How to Think About Email Capture Forms Like a Customer

What keeps customers from filling out one of your email capture forms? Is it because they don’t believe you will deliver what you say? Is it because it’s too long? Too short?

In this clip from an in-person training session at 2016’s NIO Summit hosted by NextAfter at MECLABS, Austin McCraw talks about the two essential factors that we can influence to produce more leads through our capture forms.

The post How to Think About Email Capture Forms Like a Customer appeared first on MarketingExperiments.


Transcript of Webinar Best Practices Throughout the Customer Journey

Transcript of Webinar Best Practices Throughout the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Webinars. Everybody’s doing them, right? Well yeah, right, everybody’s doing them, but are they doing them well and are you using them in your business? I think that webinars are a great tool to use for every stage of the customer journey, not just as a sell tool, as a hard sell tool, like so many people use it. In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I speak with Omar Zenhom. Not only has he been running webinars and teaching people how to do webinars, he’s actually created an amazing software for doing webinars called Webinar Ninja, so check out this episode.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is sponsored by Ahrefs, the SEO tool set that I use every single day. Listen into this episode because I’m going to tell you how you can win a full year subscription, over $ 2,000 value on this amazing tool. Check it out.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Omar Zenhom, the author of The $ 100 MBA and a podcast by the same name, and he’s also the creator of a webinar platform called Webinar Ninja that has a new, shiny release that we’re going to talk about a little bit today. Omar, thanks for joining me.

Omar Zenhom: Thank you, John. It’s great to be here.

John Jantsch: So you have a whole course on webinars. You see a lot of webinars. I’m sure you consume a lot of webinars just in your kind of daily business. In your opinion what makes a good webinar? And I know there’s probably a lot of answers to that, but generally speaking.

Omar Zenhom: That’s a great question, because there’s so many people that are doing webinars today and I’ve seen a lot of them, just some of the taste-makers in our marketplace, and I find that the best thing that somebody can do when it comes to running a webinar is making sure that they’ve been able to convey some sort of value in a way that people can use. So a lot of people, they like to just do a value dump where they’re just like, “I’m going to tell them everything they need to know about golf,” and just if [inaudible 00:02:24] golf expert, let’s say, for example, and it’s just like an information dump.

And then there’s some people that on the other end of the spectrum they’ll maybe banter a lot and they’ll just go on and on and they just really don’t give a lot of information. Both camps are really not useful because when you just have some sort of information dump, it’s just so hard to retain all that information. And when you’re just bantering and you’re not really giving a lot of information, people feel like it’s kind of a waste of time. So what you’re really trying to do here is you’re trying to give specific information, give specific value in a way that they can retain it.

In my previous life, I was an educator for 13 years as a high school and university educator, and that’s one of the first things you learn, that when you’re teaching a classroom of students is that it’s not about how much information you give it’s just how well they can retain it. So you got to keep in mind that whatever I teach, let me see how I can make sure that they can retain it and implement it. That’s how they’re going to feel like they got a win. That’s how they’re going to feel like, “Wow, this wasn’t a waste of time. Wow, this was great. This person gave me a whole bunch of value that I can use, and it’s very applicable,” and they go away remembering your webinar and having that trust built with you so they can go ahead and purchase a product of yours or check out your next piece of content.

John Jantsch: I suppose it’s like any good presentation. There has to be that narrative arc that brings it all together, that keeps people interested, but then also, like you said, delivers a lot of value.

Omar Zenhom: Definitely, yeah.

John Jantsch: So you kind of alluded to this. I’ve probably been doing webinars for 15 years or so, and it used to be a really unique thing. I probably get 10 webinars pitched at me a day now. So what about that kind of glut? What is that doing even to the consuming, educating market? Is it too much, or is there still a purpose for it?

Omar Zenhom: Well, what I love about that dynamic is that when there’s so much going on, when there’s so many webinars or there’s so many videos on YouTube or whatever it is, it’s so easy to rise to the top. It’s so easy to stand out because people are just used to a mediocre presentation. So if you just do a few small things that differentiate yourself, that makes you a little bit better than the rest, you stand out and people remember you. Person that comes to mind is Tim Page. Tim Page is one of the best I’ve seen on webinars, so much so that we’ve hired him at Webinar Ninja to do our webinars because he’s so good.

John Jantsch: So a lot of people view, and I want to talk about various uses of webinars, but certainly the one that a lot of people see is the webinar that is selling something.

Omar Zenhom: Right.

John Jantsch: Are there some effective ways to, and again, you see people that are just like boom boom boom, they sell a lot but everybody comes away feeling kind of sleazy at the end, right?

Omar Zenhom: Yeah.

John Jantsch: So is there an effective way to both get people what they need but also not kind of come off as the hard sell?

Omar Zenhom: Definitely. There are two strategies that I’ve found that are really effective when it comes to this. The first strategy is just to be very honest about it from the start. A lot of people they talk about the problem they want to solve, they say that this is what this lesson’s all about, they’ll spend about 20 minutes on their back story or something like that, talking about their war stories. And then they spend about a good 30 minutes pitching at the end. And the whole time they’re watching the webinar they kind of feel like this is coming. “Oh my gosh, when are they gonna sell, when is the other shoe’s gonna drop?”

So one strategy is just to be upfront about it in the beginning, like the first five minutes. “Hey guys, this is what we’re gonna be covering today, this is what today’s webinar’s all about.” Or, “The first thing that I’m gonna just do right now is get it out of the way. We have an offer today, this is what the offer is. I’ll be going into detail what it’s all about. I’ll even give you a quick warning before I start this offer at the end so if you want to leave, no problem, no hard feelings.” I like to joke around about that. They feel like, “Oh, this person’s a real person,” and it also just lowers the anxiety. Like, “Okay, I know what this product’s all about, I know that this person’s just being honest with me, they’re an entrepreneur and they want to offer me something that can help me.” But then we can just move [inaudible 00:07:01]. “Okay guys, that’s a quick glimpse of what today’s offer is and the bonuses. And let’s move on to the lesson and let’s move on to the workshop.” And at the end I can go into detail and refer back to what I was talking about. A lot of people like that because you just feel like, “Okay, this is different and it just makes me feel comfortable.”

The second strategy that I saw that has been really effective, and I picked this up actually from our mutual friend Michael [Port 00:07:27]. So what he does is he actually has no pitch on the webinar. So what he says at the start, he says, “Hey guys, we’re gonna be doing a workshop and I do have a product that can really help you take your public speaking to the next level.” That’s his area of expertise, for those of you who are listening. “But I’m not gonna be talking about this today. You’re all automatically registered to another webinar tomorrow at the same time, and that’s when I’ll be talking about the product and you can ask all the questions about the product at that time.” And that’s all he talks about. That’s it, that’s the last time he talks about the product.

And then throughout the webinar people will ask questions like, “Hey, so do you have a payment plan for this product you mentioned?” “Well, really sorry but we’re not going to be talking about it today. Today’s the workshop, tomorrow you can ask all the questions you want.” And it makes people feel comfortable and it also makes people understand that this is not a sales webinar. What’s great about this is that the next day when he runs that second webinar for everybody who’s invited, everybody who was registered to that first webinar, it’s just fair game. Everybody expects him to sell, everybody expects him to talk about the product, everybody knows what they’re going to get. And they can ask buying questions and it’s just so much easier for Michael because he can just be himself and sell the product, and at the same product no one’s kind of guessing what this webinar’s all about.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I wrote a blog post recently about using webinars in every stage of the customer journey. And I think that that’s kind of the key point there is that the first one was maybe awareness and trust building. And so then once you earn that trust then it’s like, “Come back tomorrow,” and you’re going to be ready to buy maybe even because you’ve kind of moved to the next stage. And clearly some of the people don’t come because they are in that stage. And so I think that’s a real key too. So many people just want to sell sell sell, and you’ve got to earn, I think, the opportunity. I have done webinars where we were down to 10 people left that wanted to get on the call, but all 10 of those people wanted to buy and they just needed a couple questions answered because they had gone through several gates, if you will, or stages. And I think people need to realize that this medium is no different than running an ad or something that would tell somebody to buy.

Omar Zenhom: Definitely. And I love what you said there because I firmly believe you can’t make anybody buy anything. Some people that use pressure sales, that sale’s not going to stick. They’re going to return it, they’re going to cancel, or they’re just going to have a bad taste in their mouth. So you really can’t make anybody buy. Plus you’ve worked so hard, you’ve spent so much time and effort and money to earn that trust to get them on the webinar. No, it takes a lot to try to promote that webinar. Don’t lose that trust, allow them to feel comfortable and buy when they’re ready.

John Jantsch: I tell you another side of using webinars that I don’t hear enough people talking about is we use them to serve our customers. So in other words we do a ton of training with webinars, we do a ton of added value or kind of helping them along with something that maybe they’re struggling with. And we also use it for a lot of internal things too. So I think companies should probably look at internal training and training of customers and serving customers as a way to think about webinars as well.

Omar Zenhom: That’s true. We love the idea of doing live training, live Q&A for your current customers. It’s a great way to [inaudible 00:10:59], it’s a great way to keep your customers happy. And these are really low maintenance kind of webinars, there’s no real performance needed because you can send an email out to all your customers or specific customers once a month and say, “Hey, it’s an AMA, ask me anything,” open Q&A, and people can ask you questions, people can get advice. And it’s just a great way for you to kind of hop on. It doesn’t have to be long webinar, it could be 30 minutes and ask a few questions, and feel like they’re being supported. Some people are really surprised when they get an email and the founder of the company shows up and answers questions for 30, 40 minutes once a month. They’re like, “Wow.” Sometimes that’s just enough for them to be like, “Okay, I’m going to hang on with this company. Even if I’m not using it right now I know I want to use them in the future so let me just sit tight, because these guys care.”

John Jantsch: And I think that you can only do so much with an email, but you get on and maybe you’re video sharing, and there’s just so much more trust that could be there, there’s so much more feeling of connection. And it’s not unlike, I should say, flying across the country and sitting in somebody’s office.

Omar Zenhom: I love that.

John Jantsch: Hey, wanted to remind you this office of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is sponsored by Ahrefs and I’m giving away a full year subscription to this awesome tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors, and monitor your niche. I use this tool every single days. One of my favorite ways to use it is to learn why competitors are ranking so high and what I need to do to outrank them. There’s so many great backlink tools, search tools, keyword research tools, rank tracking, all built into this tool, and that’s why I love it so much. If you want to enter to win a full year of this tool, that’s like $ 2,000 value, go to Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and find this episode if you’re listening to this. If you’re on the page the links are down below, but you’re going to subscribe to the podcast, you are going to maybe do a little tweak to get some extra bonus entries. And in a couple weeks we will pick a winner and we’ll let you know if you won a full year. So go check it out.

So you have spent a great deal of time and effort and sweat and blood building a webinar platform of your own. Let me ask you this. What was sort of missing from the myriad of platforms out there that had you kind of say, “Why gosh darn it, I’m building my own.”

Omar Zenhom: Oh wow, that’s a good question. The funny thing is that I built Webinar Ninja by accident. I just built it out of my own necessity to scratch my own itch. I was running webinars to promote our membership program, the $ 100 MBA. I was using it also to support our member’s office hours. And I just couldn’t stand the solutions that are out there. They were clunky, they were not complete solutions. Often I’d have to build all these other components on the side whether like my own email notification system through my email marketing, and then I would have to do a follow-up of sequence and have my own landing pages. And then when I was doing it there was no kind of built in chat, so I had to have a separate chat. So it was almost too much trouble than it was worth.

And I was just like, “But I like doing these webinars,” because again, I’m a teacher by trade and I loved the medium and I was like, “Okay, let me see if I can just slap something together to make my life easier every time I run a webinar.” No intention to make this a commercial success. I’m a self-taught developer, if you want to even call me that. I just know simple HTML, CSS, some PHP. I couldn’t even complete it, I got a freelancer off to help me out to just clean it up. And then I started using it and my members that I was doing the webinar for were like, “Hey, I love what you’re using for this webinar. What is it?” And I was like, “Oh, it’s just something I slapped together.” And they’re like, “Oh, can I buy it?” And I was like, “Can you give me like a day to put up a sales page?”

But in all seriousness I think what attracted people to it and why we decided to say, “Hey, let’s open this up and see if people actually are interested in it,” is because we really just wanted to make it easier for people to create and run webinars, to let the technology kind of fade in the background and let their content kind of shine. There’s so many platforms out there that promote, that have all these features or they’re going to make your business blow up and all of this stuff. But when they actually go and create a webinar or use it it’s just tedious, it takes 10 steps to create a webinar. It kind of just prevents you from doing them consistently. So that’s why we like to say is Webinar Ninja is just better webinars with no worries. You just go in, it takes 10 seconds to create a webinar. We do everything in the background, we create all the landing pages and the notifications and everything for you. If you want to geek out there’s advanced settings or you can edit all the stuff. But if you don’t you can just rub the webinar instantly. It just makes things just so much easier for people.

And when it comes to running the webinar we want to kind of just, again, let you shine. And we let you control everything on one screen so you can upload your slides and show your slides while you’re presenting so you don’t have to share your screen or use PowerPoint if you don’t want to. You can manage all the layouts, you can chat, you can answer questions, all that kind of stuff. And I built it as an educator. That’s why I built it because I wanted to make sure it’s a great tool for teaching, because I believe teaching is the new learning, and the new selling. Sorry, teaching is the new learning. Teaching is the new selling.

John Jantsch: Well I learn a lot more when I try to teach something so I’ll let you have that too.

Omar Zenhom: Yeah. So yeah, that’s really kind of the driving force or the influence I’ve had on Webinar Ninja, making it a great teaching tool that people like using. So yeah, I’m a firm believer as an entrepreneur. There’s so many great ideas out there, it’s really the person that implements it the best is who wins. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

John Jantsch: Well so I have, because I’ve been doing this a long time, because I do a lot of webinars for people, I’ve been on every platform probably that’s ever been created. And I will say that the common threat is they all lack a sense of elegance at all, and I think that in your latest update, 5.0, is that what we’re calling it?

Omar Zenhom: Yep.

John Jantsch: I think you’ve added an element of elegance that really doesn’t exist in a lot of the other platforms. Was that intentional or is that just hard work has eventually got you there?

Omar Zenhom: No, it was incredibly intentional. When we were working on 5.0 about 18 months ago it was like on the top of my list to hire the best talent when it came to design. And we went through so many interviews and finally we found [Irina 00:18:13] who is our head UX/UI designer. And on the interview I remember her, this is just a great story, I was asking her, “Hey, can you tell me a little bit about your experience and how your experience can contribute to our company?” And she came to the interview and said, “Hey, I actually signed up for your platform, I took a look at all your UI, your current UI, and hey, can I just share my screen? This is some mock ups I created where I think it would really much, a lot better for UI for the next version.” And she just came with these designs which were great, but it was kind of like the early stages of what 5.0 are. I was just like, “Okay, this woman’s got to get hired right now because she just gets it.”

And she understands that it’s not only elegant and it’s not only supposed to kind of make you look good as a contributor, as a teacher, as an entrepreneur, but also make people’s life easier, just make people say, “Oh, this is friendly, this is easy.” It’s one of the things we try to do with our brand is to kind of not make webinars seem so intimidating. And we want to make sure it’s approachable. In fact on our about page everybody on the page is a cartoon character dressed up as a ninja. So we just make everybody kind of approachable. And that’s really what we try to do with the UI is to really make people feel like, “Hey, this looks great, this makes me look professional.” But at the same time my attendees are going to feel like, “Wow, this is easy to use and I want to attend something that looks like this.”

John Jantsch: So without getting too technical, what’s the delivery platform built on? In other words I know in original versions there was a Google Plus integration. Has that gone away or is that still a part of it?

Omar Zenhom: Yeah, so Google Hangouts was a part of what Webinar Ninja was. It was part of kind of our history I guess. And I got to thank Google for giving us that kind of technology. But it couldn’t service forever, it was kind of like a stepping stone because Google Hangouts has a delay of about 30 seconds, or sometimes it gets as good as 15 seconds. But as an educator, as a teach, you know that that’s not so great with interaction. If I say, “Hey, let me know what you think of this thing on my slide,” and the chat the answers are like 15, 30 seconds late, it’s not really interactive, it’s not really great for that kind of technology. Plus I just didn’t like the idea of being reliant on another system that I had no control over.

So over the last 12 year-, 12 months, I’m sorry, we’ve been working on building our own media servers. We work on a technology called Web RTC, which is the latest technology for live video. It’s the video technology that Facebook Live uses or some of the bigger players that do live broadcasting. And it’s something that we really wanted to kind of use, because they’re really going to take us to the next level and allow people to interact in real time with no delay in HD, which is something that we really wanted to do. So that’s the video technology behind Webinar Ninja.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So tell people where they can find it. And we’re recording this show, it’s mid-September 2017, but obviously whenever you’re listening to this it’ll still be available. And we’ll have links in the show notes, so tell us where we can find out about it.

Omar Zenhom: Sure, it’s at And every plan comes with a 14 day trial, so you don’t get charged anything when you get started. So you can test it out, try it out, run a few webinars, see for yourself if it’s the right fit for you. Yeah, so go check it out,

John Jantsch: Well Omar, thanks so much, or Oman, thanks so much for joining us. And I’d venture to say the Citrix is nervous.

Omar Zenhom: Well I know how hard it is to create a webinar platform so a lot of respect to them as well.

John Jantsch: No kidding. All right, thanks. Hopefully we’ll into you soon out there on the road.

Omar Zenhom: Take care.

John Jantsch:  Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Wonder if you could do me a favor? Could you leave an honest review on iTunes? Your ratings and reviews really help and I promise I read each and every one. Thanks.

Duct Tape Marketing

Real Estate Landing Pages (Our Customer Favorites + Why We Think They’re Great)

Whether you’re an independent realtor or work at a real estate agency, you can gain a competitive advantage if you have owned digital properties to drive your paid and social traffic to.

Owned properties — like landing pages — provide you more control in real estate versus relying on popular listing sites where the journey isn’t always clear, you can’t customize your call to action or match your branding.

In short, real estate marketing can really benefit from lead capture landing pages because they allow you to:

  • Establish and grow your mailing list, ensuring you can follow up with and remarket to interested prospects later.
  • Showcase properties especially well, creating urgency and delivering especially compelling offers (like granting early access to listings, for example).
  • Track social and paid campaigns better. With a listing site you don’t have access to metrics and can’t determine ROI as quickly as you can with a landing page.

Ultimately, you can use landing pages to understand exactly who is interested in a property, entice prospects to book appointments (or other offers) and wow new clients with on-brand design.

In this post I’ll break down some of the best ways to start using real estate landing pages with a few examples from Unbounce customers.

1. Showcase your listings (and grow your mailing list)

At minimum, every real estate broker needs a place to share listings online. But ideally, you’ll want to own the experience.

RE/MAX agents Matthew Davidson and Kimbe MacMaster know this first-hand.

These independent agents use Unbounce landing pages to showcase an overview of a property: quick stats, a photo gallery, a video and details on the community. And while a property is available, prospects can book a showing as the call to action:

Featuring trendy parallax scroll, this page converts at 0.38%. Click to view full-length landing page.

Once the listing is sold (nice work Matthew and Kimbe!), the CTA changes to allow interested parties to sign up for early notice for similar listings in the future:

This post-sale CTA swap is a terrific way to build your email list for advertising similar properties in the future.

Having used the Unbounce Loft template, Matthew and Kimbe can simply duplicate this page each time they need a dedicated place to feature a listing. This allows the duo to be listing-specific when they link from a Facebook or search ad, ensuring a seamless ad-to-landing-page experience for potential buyers.

According to the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report, 41.6% of marketers in real estate have at least one page that converts under 1.3%, so Matthew and Kimbe’s conversion rate above is in line with what we see for many real estate marketers.

See how your conversion rates stack up in real estate (and nine other popular industries)

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report to see how your landing page performance compares to your competitors.

By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

2. Entice buyers with exclusive pre-sale info, floor plans, price lists and more

Booking viewings of individual properties is great, but what if the real estate you’re selling is still in development?

Working with large and small-scale real estate developers, Rennie helps their developer clients plan and execute all aspects of their marketing and sales strategy, including online advertising. As part of their online strategy, they create project-specific landing pages and direct all paid traffic to those pages to gather leads.

Here’s an example created for The Pacific by Grosvenor:

This real estate landing page currently converts at 7.92%. Click to view full-length page.

Jennie Sebastian, Rennie’s Digital Marketing & CRM Manager, shared that the marketing team typically has a kick-off meeting five to six weeks before a campaign. Once they determine targeting and put together a media schedule, creative — including development of the landing page — can begin.

The campaigns typically employ search ads, display, Facebook, Instagram and WeChat, but the team is always looking for new ways to reach their target audiences.

As many real estate marketers can likely empathize with, Jennie shared:

One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is coming up with a strong call to action that entices users to provide us with their personal information.

Depending on the phase of the project and assets available, CTAs range from, “Sign up now for early access” and “Download all floorplans now,” to “Book a private appointment now.”

Through numerous A/B tests the Rennie team has found that more specific CTAs convert significantly better than more generic ones, as they clearly articulate to a prospect what they are receiving in exchange for their information.

Which brings us to landing page idea number three…

3. Get prospects to picture themselves in their dream home with a virtual tour

Just as Jennie from Rennie told us above, compelling CTAs are very important in real estate marketing, and offering a virtual tour has proven to be very effective for their team:

We recently offered a virtual tour using special 360 degree photography for one of our projects in Calgary. After updating the CTA to “Take a virtual tour now,” we saw a significant increase in the conversion rate.

Here’s an example page of theirs, which converts at 4.15%:

Click to view the full-length landing page.

Clicking the CTA button triggers a form gating the tour:

Even if you can’t wrangle 360 photography, you can still get prospects to picture themselves in their dream home.

Simple videos, photo galleries, or even the hero image on your landing page can do the trick. But be sure to test.

Example test of hero image variants

Here’s an example from Coronation Properties via digital agency Rocket. They test variations of their pages with different key elements of a property featured in the hero image.

Here’s a variant wherein the bedroom is the hero shot:

And another where the kitchen takes the spotlight:

The takeaway here?

Get creative with videos, 360 tours, or even experimenting with your hero shot, to give clients a glimpse into the property that’s right for them.

4. Offer up relevant listings to abandoning visitors

While landing pages clearly offer a competitive advantage in real estate, you also want to ensure you’ve optimized your website for conversions.

As our customers at Brixio know, you can try out an Unbounce overlay to ensure you’re not missing out on conversion opportunities. Overlays allow you to show relevant offers to specific users at the perfect time, making them less likely to leave your website without converting.

Unbounce Convertables

We love their idea for an overlay triggered to appear on exit to those leaving a website, tempting potential real estate buyers with off-market or exclusive listings.

Here’s a preview of what they had in mind:

With Unbounce, you can launch your overlay at any point during someone’s visit on your website: on exit, on arrival, after delay, on scroll and on click. Find out how Unbounce overlays work here.

5. Test a simple value prop to prompt more commitment-heavy offers

For marketers in the business of custom real estate, your offer of a tailor-made home is much more commitment-heavy than simply moving into an existing place.

This poses an interesting challenge: interested prospects likely have many questions, may be exploring many options and need a reason to trust you immediately.

Here’s agency Rocket’s solution: an on-brand, clear landing page (where prospects can “enquire today”):

This page converts at 1.84%. Click to view full-length landing page.

This small offer accompanied by all the fine details serves as a type of micro conversion, ensuring Manor Homes’ prospects have the chance to reach out and get the conversation started about a custom home.

Get creative with your own micro conversion incentives! For example, you may want to consider inviting prospects to download a collection of your custom homes to preview at their leisure.

6. Offer up relevant content marketing (so you can nurture leads later)

Plenty of businesses use content marketing to reach their target audience, and as Edina Realty knows, this applies to the real estate industry too.

As a subsidiary of Home Services of America, Edina Realty’s licensed pros guide customers through home buying and selling. To provide the most value to their clients, they deliver unique and useful content via custom landing pages.

Check out this Unbounce landing page they created to distribute their Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home – it converts at a whopping 18%:

Click to view full-length landing page.

By combining content strategy with retargeting, Edina Realty is able to reach prospective leads throughout the funnel and deliver quality leads to their agents.

Hannah Kaeter, Digital Marketing Manager at Edina Realty, told us about the importance of educating leads:

One of the key challenges in our market is a low inventory of homes for sale at lower price points. With this challenge comes an opportunity to educate potential sellers — many of them first-time sellers — about the process so they can evaluate and make informed decisions about their own property and situation.

Ready to build your digital property?

Overall, the above examples illustrate the importance of having a dedicated place to send your paid and social traffic, which can make all the difference in whether you can track the ROI of your real estate marketing. This beats relying on common listing sites — especially in the case of condo developments or offers that require sophisticated branding or high commitment, like custom homes.

Replicate the success of these realtors with Unbounce’s real estate templates, and be sure to download our Conversion Benchmark Report for a breakdown of where you stand in this industry.


Customer Experience is Defined by the Experience Customer’s Have, Remember and Share

The funny thing about customer experience is that, for all of its good intentions, it is a bit ironic. Many businesses talk about the importance of customer experience (CX). At the same time, many are prioritizing investments in new technologies and touchpoints to improve engagement. But, when asked about their understanding of modern customer behaviors, expectations, preferences and which experiences in their life they love and don’t love…you get crickets. All too often, customer experience doesn’t really start with the customer. But in reality, the customer experience can only be defined by the experience a customer has with a brand. And, it can only be measured by the experience they have in each moment and the sum of those moments. Said another way, customer experience belongs to the customer and it should start with them.

That’s the irony of CX. It’s often not customer-centered. Companies are frequently shareholder- or stakeholder-centric. Decisions must always have the company’s best interests front and center. As such, CX can be viewed as a cost center and not necessarily as an investment. But customers who have great experiences will almost certainly deliver ROI against any strategic, customer-centered approach to CX. For example, it’s been reported that customers will pay up to 25% more for a similar product if they believe they’re going to get an exceptional experience. They’re willing to spend more money with brands that deliver experiences that excel over mediocrity. Think about that. How sad is it that people will pay extra to avoid frustrating, indifferent or reluctant experiences?

Experience Matters to Humans

Customer experiences are just that…they’re experiences. They’re human. Customers too, are human. Surprise! This is why I look at, the emotional side of experience design in addition to technology and trends. Customer experiences, or experiences in general, are essentially emotional reactions to moments. They can be measured by how people feel, sense and respond at each touchpoint and in the totality of the customer journey. Customer experience is so much more than any one thing. It’s everything! Any technology, effort, process or policy that touches the customer contributes to experiences individually and collectively. They must be designed and they must work together.

Any investment in CX must first start with understanding the experience from the customer’s perspective, what’s broken or missing, and also what it could be in comparison to the experiences that customers love elsewhere. For example, whatever business you’re in, whether you’re a dentist or a bank, you compete with the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, et al., in terms of experiential standards. They’re fast, transparent, personalized, frictionless and evolving. They become the standard for what people want and expect.

For example, in my research into CX and digital transformation, I consistently find that companies are out-of-touch with modern customer. Most recently, I learned that the majority of businesses are planning CX and digital transformation roadmaps and making investments with incomplete information about the customer. Case in point, 2017 findings show that only 34.8% of businesses have fully mapped the customer journey within the last year, which is down from 54% last year. Wow.

Experiences Happen and They Influence Others

Customer experiences happen whether they’re designed to be amazing or not. The best and the worst experiences convert into memories. How people experience those moments shouldn’t be left to chance.

In this always-on, hyper-connected, mobile world, customers are sharing those experiences online, everywhere, and those shared experiences become the currency of influence. Customers increasingly rely on the experiences people have and share to inform and shape their decisions and next steps. This is why customer experience has never been more important and why CX must start with the customer’s experience at the heart of everything. That takes insight, empathy and then design. Touchpoints must be more than functional, transactional and connected. They must bring to life desired experiences that people prefer and hopefully remember in ways that positively impact the brand and influence others.

You have to know your customer and how they’re different than what you know or assume and how they continue to evolve. Then you have to design CX strategies for the experiences you want people to have and share. This really shouldn’t be a surprise. Exceptional CX doesn’t just build upon the experiences of yesterday, it breaks new ground to deliver modern experiences for today and tomorrow. That takes intent, design, integration and cross-functional collaboration to deliver experiences in each moment of truth and throughout the customer’s journey.

Design experiences that matter…to human beings. Then work together towards a vision and purpose that everyone can align with and deliver against.  Experience starts with you.

Please join Brian Solis at Nextcon, October 23rd at 9 a.m. for the opening keynote, “Great Expectations: The Customer Mindset for 2018.”

About Brian

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Designexplores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Instagram: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

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Brian Solis

How to Use Facebook Messenger for Social Customer Service

Want to provide better customer service on Facebook? Wondering how Facebook Messenger can help? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Facebook Messenger as a valuable social customer care tool. Why Messenger for the Front Lines of Customer Care? According to USA Today, Facebook views Messenger for Business as a venue for “conversational commerce.” […]

This post How to Use Facebook Messenger for Social Customer Service first appeared on .
– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Innovation in Customer Experience Starts with a Shift in Perspective


While traveling Europe this year, I met Silvia Hänig who was writing a story for about customer experience. She followed up our initial conversation with the questions below. Instead of shooting back quick answers, I took the time, maybe too much time, to thoughtfully reply as if I were going to share the exchange with everyone. And, that’s what I’m doing here.

I hope it helps you…

Mister Solis, why is it so difficult to create Customer Experience (CX) for many people and decision makers?

Customer Experience (CX) is a difficult process, because so many stakeholders interpret CX differently and then prioritize investments and resources accordingly.

The IT department thinks it’s about technology. The marketing department focuses on channel and content trends. Customer service focuses on contact centers. Advertising creates clever campaigns and activates experiential events. And executives make decisions based on gut instinct and maybe even cognitive biases. I could go on and on. Even though these are generalizations, much of the work I’ve seen in CX isn’t really customer-focused. It’s role and process oriented.

These types of traditional perspectives hamper the vision for change. Each group inadvertently contributes to a disconnected approach to CX because they’re attempting to solve one part of the customer’s journey and experience from their silo. Yet, customers don’t see departments, they see one brand.

Just because “this is how it’s always been done” is a recipe for digital Darwinism today. CX is an opportunity to design, improve and integrate real-world experiences that the customer is going to have. In the process, businesses will have to re-align models and processes to unite disparate groups into one congruent effort. This will help companies compete in an era where customers are taking control of their experiences.

Who should own the experience? And what skills will be important in the future?

The best companies in CX take a different perspective regarding this question. They start with acknowledging that the person who owns the customer experience is…wait for it…the customer.

Think about that for a second.

They absolutely own their experience. Yet, here we are debating, who should own it. It seems that companies do everything, but understand their behaviors, expectations, preferences et al.

I define CX this way: it’s the sum of all engagements a customer has with your brand in every touchpoint, in each moment of truth, throughout the customer lifecycle. The question to ask is then, what is the experience they have? What experiences do they expect or desire? What experiences they’re receiving from other companies? More so, how are their favorite apps – for example Uber or Tinder – changing their expectations and how should you rethink the customer journey to be native, frictionless, and delightful based on outside innovation? As such, the question who owns CX, is something that should be answered in a future state and work toward that goal now.

Companies excelling here are looking at ideal customer experiences and building inside and outside for them. New cross-functional groups lead collaboration to remove friction, optimize effective touchpoints and invest innovation based on new areas of opportunity. An empathetic customer-centric approach to CX improves retention, acquisition and relationships. Great Customer Experience is all the work, that you do so your customers don’t have to…

To what extent technology should play a role in Customer Experience?

Too many businesses today take a technology-first approach to Customer Experience, which is ironically not customer centric. I call this the remote control. No one likes the remote control. We use it, because we have to. I would go so far to say that we have a reluctant relationship with it. Yet, every year, even though we get a new generation of TV innovation, we still get a remote control that looks a little different, but also gets more complex along the way. Did you know that there are on average 70 buttons on this brick and at the same time, we all have phones or tablets where we interact with them using completely different gestures? Technology is not the answer, it’s an enabler. CX should start with three “P’s” – people, purpose and promise. Technology should facilitate experiences and bring them to life.

What is the importance of CX as part of the digital transformation?

Digital transformation means something different to everyone. Just like customer experience. It is something, that is started independently in each group with different objectives. But like CX, everything is on a collision course towards convergence. Everything has to work together, otherwise you compete against yourself.

I define digital transformation this way: The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers (and employees), create new value and deliver delightful and relevant experiences at every touchpoint in the customer and employee journey.

In my research (see below), I’ve found that a common catalyst for rapid and ultimately holistic digital transformation is indeed CX. More so, by zooming in on the Digital Customer Experience (DCX) and asking what would my digital customer do and how is it affecting traditional behavior, companies can beeline towards fast innovation.

Customer Experience: Everything has to work together

This is the part where skeptics or laggards say: “Why would you focus on the digital customer? They’re a minority in the overall market. We should focus on customers as a whole!” They’re right in some aspects.

The thing is that ­they didn’t focus on customers. They focused on shareholders and stakeholders. Additionally, they continued to invest in technologies and systems that distanced companies from people all in the name of efficiencies, scale and profitability.

It’s the same argument with taxis in the face of Uber. They’ve had ­years to study how people’s experiences and expectations, how they were changing, how digital was affecting experiences and decision-making, how start-ups were placing customers at the center of services. Once Uber hit the market, it set a new standard for customer experience. People who take Uber don’t go back to taking taxis unless they have to. There’s an Uber of everything on the horizon of every business and digital transformation is the best defense and offense to compete in a digital economy.

Additional reports that will help you lead the way…

The Race Against Digital Darwinism: Six Stages of Digital Transformation

8 Success Factors of Digital Transformation: How Businesses Are Taking an Opposite Approach to Business as Usual

The 2016 State of Digital Transformation


Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post Innovation in Customer Experience Starts with a Shift in Perspective appeared first on Brian Solis.

Brian Solis

A Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer Service

people watch woman writing on whiteboard - copyblogger

When I was a cub copy editor, I learned a simple fact-checking technique that is still one of my favorites today.

It may seem unimportant, but if you don’t use this technique and fail to catch a certain type of mistake, you could set yourself up for extra work later.

This is one of my favorites because it demonstrates that reviewing your copy and content for accuracy goes beyond checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Check for day/date discrepancies

I told you it’s simple.

Whenever you see a day of the week and a date in your text, check that the day of the week matches the date mentioned.

You might write a day and date when you announce and/or discuss in-person events, webinars, or live Q&As.

Here’s how it works

Let’s say you’re inviting your email subscribers to a webinar that will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2016. You’ve edited and proofread the content already. It looks great … except, this year Wednesday is December 28.

If you send your content with “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” in the announcement, you could leave interested webinar attendees wondering if the webinar is Wednesday, December 28 or Thursday, December 29.

Since “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” doesn’t exist, your content is unclear without this type of fact-checking and could lead to inquiries from your audience.

When you get it right before you publish, you stop questions from confused prospects before they happen.

If your copy and content is accurate, there is no room for confusion. Readers won’t have any trouble understanding your message, and you won’t have to clarify later.

You’ll avoid having to notify your audience again with the correct information.

Tools you need

Keep a calendar handy whenever you edit and proofread.

I like using a paper calendar, and I have one on my desk where I can easily see days of the week and dates for each month.

A digital calendar on your computer or phone works just as well.

The trick is to stop reading your content and check the calendar every time you get to a mention of a day of the week and a date.

Also, when you pause to verify the day/date, make sure you don’t skip the text around it. Carefully proofread the rest of the sentence too.

Bonus tip

Starting January 1, 2017, remember to write “2017” instead of “2016.”

Copy editors are like kids in a candy store during the first month of the year when they spot and correct a lot of erroneous mentions of the previous year.

Don’t give them that satisfaction. 😉

The post A Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer Service appeared first on Copyblogger.


Human-Centered CX: Uniting Stakeholders Across the Enterprise to Deliver a Relevant and Holistic Customer Experience


Customer experience is said to be a top business priority for most companies around the world. Many experts agree that investing in CX establishes a competitive advantage against companies that prioritize the bottom line. While customer experience is a noble and important catalyst for business transformation, becoming truly customer-centric requires an introspective approach. This takes stepping back to define what customer experience really means from the customer perspective, what they truly value and also what’s primed, broken or missing to deliver next generation CX.

For example, the organizational infrastructure of many companies is modeled to support the traditional sales funnel. Like the funnel itself, many of the departments designed to support it are compartmentalized. This is why we have silos and why many CX evangelists say that we need to “break down the walls” between them. But, functions such as sales, customer service, marketing, retention, etc., were designed to serve objectives. At the time, those intentions were meant to best serve the customer in those respective stages. The idea and expense of integration was nonsensical in that reach group was funded and measured by how they operated and served customers independently not through integration. To challenge that would often go against the “steady as she moves” or worse, risk averse culture that govern many organizations.

The truth is that traditional business models were designed in an era before the consumerization of technology. Customers (and employees) are empowered by technology and by the connections and access social media, mobile and connected devices, etc., facilitate. As a result, the basic premise of how companies sell, serve and support customers now requires new models and methods that meet the behaviors and expectations of a more discerning generation. This is why I believe that one of the biggest trends in business today, digital transformation, is as much about technology as it is about people, operations, processes and perspectives.

Digital transformation is the realignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to deliver new value to customers and employees in an ever- changing digital economy. In fact, in my research, I’ve found that customer experience is often the greatest ally in digital transformation efforts.

So what is customer experience?

Let’s start with what it’s not.

Customer experience is not the investment of new front end and back end technology to fix and modernize touch points. Those are acts of CX.

Customer experience is human and as such, is defined as the sum of all engagements a customer has with your company in every touch point throughout their lifecycle.

Starting with anything other than a customer-first or human-centered perspective is an easy mistake companies often make.

Believe it or not, CX is often a technology-led approach. It’s easy to fall into the technology trap though. After all, that’s how much of it is sold. For example, tools ranging from journey mapping to CRM to content management to data and analytics are aiming to help companies integrate and scale customer experience initiatives. But without understanding people, what’s important to them, and how they, and their preferences and values are evolving, businesses are not actually innovating in CX or basing what’s supposed to be customer-centered efforts on empathy or relevance. Work in customer experience starts with the customer’s point of view and considers their intentions, aspirations, challenges, etc., to fix problems and create new value.

Since customer experience is the aggregate sentiment and resulting reactions of people in each moment of truth, then all work must focus on delivering consistent, efficient, relevant and meaningful experiences. They must be connected, complementary and seamless. This means that previously separated business units must now cross silos to collaborate, connect back-end processes and systems and design a new kind of customer journey that’s intuitive and efficient for a new generation of connected customers. It’s not easy. This is why digital transformation is often led by CX. Great CX reverberates across the enterprise.

Innovation in CX Often Starts with an Opposite Approach

Some of the most advanced companies I’ve studied invest in CX with a human-centered point of view to give technology and operational investments purpose.

The direction each business takes in pursuing change is complex, and there is no one way to excel. Nor is there one tell-all anecdote, framework or app to map the journey of your next steps toward programmatic transformation. Rather, companies that succeed do so by taking an empathetic approach. They also seek executive sponsorship to support the formation of a cross-functional steering committee to 1) find critical missed opportunities, 2) fix what’s broken or causing friction and 3) identify areas for immediate and long-term innovation, 4) develop a roadmap for CX and 5) guide the company’s digital transformation.


To help, I assembled a series of best practices as informed by those leading CX initiatives and transformation in companies such as Discover, GM, Harvard, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nestlé, Sephora, Starbucks, among many others. This resulted in what I hope is a useful framework and report, “Eight Success Factors of Digital Transformation: How businesses are taking an O.P.P.O.S.I.T.E. approach to business as usual.

The framework offers insights and new understanding of technology, data and the connected customer. By learning from these companies and following the OPPOSITE approach, digital transformation and all the work, resources, and plans around it becomes identifiable, approachable and attainable for organizations.

OPPOSITE is an acronym that offers companies a step-by-step approach to digital transformation…

  1. Orientation:Establish a new perspective to drive meaningful change.
  1. People:Understand customer values, expectations and behaviors.
  1. Processes:Assess operational infrastructure and update (or revamp) technologies, processes and policies to support change.
  1. Objectives:Define the purpose of digital transformation, aligning stakeholders (and shareholders) around the new vision and roadmap.
  1. Structure:Form a dedicated digital experience team with roles/responsibilities/objectives/accountability clearly defined.
  1. Insights & Intent:Gather data and apply insights toward strategy to guide digital evolution.
  1. Technology:Re-evaluate front and back-end systems for a seamless, integrated and native customer (and ultimately employee) experience.
  1. Execution:Implement, learn and adapt to steer ongoing digital transformation and customer experience work

The OPPOSITE framework was designed to visualize your work building toward digital transformation and reshaping the customer experience. It’s also meant to help create alignment among different stakeholder groups to drive a larger, more unified movement in the modernization and, in some cases complete innovation, in business dynamics and models.

For companies looking to align their CX efforts with customer preferences, behaviors and values, look beyond your existing infrastructure and processes to unite stakeholders across the organization, create a shared vision, develop an innovative experience architecture and roadmap and take more meaningful steps towards thriving in the new digital reality.


Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

The post Human-Centered CX: Uniting Stakeholders Across the Enterprise to Deliver a Relevant and Holistic Customer Experience appeared first on Brian Solis.

Brian Solis

8 Tips to Build Customer Relationships With Social Media

When you think of brands like Starbucks or Chipotle, you’ll notice a common theme. Each has a loyal following of customers that trust and love them so much, they’re willing to stick with the brand through all highs and lows. That’s because these brands know how to build strong customer relationships.

Think back to the food sickness incident Chipotle had in 2016. A situation like that would’ve forced a lot of food chains to close their doors, but the relationships Chipotle built with customers over the years keeps them coming back.

Starbucks has also had its fair share of controversy, but the company continues to thrive thanks to its die-hard customers.

You shouldn’t wait until your back is against the wall to build customer relationships. Instead, start earning the trust and confidence of your customers early so any setbacks in the future won’t cause your company to close shop.

One of the best ways to build customer relationships is through social media. Here are eight tips your business can use to get customers to know, like and trust you:

1. Be Human

Nobody wants to deal with the cold heartless corporation that just sees customers as dollar signs. The great thing about social media is it gives you the ability to humanize your brand and showcase your personality.

The tone you use when Tweeting, the images you post to Instagram and how you engage with customers on Facebook all represent your brand’s persona. While every brand doesn’t have to be as casual and humorous as Jimmy John’s, you should have a distinct voice and style.

Even with the development of social media bots, you don’t want to lose that human feel when you engage with customers on social media.

Smart Car does a great job of crafting witty and entertaining replies to mentions of its brand on Twitter.

2. Respond Quickly

Do customers have to wait days before getting a response from your Twitter handle? If so, you’re potentially ruining your customers relationships instead of building them up. Our Q2 2016 Index showed that although customers expect a response from brands on social in under four hours, most companies average a 10 hour response time.

average brand response time on social

Responding quickly not only creates a better experience for your customers, it also leads to more revenue. A study from Twitter found customers were willing to pay nearly $ 20 more for an airline that responds to customer Tweets in less than six minutes.

twitter response time study

You can use Sprout Social’s Engagement Report to track your engagement rate as well as how long it’s taking your team to respond to incoming messages on social.

sprout social engagement report

You can gamify your efforts a bit with Sprout’s Team Report. This report shows the average response time by team member. Hold contests to see who can get the best response time. It’ll help reduce your overall response time which customers really appreciate.

Southwest Airlines is quick to reply to customer issues on Twitter. Often times customers get a reply within minutes.

3. Exceed Expectations

If you really want to stand out and get a positive reputation for your social customer service, go above and beyond what customers expect.

A classic example of a company going way above and beyond was when JetBlue organized a small welcome party for a customer. The customer jokingly asked for a welcome parade for her flight, and to her surprise, JetBlue’s crew obliged.

When you’re trying to build customer relationships, try to create memorable experiences. Customers may not always remember the time you replied to thank them on Twitter. But I guarantee you Alexa will remember her experience with JetBlue for years to come.

Gestures like this pay off in multiple ways. For one, the customer is happy because of the random act of kindness. But on top of that, you can bet they’ll Tweet about it or share a photo on Instagram. That’ll give you extra exposure and publicity.

People like buying from companies that appreciate them. Even though you may not be able to do something extravagant for every customer, just seeing that you’re making an effort occasionally causes a ripple effect.

4. Be Proactive

When you look at how most businesses interact with their followers or customers on social media, it’s primarily reactive. They wait for someone to tag them or make a complaint before they ever get in touch. But when you’re trying to build customer relationships, you need to get proactive with your engagement.

Reach out to prospects, your top enthusiasts or just random followers every now and then. You could just say hello, share a piece of content that’s relevant to them or Like an Instagram photo.

Quick interactions like this might seem small, but they can have a big impact.

You can get strategic with this approach by monitoring specific non-branded keywords and hashtags related to your industry. Use Sprout’s Smart Inbox to see the latest social media posts that include the keywords you’re monitoring.

sprout smart inbox

Social media allows you to stay in touch with customers and prospects even when they’re not in buying mode. Remember, this is customer relationship building. Like with any other relationship, you don’t want the only time you interact with customers to be when you need something.

Keep those relationships going 365 days of the year and your customers will continue to support you.

5. Reward Your Top Customers

Do you have a few enthusiasts that share all of your content and consistently buy from you? Make them feel appreciated by rewarding and highlighting them.

You could do something as simple as having a “customer of the month” campaign on Instagram. At Sprout, one of the ways we show customer appreciation is through our case studies. Not only do they highlight how businesses use our software, but it gives them extra exposure to people who may not have heard of them.

We also have our Sprout All Stars program that recognizes our power users and biggest brand enthusiasts.

There are countless ways to show customers you appreciate them.

6. Focus on One-To-One Communication

The scalability of social media allows businesses to broadcast their messages to the masses. However, the great thing about social media is it gives you the ability to have a one-to-many conversation as well as a one-to-one. Instead of thinking of social media as a megaphone, use it to build individual relationships.

This tactic is particularly effective when you’re just starting out. Since you don’t have a large audience, taking the time to connect with individuals is a good way to gain initial momentum.

For instance, instead of blasting a Tweet out to everyone, identify a key influencer who may be interested in your content and mention them.

You might think Tweeting people individually is a waste of time, but here’s the deal–if you only have a few hundred followers and Tweet a link to a blog post, there’s a strong chance you won’t get any engagement. Only a small percentage of your followers will actually see it, and an even smaller percentage will take any action on it.

But when you Tweet the post to someone, you’re creating a one-to-one conversation. The person knows you’re Tweeting specifically to them, plus they’ll receive a notification in Twitter which will prompt them to check out your Tweet. If they reply or share your Tweet, you’ll get exposure to their followers as well.

7. Give More Than You Ask For

You should always strive to add value to your customers. The problem is too many brands take a “what can I get from it?” approach to social. Serve your audience the type of content they’re actually looking for, rather than just what you want to show them.

Of course, to do this you’ll need to know your audience. Find out what type of content they share, what they Tweet about and other important details to get a clue into what you should be sharing.

Sprout’s social listening tools are great to help you quickly identify what your target audience is talking about on social media.

twitter listening

You can enter industry keywords and hashtags you want to track, and Sprout will track the conversations going on about those topics.

Once you get a good feel for what your customers want, you can incorporate what you find into your social media posts. Building customer relationships is a lot easier when you’re sharing the type of content they actually want to see.

Always strive to provide your customers more value than you’re asking for in return. It’ll pay off in the long run.

8. Build a Community

You’ll notice a lot of the brands we’ve mentioned have done a great job of creating a community. While you’re building relationships with your customers, you can simultaneously push them toward your own community as well. Your community could live on an online forum, Google+ Community, LinkedIn Group or any other platform where people can gather to communicate.

At Sprout, one of the ways we’ve built a solid community is through #SproutChat. It’s our weekly Twitter chat where customers, influencers and social media marketing enthusiasts gather to talk about relevant topics and challenges that social media and community managers face.

Fashion retailer Nordstrom went a bit outside the box and started a Reddit channel for its community. The company answers customer questions and hosts special events like AMA’s (ask me anything) with different influencers.

nordstron reddit

Having your own community will also help build your brand up as an authority in your industry, which builds trust with future customers. People like to buy from companies they feel are experts or the best at what they do. For instance, Apple is looked at as a forward thinking tech company so consumers look to them for the “next big thing.” New and upcoming brands in Apple’s space would have a near impossible time trying to overtake Apple’s reputation.

Start Building Stronger Relationships

For long term success with social media, or your business in general, you need to build customer relationships. Your loyal customers will eventually turn into advocates that promote your brand for free. The word of mouth advertising and promotion you get from customer reviews and user-generated content is more than worth the time it takes to build relationships.

This post 8 Tips to Build Customer Relationships With Social Media originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Sprout Social

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

We all know that word-of-mouth is one of the best drivers of new customers.

The problem is, most referral marketing systems are based on best-practice advice that quickly becomes stale.

But referral marketing is important. According to research conducted by Heinz Marketing, 71% of companies report a higher number of conversions with a referral program.

Where most companies fall flat, however, is in understanding their customers. They create referral systems that focus on tools, not a strategy informed by customer insight. In business, we have access to so much data but hardly ever use it.

So, how can you create a referral marketing strategy that offers incentives? What can you do to make your program one that customers are thrilled to be a part of?

In this article, we’re going to outline the importance of customer insight to inform your referral strategy. We’ll also look for the kind of insight you should be looking for and how to use it to optimize your referral strategy.

The Data/Insight Gap

By 2020, more than 50 billion smart connected devices will exist in the world (Cisco).

Samsung has developed a smart fridge that lets you order stocked groceries from its touch screen. The Amazon Dash brings ordering supplies at the touch of a button, literally. These will all become sources of customer data these brands can execute upon.

Whether you’re in the SaaS, e-commerce and app industries, or even a brick-and-mortar business – the amount of data becoming available presents both a challenge and a great opportunity. This infographic from IBM illustrates the situation well:

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness

But before you can use the customer data available to you, you need to understand what you want from it. What is its true value?

These principles can be applied to all forms of marketing. But for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on your referral strategy.

First, understand the context. What are you trying to achieve? Is it more sign ups to your referral program, or more revenue per new customer? What’s the key goal?

You must also define the specific needs that are going to be addressed. In this case, we’re looking at stronger conversions and more sales over a defined period.

Understanding the answers to these questions will help you use your data in an intelligent manner, in all areas of business.

When improving the effectiveness of referral marketing, these are the insights you should look for:

What your customers truly care about

Giving a % discount or cash rewards for your customers inviting their friends works great. But it’s not always the most effective way of doing things.

Take Harrys for example. When launching their shaving subscription service, they created a list that customers could sign up for to receive updates:

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness

Here’s the twist: On the other side of that email subscription gate was a gamified referral system. Subscribers could invite their friends to join the list, receiving bigger and better rewards the more people they got to sign up:

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness

The result? Over 100,000 email subscribers to reach out to on launch day.

They could have given discounted product, but instead, they saw the value in a new customer and were willing to give free products away in exchange for it.

And by giving free products, they attracted an audience who were genuinely interested in what they were offering.

The same can work for your business. Find out what your most popular products are and offer them for free in exchange for inviting their friends.

Use customer development principles, speaking to your customers in person, to learn more about this. Find out why they’re jazzed about doing business with you and offer them more of that.

For a more scalable approach, use surveys. If you’re in the e-commerce space or sell any form of product online (digital or physical), use the data available to you to yield customer intelligence.

How much do people spend with you? What categories do they mostly shop in? How frequently do they shop?

Take the answers to these questions and let them inform the referral rewards you offer.

Discover who your best customers are

Identifying your top performing products is one thing. But have you ever thought of finding your “top performing customers”?

In business, the 80/20 rule is everywhere. A certain percentage of your customers will generate the majority of your revenue.

It would make sense to focus on these keen buyers as targets for your referral marketing program. The question is, how do we find them?

Customer intelligence can help you take customer data and turn them into profiles. This will give you an exact understanding of how your customers are interacting with your business, website or store and turn them into actionable insights.

For example, let’s say you want to find customers who purchased from you more than 5 times over the last month. With customer intelligence, you can segment these customers and tailor your messaging to them.

Those who buy from you most frequently are more likely to spread the word. In fact, they likely already have done. You just might not know it yet.

Here’s an example of what a customer profile looks like, based on real-time data:

Tools & organizational buy-in

Knowing the importance of data and customer insight is one thing. Getting everybody on your team to buy-in is another challenge.

It’s clear that the data-insight gap is a problem beyond marketing. But when it comes to referral strategy specifically it can gain huge wins, fast.

So, start with your marketing team. Get them on board and believing in what data can do for them. Show them what data you have access to and how it can benefit word-of-mouth for your business.

Implementation is easy with the right tools. To get an understanding of your customers, there’s Woopra. For referral marketing, ReferralCandy is a powerful digital tool that’s easy to set up and integrate with your current systems.

How Customer Insight Can Boost Referral Marketing Effectiveness

If you’re in the “brick-and-mortar” space, Belly provides a comprehensive customer loyalty system. Their system provides your customers with digital loyalty cards, tracking all of your most loyal customers buying behavior.


Referral marketing is the highest performing acquisition channel in many industries. Hearing a raving review from a friend will always hold more weight than even the most creative of ads.

The key is to understanding what your audience cares about. Go big on incentives with rewards that are relevant to them.

Finally, target your best buyers and work on turning them into advocates for your brand. It’s likely they already love your products and services. They just need a little encouragement to spread the word.

About the Author

Elie Khoury

Elie Khoury is the CEO of Woopra, a customer intelligence platform for the modern organization. Readers of the Duct Tape Marketing blog can sign up for an account here.

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