Customer generated content - Duct Tape Marketing

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19 5 Ways to Get Your Customers to Create Content For You

You’ve heard enough about the need to produce content that I’m guessing you’re probably blogging away and curating, aggregating and filtering all manner of content. But there’s one type of content that you may not be focused on and I happen to think it’s some of the most potent to be had – and that’s customer generated content.

Your customers, the ones that already know, like and trust you, are more equipped to tell the real story of your business than an army of writers in any marketing department, so why not engage them to do just that.

Imagine taking your best, most loyal, most vocal, customer with you on your next sales call and asking them to simply explain the real benefits they’ve realized because of the work you’ve done for them. That’s the power of customer generated content when done right and that’s why you need to routinely find ways to acquire it.

Below are five ideas to help you get your customers telling their stories.

One question testimonial

Create a survey that asks every customer one question. On a scale of 1-10 how likely is it that you would refer us. Now, set the survey up so that if the answer is 1-4 the survey taker is redirected to a page that apologizes and sets the expectation that they will hear from someone immediately to find out what went wrong.

If it’s a 5-7, send the customer to a page that says, you’re not happy until they are happier than that and ask them to suggest how you could have done better.

For the 8-10 answers, redirect them to a form that allows them to submit a testimonial and ask them to check a box if they would agree to be interviewed for a case study.

This is a great way to automate testimonial generation and keep a real time pulse on how you’re doing. I use Wufoo forms to run this process, but I’ve heard good things about Formstack as well.

Video appreciation party

I’ve written about this before, but it’s such a great way to get lots of great video content that I thought I would share it again.

Once a year or so hold a client appreciation event to say thanks and create a networking event for your clients and prospects. Hire a video crew for the event and, after a few bottles of wine have been emptied, ask some of your clients to talk about their experience with your firm on camera. Then also let them record a five minute commercial for their own use too.

This is a great way to get lots of testimonials and case studies in one day and your clients will get very engaged in swapping stories and selling each other on the benefits of working with you.

Tell us your story

Getting your customers to share their experience is a very powerful form of content. You can sit across the desk and interview your customers in order to extract this kind of content or you can employ a handful of tools that make it very easy to capture these stories.

For audio only content a testimonial recording line from AudioAcrobat is a great way to go. You simply provide your customer with a phone number that they can call and record their story. The service then produces an mp3 and code to embed on your site for people to play the recordings.

You can also use a tool like MailVu that allows you send a link with a video capture tool so your client’s with a web cam can record a video testimonial or story and submit it with little work on your part.

Community knowledge base

What if you could find a way to get your best customers to willingly shoulder creating answers to questions and best practices? Tools like ZenDesk and GetSatisfaction make it easy for you to enable community members to provide help and archived advice to other customers and prospects.

Robin Robins, founder of Marketing Technology Toolkit in Nashville, TN involves her customer community in an incredible way. She has created a membership program that allows her mostly IT business customers to receive ongoing business building support through coaching, training and tools she provides.

She has created what she calls “accountability groups” in the membership program and customers head up these groups and do a great deal of work keeping participants engaged and on track. Heading up these groups is not a paid position; loyal and committed customers that want to play a bigger role in the community do it.

Help your peers

Using a tool like Google+ Hangouts, Skype Video Conference or GoToMeeting Video Conference you can easily host and facilitate a group video conference where your customers and their peers can discuss important industry and business challenges and trends. You can record and archive the event and create some very useful and engaging content.

This is not a sales event, but by virtue of the fact that you have included customers in the conversation, there will be the inevitable discussions about what you’ve done to help them address a challenge.

Creating opportunities to capture the stories your clients have to tell is an important piece in any fully developed content strategy.

So, what have you done to get your customers talking?

21 5 Types of Content That Every Business Must Employ

Marketing podcast with John Jantsch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Dawn Endico via Flickr

The creation and distribution of content has become such a significant aspect of effective marketing that it requires a high place in the strategy conversation in most every business.

Some might go as far as to suggest content marketing has become the most effective way to build a business.

The word content is confusing enough as it’s bantered around these days, but it’s also difficult for many small business owners to come up with a big picture view of the role content plays in the acquisition of clients.

Strategically, the word content must mean more than a blog post or a blank sheet of paper each day. You must begin to think of your content as a total body of work that is being built to serve your business over time.

You must understand and create content for the most important keyword phrases for your industry, the essential themes of education in your business, and your company’s core points of differentiation.

You must also think in terms of your content as a tool that moves prospects from awareness to conversion and in this effort there are at least five types of content that you must address. Each type must be considered as part of your overall content strategy.

I’ve listed each below and I also discuss them in the audio track that accompanies this post.

Content that builds trust – One of the first jobs of your content is to bridge the gap from awareness to trust building. Your SEO efforts actually marry with this type of content to make sure you are both found and found in abundance.

  • How to content – specific advice or tips and tricks
  • Reviews – customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Google Places
  • Testimonials – endorsements from happy customers
  • Articles – articles you’ve written or that mention your firm in outside publications

Content that educates – Once you create awareness and trust a prospect will be hungry to find out much more about your unique approach, your solution, your story and your organization.

  • White papers – not boring, dry technical stuff, your best writing tying a bigger topic together
  • Newsletter – Weekly or monthly education that nurtures their interest
  • Seminars – in person or online, these allow prospects to learn as well as engage
  • FAQs – some folks just need the answers to their questions and this format serves well
  • Survey data – results from surveys can be very compelling as a way to let prospects know you understand them

Customer generated content – Getting your customers involved in the production of content builds loyalty and community, creates proof of results and gives you another avenue for content creation.

  • Automatic referrals and reviews – create ways to move happy customers to a referral and review process
  • Testimonials – automate this process by providing online audio and video tools
  • Video success stories – create events that bring customers together to tell their story and network

Other people’s content – one of the primary jobs of marketers these days is to provide some insight to the stream of information that our customers face. Filtering and aggregating content produced by others is not only a great service, it’s a great differentiator.

  • Custom RSS feeds – create customer or industry specific feeds to share
  • Republish, Share, RT – point to and share great content that being produced
  • Curate – use tools like Storify to collect and republish customer newsletters

Content that converts – this last category is one that gets overlooked in the write for writing sake view of content. Ultimately, great content has the ability to call and convert prospects to the action of buying.

  • In person events – live events are the absolute best way to use content to close
  • Case studies – deep studies into the success of another client act as tangible proof in the buying decision
  • ROI calculators – use content to help prospects understand the specific value of making a change
  • Results – provide documented proof results in simple and easy to understand forms that address the common needs of most prospects.

I’m in Alaska this week so I’ll be sharing some photos from their in my posts.