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Customer Loyalty Is Still Important For Digital Age

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Recent study has been conducted across shopping affinity analysis. It found that retail brand loyalty is apparently alive and well in the hearts of Australia’s consumers this holiday season.

The study has revealed that although Black Friday holiday shoppers visited multiple stores, these shoppers visited the same retail locations they normally do. While the study focused on offline shopping behaviors of consumers, the message is clear enough: loyalty is not dead and well and merchants (be they online or off) should focus on developing experiences that built confidence, trust and loyalty – perhaps some referral marketing tactics.

As the competition for holiday shoppers heats up, one thing is very clear, holiday shoppers are religiously visiting their favorite stores. This seems to indicate that the retail experience matters and that brand loyalty trumps ‘door buster’ deals from competitors trying to gain market share. As consumers, our mobile devices are always on, always connected, and always with us. These mobile digital breadcrumbs are powerful signals of interest and intent that if analysed can reveal powerful insights for retailers in understanding the heart of their holiday consumer and their shopping journey.

The Value Of Customer Testimonials For Small Business

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Nowadays, customer testimonials have been considered as standard practice for nearly all business models.

Everyone is looking for ways to let you know why you should trust their service. Customer testimonials serve several applications that will boost your business’s success. In today’s post, you will learn how you can solicit them from customers.

1. Validation

Validation is two-fold in its service. Not only is it important for your customer, but it can serve as fuel for your business as well. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established company rolling out a new product, there’s always that anxiety of wondering how something will be received by the public. Getting positive feedback from consumers will give you the confidence to keep pursuing the avenues that are working.

Just as important if not more so, is the confirmation potential customers will get, knowing that they’re not alone in their decision to purchase your product. It’s no secret that humans like to belong or fit in with others. There have been numerous psychological studies proving that in times of uncertainty, people will tend to copy others’ actions. For instance: imagine you’re on a road trip and you’re in the middle of nowhere when you pull over for food. There’s two BBQ joints that look similar, except for one’s completely empty and the other is full. Barring that there’s no line, which one will you choose? That’s the power of validation.

2. Vantage Point

Whatever our jobs, we all experience it. We see things through a point of view because that’s what our professions teach us to do. As hard as we try, we can never quite see things the same way someone else does. When it comes to business, no one’s viewpoint matters more than the customer’s. Customer testimonials will allow you to see things through the eyes of someone else and provide you with unique insights you couldn’t get in any other way. Which brings us to our third and final point.

3. Unique Insight

You’re sure everyone loves your product because of it’s beautiful design. You’ve even poured thousands of dollars into marketing based on that singular fact and then you speak with your customers, not one mention of design. In fact, some people don’t even like the look of your product but they love how sturdy it is.

The fact is, customers see things you can’t. Even if you’re aware of all your product’s uses, can you be sure which one is driving them to purchase it? Customer testimonials can give you a sense of what makes your product shine, how people are using it, and how you need to market it.

Conclusion

  • Use customer testimonials as a mini compass for your business. They will help you and your customers consistently make smarter decisions.
  • Basic web analytics can measure a lot things, but hearing testimonials directly from the mouth of your consumers can reveal things numbers aren’t always capable of doing.
  • Be wise and diversify your strategy, a plan that includes analysis of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and traditional word of mouth will be the most well rounded and advantageous.

Why Should You Care About Visual UGC? (Infographic)

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Content is very important thing to think about if you want to expand your social media marketing reach, as good content means good customers relationship (if managed properly). However, what is more appealing than having your loyal customers ‘create’ the fabulous content for your brand?

Among all other types, visual UGC (user generated content) is undoubtedly one of the most sought content among marketers and brands. Most of them have been looking for ways to get and maximise its use to drive incredible business results. Yet, most of startups are not even aware on how important UGC is. In the following infographic, you will find several good reasons why you need to pay more careful attention to it.

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Infographic credit: Offerpop

How Your Customers are Using Digital Shopping Tools and Why You Should Care

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In our ever-increasing efforts to build connections and foster relationships with our customers, there’s often an area of discussion that gets left out: the tools they use to facilitate the process.

The truth is, whether it’s a mobile app, a social recommendation or “old-fashioned” printable coupons, today’s social shopping tools cut out a great deal of the customer interaction and engagement process.

Latest study has shown how customers are using digital shopping tools, and what business owners need to do to play a significant role in their buying decisions. Here are some of their most interesting findings (and how you can leverage them for your own business).

Targeted, Individualized Tools Are Being Used More Often

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Customers are shifting away from basic search tools to more focused social and mobile shopping tools

Compared to the previous year, more users relied heavily on search, text alerts and coupons (both mobile and load-to-cart types). From the chart above, you can see retailer sites and printable coupons still reign supreme. However, in the span of a year, there’s a much greater emphasis on using mobile and social to guide buying decisions. Shoppers may very well visit a retailer’s page to browse products, yet it may take to the social web or mobile to ask friends or family for their recommendations and few things cement a buying decision more than a personal recommendation from someone the user trusts.

Social Media Encourages Customers to Try New Things

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Retailer’s and brand’s social pages encourage two-way communication

Among the customers that regularly tried new products, the retailer’s social page (followed by the brand’s social page) had the biggest influence on their shopping experience. For brands, this represents an ideal opportunity to get valuable feedback and encourage greater adoption, particularly from products with widespread appeal.

In these cases, the retailer’s website actually ranked dead last in terms of influence, meaning keeping social networks up to date, gathering positive feedback and recommendations, and answering customers’ questions are crucial to improving brand and product perception.

Which Tools Have the Most Influence?

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An example of how the shopping landscape can change in a little over a year

This is perhaps one of the most important questions, since it’s easy for businesses to see these charts and say “well of course social media influences customers, that’s why it’s called social!” However, take a look at the bigger picture here comparing results from 2013 to 2014. Notice how much more of a role things like printable coupons, brand texts and shopping apps had on influencing consumers.

Even more telling, categories that may not have even existed in prior years (mobile payments, for instance) seems to play a much more significant role the customer’s ultimate decision making process than anyone could have anticipated.

Customers are Spending on Social Media in Unexpected Way

It’s easy to see that retailer and brand pages on social media are playing a pivotal role in the online shopping experience, but as countless other reports have told us time and time again – “don’t put much stock in social media shopping – people don’t come to Facebook, Twitter, etc. to shop.” So how do some brands manage to thrive despite the relatively poor conversion rate when it comes to social media and e-commerce?

They understand that customers are looking for a social experience. They know that they’ll be clicking on quizzes and browsing photo albums and laughing at cat videos. And rather than trying to steer them away from an entertainment mindset and more toward a shopping mindset, these online stores do things a bit differently. They integrate themselves as more of a projection of the customer’s lifestyle rather than a product they can shop for.

Take a look at major brands like Mountain Dew, Doritos, Apple and so forth to see just how much they have shifted from “drink, chips, technology” companies to brands for “gamers, sports fans, wealthy techies”.

How to Leverage These Findings to Improve Your Business

It’s one thing to look at these charts and graphs and think that the findings only apply to big business – nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take a closer look at the recommended ways to use what we’ve learned in our day-to-day social media interactions:

1. Take Advantage of “Chunked” Shopping Behavior

The Epsilon study found that much of the customer’s shopping behavior, particularly with regard to mobile apps, was divided into chunks. For example, a shopper could get your email and act on it, maybe even adding a product to the cart – but they may not come back to it days, or even weeks later.

Of course, this opens up the opportunity for a competitor to offer a better deal or for the prospective customer to comparison shop, so marketers need to be more eagle-eyed than ever to capture the customer as they “chunk-browse” and encourage greater loyalty. Incentive programs, shopping cart abandonment follow-ups, and retargeting methods can all play a crucial role in getting their attention focused back on the action you want them to take.

2. Acknowledge the Shopper’s Journey

The report also encourages business owners to envision the shopper as someone that’s on a journey rather than a straight path. A journey has multiple forks, interactions, and maybe even a few obstacles along the way. Businesses who understand and anticipate this with relevant messaging at every stage in the buying journey will fare far better than those who continue thinking of social shopping as a one-time experience for their customers.

3. Encourage Seamless Transitions Between Channels

Finally, the findings show that despite their widespread adoption and use, tools are not a replacement for human interaction. Although many of them are replacing typical customer engagement tasks, it’s still vital that your message remain consistent, and that the tool acts as a vehicle to propel the sale, not a shiny object that’s “nice to have” but provides no real value to the customer. By leveraging a variety of social media and shopping tools that offer helpful benefits to the customer across all major channels, you’re sending the message that you’re in tune with what shoppers want, and you’re working to ensure a flawless shopping experience from the very first click.

Customer Journey Mapping Guide

“Stories have defined our world. They have been with us since the dawn of communication, from cave walls to the tall tales recounted around fires. They have continued to evolve, with their purpose remaining the same: to entertain, to share common experiences, to teach and to pass on traditions.”

However, storytelling is not just a tool to engage users. It is also a powerful way to teach organizations more about their customers.

Most organizations are reasonably good at gathering data on their users. But data often fails to communicate the frustrations and experiences of customers. A story can do that, and one of the best storytelling tools in business is the customer journey map.

What Is A Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship.

It may focus on a particular part of the story or give an overview of the entire experience. What it always does is identify key interactions that the customer has with the organization. It talks about the user’s feelings, motivations and questions for each of these touchpoints.

It often provides a sense of the customer’s greater motivation. What do they wish to achieve, and what are their expectations of the organization?

A customer journey map takes many forms but typically appears as some type of infographic. Whatever its form, the goal is the same: to teach organizations more about their customers.

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It will come as no surprise that marketers often use customer journey maps. But more and more digital professionals are adopting them, too.

Why You Should Create Customer Journey Maps

A customer journey map is a powerful tool.

If you are a designer, it will help you to understand the context of users. You will gain a clear picture of where the user has come from and what they are trying to achieve.

If you write copy, it will help you to understand what questions users have and how they are feeling.

It gives managers an overview of the customer’s experience. They will see how customers move through the sales funnel. This will help them to identify opportunities to enhance the experience. The map will show how enhanced customer service can differentiate the organization’s digital experience.

For the user experience designer, a customer journey map helps to identify gaps, points in the customer experience that are disjointed or painful. These might be:

  • gaps between devices, when a user moves from one device to another;
  • gaps between departments, where the user might get frustrated.
  • gaps between channels (for example, where the experience of going from social media to the website could be better).

Most of all, a customer journey map puts the user front and center in the organization’s thinking. It shows how mobile, social media and the web have changed customer behavior. It demonstrates the need for the entire organization to adapt.

It encourages people across the organization to consider the user’s feelings, questions and needs. This is especially important with digital products and services.

With so many benefits, a customer journey map makes a lot of sense. But where do you start?

How To Research A Customer Journey Map

The process of creating a customer journey map has to begin with getting to know users.

Many organizations already have some information about users. In fact, you might meet resistance from those who feel that repeating this exercise would be a waste of time. This is why gathering existing research is a good start. Often, this research will be out of date or buried in a drawer somewhere.

By gathering existing research, you will see what the organization knows and how relevant that information is. This will placate those who are resistant, while potentially saving you some research effort.

There are two types of research: analytical and anecdotal.

1. Analytical Research

You can turn to many sources for data about users. The most obvious is website analytics, which provide a lot of information on where users have come from and what they are trying to achieve. It will also help you to identify points in the process where they have given up.

But be careful. Analytics are easy to read wrong. For example, don’t presume that a lot of clicks or long dwell times are a sign of a happy user. They could indicate that they are lost or confused.

Social media are also a useful source of data. Tools such as SocialMention tracks mentions of a brand and whether those mentions are positive or negative.

Search data also provides valuable insight into what users are looking for, revealing whether your existing website is providing the right information.

Finally, consider running a survey. This will help you build a more detailed picture of users’ questions, feelings and motivations.

2. Anecdotal Research

Although data can build a compelling case, it does not tell a story by itself. For that, you need anecdotes of user experiences. You can get these by speaking to users in interviews or on social media.

You will also discover that users volunteer experiences by posting them to social media. Be sure to collect these mentions because they will be a useful reference point in your final map.

Speaking to front-line staff who interact with customers daily, such as those in support and sales, is another useful way to understand customer needs.

The detail of the research will be constrained by your time and budget. If your organization has many different user groups, then creating detailed customer journeys for each might be hard. Therefore, focus the research on primary audiences.

You can make educated guesses about the customer journeys for secondary audiences. Do this by workshopping solutions with front-line staff and other internal stakeholders. Although this “quick and dirty” approach will not be as accurate, it is still better than nothing.

Be careful to make clear what has research behind it and what does not. Making many decisions based on assumptions is dangerous. Once management sees the benefits of research, they will be willing to spend more time on it.

With your research complete, it is time to create the map.

Presenting Your Customer Journey Map

As mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to produce a customer journey map. Normally, it will be some form of infographic with a timeline of the user’s experience. But it could just as easily be a storyboard or even a video.

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The goal is to ensure that the user’s story remains front and center in people’s minds. Get a designer to produce the graphic to ensure it is as clear as possible and grabs people’s attention.

Whatever its form, the map should contain both statistical and anecdotal evidence. It should highlight users’ needs, questions and feelings throughout their interaction with the organization.

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Don’t make it too complex. It is easy to get caught up in the multiple routes a user might take. This will just muddy the story.

The graphic is not meant to map every aspect of the customer’s experience. Rather, it should tell a simple story to focus people’s attention on the customer’s needs.

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Think of the customer journey map as a poster pinned to the office wall. At a glance, people should be able to see the key touchpoints that a user passes through. It should remind them that the customer’s needs must always be at the forefront of their thinking.

Customer Value Optimisation (Infographic)

 Do you often baffled with customer management problem?

Worry no more. This post is created for those unfamiliar with digital marketing and customer management. Most of the time, marketers and entrepreneurs stuck at various levels of problem. There’s just so much to learn. From beginner to seasoned pro, marketers are all looking to get better at their job. They are always looking for an edge and it’s also our defining characteristic.

The following graphic has the same system Starbucks and McDonald’s have used to corner the coffee and hamburger markets. The system works perfectly for small and enterprise level businesses. It works whether you sell traditional products, digital products or services.

There are only three ways to grow a business:

  1. Increase the number of customers
  2. Increase the average transaction value per customer
  3. Increase the number of transactions per customer

When you’re learning new tactics like Twitter, Google Analytics or Facebook Advertising you’ll need to constantly remind yourself of the customer value optimisation process. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and money.

There is additional profit in understanding other digital practices such as PPC and SEO in and of itself. There is enormous profit in understanding how to apply these traffic strategies to the customer value optimisation process.

Here is a flowchart of the customer value optimisation process:

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Customer’s Loyalty Versus Sales (Infographic)

Latest research shows that customer’s loyalty is not the sole factor that drive more buying.

The fact is, 80% of customers are willing to switch brands and stores because of a promotion. Once they switched from your brand, most of them are not coming back. Customers (especially casual shoppers) are not as loyal as you might think, that’s why continuously attracting their attention as often as you can is very important. In the infographic below, you will learn that the old myth about the relationship of customer’s loyalty and sales development is not quite true.

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Eight Useful Tips To Build Your Customer Loyalty Program

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The personal connection between your brand and customers is one of the best asset that every business should cultivate.

In order to continuously remind your customers how much you appreciate them, you might want to carry out a customer loyalty program. These programs will vary for each type of business. B2C businesses will show customer appreciation differently than B2B businesses. The following eight ideas will help create your own customer loyalty program. We’ll start the first tips with:

1. The Gamification Element

One of the easiest way to conduct a customer loyalty program is by keep the track of “points” based on dollars your customers have spent and then rewarding them accordingly. The psychology behind this strategy is simple: when a customer gets close to the next reward threshold, they’ll spend more in order to enjoy the next reward level. When you offer sales, double points for the day’s purchases or some similar enhancement to the point program. You’ll create competition amongst your most loyal and regular customers if you put up a “leader board”. Give your top 10 point earners special perks, even if it’s just an exclusive Thank You card.

2. Discounts in exchange for email addresses

Offer free shipping or 10% off their first order in exchange for an email address. Incorporate their email address into your email marketing strategy. Extend the occasional discount to those customers who stay on your email list to let them know you’re glad they stuck around. You can run similar offers with feedback cards, surveys, and many more. Another effective version of this strategy is to ask the customers for a person whom they think would like your services/goods. Get the person’s email and send them a message explaining that their friend suggested them. This a new, but highly effective sales tactic, much like a personal or word-of-mouth referral.

3. Track and reward your customers appropriately

It’s the punch card reimagined. Let customers join your “Exclusive Fan Group” to give them access to your best offers and get word of mouth social marketing in return. If possible, try to utilise social media, so your business gets more “social proofs” (more fans and followers) and you gain some additional data about your customers.

4. Check-in specials

Use social media to offer discounts or promotions to customers who “check in” to your business on apps like Foursquare or Facebook. The social proof of this technique is worth every penny. Combine this tactic with an actual sale to more effectively spread the word about your promotion/sale.

5. Celebrate loyal customer’s birthday

If you have basic information about your most loyal customers, make sure to celebrate their birthdays. Go all out with a nice little surprise: a free scalp massage with their haircut this month, a discount on their paper order that week, or even a thoughtful care package to enjoy the day. This tactic will definitely put you on the fast track to turning more of customers into super-fans.

6. Creative experiences

The best rewards are experiential. Once a time, offer creative rewards, like a 30-second, all-you-can-grab sweepstakes in the grocery store. Give your customers the opportunity to win an experience and a story they’ll tell their friends about later. This can take the form of behind the scenes tours, all you can stuff $20 paper bags, or a chance to pick some of your merchandise for next season.

7. Referral reward

If a customer refers a friend, don’t just reward the referrer. It would be better if you reward both of them. Rather than just giving a straightforward discount to the person who referred your business, go out of your way to thank them. Give them a T-shirt or sticker so they can continue to wave your flag proudly. Consider offering a larger reward if they refer five or more friends, etc.

8. Turn your customers into celebrities

A particularly long-devoted customer deserves more attention. Ask if you can highlight them in a newsletter or the wall of your store. Customers love small attention and the interviewed or featured customer will very much enjoy their few moments of “fame”.

25 Useful Skills For Excellent Customer Service (Infographic)

Most companies often forget to increase the quality of their customer service department.

For any type of business, customer satisfaction is very important. If you can guarantee their happiness, a great business is right in your hand. Otherwise, if you can’t win their heart, you’ll never get a stable audience base.

A happy, satisfied customer is likely to return and/or tell others about the good experiences that they had when dealing with your company. Thus, it’s very important to master on few customer service skills that will drastically improve your customer service representative interactions with their customers. Here is an infographic that elaborates 25 ‘Most Needed’ Customer Service Skills every customer service representative must possess.

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Are You Putting Your Customers First?

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In today’s age of digital innovation, it’s very important to put your customers as the first priority of what you do.

Customer-centric attitude is essential to any solution you create for customers. To ensure this approach is followed carefully, you need to create a Customer Centric Focus statement (CCF) for every new solution or new feature you create.

A CCF is a single, concise sentence that describes what the experience should look like for the customer. It is a good way to take the time to distill how the solution should look for the customer while maintaining its value at the same time.

However, creating a clear, concise and reliable CFF statement is not easy. The best approach is to spend time with your customers in their environment as much as you can with the aim of answering these three main questions:

1. Who are they?

Many businesses are just blindly guessing who their customers are. They pretend to have an extensive range of knowledge about customers and prospects, while in reality they are not grounded in data. The risk of not knowing specific details of your customers is that you can’t customise new products or solutions that are specifically personalised and tailored to their needs. You need to know who are your target audience is and what are their problems. This way, you will be able to deliver the right solution for them.

2. What is their goal?

Instead of thinking about what the potential product or service should be, think about what the customer is trying to achieve. What is their motivation and what does success look like for them? Are you asking your customers to fill out an online form when they would just prefer to speak to someone for support?

3. How are they going to engage with your solution?

Ask to yourself, do you really understand the environment your customers will be in when using your product or service? Will they be in the office, at home or on the road? Describe the user experience and the emotions they may go through while being in this environment. If you can craft the desired experience, your solution will not only fit in to the customer’s natural process of what they do with you, but will address some key points that make their interaction with you easier.

Conclusion

The next time you embark on developing a new product or service for your business, start with crafting your own Customer Centric Focus (CCF) statement. Get your customers involved in the conversation and you’ll achieve success in no time.