A fast and easy way to increase your Trust Pilot score

There are two huge reasons why you should care about your Trust Pilot score:

  1. Google uses Trust Pilot a lot for to work out its own star ratings, which then appear in search results and business listings.
  2. Trust Pilot appears near the top for pretty much any “[business name] review” search

They can either be a god send…

hostpresto reviews Google Search

Or a nightmare…

mothercare reviews Google Search

Whether you like it or not, this score is influencing people’s decision to buy from you.

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Product Recommendation Technology in Email Marketing

This is a guest article from Ian Roderick, Communications Manager for email marketing software provider Newsletter2Go.

 The goal should be to make every email relevant to everyone who receives it.

You’re not going to fool anyone by sending mass email blasts to your entire list. Emails that aren’t relevant will be deleted without being opened. And if you do it too often, your contacts will start unsubscribing from your newsletter entirely.

The key is to get relevant content to the right people at the right time.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already intuitively doing this by segmenting your contacts into lists, and sending separate emails to the different lists with different content, products, or offers.

The Future of Email Marketing

But the next big step in email marketing is coming onto the market, and will start being available to more and more small businesses and marketers.

I’m talking about automated product recommendation technology made specifically for email marketers.

Based on certain parameters – which products a customer has viewed, purchased, or what other customers have viewed and purchased – a product recommendation is automatically generated.

Big brands like Amazon have been doing this for a while already, but they use their own propriety recommendation engine, which aren’t available to the rest of us.

As the technology has developed, a number of recommendation engines technologies have come onto the market for small and medium sized businesses – those without the resources to develop their own technology.

In the email marketing world, this is really exciting. Why? Because in theory, you’ll be able to send every single one of your contacts a totally unique email.

The email marketing provider builds a recommendation technology into our software. This means you import contacts, create newsletters, and send them as normal – with the added option of including automatically generated product recommendations within the email.

The contact lists, the sending infrastructure – all that’s the same. The only change is that recipients receive a custom, targeted email recommendation.

How it Works in Email Marketing

Basically, the way it will work is this. A product recommendation engine will be embedded on your website. It will track user behavior – which products they’ve been looking at, which they’ve put in their shopping cart, which they’ve previously bought – and hold on to that data.

The newsletters that you send will all contain a product recommendation block. When the contact opens the email, the recommendation technology will fill that block with a custom recommendation based on that user’s behavior on your website.

Think about that. You’ve created one newsletter, but all of your 10,000 subscribers see a different one. The power of your communication has grown by orders of magnitude.

Leverage Product Recommendations to Send Better Emails

Use automated product recommendation engines to send effective newsletters that increase engagement and drive sales:

Shopping Cart Abandons – According to Nosto, around 70% of shopping carts are abandoned prior to checkout. This is frustrating, but also represents an opportunity.

You know your users are interested in the product, they just haven’t made that last step yet. Step in with an automated email including the products they’ve left in their carts, as well as a few releated products that they might be interested in.

Post-order follow-ups – Turn one-time purchasers into people who come back again and again. Send emails a day or two after they’ve ordered or had their package delivered with products that other people, who’ve bought that product, have also bought.

We miss you – use the browsing history to remind them of the products that they’ve looked at, and get them back onto your site.

Welcome emails – Use unique identifying information from customers or new registrants to send products that are likely to be interesting for them.

What To Watch Out For When Using Recommendation Technology

That being said, there are some things that you should keep in mind.

  • Smaller shops will find it more difficult to generate great recommendations because there are fewer data points. Consider using browsing history instead of purchase history.
  • The same products might be generated over and over again. If you don’t have a huge product selection, make sure that you leave enough time in between product newsletters
  • Because the recommendations are generated at the moment the email is opened, your platform needs to have enough server bandwidth to handle the requests instantaneously. Slow loading emails, or improperly loaded emails, will end up straight in the trash bin
  • Don’t embed product images in emails – this looks like spam and will be flagged
  • Don’t include product recommendations as attachments
  • Don’t make recommendations for gimmicky financial services or offers, as these will look spammy and won’t be delivered
  • Make sure the text in your email matches the product that you’re describing

In Summary

Automated product recommendation technology is a powerful tool for E-commerce platforms, and for email marketers. It’s never been easier to send relevant, useful products that are more likely to generate opens, clicks, and sales.

But like with any technology, there are challenges and potentially unforeseen limitations.

Over at Newsletter2Go, we’re working hard on seamlessly integrating a product recommendation technology into our email marketing software. We’ve entered testing phase and are really excited to start rolling it out.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Good luck, and happy emailing!

Better email marketing applying the scientific method

Email marketing should be every marketer’s dream. As well as requiring creative thought and strategic planning, you instantly know whether it is working or not. Every aspect of it is trackable, testable and reportable.

Rather than approaching making changes an ad-hoc or subjective basis, you can improve your email marketing performance consistently and iteratively by using the scientific method.

What is the scientific method?
The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge (source).

The steps of the scientific method

scientific method

Taken from https://moz.com/blog/campaign-tracking-without-going-crazy-keeping-order-adwords-optimization

For the purpose of this article, I will use the example an online portfolio creator for designers, photographers etc. to showcase their work, that offers a 14-day free trial. I will name the company ‘Pyxels’ (note: this is a totally made up company to illustrate my points).

Purpose: State the problem

Before you start making changes to your email marketing, take a step back and think about the end goal i.e. the problem you want to solve.

Email marketing is a means to an end, serving your business goals. It is not a goal in its own right.

For example, even if you want to to increase click-through rates, those clicks serve the purpose of increasing traffic to your website via email.

Your metrics should be serving a bigger purpose e.g. We want our email marketing to…

  • Reduce customer support phone calls
  • Increase basket size
  • increase referrals
  • Etc.

After reading this SaaS conversions benchmark study, Pyxel are unhappy with the number of customers converting from the 14-day free trial to a paid account. This currently stands at 2%.

Research: Find out about the topic

To make any changes, we need to work out what differentiates successful customers from ‘unsuccessful’ customers, and how our email marketing can help solve the problem.  

Try to use data to identify the characteristics of customers rather than anecdotal evidence. We want to know who…

  1. Converts into paying customers
  2. Spends a lot
  3. Buys frequently

Once you know who they are, you can start building mechanisms for new customers to perform those actions quickly and easily.

For example…

Free trial sign-ups

We have identified an area that splits active users and inactive users.

The next step is to review how we are currently addressing this problem (if at all), and  the best way to achieve that outcome.

Based on these figures above, Pyxels need to get more of their trial sign-ups to customise their default portfolio theme.

The logical place to start is how Pyxels are currently communicating the customisable portfolio feature to new sign-ups.

Here is their free account sign-up welcome email:

Welcome To Pyxel

Hi [Name],

Thanks for signing up to Pyxels, it is great to have you on board.

Pyxel makes it easy for you to showcase your amazing work and attract new clients, so let’s get started.

[Button] Login to your account [/Button links to account home page]

Kind regards,

The Pyxel Team

The email is short, friendly and comes with a very clear call to action to login.

However, based on our data we now know that it is not directing people to perform the action we want them to do.

With this in mind, we want to try a new welcome email that achieves that goal.

Welcome To Pyxel

Hi [Name],

Thanks for signing up to Pyxels, it is great to have you on board.

Pyxel makes it easy for you to showcase your amazing work and attract new clients, so let’s get started.

Getting started

Your first step to success is making your portfolio your own. Add your own unique style quickly and easily with our editor.

[Button] Customise your portfolio [/Button links to editor]

Kind regards,

The Pyxel Team

Hypothesis: Predict the outcome to the problem

What change are we expecting based on this change? By building a hypothesis before you start you can judge whether the change has been a success or not.

Additionally, although my example focuses on one change, it is more normal to have multiple areas/problem you want to improve upon.

Your hypothesis should also include the uplift you expect from your change, based on on quantifiable numbers such as

  • Revenue
  • Basket size
  • NPS
  • Support queries
  • Number of subscribers
  • Open rate
  • Click through rate
  • Social sharing
  • Etc.

This then allows you to prioritise your resources to focus on what you expect to have the biggest returns.

Our hypothesis is…

“Our new welcome email will make it easier for new customers to customise their portfolio, increasing our conversion rate from 2% to 3%”.

Experiment: Develop a procedure to test the hypothesis

The simplest way to test anything is run an A/B test and email marketing is perfect for this.

All we have to do is send 50% of new sign-ups the old version (the control group) and 50% the new version (the test group).

We can then see if there is an uplift in our key metric of free to paid conversions amongst the test group.

Analysis: Record the results of the experiment

This is the easiest part of the process. Your email marketing software will do all this for you. Tools such as MailChimp have this built in, and are very easy to set up.

mailchimpAB

Conclusion: Compare the hypothesis to the experiment’s conclusion

Now is the moment of truth. Has our new test version performed better than the control version?

For Pyxels, we identified a problem (low conversion rate), we stated what we wanted to achieve (free to paid conversions of 3%) and we researched the best way to do this (direct new users to customise their portfolio).

We can easily directly compare the data for both versions of emails.

Control

Test

Emails sent

5,000

5,000

Paid conversions

35

160

% conversion

1.4%

3.2%

These stats are all illustrative, and show a positive uplift. However, even if the change you makes has a negative impact, it is still a test worth running, because know you now.

Additionally, you only exposed a test sample to this version which means you can now roll back, and test a new idea/version.

What next?

We move on to the next test!

Assuming we have a list of goals we want to achieve, along with supporting hypothesise to test, we can now begin to systematically improve our email marketing.

By using the scientific method and applying values to each hypothesis to create your list of priorities, you will quickly see improvements you can measure and build upon.

8 customer survey mistakes to avoid and get better results

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

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

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

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

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

Overlapping values

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

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

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

Two questions in one

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

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

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

Which way do I go?

Biased questions

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

“What did you like about our product?”

A better way to phrase this would be:

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

Presuming they can give an answer

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

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

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

Inconsistent presentation of the scales

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

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

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

Using large scales

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

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

Being too long

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

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

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

Not testing your survey before launch

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

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

Sending your survey

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

Good luck!

The 3 most important emails you’ll ever send

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

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

The three most important emails you’ll send are:

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

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

1. Your welcome email

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

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

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

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

What do I do next?

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

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

Get them using the product

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

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

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

Encourage referrals

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

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

You can do the same!

Here is an example welcome email you can use:

Welcome to Widgets Inc

Hi [Name],

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

Here are your login details

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

Username: XXXXXX

Temporary password: XXXXXX

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

Let’s get social

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

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

Here when you need us

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

Earn rewards referring a friend

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

[Footer]

2. Service/product satisfaction confirmation

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

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

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

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

Here is an example email you can use:

Do You Need Any Help With Your Widgets Inc Account?

Hi [Name],

Thanks for choosing us to manage your XYZ.

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

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

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

Do you have any questions?

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

[Sign off footer]

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

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

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

3. The opportunity to give feedback

Feedback can one of two ways.

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

I’ve worked for companies that do both.

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

Customer feedback is your opportunity to be better.

Net Promoter Score

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

An example email to use:

A Quick Question About Your Widgets Inc Account

Hi [Name]

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

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

[NPS scale and radio buttons]

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

[Open text form]

[Submit]

[Sign off footer]

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

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

In summary

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

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

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

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?