5 Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence to Increase Your Sales
The robots are coming for your business.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but the truth is that in recent years, artificial intelligence has become more sophisticated than ever before.
And while you might think that investing in AI is for huge companies with huge budgets, the truth is that AI is more affordable – and more versatile – than you might think.
Artificial intelligence, if programmed and used properly, can help you increase your sales, enhance your customers’ experience, and manage your business more effectively. Here are 5 things you can do with artificial intelligence starting now.
#1: Expand Your Customer Service
There’s no denying that there’s a link between customer service and sales. Customers who are happy with your service are more likely to buy from you again. They’re also likely to recommend you to their friends.
Adding a simple customer service chatbot to your website can do a great deal to improve service. It can:
- Provider customers with the immediate response they want when they have a problem
- Redirect customers to self-service options they might not be able to find on their own
- Let customers know that you care about them and their needs
What if you don’t know how to program a chatbot? Not to worry. Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a programmer, there are “build-a-bot” programs online that you can use to create the bot you need. You can find a list of 14 tools here, including several that will allow you to create a chatbot to use with Facebook Messenger.
#2: Learn About Customer Behavior
One of the coolest things about artificial intelligence is something called machine learning. It’s what programmers used with the famous chess program, Deep Blue, that defeated chess champion Gary Kasparov.
Machine learning is something that can help you gather data about your customers based on their behavior and purchase habits. Basically, it’s like retargeting with a kick.
You can already target customers based on past purchases and behavior. Adding AI to the mix just means that you can gather more information and use it new ways.
80% of marketers know that personalized content is more appealing to customers than generic content. Using AI tools like Convertize and Nudgify can help you tailor your web content to an individual visitor, providing them with the information and guidance they need.
#3: Provide Product Suggestions
One straightforward way to use chatbots to increase sales is to program your chatbots to make product suggestions when customers are shopping on your site.
This idea makes it possible for you to increase sales by letting customers who are engaged with your chatbots know about products they might not otherwise find. Basically, you’ll be turning your chatbots into personal shoppers for your customers.
A client who buys a set of cookware on your site, for example, could get a recommendation for a coordinated set of cooking utensils or even a cookbook or apron. The idea is similar to what Amazon does when they display the “People who bought this item also bought” links when you view a product on their site.
This type of programming is a bit more involved than a simple customer service chatbot, but it can pay off in increased sales.
#4: Improved Productivity
If all of your customer service is provided by employees at present, then adding AI to the mix can help you save their time – and give them more time to spend more time with customers who are at your place of business and ready to buy from you.
Think about it – if one of your sales staff must monitor social media messages or customer service tickets, they’re taking time away from customers who might need personal guidance to make a purchase.
Properly programmed, AI chatbots can deal with simple customer service requests by helping people check the status of an order, reset a password, or track a package. Your employees will spend less time on repetitive requests and more – at least in theory – with customers who are ready to buy.
At the same time, you’ll be improving your customers’ experience by giving them quicker service than they would get from an employee. And, if an employee does need to step in, your AI solutions can provide the information they need to provide top-notch service without asking the customer to repeat themselves.
#5: Respond to Customer Needs
Do you know what your customers want and why they want it? If you don’t – or if you’re only collecting detailed information from your customers sporadically – then you can use artificial intelligence to expand your knowledge of your customers and do a better job of giving them what they want.
Keatext is a tool that collects positive and negative customer feedback in real time. Instead of waiting for someone to call with a complaint (or the occasional compliment) you can get the information you need immediately.
The benefit here is that you can adjust what you are doing to provide customers with the experience they want. If people are confused by your website’s menu or unclear how to check out, you’ll know about it and can fix problems as you identify them.
There might not be an immediate link between this kind of customer feedback and sales, but in the long run, it can make a big difference in your conversion rates and your bottom line. Monitoring what your customers think about your site or social media pages allows you to make the kind of incremental improvements that will, in the long run, result in more sales.
The Robots Are Here…
The bottom line is that artificial intelligence is here to say. Big companies have latched on to it as a way of improving customer service, streamlining productivity, and increasing their sales. You don’t need to have a huge budget to take advantage of the benefits of AI – and by adopting it now, you can get a leg up on your competitors.
How Micro Moments Can Help You Attract New Customers
Right now, potential customers are online looking for your business. And you might be missing them.
Scary thought, isn’t it?
Let’s face it, there’s a ton of content out there. It can be hard to find what you’re searching for – and if the content you’re producing isn’t providing what the people in your target audience need when they need it, then they’re likely to end up with one of your competitors.
The answer? Understand the moments when customers pick up their phones to look for your business and craft content that gives it to them.
One way is to use what Google has coined Micro Moments, I.E. “the Customer Journey.” What are they and how can you use them to find new customers? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Micro Moment?
Google coined the term Micro Moment to respond to what they saw as a growing trend. You already know that most consumers in the US are tethered to their smart phones 24 hours a day. But they’re more intensely engaged at some moments than at others.
A Micro Moment is a moment when a consumer is intent on finding something. They want a quick answer or solution. Google identifies them as:
In other words, a Micro Moment is a moment when a consumer is ripe to learn, experience, and buy things. It’s the ideal time to capture a new customer because they’re already in the right mindset to engage with your content.
There are some interesting statistics to back up the importance of Micro Moments. For example:
- 91% of smart phone users look up information on their phones while they’re in the middle of a task
- 82% of consumers consult their phones while they’re in a store – and of those, 20% buy something other than what they originally intended to buy
- 69% of online consumers say that the quality, relevance, and timing of the content they find affects their opinion of a brand (and their purchase habits)
It’s clear that there’s a benefit to Micro Moment marketing. It’s about capturing the attention of people in your area who are seeking the products or services you’re selling. The trick, of course, is knowing how and when to capture your audience’s attention at those key moments.
What You Need for Micro Moment Marketing
Gathering information about its customers is important for every business. You might have a small business with only one location, but you still need to understand who your customers are and how to use the data you collect to your advantage.
Some of the data to collect includes:
- How your customers find your business and why they decided to buy from you
- Where and how they prefer to make purchases
- How they prefer to pay for their purchases
- What things matter the most to them when making online purchases
For example, 53% of visitors will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load. That’s not much time – and if your site is slow, then you could be losing customers without realizing it.
You also need to understand how customers typically approach buying a product like yours. What information do they need? Where are they likely to go to get it? And – most importantly – how can you capitalize on their habits to draw them in?
Micro Moment Best Practices
There are some simple things you can do to engage your target audience in one of the more than 100 Micro Moments they experience each day.
Let’s start with Google’s definition of a Micro Moment. During a Micro Moment, customers want to know something, do something, go somewhere, or buy something. That means that, in order to capture their attention, your business must:
- Be there, meaning that you must have content that’s easily accessible and directly related to the information the people in your target audience want during a Micro Moment
- Be useful, meaning that your Micro Moment content must provide a relevant digital experience that provides a potential customer with the information they want – and the means to act on it
- Be accountable, meaning that you must provide a seamless customer experience that makes it easy for customers to buy from you across all channels
How to do all three? Well, here are some suggestions:
- Conduct a customer survey using email or social media to get a better idea of the kind of content your customers need to buy from you.
- Identify crucial points in your sales funnel, so you can capitalize on them. Here, I’m talking about the moment when a customer realizes that they need what you’re selling or that they have a problem that your product or service can solve.
- Craft content that responds directly to those crucial points, providing customers with compelling content that’s both relevant and actionable.
- Include in every piece of content a clear call to action that will direct your customer to your business or provide them with a phone number or a link to your website. (The key is to provide them with a way to take immediate action!)
- Text your Micro Moment content and refine it until it’s giving you the return on investment that you need.
The most essential part of this process is knowing when your customers are likely to experience a Micro Moment. It might be when they’re making dinner plans or trying to get their kids ready to go back to school. The more information you have, the better able you will be to capture their attention and convert those Micro Moments into sales.
Micro Moments Are Fleeting
The human attention span might be shrinking, but that just means that you have new opportunities to engage with your customers in the way that’s most useful to them – and most profitable to you. Taking the time to understand Micro Moments can help you attract new customers at the point when they are most ready to buy from you.
How Much Are Your Customers Worth? (Hint: It’s More Than You Think)
You’ve got to spend money to make money.
That’s they say, right? And yet, for some small business owners, a generous marketing budget just isn’t in the cards.
You can skimp on marketing, but I’m willing to bet you haven’t considered something that you should be thinking about…
And that’s the lifetime value of each loyal customer you attract with your marketing campaigns.
You know that it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one – but how much can you really afford to spend to attract a new customer?
Knowing the lifetime value of your customers is the key to creating a workable budget for marketing. That number should dictate how much you spend. Spend too much and you’re losing money in the long run. Spend too little – and you’re missing out on an opportunity to grow your business.
How to Calculate Your Lifetime Customer Value
Don’t know how to calculate the lifetime value of your customers? Here’s a simple, five-step process to get to the number you need.
- Start with your company’s total revenue in the past year and divide it by the total number of purchases in the same period. The resulting number is your average purchase value.
- Next, take your total number of purchases in the past year and divide it by the number of unique customers who made purchases. The resulting number is your average purchase frequency rate. (Note: if you make a log of cash sales and don’t request an email, then this number may not be accurate.)
- Take your average purchase value and subtract the average purchase frequency rate from it. That gives you the customer value per year.
- Calculate the average number of years a customer continues to buy from you. If you’ve been tracking unique purchases this shouldn’t be difficult. This number is the average customer lifespan.
- Now, multiply the customer value by the average customer lifespan to get the lifetime value of your customer.
Let’s look at an example. Here are your raw numbers:
- $100,000 in annual revenue
- 250 purchases
- 150 unique customers
Your average purchase value would be $400 . You would then take that number and divide it by 150 to get your average purchase frequency rate, which is 2.67.
Next, you would subtract your average purchase frequency rate from your average purchase value to get $397.33, your customer value per year. If you kept your customers, on average, for 10 years, your customer lifetime value would be $3,973.30.
That’s a very simple example but it illustrates the point. This business has a lifetime customer value of nearly $4,000.
How to use Customer Lifetime Value in Marketing
You know your customer lifetime value – now what?
The short answer is that you’ve got a piece of information that can help you attract more customers and make better use of your marketing budget.
But… what does that mean in practical terms? Here are some actionable ways to use your CLV to your advantage in marketing.
Identify Your Most Profitable Customers
If you’ve been tracking unique customer data, then it’s worth your time to crunch the numbers and learn about who your most valuable customers are.
For example, you might look at your LCV by:
These basic demographics can help you do a better job of targeting your marketing campaigns to the people who are most likely to be profitable to you in the long run.
Identify Your Most Profitable Marketing Channel
You should also calculate your most profitable marketing channel based on the number of new customers you acquire.
Perhaps you have been running marketing campaigns on:
- Google AdWords
Crunching the numbers might reveal that your spending on Google AdWords is earning you a significantly lower return than your Facebook advertising. Knowing that can help you take the next step.
Increase Your New Customer Acquisition Spending
It costs more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones, but once you know your LCV, you may discover that your new customer acquisition spending is on the low side.
You don’t need to send your spending through the roof. However, you can and should look at what you’re spending compared to the LCV you’ve calculated. If you’re spending only a tiny fraction of the LCV to acquire a new customer, it may be worthwhile to spend a bit more in that area going forward.
Allocate Your Marketing Budget to Maximize Customer Value
Your lifetime customer value might not be as high as you want it to be. The good news is that there are things you can do to increase it.
For example, say that you have learned that the people who follow you on Facebook are your most engaged and profitable customers. That’s great information to have.
Instead of sinking money into something that might not be getting you a big return, you can allocate more of your marketing budget to Facebook. Some if may go toward attracting new customers, but you should also spend some trying to get existing customers to buy more frequently and spend more money.
One way to do that is to offer return customers discounts or to create a loyalty program. If you can inspire your existing customers to buy more often, then you’ll be driving up your LCV every time they do.
At the same time, incentivizing your existing customers may also attract new customers to your business. You can encourage your followers to invite their friends to your page or allow them to share a discount code or coupon with their friends.
Your Customers Are Valuable
Every customer you have contributes to your company’s success and profitability. Understanding just how much each customer is worth to you can help you do a better job of attracting new customers, increasing their lifetime value, and maximizing your profits.
Why You Should be Doing SMS Marketing Right Now
What does your marketing mix include?
If you’re like most local businesses, you’re probably doing a mix of online and offline marketing. You might be engaging with customers on social media, hosting local events, blogging, and advertising in the local paper. Perhaps you’ve even targeted mobile customers by using Facebook’s “Call Now” button on your ads.
But guess what? There’s one thing that you’re probably not doing that could help you connect with customers when they’re most likely to stop by your business. And you might not even have considered it.
I’m talking about SMS messaging, more commonly known as text messaging.
More than 2.5 billion people worldwide own a smart phone that’s capable of text messaging. That’s a staggering number – and it begs the question:
Why aren’t more small businesses using text messaging for marketing?
Texting by the Numbers
Text messaging has the potential to be a marketing superstar for your business. To get an idea of just how effective it can be, check out these statistics:
- 89% of people always have their smart phone accessible
- 97% of Americans text at least once a day
- Texting is the #1 communication method used by people under 50 years old
- 82% of text messages are read within 5 minutes of receipt
That last statistic is particularly important, especially when you consider that consumers open only about 25% of the emails they receive.
People send and receive text messages. They give them priority over other communication, and they spend more time texting than they do talking on their phones.
In other words, text messaging is arguably the best way to ensure that the people in your target audience read what you send them.
Advantages of SMS Marketing
You know people are likely to read your text messages – but what are the other advantages of incorporating text messages into your marketing mix? Here are five that I think are key:
- You can track SMS messages the same way you would any other marketing campaign using web-based tools like SlickText.
- You can collect data about your text list by creating interactive content that allows them to reply to your messages quickly and easily.
- Text messaging provides nearly instantaneous results and stats for you to use to fine-tune your campaigns.
- Text messaging can be casual and personalized with direct language and even emoji to build a relationship with the people you text.
- Text messages are a great way to connect with your audience when they’re most likely to be in your area or in the market for what you’re selling.
A good example of time-sensitive text messaging might be a restaurant or bar texting out a Happy Hour coupon at about the time most people are getting out of work. They might be planning to head out for a drink or a bite anyway, and you can provide them with a nudge to choose your establishment over others in the area.
How to Get Subscribers for Your SMS List
By law, you cannot send a text message to anybody who has not signed up for your list. That means that you must find ways to attract new subscribers. Here are some helpful suggestions to get started.
The first and potentially easiest way to find new subscribers is to add a cell phone field to your existing opt-in form on your website. You can include a message letting people know that if they choose to provide you with a cell phone number, they’re agreeing to receive text messages from you.
Another option is to promote your SMS list in store with large print posters, flyers and other print media encouraging your customers to sign up for exclusive discounts & offers. Make sure to mention what some of those exclusive offers might be.
You may also want to send out an email to your current email list and give your subscribers a link to sign up to receive text messages from you. Here again, it’s a good idea to tempt them by letting them know you’ll be sending out special coupons and deals via text message.
Using these methods, it shouldn’t take you very long to build up a sizable SMS messaging list.
Tips for Successful SMS Messaging Campaigns
Text message marketing has a lot in common with other forms of marketing. To be successful, you must conceptualize a strong campaign based on your knowledge of your subscribers, create compelling content, and track your results. Here are some tips that may help you.
- Understand your audience. You may want to create a quick survey for your email list or social media followers to find out what kind of content they would like to receive via text message.
- Keep your messages short and sweet. People are more likely to read your messages if they’re brief and compelling. A good rule of thumb is to make them about the same length as a Tweet – no more than 280 characters.
- Offer mobile-exclusive deals to your subscribers. These might include exclusive coupons, discounts, and sales especially for your mobile customers.
- Use casual language that speaks directly to the recipient. Most important, use “you” and “your,” which underscore that the exclusivity of your list and make customers feel valued.
- Don’t be afraid to bring some humor into your texts. It’s a casual form of communication and people like to laugh – but of course, keep it PG-rated and steer away from controversial topics.
- Add a few emoji to your texts. People use them in their personal texts and they can add personality and fun to your marketing campaign.
- Track your results and tweak your campaigns as needed.
Some text messaging providers to try include SlickText, SumoText, and SimpleTexting. You want a provider with affordable prices, an intuitive dashboard, and great analytics.
The bottom line is that if you’re not using SMS messaging to reach your audience, you’re missing out on a chance to build brand loyalty and increase your sales. Text messages are inexpensive to send and easy to write – and they can help you grow your business.
7 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Facebook Advertising Campaigns
In the world of social media sites, Facebook is the big kahuna. Sure, there are older sites – but it’s the biggest and gets the highest engagement.
Facebook advertising has been around for a while, too, and you might think you’ve got it all figured out…
Except you don’t. In fact, we’re willing to bet there are a few things that you’re doing wrong.
Do you want to start getting it right? Start by correcting these 7 mistakes.
#1: Spray and Pay
Are you doing some kind of math that says since you’re only paying for clicks, you don’t need to target your ads? Maybe you figure since people who aren’t interested aren’t going to respond to your ad, you might as well reach as wide an audience as possible.
If that sounds familiar, you’re making what could be a costly error. Ultimately, the people most likely to click on your ads are people who are in your target audience.
A far better bet is to target your ads to users who match your customer persona and do what you can to maximize your ROI. You’ll end up spending less and earning more as a result.
#2: Avoiding Video Marketing
You can’t go anywhere online without reading an article about how video marketing is the belle of the ball – the one thing everybody’s doing.
While it’s true that video gets a ton of engagement, it’s also true that on Facebook, the bulk of advertising money is not being spent on video.
In other words, video isn’t as saturated as standard ads and that means that if you make the investment in video ads, it’s likely to boost your ROI. They’re more expensive than standard ads but they can pay for themselves.
By the way, statistics back this up. A majority of consumers say they’d rather learn about a product or company from an explainer video than from written content. Why not take advantage of that?
#3: Focusing on Engagement instead of Conversions
There’s no question that Facebook advertising can be useful as a way of increasing social media engagement and building your following. And you might even assume that’s all it’s good for.
Think again. The truth is that more companies are using Facebook advertising to send traffic to their websites and encourage sales there than are using it to build engagement.
While social media engagement is important, sales and conversions are what keep your company afloat. With your next Facebook ad campaign, focus on conversions to get the biggest possible return on your investment.
#4: Assuming CPC Costs Are Increasing
Given the popularity of Facebook and the saturation of ads there, you might expect that the added competition would compel Facebook to raise its advertising rates.
You’d be wrong.
In fact, CPC ad rates on Facebook have been holding fairly steady. It’s still one of the most cost-effective and beneficial forms of advertising around.
That doesn’t mean that costs won’t go up at some point in the future. If and when they do, you’ll have to make an assessment of how Facebook advertising will fit into your marketing mix.
But for now, the low prices make Facebook advertising a must.
#5: Not Using Lead Ads
Facebook has a vested interested in keeping users on Facebook (or on the mobile app if they access the site on their smart phone or tablet.) But it’s still true that the majority of advertising money on Facebook comes from web conversion ads.
While all of Facebook’s algorithms are proprietary, you might get slightly better placement for your ad if you use a Lead ad that allows people who click to fill out a lead form without leaving Facebook.
Best of all? You can integrate Facebook advertising with your CRM to ensure that you don’t miss those leads as they come in.
#6: Boosting instead of Advertising
Since you pay for boosting posts, that’s basically the same thing as paying for an ad on Facebook, right?
We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve heard this one – and if you’re making this mistake then the chances are good you’re losing out in terms of ROI.
Here why. Facebook boosted posts are ONLY meant to increase engagement. They can bolster the reach of a particular post, ensure that all of your followers see it, and potentially earn you a few new followers, too.
That’s all well and good, but here’s what you need to remember. When you run an ad for the purpose of conversion, Facebook targets people who are likely to convert. Likewise, lead ads are targeted to people who are likely to fill out a lead form.
The purpose of the ad dictates who sees it. Decide which goals are most important to you and then tailor your Facebook advertising campaign around them.
#7: Not Using Facebook for B2B Advertising
There’s no denying that Facebook advertising is a useful tool for B2C companies, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it if you sell B2B.
In fact, Facebook’s targeting makes it possible to target people who work in certain industries or who have a particular job title. If a company is big enough, you may even be able to target its employees specifically.
You might have to use slightly different tactics than you would for B2C marketing, such as offering an eBook or white paper as a lead magnet, but the bottom line is that Facebook advertising can be a remarkably effective lead generation tool for B2B companies.
Facebook advertising is not be new…
However, we have found that quite a few companies are still operating in the dark in terms of how best to use it. They make mistakes, fall victim to common myths and misconceptions, and ultimately, they end up losing out.
Don’t be like them. Start by avoiding these 7 mistakes to make the most of your Facebook advertising, maximize the return you get on your advertising investment, and meet your top marketing goals.
Is Social Media Automation Right for Your Business?
If you’ve read multiple articles about social media marketing, then we’re willing to bet that you’ve also seen some advice along these lines:
For the best results, have someone monitor your social media accounts all the time.
Social media automation takes most of the work out of social media marketing.
Those both sound pretty good, right? Solid advice meant to help you retain customers and make the most of your social media marketing.
There’s only one problem here. Neither one of the above statements is rooted in reality. Very few companies can afford to have someone monitor their social media 24 hours a day. Likewise, automating everything is a good way to show customers that you don’t care about them.
In other words, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Automation can be useful, but it can’t replace genuine, human customer service.
How and when should you consider using automation? Keep reading to find out.
The Benefits of Automation
Let’s start with the good parts of social media automation. The truth is that maintaining an active social media presence is a lot of work. You’ve got to generate content, work out a schedule, post the content, and monitor messages, comments, and responses.
If your company is active on just one site, it can be hard to keep up. And if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? It would be easy to turn that into a full-time job.
Automation can help you do all of the following:
- Monitor mentions of your company and industry on social media
- Recommend content for you to consider reposting to your followers
- Post content automatically according to a schedule you create
Those are all good things. They don’t interfere with the customer experience at all, and in many cases they actually make it better.
For example, automated posting of content is useful because it keeps your accounts up to date and active even if you’re swamped with work.
However, not every potential use for social media automation is a good one.
The Downsides of Automation
Now let’s talk about the things that social media automation can do – but maybe shouldn’t do.
The main thing is responding to customer messages and handling customer service.
When people contact a company for help, they expect to get it. They expect to speak to a real person who is capable of understanding their problem and solving it.
What they don’t want is an automated and potentially irrelevant response from a bot. It is nearly impossible to have an automated system respond meaningfully to customer messages.
For example, bots are only as good as the answers you preprogram into them. They can monitor for particular keywords but they can’t appreciate and interpret the nuances of human communication.
The problem with using bots is that their uses are limited. Customers don’t like it when they get canned responses.
Using bots can lead to some serious backlash if it becomes obvious that you’re doing it. Don’t believe me? Check out this ridiculous thread of comments from ASOS’ Facebook page. Once users realized that the responses were automated, they piled on – and the end result was that ASOS came out looking like they didn’t care about their customers at all.
To Automate… or Not to Automate?
As you might expect, then, the choice comes down to whether or not to automate – and if you do automate, which automation features to use.
The best way to decide is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. The point of using social media is to connect with your audience and enhance their experience of being your customer.
What does that mean for your automation decisions?
Every choice you make about automaton should be based on the customer experience. Will setting up a regular posting schedule and automating posts enhance their experience? The chances are good that the answer is yes.
Automated posting of content means that:
- Customers know when to expect your posts and will look for them
- Your account doesn’t appear to be inactive even if you’re on vacation or swamped with work
- Followers have a steady stream of content to enjoy
Those are all good things, clearly, and they offer real value to your customers.
The same thing could be said of monitoring mentions, which can help you connect with social media followers and let them know that their mentions of you are appreciated.
However, the rubric of customer experience falls apart when it comes to automated customer service mentions. The one upside is that it ensures that people who write on social media get an immediate response – but that’s where the benefits end.
- Customers get boilerplate responses that may not address the issue they raised
- They may feel that you do not care about their satisfaction
- Automated messages from bots can make your company look callous or ridiculous
Does that mean that all message automation is a bad idea? Of course not. In fact, there is one way you can use it to your advantage.
Program one – and only one – response into your automation. It might say something like this:
Thank you for reaching out to us. Your happiness and satisfaction are important to us. We can’t monitor Facebook 24 hours a day, but we promise that a real live human will get back to you with a response as soon as possible.
Your Company Name
The benefit of this approach is that the customer gets the satisfaction of an acknowledgement without having to cope with an impersonal response. There’s a real warmth to this response, which acknowledges the difficulty of providing 24 hour customer service.
As long as you keep the promise you make in a message like this, you can use automation to let customers know that you care.
Your customers are smart…
And your use of automation should be too. As long as you make creating a stellar experience for customers your top priority, then you can use automation to make your life – and theirs – easier.
Use These 3 Things to Help Make Your Customer Referral Program a Success
Get any group of marketers together and ask them what they think about customer referral programs. The chances are extremely good that you’ll hear a universal chorus of approval.
What’s not to love about customer referrals? They’re a free way to generate leads. Even if you offer an incentive for referrals, you’ll probably end up paying less for them than you would for advertising.
There’s a reason that so many companies offer referral programs…
But what you may not know is that most of them are actually failures.
That might surprise you, but it shouldn’t.
Referral programs fail because companies just set them up without thinking about them. They don’t consider the three big questions:
- What makes customers refer their friends and acquaintances to a company?
- What are the benefits customers receive from your products?
- When and how should you promote your referral program?
If you’re shaking your head and realizing that you’ve made this mistake too, don’t worry. We’re here to help you figure out how to make your referral program a big success.
Why Do Referrals Happen?
Let’s start with question number one: What makes a customer want to refer a friend to a particular company?
That’s a big question and an important one. If you don’t understand it, you might just end up spinning your wheels with a referral program that appeals to nobody.
According to Jonah Berger, who wrote a book called Contagious: Why Things Catch On, there are six potential factors that might make your customers want to give you a referral:
- Social currency comes first. Will a referral make your customer look good on their own or in comparison to other people?
- Emotions play a big role in decision making. If your referral program engages customers’ emotions, they’ll be more likely to refer.
- Virality is up next. When an idea or concept is easy to remember, it’s also more likely to spread. That’s just as true of referrals as it is of cat videos.
- Stories are important to people. If your referral request comes disguised as a story, then it’s more likely that people will want to share it.
- Practicality is really at the core of referrals. Is your product practical? Is the incentive to refer it practical too?
- Publicity is the final factor. People tend to follow what others do, but only if they can see that they’re doing it.
The good news is that you don’t have to engage all six of these factors to make your referral program a success. You just need to use the ones that make sense in the best possible way to inspire referrals from your existing customers.
How can you optimize the “why” of your referral program? The key is making it clear that your product aligns with your customers’ core concerns, beliefs, and values.
For example, Apple sells its products by talking about their desire to challenge the status quo. They encourage their customers to think of themselves in a certain way that tells a story and taps into their emotions.
Keep in mind that this aspect isn’t about what you offer in return for a referral – although it’s a good idea if you can connect it to those same values.
What Benefits Does Your Product Provide?
Next, let’s talk about the benefits that existing customers can gain if they refer their friends to you.
This question relates most closely to the issues of practicality and social currency. If someone is going to give you a referral, they want to know:
- Will it make me look good?
- Will it help my friend?
- What’s in it for me?
To understand how this might work, let’s look at an example.
Cloud storage company Dropbox increased their sign-up rate by 60% in 2010 by using a simple referral proposition that hit all three of these points perfectly.
The specific offer was that for every friend who signed up for Dropbox, the customer making the referral would receive 500 MB of free storage – and so would their friend. They placed of 16 GB on the referral program.
This offer makes the referrer look good because they’re offering their friend a practical and valuable solution for cloud storage along with a freebie. The benefits to their friends are obvious – and then the person making the referral gets a freebie too.
Think about what you can do to highlight the practical benefits of participating in your referral program. The more obvious they are, the easier it will be for people to make the leap and take part.
When and How Should You Promote Your Referral Program?
The last step is knowing when and how to promote your referral program. Where do you advertise it?
The key is making sure that your customers see it (there’s no point in showing it to non-customers) at the time when they are most likely to take action.
A lot of companies make the mistake of putting information about their referral program in the footer of their website or on their home page.
That does nothing to speak to the emotions of your customers, or to trigger them to take part.
Instead, a better bet is to consider the best way to reach out directly to your customers when they are at their most emotional – and most likely to be enamored of the practicality and value of your products.
In case you were wondering, that’s right after they make a purchase!
The best way to get it to them is to use an email autoresponder. Most customers expect to see a follow-up email after they make an online purchase, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to outline the benefits of your referral program.
If you want referrals to pour in like rain…
Don’t just dump your referral program in some out of the way corner of your home page.
Instead, make it clear why people should give you referrals and what they (and their friends) can gain from doing so.
Then, hit them with the information about it at exactly the same time – and sit back and collect the referrals that result.
What motivates people to buy?
Every business owner wants to know the answer to this question. After all, if you know how to motivate people to buy, then you should have no trouble boosting your sales, which is the ultimate goal.
Once upon a time, the golden rule was give people what they need, because that is what they will spend their money on. While that may well have been the case a few decades ago, things are a little bit different now.
Statistics show that in today’s media driven society people are actually spending more money on the things that they want like, smart TV’s, High Tech Electronics and leisure activities than they are on the necessities like food and shelter!
That’s why it only stands to reason if you have a product or service to sell you need to present it to your prospects as something they want. Focus on what is in it for them, stress the benefits and make them feel like it is something they absolutely must have. Make them feel like they can’t live without it.
People buy because they get pleasure from their purchase. They don’t walk into a car dealership and buy the latest model because they need it they do it because it makes them feel good to drive it.
Whether it is the comfort of the plush leather seats, the power windows, or the symbol of status, they just love driving their new car! Whatever their reason, you can rest assured that their decision was based on want, not need.
Want isn’t the only thing that motivates people to make a purchase. While it is the leading factor, many other triggers can motivate them to whip out their wallets. For instance, if you can connect your product or service to consumers in a way that can helps them:
- Save or make more money
- Save more time
- Be more comfortable
- Be happier and healthier
- Be more popular
- Increase their enjoyment
- Attract the opposite sex
- Escape pain and sadness
- Avoid trouble
- Make life easier
Or take advantage of opportunities that will benefit them in a positive way then you can motivate them to take action. Once you find out what they want and present your product or service to the in a way that makes them feel like they can’t live without it, you should have no trouble boosting sales for your business.
If you shop online or if you’ve ever made a purchase from a website like Amazon then chances are testimonials probably played a big part in your decision-making process.
Customer testimonials have the power to boost your sales substantially and they do it without spending and extra money on advertising. They are excellent emotional triggers. A glowing recommendation from happy customer can create a level of trust and provide potential customers with the ability to imagine what it would be like to purchase your products or services.
Typically, when someone begins shopping for a new product and service, one of the first things they take into consideration is the recommendation of others. They seek advice from family, friends, and testimonials of complete strangers. They do this because they want to make an informed choice.
Testimonials give them insight into how other people feel about the product or service as well as a good idea of what can do for them. So, do not underestimate the impact they can have on your business.
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