Composition of female head drawing and decorative elements suitable as a backdrop for the projects on design, imagination, and creativity

More Content for More B2C Customers

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

creative painting ideaMany marketers have embraced the need for content marketing as part of an overall marketing strategy. It keeps your company’s name out in front of people, it establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, and it creates a sense of familiarity that comes in handy when people are thinking about making purchasing decisions.

One creative way to use content marketing—one that B2C marketers haven’t been exploiting to a great extent—is via guest “appearances” on other industry blogs or in webinars and podcasts.

Think about these venues for a moment. What we are talking about is, typically, a very focused audience. If the blog or podcast is about designer shoes, then you can be sure that the people reading/listening to it are very interested in designer shoes. If you happen to sell designer shoes, this is your perfect audience.

There are also minimal distractions to tear someone away from reading a blog post or listening to a podcast. After all, they’ve elected to be there and to listen to or read the content being offered, so there’s an innate resistance to distractions. The interest alone will keep the prospect focused on the content.

forum world mapAnd while you are no doubt building your own audiences for your company blog, webinars, and podcasts, being a guest on someone else’s opens up a wider range of opportunities… with an already established self-selected group of prospects!

So take the time to offer your expertise to others. Think about reaching out to people who may be waiting for you to reach them—your future B2C customers. However, don’t neglect being smart about how you do it:

  • have a dedicated page to which you can send the leads acquired (for example, www.domainname.com/podcast-or-blog name)
  • offer a special piece of content (this audience has already indicated that it is interested in learning, so it’s a perfect place to make a great offer)
  • be sure that you mention your call to action at the end of the webinar/podcast or blog post, and request that the call to action be included in show notes, if any

 

Content marketing works best for lead generation when you think creatively about what might work. Have other “out of the box” ideas or suggestions? Share them here!

shutterstock_135207236 (1)

Start Your Customer Acquisition Management Program Today

shutterstock_148677824Most brands believe that great CRM starts after a customer comes on board.

Um. no. The reality is that if you’re not putting the same care and attention into managing your relationships with potential customers as you are with current ones, you’re missing out on a lot of significant opportunities. Management expert Peter Drucker has said that the sole purpose of a business is to create a customer. That may be true, but as businesses have understood and acted on the importance of retaining customers, they’ve tended to take the emphasis off Drucker’s customer creation. A balance of both is necessary for companies and brands alike to be healthy and thriving.

Solid customer acquisition requires, first of all, a financial commitment. A study by Buttle Associates found, surprisingly, that only 34% of companies in its survey had dedicated customer-acquisition budgets, and that, contrary to the assumptions companies make, merely putting a process in place and dedicating a person or persons responsible for acquisition was not enough to create a robust customer acquisition management program. Shifting both money and prioritization to the campaigns was what the researchers found worked.

Another study found (as advocates of customer relationship management have always known) that “acquiring a customer depends on how effectively the organization is able to build a comprehensive relationship with that customer.”

Hardly a big surprise. Yet too often the methods and channels used for new-customer acquisition don’t take any CRM principles into account. Lured in by advertising, pay-per-click search marketing, or co-registration campaigns, new customers find themselves either overwhelmed by too much contact, or underwhelmed by too little; given too many choices, or too few; and generally not listened to at all.

Not good CRM. Not good customer acquisition management.

shutterstock_114808648CAM—customer acquisition management—should be a total solution streamlined into your company’s CRM efforts. It starts with the front end of obtaining a lead, and takes you through the process of creating a customer out of that lead, then finally passing the customer on to CRM people so they can move forward with the ongoing customer experience and relationship, just as a runner might pass the baton on to the next person on the team. It therefore makes absolute sense for CAM and CRM teams to work together to ensure an invisible transition for the new customer, consistency in the way that the company or brand treats that customer, and an overall smooth and positive customer experience. At its best, this experience will engender such loyalty that the customer will eventually become a brand advocate or evangelist, steering other potential customers into the company’s CAM and beginning the cycle over again.

Moreover, all of this makes good financial sense. Customer-acquisition strategies can help determine where you spend your promotional money, but only if you have a CAM solution that affords you excellent metrics so that you can strategize campaigns and tweak them as results come in. Getting well-qualified leads and nurturing those leads into customers cannot happen if you don’t have a way to measure your progress, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to change strategies if one isn’t working. The results of these metrics will be different for every company, but the most important factor is being sure that the changes and adjustments you make in response to what you learn are on the back-end … not in the customer experience area. That needs to be smooth, clear, positive, and consistent.

Making CAM part of your CRM will tell potential customers a great deal about how they can expect to be treated once they become your customers. Don’t you want to make that the best experience possible?

shutterstock_130809365

Your Customers Are Your Salesforce!

infographic concept of purchasing product via internet, mobile shopping communication and delivery service. Buy Online.Every day it becomes easier and easier for your competitors to reach your customers. That’s not an opinion: it’s reality. Look at all the opportunities they have: Groupon coupons, social media information bombardment, Google placement and advertisements, Rue La La … the internet has opened doors that no one dreamed existed ten or even five years ago.

How can you compete?

You can’t. It’s that simple. Unless you have an endless advertising budget and a salesforce of hundreds, the best way to compete is by eschewing competition altogether. Why spend your time, energy, and money frenetically working a marketplace where your voice is one among thousands? Isn’t your time and money better spent doing what you do best?

Paradoxically, it’s by doing just that—creating and producing a superior product or service and linking it to the best customer service in the business—that you’ll find yourself not only keeping your current customers, but also gaining more.

Instead of participating in the fray, focus on supporting and growing relationships with your core customers and turning those customers into your best salespeople.

When people get really excited about a company with which they do business, they share their positive experiences with colleagues, friends, and family, brag about how great it is to work with your company, even sometimes note how clever they were to find your company. Most importantly, they will passionately recommend your company to everyone who will listen.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.09.12 AMRetention is the way smart businesses are growing their customer bases. While other companies spend the majority of their acquisition budgets interrupting people with too-frequent emails and in-your-face advertisements, smart marketers leverage the internet and focus on keeping their current customers happy—and armed with the tools and information they need to become brand advocates and ambassadors.

Those tools aren’t difficult to find. Shares and likes are at your fingertips in social media forums, forward-to-a-friend is available on most emails. Put them in the hands of your most enthusiastic customers and they can drive dramatic growth … at low or no cost to you!

Setting up a positive experience for your customers is painless, takes little time, and will give you an amazing ROI:

  • Make the customer experience of buying from your company an event, like going to a great party.
  • Make the customer service experience over-the-top easy and straightforward.
  • Enable group buying discounts.
  • Enable your own branded community where customers can feel like they are part of the company.
  • Enable subgroups on your social pages.
  • Enable product discussions and allow your customers to feel they participate on the product delivery team.
  • Make it easy for your customers to bring their friends along for the ride, which makes the party better for everyone.

 

shutterstock_130809365Your job is making sure that your customers are so committed to your product or service, and to the experience of shopping with you, that they become your ambassadors.

But remember that you have to put in the time and the effort to making them become committed. You do that by following up with them, using transition marketing techniques if they’re new to your company, sending them relevant offers and specials, making sure that every contact they have with your company is positive (and “making it right” if ever the contact is less than satisfactory), and asking them to share their experiences with others.

Your customers are your best salesforce: make sure that they have something to brag about!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow …

snowscapeOur home office in Connecticut is, like all of New England, experiencing a state of emergency this morning: the Blizzard of 2015 has arrived.

It’s a snow day!

Snow days aren’t what they used to be. Once upon a time, either you made it in to work, or you didn’t work. But with great connectivity, social media going 24/7, and distributed employees and clients, any day can be a work day—and you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas!

Do we miss the magic that our children still experience, that little thrill of waking and realizing that one cannot go anywhere, no matter what, that one is forced to stay home and watch the snow fall? Of course we do; who wouldn’t?

But today there’s gratitude in the air as well, as deadlines are met and work doesn’t pile up… and there’s still time to go out and shovel if necessary. We live in an exciting time, and sometimes it takes a weather event such as this one to remind us of it!

Stay safe, stay warm!

 

50s market

How Do You Buy New Customers?

Indian cornNot many people know this, but when the Mayflower first arrived in America, it dropped anchor in Provincetown, not Plymouth. The Mayflower Compact was written in Provincetown Harbor, and the first difficult winter was spent on Cape Cod.

The Pilgrims were at the brink of starvation when a party sent out to locate fresh water miraculously “found” some corn, which they took and which sustained them until they could set sail for the more hospitable mainland.

Of course, the corn wasn’t just there to be “found.” It had been carefully buried by members of the Wampanoag tribe in anticipation of their upcoming difficult winter. Where I come from, there’s another word for that: it’s called “stealing.” But never mind: finding works just fine for a lot of people.

As George Lakoff has pointed out, how someone frames a conversation makes all the difference in its meaning. We would do well to look behind the framing to what is actually happening.

We all talk about “customer acquisition,” as though “acquiring” a customer were something we do when picking fruit from a tree or wandering through an antique shop. The reality is that we don’t “acquire” customers. We work hard and spend a lot of money to get people to buy from us, and being clearer about that language may allow us to be clearer about the process itself.

MayflowerWhen buying new customers, we use a number of different channels: advertising, list purchases, search and social media, and so on. But let’s be clear about what we’re doing: we’re purchasing them just as surely as we hope that they’ll purchase from us.

And once we’re clear about what we’re doing, we can be clearer about how we spend the money we’ve budgeted to buy these new customers. Allocating funds is an important and often confusing undertaking, as B2C marketers are faced with an array of options and not a lot of guidance for navigating through them.

As our recent survey pointed out, marketers who use third-party partners to help they buy valuable new customers with less risk and better results are the marketers who are the most satisfied with their customer acquisition management solution. Why not join them? Be honest about what you’re doing—buying new customers—and partner with a company that will help you spend your budget efficiently and effectively.

These days, most of us can go to the market and buy our corn: there’s no need to steal it. But being honest at all times about what we are actually doing may help clarify both our intentions and our strategies. And that can only have one result: the purchase of high-quality new customers!

 

young woman at café

It’s About Them, Not You. Really.

customer-acquisition-tacticsPart of customer acquisition is “selling” yourself, your company, your brand, your product to a prospect: you have to make sure they know who you are and what you have to offer. But the reality of sales in the post-inbound-marketing world is that it really needs to be more about the prospect, and less about you.

If you’re interested in your prospects, their problems, their needs, their lives, then you’re already a big step ahead of the competition.

How can you show that interest? There are myriad ways, and we’ll be looking at some of them this week. But let’s start with something simple: creating a support strategy for new customers.

How do you do that?

  • The more you know about your prospects—both individually and in the aggregate—the better you’ll be able to reach out to them with relevant messages and offers. Relevance has to be part of any strategic plan.
  • Before designing any offer or email, ask yourself how your audience wants to be contacted, when and how often.
  • Your content needs to be beyond great. There’s great content all over the web, some of it offered by your competitors. Being aware of your prospect and new customers’ expectations will help you craft terrific content.

shutterstock_102676493

  • B2B marketers talk a lot about partnerships with their customers, but it’s just as relevant for B2C brands as well. Show your customers that you want to be their exclusive source for your product by giving them a sense of partnership with them. Ask for their opinions—and listen to the responses.

 

Keeping your marketing prospect- and new customer-focused will help them feel valued and appreciated, and your bottom line healthy.

Finding ways for B2C brands to acquire new customers safely and efficiently in a low-cost scalable model is what CertainSource Acquire does best. Why not ask us about our customer acquisition solution today?

path to problem & solution

6 Tips for New B2C Customers in 2015

shopping cart 3You’re probably hearing the words in your sleep by now:  acquire new customers. Grow the business. Increase ROI. But how?

Here are some places to start:

1)    Know where you stand. What is your current cost of acquisition? How does it stack up against the two important metrics of break-even point and customer lifetime value? If you’re not sure, put in some back-end analytics to give you solid information on what prospects are performing—and which ones aren’t.

2)   This is the year to explore new acquisition channels. A multi-channel approach to acquisition and nurturing will reach the broadest spectrum of prospects. Consider leveraging mobile, tablet, and online acquisition for new-customer acquisition, email campaigns, website engagement and reengagement, and conversion.

 3)   Don’t think short-term. Your analytics should stretch out farther than just your acquisition timeline, as 35% of ecommerce revenue for brand-new customers is generated post-acquisition efforts. Remember that your prospects’ timing isn’t always aligned with your new-customer acquisition program: a prospect may be interested in your product or service but isn’t ready to act during the acquisition phase. Focus instead on your breaking-even point and your customer LTV for evaluation purposes.

 4)   It’s 2015: the year for customer qualification. Qualifying prospects is the least-used and possibly the most important step in new-customer acquisition, for the simple reason that better-qualified prospects lead to higher conversion rates. Instead of simply taking on whatever prospects come through the pipeline, build a process that evaluates source quality, engagement threshold, and conversion intent. You’ll run less risk (both to your brand’s reputation and to your inbox delivery), and the difference to revenue and profitability will be significant.

 handshake5)   Consider working with an acquisition partner. Your sales team, your media buyers, and your marketing department are all working together to build the best acquisition process they can, but remember that developing your strategy and overseeing its implementation are both time-consuming and resource-consuming, and this may be your year to outsource your acquisition to a company that offers transparency, partnership, scalability, and results. Part of a robust acquisition program includes analytics that need to be interpreted in order to adjust your acquisition campaigns based on the specifics of what is working … and what is not.

 6)   Acquisition and customer engagement go together. Customer lifetime value is defined by acquisition and customer engagement events. Sometimes it takes a while to discern which acquisition sources provided the customers with significant lifetime value, so it’s important for you to keep track of customers once they’re engaged so that you can determine which sources gave you the best bang for your acquisition buck. It’s worth setting up a schedule to revisit these results and the corresponding sources: every three months, six months, etc., depending on your product or service.

Looking at your current practices, evaluating your results, and being clear about your new-customer acquisition strategy and execution are all steps that will set you up for having 2015 be your best year ever.

Who are yu?

Profiling? It Works for Marketers!

shopper silhouetteCustomer acquisition management is only as effective as the profile you have of your ideal customer. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of resources tossed into the wind, hoping that something might magically stick somewhere.

We talk a lot in this column about the various different channels available for customer acquisition, but the reality is that none of them will be effective without that profile. Who do you target with your list acquisition, your social media marketing, your SEO? Even if at one time you had an idea of what your ideal customer looked like, that may have changed over time. When was the last time you revisited the profile?

You may be unsure of how to create an accurate profile.

A good place to start is to identify the different segments among your existing customers, which you do by looking for groups with similar characteristics. Segmenting your market should help you identify the similarities (and the differences!) between your different customer groups. This is turn will enable you to identify what aspects of your offer appeal to each of the groups, and adapt your approach to what it is that group responds to.

50s marketThe more you know about your current customers, the better you’ll be able to reach out to new ones. Have you ever tried doing market research? If not, you may want to consider it: research can reveal the needs, tastes, and spending habits of different groups of customers. The information you glean will indicate which customer segments are most likely to respond to which offers, marketing approaches, and sales activities.

Once you have a handle on your best customer groups, then check out how your competition is handling them. This will round out your customer profile by showing you how they respond in real life to real-life offers, and will help you craft your own approach to them.

Know thy customer is probably the first of any marketing rules, and it doesn’t hurt to refresh it from time to time. Segmentation by age, gender, economic status, device used, and more can help you reach the right new customer at just the right time for conversion. And who isn’t looking for that?

 

social media chatter figures

Starting The Year Off Right with Social Media Acquisition

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 8.53.03 AMSocial networks can allow you to reach and influence thousands of people, which can generate more traffic to your website. When optimizing your site for social networks during this first quarter, it’s important to keep some general tips in mind:

  • Incorporate buttons/links that enable people to easily share your content with friends on social networks. The Facebook “like” button is a must.
  • Include functionality for people to rate, review and comment on your articles and products.
  • Promote your company’s presence on social networks and encourage people to follow you there.
  • Think about ways you can foster community and create dialogue on you own website, and reward people for participating.

People want to talk to real humans. It’s important to avoid corporate-speak and treat people like they want to be treated.

shutterstock_134112389 (1)You need someone at the company who can engage with the audience:

  • blogging
  • sending messages
  • being an actual member of the community.

 

It takes planning and strategy, but engaging with people on social networks and creating specific campaigns to reach people on them can be a positive addition to your customer acquisition and will help you start the year right!

 

light trails on street

It’s All About Deliverability

datastream3Deliverability is an ongoing process in an ever-changing environment. It relies on best practices on the parts of both the marketer and the ESP. We know about all the technical things you need to do; we know about authentication, about building true free-will opt-in lists, and about managing your lists to optimize performance. But accounting for all of this doesn’t guarantee great deliverability, or even make it very likely. There are always new challenges.

So you need to track your campaigns frequently and consistently. You need to know which ISPs are accepting your mail and which ones are rejecting it, know where it is going into inboxes and where it is going into bulk folders, and, yes, where it is being dropped (most ESPs report dropped mail as delivered!). It’s likely that these deliverability factors will change on a week-to-week and on a month-to-month basis. Even being whitelisted doesn’t ensure inbox delivery.

If you don’t know what is going on with your mail at the individual ISP level, there is nothing you can do to improve performance. But when you do know, you can test creatives, change content, and work with the ISPs to eliminate factors that hinder your deliverability.

email sign with laptopAt CertainSource, we continue to believe—and continue to see results confirming—that the answer to inbox deliverability is clarity. We call it “make a promise, keep a promise.” Be totally clear to all people signing up for your communications that “if you do this, here is exactly what you can expect.” And be as explicit as possible! “If you sign up, we will send you an email every day with special offers and news about our company. The email will arrive in your inbox with the my company from line.”

In addition, include with each email you send a confirmation that you are living up to your part of the bargain. “When you signed up, we told you we would send you daily great offers, and here is Tuesday’s offer. Thanks for continuing to be a part of our email list!”

Make a promise, keep a promise, and get your mail sent directly to the inbox!