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?

Is “Generation Z” the most complex consumer to challenge marketers yet?

Marketers and PR folk have long been obsessed with Millennials, those born in the eighties and nineties as supposedly the first generation to adapt to the ‘new age’.

However as this market starts to edge into their mid-thirties, there is a new, younger generation paving their way into the world.

They have grown up completely immersed in the iGeneration, and knows no different.

They are “Generation Z”.

The end of traditional media (like, really this time)

For marketing professionals this presents an interesting demographic to target, as the way they play almost turns traditional consumer behaviour on its head.

Latest research shows that Generation Z are completely turned off by celebrity culture and traditional media, and are more tuned in to peer to peer recommendation and online superstars like Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr, Jim Chapman and Alfie Deyes.

For female Generation Z-ers, bloggers are actually cited as the fourth most popular “celebrity” influence.

A generation that has always been connected to each other 24/7

Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, defines this audience as those born between 1995 and 2001 – a subset of Generation Y, really, but a distinct one, whose dates coincide with the spread of home internet connections and mobile phones.

She explains: “Those two things birthed a different world, which is the world this generation was born into.

This iGeneration can’t conceive of a world before everyone owned a mobile phone, and instant gratification is their norm; they have it in the palms of their hands within moments, usually for free.

This ability to find whatever they’re after without the help of intermediaries – such as libraries, shops or teachers – has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them.”

Looking beyond Facebook

For Generation Z, social media is king, but not as maybe you and I know it.

Unsurprisingly Facebook, as with most demographics, remains the number one platform, however for Generation Z, Snapchat is the second most popular, with 42% of this audience checking Snapchat at least once a day.

For other audiences, Snapchat would barely even appear in the Top 10. With Snapchat increasingly looking to monetise their service, this is a really interesting platform to keep an eye on if you have a product or service that targets this complex group.

Where Generation Z are concerned, you can pretty much also assume that print media is dead.

This is isn’t to say they don’t pick up the odd magazine or newspaper, however for genuine cut through, online sites, bloggers and vloggers are the media that hold the real power of influence.

When asked what influenced their buying decisions, no traditional media apart from TV appeared in the top 10.

These guys shop around, read review sites and blogs, seek out recommendations and refer constantly to social media.

This isn’t an audience to be fobbed off; they are savvy, and seek value for money.

As technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, and what we know from one generation to the next changes rapidly, keeping on the pulse of varying and differing consumer behaviours and applying this knowledge to your creative approach will make all the difference between failure and success.

For any successful marketing or PR campaign, consumer profiling and understanding how your target audience plays is pivotal.

Generation Z are a really interesting demographic, and certainly make for a challenging and exciting audience to engage with.

The New York Times describes them as ‘the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters’, and Women’s Wear Daily as ‘the next big retail disrupter’.

Here is a snazzy infographic that pulls all the information together (source: www.escapadepr.com/resources)

Generation Z

 

Preventing buyer’s remorse is the missing (vital) piece of your marketing strategy

For most businesses, customer marketing is based upon the premise their customers are comfortable with a purchase, instantly focusing on areas such as up-selling, cross-selling and engagement.

This is a mistake that increases cancellations and churn.

For businesses that sell expensive or complicated products (or businesses that are new to the market), the period immediately after purchase has the highest danger of cognitive dissonance (aka “buyer’s remorse”) and churn than at any other time.

Post Purchase cognitive dissonance is the phrase we give to the state of unease which exists in the customer’s mind after buying a product or service”

Source

In terms of your approach to marketing, these new customers share more in common with non-customer marketing.

  • Non-customer: The population you want to buy from you but haven’t done so yet. Convert by selling the benefits of your business/product.
  • New customer: Recent buyer, possible cognitive dissonance. Reassure and retain selling the benefits of your business/product.
  • Customer: Established paying customer. Increase LTV upselling and cross-selling.

In this post I will show you why proactive post-purchase validation is so important, and share ideas you can implement quickly and easily.

What is post-purchase validation?

Customer research doesn’t always end once a product/service has been bought. This is especially true if they are buying from someone new, or making a considered purchase.

A considered purchase is one that requires research, and is not done on a whim.

For example, from my perspective, toothpaste is a non-considered purchase (a low cost, low risk product).

A considered purchase would be a new PC, because it would require a lot of research to ensure my personal perceived risk factors are all ticked off.

Perceived risk is one of the cornerstones of consumer psychology. It deals with the psychological barriers that may prevent us from making a purchase:

  • Functional: Will the product work?
  • Psychological: Am I doing the right thing?
  • Social: Will my peers approve?
  • Financial: Can I afford this?
  • Time: Do I have the time to complete this purchase?
  • Physical: Will this product harm me?

A consumer’s level of uncertainty after a complex purchase decision typically sees them attempt to reduce their anxiety.

This is done by collecting more information post-purchase.

People want to be told they made the right choice

Post-purchase validation reassures us that we have not harmed ourselves in one of the ways described above.

The interesting thing here is, after buying a product consumers are not looking for objective content; they want/need it to be positive.

They want to be reassured it was the right choice, and not be told they may have made a mistake.

Renowned psychologist Robert Cialdini highlights our deep-seated psychological desire to stay true to that commitment, because it directly relates to our self-image.

We therefore attempt to rationalise any product problems seen, justify the choice made and protect our self-image.

This gives you a great opportunity to control the message and reassure your customers.

Your challenge is to continue addressing your customer’s’ perceived risk factors, and present content that plays into their desire to be proven correct in choosing you.

If you are not controlling the message, it means you have no influence over where they go looking for this content, or whether your customers are seeing positive or negative post-purchase content.

Combatting cognitive dissonance in your marketing

Purchase confirmation page

Immediately after purchase is a great opportunity to support and celebrate their purchase, especially by addressing social risk. e.g.

Thank you for purchasing

You just joined a community of 100,000 successful professional content marketers

Click here to login

Welcome email

Quite possibly your most important customer marketing tool, your welcome email serves a lot of functions.

One that is often overlooked is continuing to market to the customer, and reassure them they made the right choice.
Some ideas include:

  • Stats about how many people have used your product (functional risk)
  • Testimonials from happy customers (social risk)
  • Remind them about your 30-day money back guarantee (financial risk)
  • Direct them to perform a successful action straight away (functional risk)

First time they log-in to your control panel

Support your customers’ first use of their control panel by wrapping up useful onboarding with social proofing.

For example, lead with a message or pop-up:

Getting started

Find out how 100,000 fellow content marketers successfully use our software

Click here for our quick start guide

You don’t need to keep selling yourself repeatedly, so I would limit this to the first time they log-in to their control panel.

Follow-up communication

Don’t assume that new customers are happily using your product/service, or that dissatisfied customers will let you know.

A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers

source

Send new customers an email 24 hours after purchase, asking them if they need any help and/or if they are satisfied with their purchase. Respond to any questions or dissatisfaction instantly.

Physical purchases

All these examples have dealt with digital products and communications, but the concept still applies to tangible products.

Include a note in your customer’s delivery orders about how other customers loved using your product.

Better social media marketing in 10 easy steps

A 2014 study found that around 90% of brands were active on social media, so nobody really needs convincing to get involved anymore. Now that we’re all online though, are we really making the most of the opportunities that social can offer us?

Here are 10 simple ways to keep your social media strategy fresh and give your fans and followers what they want:

Catch their eye

Grabbing the attention of your audience is key – social media channels constantly display new information, so making sure your content instantly engages a user is vital.

Images should be bold and your titles concise, and if you’re creating video content for a platform like Facebook, then the first three seconds are crucial.

Videos auto play without sound on Facebook timelines, so those first few moments of your video need to draw the viewer in.

Producing a short 3 second montage of your video to put at the start will entice users to keep watching, more than a dry company logo or introduction will.

Be consistent

Getting users to look at your content is the first step, but keeping them there is the hard part. To keep your followers engaged you should become a reliable source of information.

Post regularly (every day if you can), but check the best practice guidelines for each platform you use, as they do vary in the regularity of posts.

The experts from automated social posting tool, Buffer, published some information on their posting schedule earlier this year, showing that Twitter has a much more active user base, and engagement rates only seem to grow after you post more than three times a day.

The most important thing is to be consistent. Test strategies and timings, see what works, and then establish yourself on the platform.

Follow up

Research has shown that it takes on average 7-13 ‘touches’ from a salesperson to generate a qualified sales lead. That seems like a lot of follow-ups, but it highlights the importance of multi-channel marketing.

The content you share online can help establish your brand and grow your audience but it might not necessarily lead to sales.

Follow up on social content with eye catching adverts – social media sites have some great features, which can let you directly target your audience.

You can drill down into your audience’s age range, location, and even interests and even with limited budgets promote your content so that it appears on their timelines and feeds.

Facebook ads can now take data from users’ Google searches too –  a brand like Prestige Post-boxes might use Facebook ads to follow up on a user’s recent Google searches for wedding favours and decorations.

Create calls to action

Always create a next step for followers, so you don’t lose them as soon as they finish looking at your content.

Your call to action could encourage them to click through and read more information, subscribe to a newsletter or sign up to a service or product.

Charities in particular are very good at providing users with calls to action in their social posts. The British Red Cross Facebook page is a great example of not overselling something.

While they occasionally prompt users to donate, generally their content is interesting and engaging, rather than being solely focussed on conversions.

Not everything has to be a hard sell – if you prove your worth to an audience as a brand, they’ll make their own decisions.

Check who you’re following

While social media provides you with a great platform on which you can engage with your customers, it can also be a valuable tool for you as a business.

Use it to find influencers in your niche and get information about trends in the industry. Many brands recognise the importance of showing their followers they’re engaged by following them back, and replying to tweets and messages.

Although it’s important to engage with your followers, it doesn’t mean you have to follow everyone who follows you.

Check who your followers are before automatically following them back, and though it might be easier to cast a wide net, you’ll be rewarded later if you’re more selective.

Tools like Manage Flitter can help you get an overview of your followers and manage who you’re following across multiple accounts.

Check who’s following you

When  you’re building a social following, it can be tempting to try a range of different tactics, in order to get new followers quickly.

While your follower count can be an initially positive sign to potential followers of your prominence, it really is a false economy.

Buying followers will mean that you have a bigger audience, but not one that’s interested in what you have to say. If your follower list is full of irrelevant or spam accounts, then you need to readjust your strategy.

Spam accounts will generally have few followers, generic looking tweets, and no imagery on their profiles.

Focus on what works

There’s only so much time in the day, so don’t waste your time on what isn’t working. Pick a platform that your audience is most active on and put all of your efforts into that platform.

Look at what your competitors are doing and whether it’s going well. If it is, you can try and learn from it.

Many factors can influence the success of a piece of content: relevancy to the time period and relevancy to the audience’s interests are probably the two most important.

Flooring retailer, Posh Flooring, recently ran a competition to find Britain’s Ugliest Carpet. It encouraged those on social media to offer up pictures of their own carpet for the prize.

Not only was the competition relevant to their own niche and products, but it gave their followers the chance to get involved too.

By finding something their customers were keen to share and focusing on the campaign over a 3-month period, the company saw a great uplift in followers who had all engaged with the competition and were interested in their products.

Make to fit

Once you’ve got your focus, don’t waste the opportunities you have. All platforms have different nuances that make them special, but they all have restrictions too.

When you’re creating images for each of your accounts, you should check the guidelines and create posts which fit into them.

Cover photos and profile pictures can easily cut off important information or parts of an image if not sized correctly.

Tools like Canva can help make sure your images are the right size across all social media platforms.

Make sure your content and brand is right for each platform too – if you work in a fast paced industry, then Twitter should be your focus, if you’re a tech company, then make the most of Google+.

Keep your details uniform

Your address and contact information should be the same on all platforms. Not only will this give a good impression to users who follow you on multiple platforms, but it will also help search engines recognise and reward you for offering clear information.

There’s  evidence that platforms like Google+ have been used as a ranking factor in the past, and as social becomes more integrated into all of our lives, surely it will play an important role in future.

Just as you should stay consistent with your posts, make sure all your details are consistent too.

Tag it up

Hashtags aren’t just for One Direction fans, they can be a really useful tool when it comes to getting your content in front of an active and potentially new audience.

All of the major networks use some form of tag now to help users find content around particular topics, and people use it more than you might think.

Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr are traditionally the home of the tag, but it’s being used more and more on Facebook and other platforms as well.

Facebook’s trending section in the side bar of its news feed now even analyses the trends of certain phrases without hashtags, so if you use the right keyword you could get your content to an audience looking to find information on something you have the answer to.

Don’t be a marketing dinosaur

As a marketing professional of 10 years, personal development is always at the forefront of my mind. Since starting my first marketing job the landscape has changed dramatically.

The biggest change has been the move from narrow offline channels (local press, Yellow Pages, directories etc.), to a fragmented online media landscape for small businesses.

And with that shift, the ever evolving skills required to manage marketing campaigns has demanded we always have to be learning and developing.

From Google AdWords, to Facebook Ads, to YouTube, to content marketing, to Instagram, to Periscope and beyond.

With this in mind, if you could give one piece of advice to a new marketer looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry what would it be?

Here is some useful tips and advice from fellow marketing professionals, put together in a handy infographic by theladders.com.

 

TheLadders_MarketingDino

Looking to start a career in marketing?

Have a read my post with advice on how to get your first job in marketing (as well tips for businesses looking to hire their first marketing employee).