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Posts Tagged ‘customer-centric’

Ask MarketingSherpa: Maturity of conversion rate optimization (CRO) industry

September 6th, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of these conversations here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi there Daniel,

I quite like the sequence you have built, it’s quite relevant and well refined.

With regards to the personal note, very well done. I am guessing you get a mixed bag from this one.

I would like to ask a question, in your opinion, where do you think CRO is in the adoption lifecycle?

As an industry/set of processes do you think it is still early days or are we nearing the end or somewhere in the middle?

From: Kaleb Ufton, Director of Technology and Digital Marketing Strategy, EKOH Marketing

 

MarketingSherpa responds: The sequence Kaleb is referring to is the welcome email drip sequence, which includes emails written with a direct and personal tone, that marketers receive after subscribing to the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

But then he asks a thoughtful and provocative question about conversion rate optimization (CRO). If you’ve read previous Ask MarketingSherpa columns, you know they are usually how-to questions about topics like value proposition communication or finding clients.

Kaleb’s question is more challenging. It essentially requires the ability to predict the future. I needed a little help with this one.

Fortunately, I work every day with one of the pioneers of the conversion rate optimization industry—Flint McGlaughlin. So I walked down the hall to get his take on this question, and here’s what he had to say …

Moving away from just testing pages to testing for new products

I think CRO is in the advanced segment of the first stage and beginning to move into the second. I’ll explain:

When we began our research, no one had a conversion budget; there was no one to hire to do conversion work. There was no training available for conversion. Now companies everywhere hire conversion optimization experts and are testing, but they do it very poorly. Stage 1 has matured to the point where it has become a common practice, but the quality of the execution is definitely lacking.

Tests are often run with major validity errors that no one detects. The testing tools are still primitive, and the biggest problem in the industry is that people don’t know what to test. Having a tool doesn’t help you if you don’t know how to really use it. So I think we are in the advanced segment of Stage 1, and Stage 1 would represent the general adoption of conversion optimization. Clearly some industries are far, far beyond, but in general, things have advanced significantly.

Now, how far do we have to go?

We have a long way to go. Conversion as it relates to personalization is not even close to being executed properly. The next phase in conversion will come through the advanced development of existing technologies. AI (artificial intelligence) is making big promises but delivering far less in practice. There will come a time when it can do more.

In addition, conversion is moving away from just testing pages to testing for new products and also testing for entrepreneurial software rollouts (full stack testing). These are new fields with greater opportunity. I think there is a stage coming where the practice moves to new areas, and then there is a stage coming where technology makes new possibilities.

— Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa and MarketingExperiments), and author of the book The Marketer as Philosopher

Since this question requires essentially making a prediction, I wanted to leverage the wisdom of the crowds and get a few other opinions as well from your marketing peers and CRO practitioners. So here are some other thoughts on the state of the CRO industry …

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Marketing 101: An intro to social listening, why you should become an undercover social media agent (and where to begin)

July 3rd, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

In the early 2000s when social media networks like My Space and Facebook first came out, many of us thought they were just a passing fad. We were wrong.

These social networks have been so successful because people are hardwired to be social. And they want to share on social platforms.

Then businesses began to realize that customers were reacting more positively toward this gentler inbound strategy as opposed to the traditional, more aggressive outbound methods. Today, social media marketing is a vital part of most companies.

Yes, social media marketing is here to stay, and statistics show that it reigns as king of the mountain in the business world, being one of the most widely used lead gen tactics.

Most Widely Used Lead Gen Tactics

If you have been trying to avoid learning hashtag lingo, retweet etiquette and analytics, then chances are your business won’t last long among its many competitors. Because THEY most certainly are utilizing social platforms to their advantage. You, on the other hand, are trying to execute your business strategy blindfolded.

Some benefits of social listening

Even if your business doesn’t have the budget for a dedicated social media analyst or the latest and greatest social monitoring tools, you can still go ahead and set up some accounts. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the most popular ones but you should conduct some sleuthing to determine which social media platforms are the best fit for your ideal customer.

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Selling and Marketing to Senior Citizens When Your Team is Very Different From the Customer

April 26th, 2018
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“Nobody reads direct mail letters anymore.” “Everybody has the latest iPhone now.” “I would never read that.”

Let’s unpack these sentences. What they are really saying is:

  • “Nobody (I know) reads direct mail anymore.”
  • “Everybody (I follow on Instagram) has the latest iPhone now.”
  • “I would never read that (but I’m not the ideal customer for the product).”

We humans, we’re a self-centered lot. And we think other people are much more like us than they really are. Psychologists call this false-consensus bias. And it is a significant challenge for the CMO or other sales or marketing leader in charge of a team that is very different from them.

I discussed this topic with Denis Mrkva, general manager of Aetna’s HealthSpire subsidiary, right before I interviewed him about a landing page optimization effort that increased leads 638% for a call center. Denis’ ideal customer is interested in Medicare Advantage. So his fairly young team is selling to senior citizens.

We also discussed hiring and creating the right culture, how senior citizens use digital channels, and how Denis’ team helps his customers navigate the digital environment. You can watch the video below or jump to the full transcript.


Customer-first sales and marketing

In discussing the customer, Denis had some good advice:

“Put them and their needs first — and listen. And try to understand not only their needs for the product they want to buy, but their lifestyle, the important things in their life.”  — Denis Mrkva

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Marketing 101: What is website usability?

April 19th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Simply put, website usability is how easy, clear and intuitive it is for visitors to use your website. This is from the visitor’s perspective, not your company’s perspective.

Of course, website usability isn’t so simple at all. You essentially have to read someone else’s mind, so the expected user experience matches the web experience you design. However, as 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”

As I said, you’re trying to read someone else’s mind (many people, in fact). So the challenges of web usability aren’t necessarily unique to the web. These challenges are the very fundamentals of human behavior and interaction. Here’s a very visual example that UXer Oliver McGough shared on Twitter …

There are many terms related to website usability that you might have heard:

  • User experience — how people experience your website. This may be very different than you intended because you may not be able to take an outside perspective of your website and assume visitors will understand something that they don’t, or understand differently, from you (more on this in a bit).
  • User experience design (or UX) — the practice of creating websites, computer programs, apps, etc. with the user in mind. UX can also be used as shorthand for website usability. (e.g., “That site has good UX.”)
  • User interface (UI) — where man meets machine. For example, an operating system has a graphical user interface. UI continues to evolve and isn’t always visual. Thanks to virtual assistants like Alexa, the human voice now interacts with a UI as well.
  • Usability — in general. This is, after all, broader than just websites. Any digital offering has (or lacks) usability, from a website to a computer game. But physical objects have usability considerations as well. For example, OXO is a company that is well known for kitchen utensils and housewares usability. When I first learned about usability, the instructor used a car brake pedal as an example. I had never noticed before, but it is a lot wider than the gas pedal for a reason. If you’re accidentally going to stomp on one of them, it’s better to be the stop than the accelerate!
  • User testing — Get your visitors’ opinions about what works well on the site and what doesn’t, what processes and mechanisms are intuitive and which are confusing
  • A/B testing — Measuring your visitors’ behavior to see how well they are able to actually use the site, and if the actual user experience matches the intended website design

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Email Open Rates: 9-point checklist to get more opens for your email marketing by reducing perceived cost

March 21st, 2018
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The Radicati Group predicted that the average business user would receive 97 emails per day in 2018.

97 emails per day.

So why should they open yours?

To help you optimize your open rate, we’re giving you a nine-point checklist for minimizing the perceived cost of the email open. This checklist is from the Email Messaging online certification course taught by MECLABS Institute (MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization).

You can click here to download a PDF of the Email Open Cost Force Checklist (no form fill required, instant download), and I will walk through the checklist step-by-step in this blog post.

EMAIL OPEN COST FORCE

For macro decisions, like a purchase process, you likely spend significant time and resources ensuring that customers understand the value of the product.

However, it’s all too easy to overlook the smaller decisions your customers are taking every day — the micro-yes(s) — like email open.

Every decision you ask prospective customers to make has a perceived value to the customer as well as a perceived cost. The “force” of value or cost is a term designed to discuss the strength of the effect of those elements on the customer’s decision-making process.

Put simply, if the value force is stronger, your customer will take the action you are asking. If the cost force is stronger, your customer will not take the action.

Now, this isn’t the actual value or cost of an action. It is the perceived cost or value before customers take an action. After all, they don’t know what value they will really receive until they act.

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Business Intelligence: If only more of our customers were like Larry David

February 23rd, 2018
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I usually watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm” through the eyes of a fan. But recently I watched the popular HBO show through the eyes of a marketer.

And it struck me — Larry David is an extremely valuable customer. And not just because he has all of that “Seinfeld” money (some $900 million of it, according to Adweek).

Larry is valuable because he actually tells brands what he is thinking. Commonly derided as “complaints” or “rants,” in reality, Larry is offering up valuable customer intelligence.

Complaints are business intelligence

In a recent episode, Larry is staying at a hotel. When asked by the front desk employee if he had any feedback on his stay, he suggests that they shouldn’t tuck the sheets in so tight when making the bed. Who sleeps like that?

But Larry isn’t the normal, quiet customer. He’s a super-suggester. And he goes far beyond replying to a question from an employee asking for feedback. He offers unsolicited advice on topics the hotel doesn’t even think to ask about.

While the hotel brags about cookies made by its pastry chef, Larry isn’t buying it. He says the cookies are from Pepperidge Farm.

And Larry is none too happy about the cookie retrieval system the hotel has set up in its lobby. Larry doesn’t want to use tongs to grab the cookies — he is afraid the cookie will get crushed — and he suggests a wider cookie layout system so guests can pick cookies with their bare hands without touching an adjacent cookie.

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Advice on How to Make the Case for a Customer-Centric Transformation

March 27th, 2017
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Customer-centric isn’t just a buzzword to us — those marketing efforts are the stories that we love to tell at MarketingSherpa. From our case studies to our data, we want to give you everything you need to keep your customer foremost in your marketing efforts.

In October 2016, we surveyed two groups of 1,200 about customer-first marketing. We asked one group 50 questions about the business, marketing and channel practices that make them highly satisfied with a company. We asked the other group similar questions about what makes them highly unsatisfied with a company.

We provided Sarah Esterman, Lifecycle Marketing Manager, Simple.com, and Jamey Bainer, Strategy and Planning Director, Pacific, with two of the charts created using that data, which asked 1,200 highly satisfied customers: “Thinking about the marketing of [the company they were highly satisfied with] which of the following is true about your experience? Select all that apply.”

Chart 1-Customer-First-Research-Study

(click image to enlarge)

The same question was asked of 1,200 highly unsatisfied customers — with a very different result:

Chart 2-Customer-First-Research-Study

(click image to enlarge)

Armed with that information, we asked Sarah and Jamey five questions about the trials, tribulations and tips for implementing customer-first marketing.

Editor’s Note: Sarah Esterman is speaking at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, and Jamey Bainer participated in the sponsored Summit content “Inside the Industry.”

Q: What are some arguments marketers can use to push for customer-centricity in their organizations?

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Trust Your Customers to Raise Their Hands: How to use non-gated content to more than double high-quality leads

January 20th, 2017
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Challenged to measure ROI on every program and hit a certain number of leads per month, some marketers make potential customers fill out forms to get access to gated content.

Instead of forcing form fills, Chris Keller, Vice President of Marketing, Health Catalyst, and his team set their content free in order to increase shareability and lead quality while more than doubling leads during a three-quarter period.

“We’re trying to be the non-marketing marketing group,” Chris said. “We’ve taken a controversial approach to educating the market.”

For Health Catalyst, a healthcare analytics company, aggressively educating customers was a key aspect of its strategy to deliver a high-growth pipeline of leads. However, in a crowded healthcare IT market, Health Catalyst wanted to establish leadership, not generate cold leads.

This led the team to take a different approach: as few lead forms as possible. Because they wanted a pipeline of sale-ready leads, they put their trust in prospects to raise their hands when they were ready.

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The Most Shared Articles from MarketingSherpa Blog in 2016

January 9th, 2017
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While the jury may be out on 2016 as a whole, marketers have had a very exciting year, and MarketingSherpa (if we may say so) has hopefully shown a spotlight on it through our content.

In light of celebrating the good of 2016 as we’re all madly planning what 2017 will bring, we’re revisiting the most popular articles from the past 12 months. Looking back at top content helps us see what our readers found to be the most helpful and valuable content, and it helps you to know what your peers are looking for.

Below, see where we’ve been this past year using the nine most popular articles to find what elements you might want to bring with you into 2017…

#1. Six Places to Focus to Make your Website a Revenue Generator

We have more digital marketing channels than ever before, but it’s become even harder to connect with customers.

One thing’s become clear, that there is a growing divide between those who are fully engaged with digital marketing and those who are still figuring out the fundamentals. This interview with Kristin Zhivago, President of Cloud Potential, goes over her report on “revenue road blocks,” as a deep dive into what she’s discovered to help marketers quickly close this digital marketing gap and do better.

If marketers directly address getting the six key focuses covered in this blog post right, you can move forward and close the gap between digital and customers.

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How a B2B Tech Company Generated 650% ROI with a Retro-Cool Direct Mail Campaign

August 12th, 2016
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“We have a pretty small market at Intronis, it’s manage service providers, mainly in North America,” said Richard Delahaye, Senior Director of Marketing, Intronis in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at Summit 2016.

He explained that the sales staff wasn’t able to get many conversations going from that group with traditional methods like phone calls and emails. They needed something special to differentiate them from all the other phone calls and emails their prospects were likely getting.

Inspiration came from an old school method: a direct mail campaign.

Delahaye and his team were told to think big, but also keep the customer in mind. So after one idea – which unsurprisingly never came to fruition – to give a car away with every purchase was vetoed, he decided to look for a tech gadget that would especially appeal to their customer base.

“I landed on possibly the oldest, but maybe the greatest tech gadget of all time. Which is, you can now get an Atari game console for about 30 bucks, so that became the core piece of the campaign,” he said.

Customers would receive a box with the Atari, with a note on top that encourages them to “open up for some office fun, courtesy of Intronis … unfortunately, not all technology is this retro-cool. You need to upgrade your cloud service storage.”

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