Daniel Burstein

Rapid-Fire Results: Get quick ideas for improving your customer-first marketing

July 27th, 2017

The focus at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 was inspirational stories of customer-first marketing, and so we mostly shared in person, live versions of the in-depth case studies we report on from your peers.

However, previous attendees have told us that they also want quick ideas for improving their customer-first marketing.

So in this quick-hitting session, my Summit co-host, Pamela Jesseau, and I shared ideas for improving your marketing from industry experts, your marketing peers and MarketingSherpa Award entrants who had outstanding ideas.

Sit back and watch the entire 30-minute video to get several different ideas. Or, if you’d like to jump ahead to a specific topic in a specific section, our copy editor Linda Johnson, put together these timestamp links for you.

0:24Why the value chain matters to the marketer

I share some research from MarketingSherpa that shows why you can underperform if you only focus on best practices for email, direct marketing or whatever your marketing focus is, and why you and your marketing department should get deeply engaged throughout the business to ensure that all customer touchpoints are high value for the customer.

1:34 Build a content army from unlikely sources within your own company

Sarah Schaale, Sr. Brand Manager, Lumens/Ydesign Group, explains that her company was unsuccessful in finding freelance marketing writers, so they pulled people from other departments within the company — Sales, Customer Service, Merchandising — who had writing skills (“writerly types”) and gave a stipend to them (a low budget way to handle this need). This decision created brand ambassadors.

3:13You can be either data-centric or customer-centric. When there is a conflict with the two, follow your heart.

In 2003, Joe McCambley, SVP Content Marketing, POP, worked for AOL. Even though many customers complained about pop-up ads, AOL kept using them — because the data showed short-term results. In the end, AOL lost its foothold in the marketplace. (Joe believes that a series of decisions like this caused the decline.)

5:10Think about every way that your brand touches a customer, perhaps beyond traditional channels, and how you can turn that into a very customer-first message

Instead of shutting down access to McDonald’s Wi-Fi for non-McDonald’s customers, it turned the situation into a marketing message to draw more customers in, according to Catharine Hays, Executive Director, The Future of Advertising Program at The Wharton School.

6:00How a vacation rentals company utilized the weather and current events in email marketing

During its seasonal downtime, Shannon Kinser, Marketing Director, Sun Realty, referenced a winter storm coming to the Northeast — where many of its customers live — with an email campaign featuring bright, sunny, warm scenery. Reservations and revenue increased.

6:58Don’t panic if you don’t have a clear value proposition right away

It can be frustrating to market a product that doesn’t have a unique value proposition. If you’re not a senior business leader, there will be limits on how much you can affect the exclusivity and appeal of your company’s or product’s value propositions. In that case, Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director, Solutions, MECLABS Institute, recommends that marketers focus on clarity and credibility to gain an advantage over competitors.

8:49Easy versus enjoyable purchasing experience

MarketingSherpa survey results show that while an easy purchase is important to both satisfied and unsatisfied customers, an enjoyable purchasing experience is a key differentiator for satisfied customers.

9:27Educate your customers

Peter Koizumi, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, BMO Financial Group, explains how the bank educated its customers on the value of investing and saw a 77% increase in conversions.

10:37Analyze your reactivation program 

Matt Hickman, Vice President, Yes Lifecycle Marketing, makes the case for why reactivation campaigns should not be an afterthought.

11:41Optimize a checkout process you can’t control

When MECLABS first began working with the University of Florida, we only had control of the landing page (the front of the funnel) due to security reasons. We created a workaround with an iframe and messaging that walked students through the application process, reducing friction and anxiety.

12:56Experience with a product leads to more sales

Annette Garaghty, Vice President Sales & Marketing, WUSTHOF, shares how this knife maker created “micro-influencers” by putting its product in the hands of the retail associates, giving them more credibility with the end consumer.

14:42An email address is more than just an address to email

Ryan Phelan, Vice President, Marketing Insights, Adestra, says that a database of emails is the key that unlocks all the information about consumers. In this way, email addresses are more important than Social Security numbers. By combining that email address with third-party data, you can identify the consumer and better serve his or her needs.

18:08Just say what you mean

Gary Jury, Supervisor, Digital Intelligence, CAA — winner of the MarketingSherpa/The Onion Headline Content — explains that being understood is more important than being clever. He also advises copywriters and marketers to be precise. Edit. Edit. Edit.

19:22Optimize for unique mobile paths

Matthew Indellicati, Associate Director of Strategy, M&C Saatchi Mobile, encourages you to figure out opportune times to engage your mobile app customer and put less emphasis on demographics and more emphasis on behaviors.

21:14You can’t say, “I’m just a marketing person.”

I share advice from Andrea Shaikin, former Director, Customer Experience & Engagement, Mr. Lube Canada — spend the time with your technology colleagues to learn how things working so you’re able to make smart decisions about what can and can’t get done. (My own diligent and hard-working IT colleague was in the audience and noticed the below meme in the slide deck.)

22:07Gaining buy-in when you get back to the office

Don’t just share your newfound knowledge with your marketing department. Share throughout your organization, Matt Sitler, Marketing Communications Manager, Paychex, advises. The more knowledge you impart throughout your organization, the closer you are to realizing your vision.

23:00Use language that resonates with your clients, not you

This example from Ari Sheinkin, VP of Marketing Analytics, IBM, shows why you should avoid industryspeak and use your customer’s words, not your own.

24:17Keep the same subject line until it stops working

What can we learn from the history of email marketing? I take a trip on the wayback machine and look at one of MarketingSherpa’s first case studies — from 17 years ago. Phillips Publishing kept running the same email subject line. Why? Because it kept pulling orders!

Not the type of tactic that would still work today … or would it? Only way to find out is to test.

25:13Take the time to connect directly with your customers

Pamela shares an example from our own email marketing and customer service, and quotes Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, by asking: Why is your marketing voice different from your real voice?

26:36While customers have many reasons to be satisfied, it takes fewer things to make them unsatisfied

I was flying Delta and had to switch airlines to make it to Summit on time. I was one of many people who were upset at the company. Sure, it had many perks— new airplanes, televisions, snacks — but there was only one problem; it couldn’t get me where I wanted to go. That example illustrates a key lesson from our research into why customers are satisfied (and unsatisfied) with companies.

27:29Use video to build relationships in a virtual world

This example from Max Anderson, Video Producer, Nextiva, shows how each sales rep at the business VoIP company has a personal introductory video linked to their email signature.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

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Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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