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4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM

4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM

As I’ve written about in the past, in today’s digital world, the customer journey is no longer a straight line. While you can’t exert complete control over the way in which customers and prospects interact with your business, it is possible to get strategic about guiding people differently depending on where they are in their individual journey.

One of the most useful tools for effectively guiding a customer’s journey is CRM. Because it is the place where you house all of your information on clients and prospects, it not only gives you in-depth information about each individual, it also allows you to see broader patterns in customer behavior and to tailor your approach to meet your customers where they are.

Below, I’ll share four tips for using your CRM tool to effectively drive the customer journey.

1. Identify Patterns in Customer Behavior

If you’ve been keeping good records in your CRM, it should have all of the data on your current customers. How they found you, the ways they’ve been in touch, what they’ve purchased, and the last time they did business with you. Using this information, you can begin to create a composite profile for your ideal customer, and then go out and target similar prospects.

Let’s say you own a photography studio. Maybe you work with a lot of couples who hire you as a wedding photographer. Maybe local business owners use you to do professional headshots for their team. When you’re able to identify patterns in demographics, it means that leads who fit a similar profile are more likely to be promising ones.

You can also use CRM to track the behaviors of existing clients. Is there one action that everyone seems to take before they make a purchase? Going with the photography example: it might be that prospects who convert always reach out via the CTA button on your wedding portfolio page, while your corporate headshot page gets less traction. That tells you something meaningful about your customer base, and that’s information you can use to assess the viability of prospects.

2. Score Your Leads

The next step in assessing your prospects is lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of looking at a prospect’s profile and behavior to see how likely it is that they’re serious about becoming a customer.

Once you have a complete picture of your ideal customer, you want to begin comparing that profile to your leads. Those prospects that have a profile most similar to your existing customers are considered hot leads. Those who fall outside of the profile of your typical client base are not people you want to spend your time and money marketing to. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever convert, no matter how great your product or service is.

The most important thing in establishing a lead scoring system is consistency. Make sure that you’re evaluating all leads on the same criteria, and establish a point system that makes sense for you and your business. Some CRMs come with lead scoring tools built in, or it’s possible to get a standalone system. This allows you to effectively budget your marketing time and dollars towards those hottest leads, while not wasting efforts on those who won’t ever convert.

3. Keep Tabs on Your Hottest Leads

Once you’ve gone through the effort of understanding current customer behavior and identifying those leads that are most similar in behavior or profile to your existing clients, you’ll want to keep tabs on those people. Don’t just use your CRM to track existing clients; you should be managing your relationships with prospects here, too.

For those hottest leads, you want to move them towards the trust and try portion of your marketing hourglass. Keep track of all of their behavior, and take a personalized approach in responding to their actions.

Continuing on with the photographer example above, let’s say you meet a couple at a wedding expo. They stop by your booth and chat with you about your work. In previous years, you’ve had a high conversion rate amongst those couples that you met at wedding expos, so you know that this is a hot lead. Do not miss the opportunity to close the deal with them!

This is where personalization comes in. Hopefully you’ve made notes about your interaction with them in your CRM. Reach out the day after the expo to send a message thanking them for their time, mentioning something specific about the details of their wedding that they discussed with you, and offering them the opportunity to sit down for a free consultation with you to discuss their photography needs.

Obviously, this level of personalization takes time and effort, and that’s precisely why you only want to focus this kind of attention on those most promising of leads. However, when you do prove to those prospects that you’re willing and able to go the extra mile, this is how you build trust and move them one step closer to becoming a customer.

4. Use Email Segmentation to Keep the Customer Experience High

So all of this effort in targeting hot leads and offering personalized service has paid off: You’ve won over a new customer! But this is not the end of the customer journey, and you can’t let the high quality of service that you’ve offered thus far drop off now that you’ve taken down someone’s credit card information.

Fortunately, you can use email segmentation to continue to offer that personalized touch. Within your CRM, it’s possible to group people based on their stage in the customer journey or on specific actions they’ve taken or products they’ve purchased. You can then send targeted messages to people in these groups.

Back to the photographer: You can set up your CRM to follow up with clients based on their activities or demographics. That couple from the wedding expo? Add them to your mailing list for your wedding newsletter, where you share tips and tricks about how to plan a really special day. Once they become a client and you shoot their wedding, add them to the list of happy customers that you then target with messaging about your referral program. And if you keep in touch with them regularly (which your CRM should help you with) then you can also reach out down the line to offer them a discount on baby photos for their birth announcement and family photos for holiday cards for years to come.

When used properly, a CRM is a powerful tool that allows you to direct customers to have the experience you want them to have. You can identify and interact with those who really are your target audience, and continue to present them with valuable messaging at the right time, ensuring that their customer experience remains high during every interaction.

Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business

Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business

Using a spreadsheet or index cards to manage your clients may make sense when you’re first starting out: there aren’t that many to keep track of, and the clients you do have don’t have a long history with your business.

However, as time goes on, your client list grows, your track record with existing clients becomes longer and more complex, and you need a better way to manage these relationships.

That’s where a client relationship management (CRM) tool comes in. CRMs are not just for big multinationals. There are tremendous benefits to the technology even for small local businesses. The tool is designed to make it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to work effectively and drive even more conversions. Read on, and I’ll take you through all the benefits of incorporating a CRM tool into your workflow.

Scale More Easily

A lot of small business owners are happy to manage their client information in a spreadsheet or word document. At the same time, business owners hope to see their companies succeed and grow. When you’re creating your own haphazard method for tracking your customers, you’re practically ensuring an information bottleneck as your business continues to expand.

CRM tools are designed to grow with your business. When you acquire new prospects, upsell existing customers, add new products and services, or begin a new outreach campaign, these tools are designed to meet you where you are and then keep pace as you broaden your horizons.

A spreadsheet doesn’t have the same flexibility; you’ll soon find yourself struggling to add new columns and tabs, and information will get lost in the shuffle. A spreadsheet also doesn’t integrate with your other marketing and sales tools or provide reports and analytics in the same way that a CRM tool can.

Enhance Customer Experience

Customers today are won and lost based on the experience they have interacting with your business. There is a lot of competition out there, and with the digital landscape being what it is, it’s likely that your customer can find another business that does what you do. So it’s a highly personalized customer experience, with strong attention to detail, that will allow you to stand out from the pack and turn your prospects into return customers.

CRM tools allow you to track all interactions with a customer across platforms. When did they last make a purchase with you, and what was it? Did they submit a review of the product or service they bought? Did they reach out via phone, email, or online chat with a question about their recent purchase? Are they on the mailing list for your newsletter?

There are so many ways in which you interact with customers, and it’s near impossible for a human to track all of these touchpoints effectively and accurately. Having this information all in one place allows all members of your team to better serve customers.

Marketers can send targeted messaging to users who have expressed an interest in a particular good or service your provide. Salespeople can be more proactive about reaching out to customers that they haven’t heard from in a while, and can make a thoughtful reference to something they discussed in their last conversation when they reach out to reestablish contact. Your customer service team can see a history of issues a user has had with a given product and can meet them where they are, rather than making the customer rehash their issue each time they contact you with a question.

Knowing what your customer has done in the past allows you to be thoughtful about your interactions in the future. Adding a personal touch to your interactions is what distinguishes your brand. You increase trust—a key part of the customer relationship—when you show that you not only know what you’re doing, but that you care about the customer and their individual needs.

Send Targeted Messages

As I mentioned briefly above, one of the major benefits to marketers using a CRM tool is the ability to undertake customer segmentation based on past behavior.

Customer segmentation is what gives your marketing efforts that personalized touch. CRM tools allow you to group prospects and clients based on a variety of different attributes: where the lead came from, how they’ve engaged with you in the past, what they’ve purchased from you, or demographics like age or location.

You can then easily send relevant messages to those who meet certain criteria in a given group. All leads that came from attending an event you hosted last month can receive an invitation to your next event, complete with an early bird registration discount. All customers who purchased a given service in the past year can be sent a free copy of your latest white paper on a related topic. All of your customers in the Northwest can be notified when you’re speaking at a conference in Seattle.

Now, sending a message about your Seattle conference appearance to your clients in Pennsylvania might lead them to unsubscribe, since you’re clogging up their inbox with irrelevant messaging. But if that same client receives a personalized note from you, following up on their recent purchase and providing them with a training video about how to better use the item that they bought they’ll likely have a very different reaction. Email segmentation allows you to not only build trust, but also make sure that the right offers are getting in front of the right people, thereby increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Manage Your Sales Pipeline

CRMs don’t just allow you to track the behaviors of existing customers, you can use them to manage your prospects, too. When you can see where all of your prospects are in the customer journey, you can better understand what changes you need to make to your approach to win over more new business.

CRM tools can allow you to see bottlenecks in your sales pipeline. Is there one particular area where conversions just don’t seem to be happening? Once you can see that issue, you can begin to address it. Maybe lots of prospects are eager to sign up for a free trial of your service, but then they’re not converting. That means you should focus on what’s happening with their free trial experience—are they underwhelmed with their experience, or are you not providing adequate follow-up after the trial in order to get them to commit to the paid version?

These tools will also allow you to parse your data based on factors like deal size, expected close date, and last point of contact so that you can direct your sales team to go after the most promising leads or those with the most pressing deadlines attached.

Finally, you can keep better track of the deals that you’ve lost. When you understand when and where you lost out on business, you can then begin to gather the information around the why. Did you drop the ball and wait too long to provide them with information? Did they find a similar product or service at a much lower price? This is the kind of information that allows you to improve your approach with future prospects and ensure your success next time around.

I’m Sold! How Do I Find the Right CRM?

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the many benefits to adding a CRM tool to your business. But now the question becomes, with the myriad of options, which one is best for you? The systems run the gamut in terms of capabilities, so the real key to finding the right one is selecting the tool that best aligns with your goals and needs.

Just because your friend uses and loves a given CRM for their business doesn’t mean it will serve you just as well. Find the CRM that allows you to collect the data that you most want to track and provides the marketing automation features that are most important to you. You’ll also want to consider your team’s level of tech-savvy and workload and select a CRM that lines up with their abilities and bandwidth.

A tool like Hubspot’s CRM is free to use and is very comprehensive. The downside here is that the tool is complex. There will be a learning curve when you implement any new tech, but some CRMs are more involved than others. No matter what program you settle on, you’ll want to be sure that you’re providing your team with the appropriate training and support to make sure that you get the most out of your new system.

A nice middle ground for small business owners is ActiveCampaign‘s CRM. The system allows for marketing automation alongside more traditional sales and CRM features. The platform is fairly intuitive and they offer a variety of pricing options based on your needs and budget.

Today’s business owners are able to collect a lot of information about their customers and prospects, and it comes from a lot of different sources. As a business continues to grow, it’s nearly impossible for a person to accurately track, manage, and analyze all of this data on their own. And when you’re not able to see it all in one place, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. Turning to a CRM tool to help you manage the information, streamline the way you interact with customers and prospects, and get specific about the way that you approach each individual can empower you to take your business to the next level.

Tips for Integrating Sales and Marketing to Grow Your Business

How to Integrate Sales and Marketing to Grow Your Business

It’s an age-old notion that marketing and sales teams don’t get along. Like rival football teams in a teen movie, the marketing team sees themselves as the heroes—creating forward-thinking ideas and campaigns that will open up a whole new world of potential clients and drive tremendous growth—while the sales team thinks what they’re doing is the real work—coaxing customers along, catering to their needs, closing the deal and actually bringing in revenue.

But just like in a great teen movie, the moral of the story here is that when the two teams can put aside their differences and work together, they can accomplish really amazing things for your business.

Creating harmony between sales and marketing might be easier said than done, but it is definitely possible. Here we take a look at some tips for integrating sales and marketing in a way that will lead to healthier revenue and happier teams.

Foster Friendship

It may seem obvious, but people will work better together if they know and like each other. Because there is typically a rivalry between sales and marketing teams, there’s a lot of value in bringing these two groups together. You can do it however you’d like: an informal lunch gathering in the office, an after-work excursion to a bowling alley, or an overnight offsite to a nearby hotel with hiking or fun outdoor activities.

No matter what your budget is, there are real, tangible benefits in bringing these teams together and creating a convivial environment. Happiness can lead to success in various aspects of life, and work is no exception. Happy employees are more engaged, productive, and do better work.

Not only does this productivity and engagement help your bottom line, it also makes being at work a more pleasant experience for all, and isn’t that a win-win?

Create an Inclusive Strategy

Once you’ve built a bridge between these two teams, you’ll want to share your comprehensive business strategy. This should be the grand, guiding vision for all employees in your company, including those on the sales and marketing teams.

Present this strategy to both teams together, and then open things up for discussion. How does their day to day work feed into the larger strategy? How can the sales and marketing teams collaborate to work towards achieving the business’s overarching goals? What are the strategies of the two teams, and then what are the tactics they’ll use to achieve results?

Getting these teams talking about how they fit into the larger picture can encourage them to think about collaboration not just as a nice to have, but as a must have in order to serve the business as a whole.

Encourage Communication

Now that you’ve got the teams talking, keep those lines of communication open, and create a clear system for the sales and marketing teams to transfer leads. Where in the marketing hourglass does it make the most sense to get the sales team involved?

With all of the channels through which marketers can reach prospects nowadays, your marketing team has the know and like portion of the funnel covered. But things tend to get a little murky by trust and try.

Some people will be willing to take online reviews, social media posts, and offers like white papers or webinars as enough to convince them to become a customer. Others will need a bit more hand holding in the form of sales presentations, demos, or just someone to talk to before they commit.

You want to make sure that these prospects who are on the fence actually end up getting in touch with a sales person. They’re so close to converting, and if your sales team is responsive and provides them with just a little bit more personalized information, their business is yours.

This means you need to create clear internal processes for identifying these people and getting them in touch with the sales team quickly and efficiently. Consider establishing a channel on Slack or a similar messaging system so that the sales and marketing team can easily communicate. A shared inbox tool like FrontApp can also empower your team to see the interactions a prospect has already had with your company, and allow others in your organization to quickly and easily pick up where their colleagues left off.

A seamless transition between marketing and sales efforts will help to build trust on the prospect’s end and is one of the factors that can help you close the deal.

Share The Data

Marketers are constantly collecting new data on how customers are interacting with the company and on how effective their marketing efforts are. Salespeople are in regular communication with customers, and have lots of real-world data they’re picking up from these interactions.

This means that sales and marketing teams should be sharing data to identify trends that can help both of them improve their respective approaches.

For example, if marketers are seeing that a particular call to action on the website is getting a lot of traction, they should share that data with the sales team. It means that something about that messaging is resonating with customers, and salespeople can tailor their approach to include that same messaging when speaking with clients or prospects.

Similarly, if the sales team is hearing the same feedback, good or bad, from a lot of clients, they should be sharing that with the marketing team. If customers are saying they’re unhappy with a specific product because it doesn’t do what they were expecting it to based on what they read on your website, that’s an issue with the marketing language.

Marketing teams are likely using Google Analytics or a similar tool to collect their data, while the sales team is probably using a CRM platform. Providing each team with access to the other team’s data can allow them to understand the customer from a new perspective and (hopefully) improve their approach to their own work.

Reward Good Work

Sales teams have historically been rewarded for their work with incentives. This is part of what can feed into that classic marketing/sales rivalry. While the marketing team is attracting new prospects with their work, it’s the sales team that closes the deal and gets the glory (and the financial reward).

I’m not saying take away incentives from your sales team. There is an art to motivating salespeople, and it involves a different approach for your different tiers of workers; some are stars, while some are laggards, and they need to be handled differently.

What I am saying is that it’s helpful to incentivize your marketing team, too. But the approach here has to be different. It can’t be commissions based on sales; instead you should identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and create a bonus structure around them.

Something easily measurable, like traffic or visibility, is a good place to start. Create a bonus structure around site traffic that’s driven by marketing content, or provide a monetary reward when you hit a certain number of followers on a social media platform. From there, you can broaden out and consider other KPIs.

It is possible for the sales and marketing teams to put aside their differences, integrate their approaches, and live in harmony. And it’s imperative that small business owners and leadership do what they can to encourage open communication and collaboration across team lines. Not only will this make for happier teams, but it will also make for a healthier business.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

How to Clean Up Your Data Wasteland

thumbnail 9.2We live in a data-driven world. Even our most basic activities—like exercising and sleeping—have become subjects for tracking and analysis. With constant access to apps and technology that gather detailed information about our lives, it’s easy to become inundated with information that we don’t know how to allocate.

The same is true when it comes to gathering data about our digital marketing campaigns. We have a wealth of tools at our fingertips to discover some pretty great insights about current and potential customers. But if we aren’t intentional about the way we gather and organize that data, we’ll end up in a dreaded data wasteland with scattered information that can’t be put to good use.

So how can you best collect and manage your data to inform your marketing efforts? Here are a couple places to start:

Create an automated data machine

Your top priority should be to ensure all your marketing tools are working together seamlessly. Doing just a bit of legwork before launching a campaign can help you automate your data capture and organization.

Here are three steps to turn your data wasteland into a data wonderland:

#1. Set up lead attribution.

Attributing your traffic sources through UTM parameters can help you gather important data about where your leads are coming from. Adding unique tags to your URLs lets Google automatically track your precise traffic sources (i.e., organic search, paid search, social, etc.).

In the end, this gives you great insights about which traffic sources are driving your best leads, and it allows you to better allocate your marketing dollars.

#2. Set up tools that provide deeper insights on leads.

Syncing tools like Google Analytics and Google AdWords to the marketing tools you’re already using can help you systematically capture useful information about your lead generation campaigns. If you integrate with these powerful tools, priceless information can be sent to your accounts automatically when someone converts.

Google Analytics can help you monitor various aspects of your marketing campaigns—from form conversion rates to traffic sources. And Google AdWords can help you determine which keywords are driving your highest and best conversions.

#3. Set up tools that automate lead data transfer.

Taking advantage of data transfer automation can save your team a lot of time. Integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing tools that automatically accept your lead data and campaign analytics can help you keep your data organized and actionable.

Integrating with CRMs like Salesforce and HubSpot allows you to keep your sales lead information updated in a central location. And integrating with email marketing software like Emma and MailChimp allows you to keep your email lists relevant with little effort.

Make your data actionable

Once you’ve done the back-end work to automate your data collection process, the next step is to use your data to take action. Making data-informed decisions about where to put your marketing efforts can help you better nurture prospects and leads and convert them into customers.

Here are three steps to make good use of your collected data:

#1. Segment your audience.

Examine your data for ways to segment your collected leads into groups. This will allow you to craft more customized engagement and upselling strategies based on your audience segments.

Consider grouping more engaged leads together and sending them a monthly newsletter. And for those who’ve had minimal interaction with your brand, consider creating a group for a drip email marketing campaign.

#2. Create personas.

Use data you’ve collected about customer behavior to create your ideal buyer personas. Defining your personas can help you tailor your content, landing pages, offers, and other marketing collateral for maximized customer acquisition and retention.

When building your personas, make sure to include information about demographics, background, top pain points, and solutions you can provide.

#3. Pinpoint ideal customers for testimonials.

Pay attention to any data that points to a successful customer or highlights positive customer feedback. This data can be used to identify customers for testimonials or case studies.

Testimonials and case studies can boost marketing and sales efforts because people love to hear true stories about how you helped someone else succeed or solved a similar problem for another business.

headshot 9.2Chris Lucas is the Vice President of marketing for Formstack. He is passionate about setting the vision for Formstack’s marketing department, as well as discovering new ways to drive web traffic and leads. Follow Chris on Twitter at @chris_c_lucas.

 

2 The 5 Steps to Influencer Marketing in 2015

5StepsToInfluenceInfluencer marketing is a topic that has been discussed widely for years but as the web has developed and the influence of individuals has changed dramatically, so has the way approach them.

Essentially Influencer Marketing can be defined as the concept of creating relationships which are mutually beneficial to brand and influencer. The influencer receives something in return for the brand borrowing the social capital they possess. And social capital converts, in fact, AdWeek reports 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people, even strangers, over branded content.

Branding and digital strategy expert, Minter Dial calls this concept of social capital, WIIFM (What’s in it for me). Influencer Marketing shouldn’t be about using others to your advantage it should be about creating common value between individuals and brand. By demonstrating value to your influencers, they will give support and affiliation in return.

There are five key areas to a successful influencer marketing campaign:

1. Identification: Where do you find your audiences and influencers?

First you need to lay out your strategy and set your objectives. This should give you an idea of the audience you want to reach. The next step is to identify where these communities exist and understand who is influencing them.

So start by thinking about who you want to reach. Regardless of if it’s car lovers or fast food enthusiasts the concept stays the same. With careful research, you will start to identify the influencers in these communities. These are the people who have the reach to amplify a message to the rest of the community.

2. Interaction: How do these influencers communicate? What content do they share?

Now you’ve identified these influencers you have to start thinking about what will engage them.

Whatever material you take to your influencers should be informed by how they are already communicating with each other. Are they sharing graph, infographics, images or articles? Where do they take this content from? Social? Newswires? Magazines? Forums? Once you have pulled out some common trends then you need to define the mix of channel and content best suited to your objectives.

3. Introductions: How can brands join these conversations in an authentic manner?

Obviously creating a relationship with someone doesn’t happen overnight. Imagine if you leaned in to kiss someone you had just met. It’s all a bit too much, a bit too soon. Remember integrity, honesty, and patience are the keys to building a relationship whether it is a personal one or a professional one.

Kick things off by explaining who you are to these influencers. Remember clarity is key. Make sure you explain why what you’re sharing will bring them benefits. Don’t ask for anything from them, make sure you are giving them something that will actually help them with their job. Every relationship must be mutually beneficial.

Innovation: What tools should you be using to carry out your campaign?

Obviously you wouldn’t chop down a tree with a steak knife or chop toast with a chainsaw. So why would you try to do everything we’ve explained without the right tools for the job?

Use technology to make thing easy, there’s a range of tools out there to automate admin, improve understanding and even identify influencers themselves. Interested in hearing more? Check out our 2015 guide to media relation tools.

4. Interpretation: How can you measure the impact on your business?

Every campaign can be measured differently and every outcome can be something else. The important thing to understand though is the impact can take time to come through.

So keep your eye on the prize and make sure everything you do is working towards the same objectives. This article from Rich Leigh explains more about how to set goals and measure results using Google Analytics.

Sound simple?

With the right strategy, tools and know-how, it should be. We’re social animals, it should almost come naturally but remember, start building relationships now and you will reap the rewards in the long term.

At Prezly, we’ve spent the last month speaking to some of the leading lights in marketing and communications to uncover what influencer marketing means to them. See what they had to say in the Slideshare below and don’t forget to check out our complete guide to influencer marketing.

20 influencer marketing quotes from Prezly


VincxFrederik Vincx is the co-founder of Prezly, a CRM for PR Pros. He spent the past 5 years building software that helps teams improve their relationship with the media, bloggers and stakeholders.
You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

1 Re-engage With Leads & Increase Sales – Easy, Effective Ways to Bring Back Visitors Who Intend to Buy

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photo credit: Flickr

 We’ve all found those pennies behind the couch pillow, and that occasional quarter in the crevice can eventually pack a punch—a cup of coffee here, a trip to the movies there. But how much does that analogy reflect on those lost leads that slip through the cracks in our customer buying funnel?

Below are some easy and effective ways to re-engage with visitors who have visited your website but may have forgotten to get back to their project, or worse, may already be engaging with your competitors.  In any case, you’ll want to creatively remind them to re-visit your site and finish the purchase.

Use Re-marketing Ads & Target Specific Visitors

Re-marketing ads are ads that display to people who have previously visited your website, or leads from whom you collected an email address.  They’re offered by many publishers and serving platforms.  While some of the larger advertisers use products like Adroll or Criteo, other large and small advertisers still see a lot of advantages re-marketing directly in the publishers.  Some of the most popular publishers are Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter Ads, and even Instagram as of late. However, many would agree that Google and Facebook are probably the top two options for the most impact of performance.

Whether or not you are using Google for paid search or contextual ads, consider an Adwords remarketing ad campaign.  Adwords provides great tools for tracking performance and easily creating image ads, even for those of us with no creative capabilities—making ads is as easy as uploading your logo or image and drafting some text in the tool.

Facebook Ads is another great channel for re-marketing.  One and a half billion people hangout on its social platform providing an extensive reach, and many agree that the advertising costs are still quite low compared to other channels.

 

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Upload a List of Emails in Facebook for Targeting

Like the target settings that segment audiences by page visits and actions on the website, Facebook, Twitter Ads, and others allow email list uploading.  You can then easily create ads to show to your most valuable emails, which is great if you are scoring leads from a CRM and want to focus efforts based on lead quality or positions of a conversion process.

Reach Only the Visitors Who Show Interest in Your Product or Service

Since re-marketing ads are not free, many advertisers roll up their sleeves and take steps to increase their ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend).  Both Google and Facebook allow advertisers to create rules that will allow spend to only show ads to people who have taken specific actions on a website or in a conversion path.  Try setting up uniquely targeted campaigns to people who have visited your shopping cart in the last seven days, but who have not made a purchase. Or, run an ad exclusively to people who have filled out a form to learn more about your business.

By targeting only users who have shown certain levels of intent to purchase your product, marketers often save money by eliminated wasted ad spend on traffic that bears no fruit.

Measure Your Results and Refine Your Strategy

Implementing re-marketing ads to help bring users back into the conversion funnel should be common sense. But don’t forget to use good data when making decisions about your investment.  These tools all offer robust tracking to enable insights into what’s working and what might be cut out.

Read some good resources about tactics that work for other businesses and apply to refine your efforts.  Whatever you do, don’t leave those open leads to your competitors.

Engage with those lost gems and drive results to your top and bottom line.

 

9.30 cDavid Johns is the Digital Marketing Director for RushOrderTees, a national screen printing company that specializes in custom printed apparel for every occasion. He is a senior PPC, SEO, and SMO marketing specialist with skills and experience optimizing ROI through advanced data-driven strategies. He hails from San Francisco, but currently resides in Philadelphia.

 

 

Building Relationships Through the Customer Loop

Today’s Guest Post is by Sam Balter – Enjoy!

The customer journey is a simplified expression of the complex thought process of a customer looking to purchase something. A quick Google search for ‘customer journey’ brings up a myriad of complex diagrams full of hundreds of metrics. The truth is that every company has a unique customer journey; each marketing channel has a unique customer journey, and every product has a unique customer journey. All customers go through a different journey and engage with a brand in a unique way.

The customer journey model relies on seeing a buying decision as linear and a one-off interaction. Brands that will succeed in cross-channel marketing are building a relationship with their customer in every stage of the journey. When thinking about mobile, specifically mobile messaging, it’s all about creating a frictionless and compelling experience for the customer.

Let’s take the basic model of the customer journey: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Retention -> Advocacy. The most successful businesses will foster a relationship each step of the customer journey, and along the way, delight their customer.

waterfall, the customer journeyAwareness:
Using physical signage or online advertising is a great way to create awareness of your brand. Visual advertisements capture customers’ attention and use the present moment to start building a relationship via mobile. Here’s an example of a simple text Call-To-Action (CTA) on a billboard:

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Text KRUSTY to 55155

Using a text call-to-action on outdoor signage helps get more from marketing dollars because the billboard creates an impression, and the mobile messaging gives you a way to speak directly to your customer. Mobile messaging adds a CRM component to an awareness campaign.

To take this a step further, a brand might want to ask their customer for their zip code so that location-specific offers can be delivered. If you want to see some great CTAs, check out our site where we’ve compiled examples of successful CTAs, Art of the CTA.

Consideration:
To optimize the efficacy of mobile as a channel, it’s imperative to send the right message at the right time. If Krusty Burger wants to increase lunch traffic, it makes no sense to send a message at 4:15pm. Instead, achieve optimal results by sending a message one to two hours before a customer is encouraged to take action. That way, when their stomach starts to growl, they know they’ve got a Krusty Burger coupon in their pocket.

To take it to another level, consider using a share-with-friend function that will allow more people to get in on the savings while capturing more phone numbers in the process.

Purchase:
This is an incredibly powerful step of the customer journey. I am very cheap, so sometimes purchasing things can make me feel a little guilty. It is important to offset these feelings of guilt with heart warming offers. For example, offer customers the ability to receive a receipt via Multimedia Message, thereby saving paper, or the chance to enter a sweepstakes, to win a prize. If you have connected unique coupon codes with your point of sale system, you can even deliver the customer a coupon just moments after their purchase.

Retention:
An excellent part of mobile messaging campaigns is that in the awareness stage, a customer can opt-in to a loyalty program, and from there, consistently receive coupons and deals. For mobile messaging loyalty programs, we suggest the offers vary; mix SMS and MMS, and collect different pieces of information every few messages. Ask questions like: What is your favorite meal? When is your birthday? What is your email address, etc.? Encourage customers to provide information with incentives, and only ask for information if you will use it to delight your customers.

Advocacy:
It seems like only a few years ago, the only way for people to advocate for a brand or product they believed in was through word of mouth. Now, every customer has access to a digital bullhorn. Capitalize on customers’ social media connects with mobile messaging by embedding ‘click to tweet or post’ within your message copy. At Waterfall, we are big fans of viral sharing campaigns. Dropbox built an enormous user base through a viral sharing campaign in which every referral you signed up added additional storage to your account. This is a great way to provide value to your most helpful customers by leveraging the power of social amplification.

Customer Loop – The future of the customer journey
The customer journey has long reigned as a keystone of modern marketing. As we move into a cross-channel world, where brands are advertising to, providing content for, and engaging in conversations with customers, the journey will be replaced by a loop in which each interaction strengthens the bond between brand and brand advocate.

Sam Balter WaterfallSam Balter is a Marketing Manager at Waterfall, a mobile messaging and CRM provider that helps companies engage their customers on their phones. Sam writes about mobile strategy, industry trends, and how to create successful cross-channel marketing campaigns.

What If Your Customers Could Talk to Your CRM

I spend a lot of time talking to and about the stuff that we do to make it work now. So sometimes it’s a real treat to get to talk to someone that’s so far out ahead of most of us in their thinking that you pretty much just listen with your mouth open when they talk. (I would put my conversation with Kevin Kelly in this class)

Recently I had a chance to visit for a bit with one of those folks – Doc Searls. Doc is senior editor for Linux Journal, alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and co-author of the seminal work – The Cluetrain Manifesto with Rick Levine, Christopher Locke and David Weinberger. (Look for our conversation in a coming episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.)

In 2000, Searls and company painted the road map for what was coming only to have it high jacked to some degree by marketers that misinterpreted the manifesto as a foreshadowing of social media. When Cluetrain told the world that markets are conversations, they meant, I fear, that we as marketers should have an actual conversation and not simply listen and react in ways that tailored our marketing conversations to the research we are now able to obtain via social sharing. (Click on this search for “markets are conversations” and you’ll get an even grimmer sense of this.)

In Searls’ latest work, The Intention Economy, he returns to the notion of conversations but puts the onus and control firmly in the hands of the consumer and not the organization. A great deal of the work that Searls was engaged in at Berkman surrounding the notion of something that’s become known as Vendor Relationship Management or VRM.

The idea of VRM is drawn from the traditional customer relationship language, but shifts the management aspect to the customer instead of the organization. In a VRM environment, the customer controls a great deal of the data and experience and is the determining party in how much or how little is tailored to their wants.

One doesn’t have too look to far out into future space to imagine a technology that enables customer to interact with CRM platforms in a way that allows them to decide what to share, what to update and what to request.

Can you imagine how powerful this type of true conversation could be?

The real hurdle is data trust, or lack of, but I believe we are sitting on a privacy bubble.

So, at what point do we rebel against being used as part of Facebook’s product? At what point do we start to demand the ability to control our own health records? At what point do we tell CVS to shove the little stupid rewards card and start to spend only with those that accept markets are conversations and that relationships are not data.

Enable true intentions in your customer relationships and open your organization to a world of commerce that does not currently exist.

21 The Incredibly Logical Way to Manage Customer Relationships

In a perfect world, every customer relationship would be steeped in a complete understanding of the customer’s current wants, needs and desires. The trick of course is that getting anything that looks like that at all requires three things – incredible planning, thoughtful technology and consistent execution.

The entire category of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology inherently offers the promise of this kind of relationship management while often providing little more than a historical account of a series of contacts, emails, phone calls and purchases.

This is not to say that the technology itself is lacking. Most technology solutions are only as good as the planning that goes into the front end installation and consistency involved in the back end operation and execution.

In many ways the CRM system is simply a tool that expresses the logical manner in which a company views its prospects and customers. In order to get a great deal more from the technology, you must get a great deal more strategic about how a lead moves through the various stages of becoming a customer and how a customer advances to the ultimate state or referral relationship.

The Marketing Hourglass

Special Note: If this idea resonates with you go grab an entire workbook, video and lesson on how to apply it to your business free of charge. Get it here.

 

Developing the stages

I believe that most every business can benefit by viewing their customer relationships through the lens of something I call The Marketing Hourglass.® The Marketing Hourglass is a series of stages that make up the customer life cycle starting from the point at which a prospect comes to know your business through the place where they become a loyal referral champion.

The hourglass is far more effective in terms of customer relationship management than the marketing funnel approach because there is so much emphasis on the customer experience before and after the sale.

The seven stages of the hourglass are: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat and Refer. In an effective customer relationship view each of these stages would have intentional tools, processes, actions, products, services and campaigns all designed to move someone in one stage on to the next.

So, your ads (Know) would not try to sell, they would be designed to offer an opportunity to get to know more (Like) and potentially move the prospect to take an action based on trust, such as exchange an email address or sign-up for a demo.

Most CRM makers and consultants will argue that this is precisely how CRM tools are meant to function, but experience tells me that few businesses are using them in this manner because the focus is on the tool and how to operate it rather on the business and customer objectives.

The Marketing Hourglass approach simplifies how to think about the overall relationship before you start to employ the tool to track and measure it.

Visualizing your stages

Once you’ve designed how you plan to move prospects and customers through your business you can attach the Marketing Hourglass labels to every contact in your CRM system as a way to keep tabs on the work you have left to do in your relationship building system.

Once you define and label the logical path you’re using to deepen your customer relationships you can start to use your CRM tool to visualize where every lead and customer is in your hourglass and this gives you the ability to easily view where you’re system is breaking down, where there are jams, and where it needs your attention.

One way to further think about this intentional staged approach is to view every person in one stage as a lead for the next stage. For example, a customer in the (Buy) stage should be looked at as a new lead for the (Repeat) stage. This allows you to build better processes, such as results reviews and additional educational touchpoints, aimed at moving them to that next stage.

Once a customer moves to the (Repeat) stage they are now a hot prospect for your (Refer) campaign, but only then.

As you can see all of this staged activity takes planning to get set-up and a great deal of execution to produce results, but the Marketing Hourglass breaks the entire relationship management practice into logical parts and allows you to think in terms of a logical global path. At this point your chosen CRM tool can become the most powerful tool in drawer.

29 Using Gmail as a Simple CRM Tool

CRM systems are great and powerful marketing workhorses capable of funneling leads into campaigns, automating nurturing routines, tracking conversion metrics and interfacing with ordering and accounting systems to create a complete sales machine, but sometimes you just need to keep track of who you contacted and when.

Using Google’s free suite of tools you can create a nice lightweight CRM system with just a few tweak along the way. Since email has become one of the primary forms of contact, and particularly if you’re already using Gmail, exploring options that allow you expand on the tool you use the most might be the fastest route to creating a useable CRM like option.

Contacts

Gmail comes with a contact database that will automatically store information on anyone you add or correspond with. You can add lots of information beyond email and name and upload contact information from other systems and files.

This isn’t the prettiest interface, but it has just enough functionality to work. Once you add a contact your email exchanges will be searchable and you can add them to a task or appointment in Google Calendar to create even more searchable data for the record.

Groups

One of the keys to using the Gmail contact database as a mini CRM tool is to use the contact groups function. By creating groups in your contacts page for things like customers, prospects, journalists, vendors and strategic partners you can effectively sort your contact list by function and even create mail campaigns to these groups.

Nested Folders

Another way to keep track of key information in Gmail is to use email folders for your key contact groups and add the nested folders function found in labs to create subfolders. So, if you have a client folder, then you can create a folder specifically for each key client underneath the client folder.

Then when you have email come in from a client you can use the move to function to store the email in the appropriate folder so you can access it more easily. You can also pull up any contact record and see recent emails to and from the contact.

Rapportive

Free 3rd party add-ons can also help beef up your new CRM system. Browser plugin Rapportive is a tool that adds social media data to your contact records. With this plugin added you automatically see LinkedIn or Facebook information on you contacts or anyone that sends you an email in the right sidebar of the Gmail screen.

You can also follow and connect with contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn directly from the Gmail interface. This is a great way to get a bigger picture of what your contacts are doing and have instant information on people that send you emails.

Boomerang

Another 3rd party plugin you might consider adding is Boomerang. This handy plugin gives your emails some smarts. When you send an email, for example, you set it remind you if you don’t hear back from the recipient in a set number of days. Or you set an email in your inbox to go away and put itself back in on a certain day.

Many of the functions in Boomerang allow you to set-up and operate your own little tickler file system based entirely on emails sent and received.

App Marketplace

Of course there are lots of additional apps that integrate with Gmail and the entire suite Google Apps found in the App Marketplace. For example, the Mavenlink app turns the system described here into a full collaboration and project and task management suite.

Full-featured tools are great, but sometimes a simple solution you can master and use in the way you’re already working is just the ticket.

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