can answer with your products? The easiest place to to start for any research is with your customers.

Send them a survey asking them what they would like to know more about, or regular challenges they face in their day to day lives that you can help them with.

Going back to the Getfitfastsupplements.com example above, I would have asked their customers questions along the lines of…

What is preventing you from working out?

What areas of fitness interest you the most?

This may lead to me finding out that time is a big issue, and I would then create a video tailored to maximum results in a short space of time.

Additionally you can ask your website visitors these questions using services such as HotJar’s free account to run a simple poll from your website.

Other sources of information include:

  • Industry forums – What are the most read threads/topics?
  • Existing YouTube videos – Which are the most watched videos?
  • Yahoo Answers/ Quora – Which are the most viewed/liked Q&A’s?

Step 3: Producing your content

Video

If you decide to create a video series, the first few seconds of your video are the most important.

Clearly explain the problem you are solving in the video before you begin. Do not waste this valuable time with a sales pitch for your business!

There are some great articles on how to create effective YouTube videos here:

Step 4:  Promote, promote, promote

Having great content is one thing, getting people to read/watch and share it is another matter.

To help drive views and shares, consider…

  • Add a dedicated “Helpful resources” section to your website, linked to from your main navigation
  • Email your customer base inviting them to view and share
  • Actively advertise your YouTube account/ resources via paid media
  • Integrate your content with social media

I personally would put your content right at the centre of all your marketing, and even at the heart of your brand.

In summary

Interruption marketing is slowly decaying. Consumers not expect to be invited to consume content, rather than having it forced in front of them.

You are in a unique position to understand your customers, and be their primary source of information to help make their lives better.

There aren’t many ways of developing brand loyalty and repeat business that are more effective than that!

Digital Ocean’s community strategy is awesome [Review]

Web hosting is not the sexiest of products. For most people it is just another commodity (like gas or water), with price being the primary differentiator.

The truth is, web hosts are wildly different, with varying degrees of support, page load speeds, reliability and security.

The problem is the large majority of web hosts have done a terrible job in communicating their brand values, and have failed to develop strong brand loyalty.

There are a few exceptions, and one of the most notable is Digital Ocean.

Digital Ocean have been able to come out of nowhere and become on the the best known (and loved) companies in the industry.

Digital Ocean spend very little money on traditional advertising (compared to the likes of GoDaddy).

Instead they are investing heavily in educational content and community building for their customers.

How you can follow Digital Ocean’s community strategy

In this post I am going to give a breakdown of how they have been able to develop such a loyal following amongst their customers.

The great thing is, you can apply all this to your business, no matter who your customers are or what you sell.

In-depth technical tutorials

Their ever growing technical tutorial library covers a huge range of topics related to server management. At the time of writing they have over 1,200 articles to read.

In depth tutorials

 

These types of articles are a huge investment, and require specialist copywriters to do them well.

Readers can also comment on these articles to ask questions and even suggest alternative ways of achieving the same goal.

Staying on top of so many comments is a task in itself, and you’ll see many examples where brands have all but walked away from the community management aspect of a project.

Digital Ocean are clearly invested in engaging with people and are quick to reply to comments and questions.

Community driven Q&A support

One of the biggest drains on any service led company is customer support. This is especially true with technical products.

Digital Ocean have created an online Q&A area for their customers to ask for help from their peers.

Questions and answers

This has two benefits for Digital Ocean:

  1. It directs customers to look for support away from the telephone or traditional support ticket.
  2. It builds a self-supporting community that feels responsible to help each other.

User written technical tutorials

No one knows a product like your customers, so why not have them write the support articles?

Get paid to write

Digital Ocean pay up to $200 for a published article on their support database. This is a great deal for them and their customers.

The benefits of opening this up include:

  1. It would cost far more than that to get a professional technical copywriter to produce the same content.
  2. Their customers get to feel like they are contributing to the business’ success
  3. They get a lot more articles quicker than if they tried to write them all in-house

Full time community management team

Digital Ocean are investing big in this area, building a dedicated team to drive their community building.

At the time of writing, they are recruiting for three key roles…

National Outreach Manager

“The National Outreach Manager will be responsible for developing local partnerships with, and assisting sponsorship requests from, US-based tech organizations, Meetup groups, conferences, and individual developers. The National Outreach Manager will be responsible for producing high-quality events for DigitalOcean.”

Director of Online Community

“The Director of Online Community will drive the online community efforts both on the DigitalOcean platform and across various external sites. They will both manage – and help grow – DO’s talented team of writers and editors, and develop a cohesive content strategy that ensures our community and tutorials remain a relevant, flourishing online destination for developers.”

University Program Manager

“Join DigitalOcean as our University Program Manager so that you can lead our educational outreach to students across the United States.”

In conclusion…

Digital Ocean have changed the game for the web hosting industry. They have shown that web hosts can be powerful brands with emotional resonance.

They have done this through simple products that do exactly what they promise they will do, backed by a huge investment in turning their customer base into a community.

The best of the internet this month – January 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

How loyal are customers?

Not very if you believe The shocking truth about brand loyalty by Help Scout. However, all is not lost. Of the consumers in a study by Harvard Business Review who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.

Brand loyalty is one of the most difficult assets for a business to attain. Here are KissMetrics’ 10 tactics for increasing customer lifetime value and loyalty.

We talk a lot about customer loyalty, but how do you actually measure it? Exact Target is here to help.

Sour grapes

Coglode delve in to the ‘sour grapes effect’, looking at why customers justify a purchase by overlooking any faults, and how you can use this in your customer marketing.

Using CRO to retain customers

CRO is often focused on how to acquire more customers. But what about your current customers? ConversionXL have some great advice on Retention Optimisation, and how to increase the value of  a customer.

Is user-generated content the future?

With the rise of micro-moments, and the content challenges that brings, is user-generated content the way forward? Econsultancy’s interview with Tom Malleschitz, Chief Marketing Officer at Three UK, looks at how to get the most out of user-generated content.

Happier customers

Vero’s ultimate lifecycle email marketing guide is packed full of really useful and practical content. You may have to read it in more than one sitting, but it is worth it.

Baremterics have been kind enough to share the 17 emails they send to engage customers, reduce churn and increase revenue.

If you are using (or planning to use) social media as a customer service tool, have a read of Buffer’s Complete guide to using social media for customer service.

We all hate it when customers leave, but how do you systematically prevent churn? Sixteen Ventures’ SaaS Customer Success Experts Resource Guide is a great place to start.

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 ultimate guide to running your own customer conference

Running your own customer conference should be a key part of any business’s marketing strategy.

How many other marketing channels offer this…

  • Differentiation from your competitors
  • Increased engagement with your customers
  • Content marketing opportunities
  • Social sharing
  • Thought leadership

Running your own conference can seem like a daunting prospect, and one that only large businesses have the resources to do.

From my own experiences, this just isn’t true.

Even the smallest of companies, with limited marketing resources can (and should) seriously consider having an event, with informative talks for their customers.

In this post I will show you how to plan and execute a successful customer conference:

  1. Setting your goals
  2. Choosing topics and speakers
  3. Planning your day’s schedule
  4. Picking the venue
  5. Registration and communication mechanisms
  6. Promoting the conference
  7. Attendee communication
  8. Attendee collateral
  9. Internal planning
  10. The big day
  11. Post-event marketing and feedback

Let’s get started…

Create your strategy with clear aims and goals

The first step is to clearly define why you are running a conference. What do you want to get out of it, and how you will analyse success/failure?

 Note: This is not a day long sales pitch. No matter what your goals are, provide your attendees with content that helps them.  

For example, if your business sells a product/service within a competitive, but largely emotion free industry, your conference is a great way to start moving away from being a commodity, towards being a brand with a loyal following.

If you already have a strong brand following, a conference will cement that and maintain loyalty.

Here is an example for a business looking to run their first conference:

Aim/strategy (What you want to achieve)

Engage with our customers in a wat that differentiates us from our competitors, providing content that helps our customers be successful. 

Goals/objectives (How you will achieve your aim):

  • Provide added value content  – Delivered through informative talks and measured by attendee rating in post-event survey.
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention – Delivered through informative talks and measured by post-event survey, NPS and churn analysis.
  • Differentiate ourselves from other faceless competitors – Measured with NPS and social media brand sentiment.
  • Help our customers become more successful using our products – Measured with add-ons sales, upgrades and renewals.
  • Getting feedback from four customers – Measured by the level of feedback.

Organising a one day conference is a lot of work, so it is important you get internal buy in from all your stakeholders. The best way to do that is to keep everyone informed on progress and make them feel involved.

With that in mind, share the day’s aim and goals amongst everyone who is helping to support the day. This way they are clear what you are are trying to achieve.

Choosing your topics and speakers

Remember, this is not sales talk. What advice can you authoritatively give customers to help make them become more successful? If you approach your conference with that mindset, they will have a great day.

Real-world, useful and practical advice about how they can do something better is always popular.

For example:

“A step by step guide to converting more website visitors in to customers”

Instead of…

“How to use our Super Converting Widget!”

Inbound marketing software provider Moz have got this down perfectly. Their annual ‘MozCon’ makes no mention of their products, it is 100% focused on helping their attendees be better.

mozcon 215

One of the topics at Moz’s MozCon 2015

Choose your speakers wisely. Public speaking is not a skill everyone has, so don’t force anyone to speak who does not have the confidence to get up and talk in front of strangers. It will be a disaster. There are plenty of non-speaking support roles for people to help with.

If you don’t have enough staff members who can give a talk, approach your suppliers/partners with the idea of being a guest speaker, or even running a joint conference.

Planning your day’s schedule

There are no hard rules for your day’s running times, but I would recommend planning short, punchy talks to keep people’s attention. This also gives you time to cover a wider range of topics.

Make sure you build in refreshment breaks. This gives attendees a chance to mix and stretch their legs. Don’t forget lunch to keep the afternoon energy levels up!

Here is an example of how you could structure your day:

Time Schedule Speaker  Notes
10am Registration  –  –
10.30am Keynote CEO Welcome
11am Using data to market your products Speaker 1 Data driven talk about the market
11.20am Supporting your customers Speaker 2 Effective ways of supporting customers
11.40am Cross-selling & up-selling Speaker 3 Getting customers to stay longer and buy more
12pm Lunch  –  –
12.30pm Branding Speaker 4 How to become a brand your customers care about
1pm Usability/ UX Speaker 5 Emphasis on designing websites
1.30pm PPC Speaker 6 Google AdWords on a small budget
1.50pm Content marketing Speaker 7 How to create content people want to share
2.20pm Break  –  –
2.40pm SEO Speaker 8 Emphasis on SEO and small businesses
3pm Q&A with attendees Compare
3.20pm Closing remarks CEO Thanks and sneak peek of future products

Picking the venue

One of the biggest decision you will make is where to hold your event. Cost is an obvious consideration, but so is accessibility.

Unless you are lucky enough to have space to hold your conference at your offices you’ll need to rent somewhere for the day. This doesn’t have to be in the same city as you are based.

Is the venue easy to get to for the majority of your customers? You are asking people to spend a day away from their office, and they aren’t going to want to spend a lot of time commuting back and forth.

Even national online brands find they have larger than average clusters of customers in particular cities/regions. Research your customer base and choose a city that the majority of your customers live/work near. I.e. Play the odds.

The simplest way to research your venue is via a search on Google “conference venue hire in [city]”.

Alternatively, there are services such as Hire Space and wefindvenues that act as an event search engine/directory.

Registration and communication mechanisms

The key questions to answer at this stage are:

  • How will people apply to attend? – Are you inviting specific people or do people need to apply? If so, how do they do that?
  • How will you choose who will attend? – Is their any selection criteria or will it be a random selection?

Applying for tickets

If you are opening up applications to all of your customers (and I would recommend that you do to create critical mass for your marketing), you need a mechanism to capture their interest.

The simplest method is to ask them t0 reply to an email invitation, or to put a form on your website that sends you an email with their details.

Although quick and easy to set up, using email creates a lot of manual work (e.g. manually importing details into a spreadsheet/database, mail merging, managing dropouts…etc.), especially if you are planning on having 100+ attendees.

I would recommend you use services such as EventbriteGet Invited and nvite. You can integrate them in to your website very easily.

Mozcon tickets

Moz’s sign up form on their website for ‘MozCon

The latter two both let you sell tickets to your event from your website, with attendee management and stats built-in. You can set your price to zero if you don’t want to charge (if you don’t charge, both services are free to use – bonus!).

If you use WordPress, the Tickera plugin will let you sell tickets online, for  a one off purchase fee, and no monthly/transaction charges.

Choosing who will attend

This is a great opportunity to engage with your all customers (and prospects) through a really positive message.

Publically limiting access to a small percentage of your customers (e.g. only inviting your top sellers, or your ‘VIP’ group) completely undermines this.

However, your big spending customers are your most important, and your top 20% probably contribute 80% of your revenue. They are the people you want to attend and build relationships with.

There are two schools of thought on how to approach this:

  • Keep your selection completely random
  • Publically advertise your selection as random, but be selective behind the scenes

I will leave it with you to decide which approach you want to take.

Announcing the conference

Use every communication channel available to announce your conference. It is a big deal!

123Conf

Part of 123-reg’s ‘123Conf‘ landing page

  • Landing page on your website (promoting the day and accepting applications to attend)
  • Email your customer base
  • Press release to your industry’s media outlets
  • Social media announcements
  • Story on your blog
  • Alert in your customer’s control panel

Here is an example email you can send to your customers:

Subject: Join us at our first ever customer conference

Hi [Name],

We are holding our first ever conference, on [date] at [venue] in [city] and it is exclusively for our customers.

The day will be packed full of great talks covering topics such as successfully supporting your customers, building a brand, SEO and PPC on a limited budget and much more.

We’d love for you to join us!

Register to attend
We only have 130 seats available so places are limited. Click on the button below to find out more and register your interest.

[Button] Find out more [/button]

People will naturally have questions, and you can address common ones before they are asked on your landing page with an FAQ section e.g.

How much does this cost? Nothing, it is 100% free.

Can I bring someone with me? This is only open to our customers. With limited seats we want to make sure as many of our customers have an opportunity to attend.

Do I need to bring any snacks or drinks? Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

What is the process for choosing who will attend? We are currently inviting all customers to confirm their interest. This will close on [date]. W/c [date] we will pick 130 people at random and contact them to let them know they have been chosen to attend.

and so on…

Attendee communication

There will be two pots.

  1. Customers attending
  2. Customers not attending

Customers not attending

A mistake I made the first time I organised a conference was not informing those who had been unsuccessful. I had said we would contact successful customers by a certain date on the landing page. Therefore, I assumed I just had to inform the successful customers and the rest would work out they hadn’t been chosen.

Wrong.

I received numerous emails and comments on social media asking when they would be told, or whether they had been selected.

The second time I organised a conference, I also emailed the non-attendees to inform them they had not been chosen.

Customers attending

Regular, clear communication is key here. Even though they applied to attend, and you have given them all the information they need to know where to be and when, don’t assume anything on their part.

Stay in touch with regular emails that get progressively more frequent as  the day gets closer. This will guarantee a much higher turnout.

  • 6 – 8 weeks: Confirmation of attendance – Overview of day (incl. times and directions)
  • 4 weeks: Nearly there – General reminder and any questions?
  • 3 weeks: Reminder of details and chance to drop out (gives you time to find replacements)
  • 2 weeks: Share the day’s schedule and talks
  • 1 week: Reminder of directions and any questions?
  • 1 day: Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and directions

Despite this aggressive communications schedule, every time I have organised an event I have had a handful of attendees get in touch with a few days to go asking if they been chosen or where it is being held. Not everyone reads all their emails.

With this in mind, consider calling your attendee list with a week to go to make sure they have all the details and they are still coming.

Tip: Create a back-up list

Let customers who have been unsuccessful know they can be added to a back-up list to step in if anyone drops out. It is normal to find that people drop out closer to the day. Hopefully more inform you than don’t, and when they do, you can fall back on your back-up list.

Attendee collateral

This is not the place to try and save money. The quality of the collateral you give them says a lot about your business. Make sure it is good.

  • Branded welcome note/card
  • Branded pen
  • Branded notepad
  • Branded bag
  • Branded USB memory stick
  • Feedback form for the day

Additionally, treat the day as a proper conference, and produce a booklet to hand out at the start.

HeartCon booklet

The contents page from Heart Internet’s HeartCon booklet

Include the structure of the day, bios of the speakers, info about the products related to the talks,  general useful resources e.g. marketing materials, PDF downloads, books, a couple of pages with lines for note writing etc.

Internal planning and coordination

With so much to do, start your planning nice and early because time will fly. Before you know it, it will be the day of the event, and you’ll wonder where it all went.

Planning far ahead reduces what is going to be a stressful experience any way. It means you have time to adapt to unforeseen humps, and get new plans in place.

People dropping out, suppliers not delivering on time, subjects not being suitable for a talk any more…

Create a Gantt chart with all the tasks you need to complete in the build up to the big day along the X axis, and dates on the Y axis.

Week Week Week
Customers
Email to prompt sign up Name x
Confirm they have been chosen Name x
Itinerary for the day Name x
Reminder Name x
Website
Design/ logo style finalised Name x
Landing page Name x
Talks
First draft ready Name x
Final draft ready Name x
Slides designed Name x
Rehersal 1 Name x
Rehersal 2 Name x
Rehersal 3 Name x
Handouts
Booklet Name x
Notepad Name x
Pen Name x
Badge Name x
Sticker Name x
Lanyards Name x

Practice running through each talk at least once. This will draw attention to anything that needs changing from a content or timing perspective.

Briefing your staff/helpers

One of the biggest mistakes I made when organising an event, was not keeping everyone in the loop for areas they weren’t contributing to.

I took the approach that as long as I knew it was in hand, that would be enough. The speakers and volunteers knew enough to do their job.

But that meant only I had the complete picture, which caused some confusion about progress and responsibilities.

In some cases it also led to de-motivation, because they didn’t feel they were part of the whole experience.

Hold a kick off meeting to explain the objectives, the outline of the day and who will have responsibility for what. From there start with monthly meetings, with the meetings and catch-ups becoming more frequent as the day gets closer.

The big day

Registration

Set-up a welcome desk, using your branding so it is clear who you are. From here take their registration and then walk them to where the conference is being held.

Unless the room is directly next to your table, don’t just point them in the general direction of where to go. People will get lost.

Running the day

Once the talks start, the day should pretty much manage itself. Assuming there are no technical glitches, you can sit back and enjoy the day.

Make it social

Get your attendees talking about their day on Twitter or Facebook. You can do this by linking their use of a hashtag to a competition, or Q&A session at the end (or both). This also helps to get fellow attendees interacting with each other on social media.

Post-event

Marketing

The day itself is only the start.

Record the talks and take plenty of pictures during the day to share after the event, encouraging people to share.

HeartCon videos

Videos of the talks for people to watch and share

HeartCon download

The booklet from the day for anyone to download and share

Other ideas to maximise the impact of your day include:

  • Your website: Create a landing page with a summary of the day, and pictures and videos available to watch, download and share. Also make the slides available to download.
  • YouTube: Upload all the talks from the day for people to discover and share.
  • Slideshare: Put the slides on slideshare for people to discover and share.
  • Instagram and/or Flickr: Upload pictures of the talks, people enjoying the day and any social event you have after the conference finishes.
  • Twitter/Facebook: Thank everyone for coming and drive traffic to your videos and pictures from the day.
  • Email/newsletter to all customers: Thank those who came, give a summary of the day and drive traffic to your videos and pictures from the day.

Get post-event feedback from attendees and staff

Send a survey the day after the event to everyone who attended, thanking them for coming along and asking them to rate various aspects of the conference.

This way it is fresh in their memory and they are still engaged enough to make the effort to reply.

For example:

  • Which was their favourite talk?
  • How did they rate the venue?
  • Would they attend again?
  • How did they rate the refreshments?

You can use this information to gauge success, and make changes to your next event.

In summary

For an events like this to succeed the whole company needs to have bought into the idea, and view it as everyone’s responsibility to make it a success.

With hand out to design and buy, talks to write, slides to design, venues to book… planning a conference for your customers requires a lot of work, and you can’t do it all yourself.

Maintain oversight to keep it all consistent and on time, but delegate areas of responsibility to other team members to help spread the load.

Good luck if you are planning your own conference, and I hope it all goes well!

24 customer marketing ideas you can do right now

Successful customer marketing is made up of hundreds of small components all working together to achieve a goal.

That goal is happy customers that stay longer, buy more and refer new customers.

Here are 24 easy to do, quick win customer marketing ideas you can start doing today.

Use it as a checklist to make sure you are presenting the right information at the right time and everything is fully optimised.

  1. Run Reddit style Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with senior members of your management. Make it no holds barred so customers know you are honest and open. Do not put any restrictions in place, it is better not to do it if you have any reservations.
  2. Stop treating each customer equally. 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. That 20% should be treated like gold. Create a VIP membership which includes useful benefits and rewards e.g. Beta testing, extended support, free resources, discounts, onboarding support…
  3. Get your CEO/managing director involved and turn him/her into a customer ambassador. Answering customer support tickets, writing blog posts (and responding to comments), engaging with forum comments… make them accessible and put a face to your company.
  4. Sponsor events that cater to your customers and are related to what you do. The best way to research which events to get involved with is ask your customers any they attend. You’ll be seen as supporting the community and raise your awareness amongst your target audience.
  5. Educate customers through simple gamification. Google did this  a couple of years ago through a New Year challenge. Upon signing up, each week in January they sent three tasks to perform in your AdWords account. If you completed a task in each of the four weeks you entered a prize draw. A great way to draw your customers’ attention to features they may not know about.
  6. Segment your email subscriber list based on their level of engagement with your email marketing and tailor your content accordingly. e.g. Low engagement = competitions, offers etc.
  7. Pick out your power users for each product tier (e.g. using 90% of their allowance) and give them an incentive to upgrade now.
  8. Survey your customers asking them to describe the challenges they face, and then create content to help them solve those problems. (See my post about supporting customer micro-moments).
  9. Incentivise your promoters (from an NPS survey) to refer you to new customers through a mutual discount.
  10. Proactively gather positive testimonials and quotes to use in your pre-sales collateral via a feedback form.
  11. Ask a power user a non-sales question on Twitter e.g. “How are you getting on with XYZ?” – Turn them from a customer into a friend.
  12. Interview your customers on your blog – Use it as an opportunity for them to promote themselves and for readers to see how their peers approach shared challenges.
  13. Crowdsource your support database asking your customers to contribute with in-depth ‘how-to’ articles (for £100 per published article). This has two benefits; you become a community driver and you quickly beef up your knowledge base.
  14. Spending quickly becomes a habit. Using the RFM model, identify customers dropping down the scale and incentivise them to get them back into the routine of spending with you.
  15. Showcase your customers to the rest of your base – Be that through a monthly award (e.g. website of the month), a blog interview (see idea No. 7), a profile in your monthly newsletter… You’ll quickly find other customers want to be part of it as well.
  16. Send a custom design Christmas card/e-card that integrates your branding. From my own experiences of doing this, customers soon start looking forward to them and commenting on them.
  17. Campaign to your lost customers – Why did they leave and what can you do the bring them back? Ask them, and then do it!
  18. Renergise your inactive accounts – It is easy to ignore this group but these are your churn danger pot. Find out from the horse’s mouth what can you do to bring back the love.
  19. Send a physical pack of exclusive goodies to your top 100 VIP customers/brand fans. Don’t just send bog standard branded pens, t-shirts etc. Be more creative and use a custom design/message e.g. “A friend of ours [logo]” and cool items e.g. a branded badge.
  20. Create “customer success stories” NOT “case studies”. No one reads sales focused case studies, but they do like to find out more about how their peers became successful (with you at the heart of it, naturally).
  21. Ask if they need help. If you are a service based business or sell technical products, always follow-up with a “Do you need any help?” message within 24 hours of purchase. Successful customers renew/buy again. It is in your interests to make sure they know how to use your product correctly.
  22. Send personal performance reports. Every month, quarter, or year (depending on what fits your product) send a summary of their account totally free, with useful stats about the previous time period. Useful, informative and interesting.
  23. Wow them. And I mean REALLY wow them! Here is a great anecdote from this article showing it in action: One of my favorite examples of this happened at Rackspace, the managed hosting and cloud computing company. An employee on the phone with a customer during a marathon troubleshooting session heard the customer tell someone in the background that they were getting hungry. As she tells it, “So I put them on hold, and I ordered them a pizza. About 30 minutes later we were still on the phone, and there was a knock on their door. I told them to go answer it because it was pizza! They were so excited.”
  24. Give customers public credit if you make any improvements or launch any new features because of their feedback.
Bonus idea: 25. Run your own conference
If you’ve thought about running a conference for your customers, have a read of my ultimate guide to running your own customer conference.

Do you have any customer marketing quick wins you’d recommend people try?