Teach yourself customer marketing

Customer marketing, relationship marketing, loyalty marketing… whatever you call it, it is important!

Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer, and a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.

Additionally, renewing a happy customer on average costs just 11 percent of what it would cost to acquire a new customer.

With stats like that, why are marketers (and I’m as guilty as anyone) so obsessed with putting customer acquisition at the heart of their strategy?

Let’s get started…

This is my favourite post, so I am putting it at the top, and I would strongly recommend you read it. It shows you how you can accurately measure your customer’s share of wallet. A great source for marketing ideas in general, the Harvard Business Review’s ‘The value in wowing your customers’, looks at the benefits in going the extra mile.

Micro-moments are an idea put forward by Google to represent our increasing reliance on mobile devices to get instant information about a problem (e.g. fixing a tap), business or product. With this in mind, businesses supporting their customer’s micro-moments are winning.

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

User onboarding is a hot topic right now, and Samuel Hick’s breakdown of the best damn onboarding flow I’ve ever seen, has plenty of takeaways for you to use.

A legend in the filed of long-form, ideas packed blog posts, Neil Patel’s  guide to creating an auto responder that subscribers can’t wait to open is jam packed with practical advice.

Vero’s ultimate lifecycle email marketing guide could (and probably should) be turned in to a book. It is big, and it is meaty, but it is worth your time.

Customer acquisition is easy to measure and report on, but how do you measure customer loyalty. Here is some some really useful guidance on how to quantify the value of customer loyalty.

Customer service isn’t a department argues that customer service is not just the responsibility of your support agent, but that it should permeate through the entire business – including marketing.

Groove’s blog is a goldmine for anyone interested in improving their customer marketing. I especially like their ‘How we grew our customer exit survey responses by 785%’.

Help Scout’s Creating customers for life: 50 resources on loyalty, churn and retention is a collection of some of my favourite reads on loyalty, churn, and retention, with a bias toward online businesses (particularly SaaS and ecommerce).

You should also have a read of their ‘Improve free trials by getting to know your customers’.

And finally from them, their 75 customer service fast, quotes and statistics is a goldmine.

Baremterics have shared the 17 emails they send to engage customers, reduce churn and increase revenue. Have a read here.

How well do you know your customers? Buyer personas are a great way to get in to the mind of your customers, and help shape your marketing efforts. Shopify have put together a guide on how to build buyer personas.

Read more

This post is part of my series pointing you in the direction of the best sources of information to teach yourself about various aspects of marketing.

Previous posts include teach yourself… Marketing a SaaS product, making and promoting an infographic, social media marketing, starting and writing a blog, paid search advertising, affiliate marketing, and SEO.

Over a third of Brits will do this year’s Christmas shopping online

A survey into Christmas spending habits has revealed that online shopping is now on the brink of being Britain’s favourite way to shop during the festive season.

10,000 people across the UK were asked how they’ll be doing the majority of this year’s Christmas shop, and what they loved most about shopping in-store and online – with Brits sharing the reasons they prefer each of the two retail platforms.

  • In-store and online shopping are neck-and-neck on the countdown to Christmas 2015
  • Brits shop in-store for the hands-on experience, while online shopping is praised for convenience and price comparison options
  • Almost a quarter of men in the UK admit they’ll be delegating Christmas shopping duties to their significant other

Earlier this month, Marketing Magazine revealed that two thirds of British Christmas shoppers find the best bargains by finding products in-store and shopping for better prices online – highlighting the unique benefits offered by each channel.

This new study, conducted by online marketing agency me:ta, saw UK shoppers praise the opportunity to get hands-on with products in-store – while the convenience of e-commerce sites is making online shopping an increasingly popular option.

Other once-popular shopping alternatives appear to be on their way out – with less than 2% of Brits intending to use catalogues, TV or telephone for their Christmas shopping in 2015.

Christmas Shop Chart

Retail unwrapped

This Christmas, it looks like Brits are finding most of their stocking fillers in-store – with 38% of participants planning to do the majority of their seasonal shop in brick-and-mortar stores rather than online.

When it comes to the advantages of shopping in-store, Brits believe it’s the hands-on aspect that makes the difference – along with the easy returns policy and human touch of customer service.

18% of men surveyed were drawn to the instant gratification found with in-store shopping, while 24% of British women like having the opportunity to ask for help.

The Christmas shopping cart

One resounding outcome of the survey saw online shopping edge ever closer to the in-store experience, bringing in a hefty 37% of the overall vote thanks to the unmatched convenience of the online platform.

Last year, Capgemini reported that online retail in the UK had, in 2014, surpassed £100bn for the first time – with 13% growth during the Christmas period versus the previous year.

And it looks like the online retail revolution is taking Britain by storm, with over half of 35-44 year-olds – and a substantial 33% of over-65s – planning to buy most of this year’s Christmas presents online.

In spite of being home to Britain’s biggest and best high street shopping experience, 39% of London’s residents are also turning to e-commerce for their Christmas shop – and 17% of Londoners say pricing is the reason they choose to Google their Christmas gift ideas.

Santa’s little helper

According to the study, Christmas shopping isn’t everyone’s idea of a yuletide treat – with 20% of Brits admitting they’ll be delegating this duty to their other half.

Almost a quarter of British men revealed their partner will be taking control of the Christmas shop – and over 40% of Yorkshire’s male population are planning to outsource shopping to their significant other this season.

With catalogue, TV and telephone shopping bringing in combined support of just 4%, Christmas 2015 looks like a two-horse retail race – with the in-store experience giving way to online shopping, as silver surfers embrace the advantages of logging on.

Better results from your marketing/design feedback loop

Badly organised feedback loops between marketing teams and designers always increases the amount of time a project takes, inflates costs, demotivates everyone involved and generally results in a piece of work no one is really happy with.

A lot of this is totally avoidable by using a predetermined and structured feedback loop.

The initial brief

Include as much information here as possible. Assume nothing, and specify exactly what you want.

The worst thing you can do is simply hope the designer creates what you have envisioned. Chances are you’ll be disappointed by their inability to read minds.

If you have a clear idea of what you want, let them know before they start.

“We need an arrow!”



If you only have a general idea or simply just a need for some collateral, and you need their creative input at a more granular level, there are still plenty of ways you can speed up the process. Key information to provide includes:

  • Brand guidelines/ colour schemes and logos (if you are outsourcing)
  • Deadlines – So, so important but often overlooked
  • The target audience
  • The context in which it will be used – magazine, Facebook, website, hand out, exhibition…
  • The purpose of the collateral – what do you want it to achieve?
  • Dimensions
  • File size limit
  • Are there any text ratio limits (like Facebook enforces)?
  • Can it be animated, and if so are there any time/frame restrictions?

If you struggle to articulate exactly what you want, a great way to help get your designer off on the right foot is to provide examples of other work that you like the look of.

Obviously you don’t want a carbon copy, but this acts as a mood board to illustrate your thinking.

How to give good design feedback

Plan ahead

I would recommend creating a feedback schedule in advance that everyone agrees to, and signs off.

Use your launch date/deadline and then work your backwards, pinpointing when each iteration should be ready for feedback.


A Gantt chart with each stage broken down by time and responsibility is a great way to do this.

Remember to allocate enough time between each stage for your designer to work on any amends.

Too many cooks…

If there are multiple stakeholders who are giving feedback, make sure one person is given responsibility to gather it all and disseminate.

Additionally, you should all discuss any conflicting opinions and come to a compromise before submitting feedback to the designer.


(Taken from intercom.io)

There is nothing worse than having multiple, contradictory opinions to deal with.

Be specific

Again, be specific with what you want changing. Just giving a general sense of “we think it needs to be more striking” is impossible to action.


Tools such as ‘Awesome screenshot app’ allow you to annotate and draw on images. This cuts down on any misunderstanding of what you are describing you want changing.

Remove subjectivity as much as possible and test

A major problem with design is that everyone has an opinion. Unlike programming code or mechanical engineering, we all have our ideas about how something should look.

There are times when this leads to conflict, and with out someone backing down, it can lead to a compromise design or no design at all.

If there are two opposing opinions on a major component (e.g. the image to use in a website’s home page header), remove personal opinion and test them both with an A/B test. If the disagreement is over something relatively minor, trust your designer, that;s what you pay them for!

Don’t use email to manage design projects

Email is a terrible way to manage feedback on any project. Multiple conversations and versions make version control very difficult.

It can also very easily result in different groups knowing different things as conversations develop.

Slack logo

I would recommend using software such as Trello or Slack. Both of these offer free plans, and all feedback, files, comments and to do lists are all in once place for everyone to see.


5 things you don’t want to hear about your marketing

We all like to think we are doing an amazing job, and it is a brave marketer who approaches performance and analysis with an honest and open mind. They are also usually the most successful.

Here are five truths that can be applied to every business’ marketing, no matter how big or small their budget.

Most email marketing sucks, and yours probably does as well

I can count on one hand the number of emails I get from companies that I actually read. And even then I’ve got fingers to spare.

This is despite my professional interest in email marketing. If I didn’t have that, I’d only open offer based emails from brands I already bought from, or emails that deliver really useful content.

Moz top 10

Really useful content from moz.com.

If you look at your email marketing metrics (opens, clicks, conversions, unsubscribes etc.) they rarely make for great reading.

This is usually because you are either going through the motions, or applying the same thinking as 10 years ago.

Putting together a generic newsletter every month, with a mix of company news and offers doesn’t cut it any more. Your marketing emails must serve the customer, not the product.

Just ask yourself if your emails are valuable even if your potential customer never buys.Noah Kagan, AppSumo

This image below is a genuine screenshot from my a folder I created to highlight how many emails sportsdirect.com send.

sportsdirect emails

Whoever is running sportsdirect.com’s email marketing is certainly productive at putting them together and hitting send.

Running too many price promotions/offers reduces sales

Short-term price promotions are a great way to increase sales quickly. However, this quick win can lead to long term problems.

What you’ll often see is an immediate increase in sales, and then once the offer ends, a slump that goes below the previous non-promotional level.

The next promotion will raise sales again, albeit at a smaller level than before, but then you’ll see a decline yet gain post-promotion.


Regular price promotions train customers to expect them, and they’ll often wait for the next round of discounts before making a purchase.

A succession of short-term response-focused campaigns (including promotionally driven ones) will not succeed as strongly over the longer term as a single brand-building campaign designed to achieve year-on-year improvement to business success.

I’ll support this with a personal anecdote.

I came across sunglasses company Hawkers (http://hawkersco.com/) recently and really liked their designs.

However, being in the UK, I don’t have a lot of use for them and went on my way. I then started to be shown their remarketing banners, which varied from single product to multi-product adverts.

What was consistent was their use of discount codes for me to get money off. Oddly, these would also be different, sometimes 10% off and other times 30% off.

Facebook hawkers

I nearly purchased a pair a couple of times, but even if I decide to complete a purchase, I definitely won’t without a money off code.

They blinked too soon and too often.

Effective marketing is now permission based

Interruption marketing is firmly on the decline. People interact with media in radically different ways compared to the golden age of interruption marketing (1960’s to the late 80’s).

They no longer have to passively consume what is being distributed, a trend highlighted by the falling viewership/readership of TV, magazines and newspapers.

Like it or not, the ad industry’s traditional approach to a story arc—beginning, middle, and end in a 30-second spot—is a thing of the past.” Thinkwithgoogle.com

Additionally, we no longer have to accept being part of a small number of large homogenous groups. All our preferences and tastes are now catered for, no matter how niche.

We are in control.

This means that brands have to work significantly harder to a) be noticed and b) be accepted.

Booking your magazine advert, combined with leaflet drops and the occasional email is not marketing in a modern sense.

90% of marketing is a simple 5 step process

Every industry or discipline likes to talk up what it does, and essentially create unnecessary layers of complexity.

Marketing is full of theories, frameworks and models from the 1970’s that are never used in the real world (E.g. The Boston Matrix), and we continue to add to this bloated universe by over complicating new technology such as social media (Amplification etc.)

The key to effective marketing is to:

  1. Understand your market
  2. Identify who your target audience are within that market (and their traits)
  3. Agree on how you want to position yourself
  4. Research where and how they consume media
  5. Go and do it

Pretty much everything else is bloat.

If you aren’t thinking mobile first, you are losing

We all know that most emails are now read on mobile devices.

But what is less known is people now turn to their phones or tablets to solve immediate problems, and they expect brands to deliver them with immediate answers.

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.

The graph below shows the percentage of people in the UK who use their phones and tablets to research local information (restaurants, shops etc.) The two combined have overtaken traditional PCs.

Consumer Barometer(Source: https://www.consumerbarometer.com/en/graph-builder/?question=N44&filter=country:united_kingdom)

Mobile first marketing is a great opportunity for every business:

  • Of smartphone users, 91% 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.

The key is to identify which medium your target audience use to 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.

Trust is email marketing’s most important metric

There are two broad approaches to marketing, interruption marketing and permission marketing.

One barges its way in to your consciousness though noise and repetition, the other adds enough value that you actively choose to receive it.

Effective email marketing is absolutely based around the principles of permission marketing. All those spam emails you NEVER read? Interruption marketing at its worst.

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. – Seth Godin

So how do you convince someone to a) sign up to receive marketing emails from you, b) read them and c) act on them?

By building trust

Effective email marketing is:

  • Anticipated: People will anticipate the service/product information from the company.
  • Personal: The marketing information explicitly relates to the customer.
  • Relevant: The marketing information is something that the consumer is interested in.

In this post I will show you how email marketing based around trust will create a profitable relationship with your customers and subscribers.

Content they know they want

Two important questions to ask yourself before sending any email are:

  1. How are you adding value for your readers?
  2. How are you helping them be more successful?

Sending people company news is absolutely fine, as long as it is written in a way that shows how it benefits your customers/readers.

But just sending this week after week isn’t going to excite anyone, and it won’t make people look forward to your next email.

By solving problems and adding value, your readers quickly learn to trust your emails as being a useful resource, and not another cold sales email.

Cross-pollenating content from your blog is a great way to tick both these boxes. (Don’t have a blog? Here is why every business should have a blog.)

Moz.com have always used email marketing really well. Their ‘Moz Top 10’ is packed full of useful links and makes no attempt to get me to buy their service.

Moz top 10


They use email marketing as an extension of their content-led marketing strategy. Moz use their own, and 3rd party content to position themselves as thought leaders.

This makes them extremely confident I will choose their service if I have any need for that type of software. Maintaining contact and my engagement is achievement enough for them right now.

Target and personalise

Email is one of the few marketing channels you have that you can heavily personalise to a user. Take advantage of this.

This goes beyond inserting their name in to the salutation (e.g. “Hi Matt” rather than “Dear customer”), and it includes personalising the content you send them as well.

The easiest way to do this is to segment your list based on the actions they take (or don’t take).

If you are a blog…

This can be done by segmenting your subscriber list by their level of engagement (e.g. opens and clicks). Services like MailChimp (which I use) gives each subscriber a star rating based on how they interact with your emails.

The type of content you send to the regular readers can be a lot more content driven and interactive than those who don’t engage with you.

The unengaged segment list should get emails aimed at getting them to, you guessed it, engage more.

If you sell products online…

Segment your list using a Recency, Frequency and Value model (more on that here).

Your VIP group should receive content designed to mobilise them to advocacy, rewards to treat them as a special group and maintain a strong brand relationship.

Your bottom group (typically inactive customers) will need strong incentives to start buying from you again, so focus this content on special offers, bundling and getting feedback on how you can fulfil their needs in the future.

Ask your subscribers to self-categorise

Another approach to segmenting your subscribers is to ask them to put themselves in to categories.

These categories will depend on your audience, but as an example you could ask them to choose whether they are an individual, a business, a charity etc.

I have previously written what a great job Costa Coffee did with this in an email to me. You can read more about that here, but in a nutshell they are asked me to share my favourite coffee moment. These were predefined options to chose from:

  • The ‘reboot my morning’ coffee
  • The ‘I’ve shopped till I drop’ coffee
  • The ‘Three peaceful chapters’ coffee
  • The ‘Tell me everything’ coffee
  • The ‘Little cup of me time’ coffee
  • The ‘In my own little world’ coffee

As customers, we were segmenting ourselves for them. This information, married with purchase behaviour gleaned from my loyalty point card, will be an incredibly powerful tool for their branding, product and customer retention marketing.

Be a person, not a faceless company

We all get a lot of emails. To filter out irrelevant messages, one of the things we do when checking our inbox is to see who the emails are from.

I would recommend personalising the ‘From’ address to come from a named person. This helps to turn your company in to a team of people, not a faceless corporation. E.g. Matt@widgets.com is better than no-reply@widgets.com.

Making it clear the email is from you contributes to trust by ensuring you’re quickly recognised. This draws on the strength of your relationship with the subscriber.

In the email itself, the biggest identity benefits come from a recognisable sender in the from line. The most appropriate format here depends on the nature of the email list and the familiarity of subscribers with all the options.

Typical alternatives are:

  • Person’s name (e.g. a known account manager)
  • Organisation’s name
  • Person’s name + organization
  • Brand name
  • Name of email list or newsletter

Double opt-in

A simple thing to set up, and highly recommended. Double opt-in pretty much guarantees good list quality.


By asking subscribers to confirm they asked to sign up via an initial email, this mechanism removes any email addresses that are either fake, or used by someone else to sign them up.

Green PR is a gift that keeps giving

PR is an essential activity for any business, but it can be easy to get tunnel vision and engage in typical, formulaic PR activity.

New client information, award shortlists and new hires are the bread and butter of PR ventures, but there are other avenues to explore that are much more satisfying.

Green PR is one such avenue, and it comes with a multiple benefits.

What is Green PR?

Green is an adjective frequently applied to things that are perceived as morally or socially conscious, and ‘Green’ PR is no exception.

Green PR is essentially promoting the less corporate, more ‘feel-good’ aspects of a company’s activities.

It can take the form of publicising the recent charity work a company has been involved in or could be promoting the efforts a company has taken to become more eco-friendly.

The benefits are that the company gains brand awareness whilst raising its profile within a community – all the while genuinely benefitting society as a whole.

Many companies undertake community and charity work as a means of giving something back to the public, but these activities aren’t always taken advantage of from a PR perspective.

A business can also adjust the scope of these efforts according to the scale of the activity.

So, for some ventures simply notifying the local and regional press will suffice, whereas others can tie in national media outlets or specific foundations and organisations related to the type of activity.

How is it done?

Green PR is usually no harder to implement than simply creating stories around the good things a company gets up to already and then distributing them.

However, if the company isn’t already taking part in PR-worthy activities then there’s no need to worry as supporting the community is as simple as it is rewarding.

Here are a couple of examples of what companies could get involved with.

Support a charity

Charities rely on the goodwill of others, and companies are in a great position to help make a difference by supporting those in need.

Regular donations are obviously a wonderful contribution, but actively taking part in fundraising events is more beneficial to both the donor and the charity involved.

This is because it supports their ability to publish their activities and gives the donor a new opportunity to promote their own.

Not only that, but supporting a charity can reinforce a company’s ethical element, brand values and trustworthiness – all of which are hugely attractive to both customers and prospective employees.

Supporting a charity also gives a great opportunity for business networking, as other similarly motivated business owners and employees are likely to be involved.

A good example is Safestore, who’ve pledged to support the disability charity, Scope.

The company has branches across the UK, and each regional store is competing against each other to fill the most sacks with clothes etc.

By doing this, they not only put in a huge effort for the charity, they benefit from being able to publicise their efforts in each regional location, multiplying the exposure.

Go green

A company’s green credentials are important, not just from an environmental perspective but from a public relations viewpoint as well.

There’s an ever increasing pressure for businesses to recycle and to make socially conscious decisions, and it’s actually becoming easier for companies to make efforts towards becoming more responsible.

Many local councils offer comprehensive recycling solutions, and there are other options available for modest fee.

However, to really make a great story from going green, businesses are likely to need to go above and beyond the usual level of activity.

Is there any way the business could use renewable energy sources, such as installing a small wind turbine? Are solar panels a possibility?

Working towards becoming more carbon neutral is certainly a newsworthy story that can be sent on to any local media and trade publications.

Recently, Nissan’s Sunderland plant has applied for permission to build a solar farm on its premises in order to offset some of its energy consumption and save a large amount of Co2 emissions.

The permission hasn’t even been granted yet, but local media has covered the story nonetheless.

Support a community

Supporting the local community is a fantastic way of raising the profile of a business whilst giving something genuinely beneficial back.

Similar to supporting a charity, helping out in the community has the chance to benefit a large number of people whilst also making for a great story and strengthening company values.

The benefits don’t just stop there either, as staff are also likely to reap positive benefits.

Working together on a voluntary project can increase your staff’s morale and also help to create a closer working relationship – all of which makes staff more efficient and happier.

Hudgell Solicitors provide a great example of a business giving back to the community and changing lives in the process.

The Hudgell Solicitors Trust offer grants every three months to individuals and groups, and the aim is to support grassroots level activities.

These activities may relate to health, sport, education or other worthwhile causes.

Getting involved in socially conscious activities can reap big rewards and open the door to widespread coverage that goes beyond publicity and serves to reinforce brand values and make a business more attractive.