How to Connect with Customers in the Age of Assistance

We’re living in the age of assistance. What does that mean for marketers?

Marketing tips in the age of assistance
Customers have more options than ever before today, thanks to technology. Therefore, each buyer’s journey is unique and customers are looking for valuable content to educate themselves before making a purchase.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

Your marketing strategy needs to be focused on your customer or prospect. Where do they look for information? How do they like to shop? How do they like to interact with brands?

If people need help, they usually start with Google. (While the search giant reaches 93% of US consumers, note that your customer base or target audience may use Bing or another search engine. It’s important to know where your customers go.) We’re busy, distracted and always on the go, so people are searching on mobile, including reviews, for information to make decisions in the moment.

Consider this example… Jon is working at home when he hears water running. The problem is that he’s not running any water. After heading upstairs, he realizes that his toilet is overflowing. He lives in an older home, so there’s no shut-off for the toilet; he needs to turn off his water at the main shut-off. Quickly, he Googles shut off water main and finds a YouTube video showing him how to locate his main water valve and shut it off. Jon follows the directions and shuts off his water before suffering any damage. Who does he call to fix the toilet? The local plumbing company who provided the video, of course.

Note that this local company gave Jon the information he needed first. He didn’t have to dig through their website or sit through a sales pitch beforehand. Educating consumers before you ask for a purchase or deliver a call-to-action (CTA) drives business.

 

Meet People in the Moment

People are living in the moment today, so they rarely plan in advance. Jon probably should have known where his main water shut-off valve was, but he had recently moved in and hadn’t gotten around to finding it yet. He’s not alone.

Mobile searches for today, tomorrow or now are up 900%. Our phones are never out of reach, so it’s always convenient to find the information we need—in a traffic jam, at the doctor’s office or at your kid’s ballet recital.

How can you meet your customers or prospects in the moment?

Start where they start: Google yourself.

Google yourself, your category and your business. Do you like what you see?

 

Google yourself, your category and your business (in incognito mode, if you prefer). Do you like what you see? Are you providing valuable content to help your customers and prospects educate themselves and move along the buyer’s journey? Or are you only asking for the buy? Be a part of the conversation along the entire journey, so consumers can get to know your company and form an emotional connection with you. If you just show up at the end when consumers are ready to buy, they’re likely to go with another company who has been there all along the way.

While we’re on this subject, does your business have a Google My Business listing? If not, set one up. This free resource helps you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps, boosting your SEO efforts. Remember to include a phone number too. It allows people to quickly call you, which could be the difference between you getting an opportunity or your competitor.

While Google My Business is an important starting point, don’t stop there. Tracking how your customers first found you is important, but so is measuring every moment that matters to your business. Each buyer’s journey is unique today, so you need to track every interaction with your customer and map out their individual customer journey.

Your customer may have found your company through Google, but then she visited your website, read a few blog articles to learn more about a subject that interested her and connected with you on your Facebook Page. After those steps, she contacted you to discuss a project. If she hadn’t made all of those steps, she may not have ever contacted you to do business. That’s why it’s so important to measure every interaction or touch point with your customers, so you understand how they want to be communicated with and helped along their unique buyer’s journey.

 

Make an Emotional Connection

People are looking for more from brands and businesses today. They don’t want to just buy stuff; they want to support companies who have similar values to theirs and are good corporate citizens.

Tell your brand’s story: how you got started, why you’re in business and the faces behind the brand name. Talk about your charitable efforts and community involvement, so customers can see your values in action. They want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going and what kind of company they’re supporting. Tell your founder’s story and shine the spotlight on your employees with behind-the-scenes content, including how your product is made, a day in the life or following employees outside the office.

Creating an emotional connection with your audience is crucial to your marketing and sales efforts.

 

While customers want to get to know your business or brand, they also want to be entertained. Most people make decisions emotionally and then look for rational reasons to support their decisions—especially when we’re making so many decisions today in the moment.

So, your content needs to educate, entertain and connect with your customer on an emotional level. In fact, advertising campaigns are twice as likely to perform well if they contain emotional content instead of rational content. Buyers consuming your content want to feel a connection with your brand—not think about how your brand will help them.

In 2019, we average a 3-second attention span online, so you need to grab a viewer’s attention quickly. Create joy or surprise right away to keep viewers engaged with your content. Consumers get distracted every 10 minutes, on average, and take three minutes to refocus, so you’ll need to keep them engaged the entire time they’re consuming your content. If you lose them, they may jump to something else and never come back.

3 Key Principles in the Age of Assistance

  1. Be There—Connect with the right people during key moments of intent.
  2. Be Valuable—Give consumers the information they need where they are.
  3. Be Quick—Automatically act on intent. Consumers expect quick responses today!

As marketing professionals, how can you deliver on these three key principles?

  1. Know Your Audience—Go beyond demographics to target consumers effectively. Detailed buyer personas are important!
  2. Know Your Brand’s Story—Tell your story, so your audience can understand your values and connect with your business on an emotional level.
  3. Conceptualize the Space—Understand the marketing domains your customers are operating in so well that you know the best ways to connect and communicate with them in those areas.
  4. Self-Educate—Marketing knowledge is constantly updating today, so you need to always be learning.

Understanding your customers (beyond simple demographics) is so important today, because you need to meet them where they are when they need you. What data do you have on your customers (that you’re protecting)? How can you leverage that data to better serve them (not to sell to them)?

Knowing how your customers first heard of you is no longer enough. Go beyond the first click to measure every interaction or touch point with your buyer. It will change your understanding of how each customer wants to be communicated with and helped along the way.

Follow your customers across social media platforms (however they use them) to email and messaging services to brick and mortar locations. We’re living in the age of assistance where micro-moments and individual interactions matter for your business. How are you making the most of every single one?

Questions? Comments? Leave your feedback We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling to connect with your customers in the age of assistance? Let’s discuss how we can help you with your marketing efforts!

Let’s connect,
Jaime

How to Create Content that Works [Twitter Chat Recap]

Creating Content that Works Twitter Chat

Recently, I joined the #VCBuzz Twitter chat to drive a conversation on Creating Content that Works. What an insightful discussion!


“Creating content just for the sake of creating content is the strategy that is doomed to failure. “

ViralContentBee, #VCBuzz Twitter Chat

The 45-minute discussion on content creation and content marketing sizzled with smart advice from a variety of digital marketing professionals.

Gail Gardner, founder of GrowMap.com, delivered outstanding advice right off the bat. Always focus on creating quality content tailored to your target audience’s interests. You should only produce enough content that allows you to maintain a high level of quality and personalization. Remember, quality beats quantity every time.

Gail also mentions interacting with other content. This is so important! You’ll build relationships with fellow professionals in your field and drive engagement on your own content when you share it. Remember to share outside content at least 80% of the time and your own content only 20% of the time. Adhering to this best practice will help you curate a mix of view points on topics relevant to your audience and keep your feed fresh.

“Promoting your content is just as important as creating it. You need a content distribution plan as part of your overall content marketing strategy. “

What are your business goals in 2019?

Aligning Your Content Marketing to Your Business Goals

Meanwhile, Goldie Chan, a LinkedIn Top Voice and personal branding strategist, brought up a great point: your content marketing efforts should be aligned with your business goals. How do you measure its effectiveness? Engagement, engagement, engagement. Keep in mind your engagement should reflect the types of Calls-to-Action (CTAs) you extend to your audience. Do you want visitors to click through to a landing page to claim a special offer? Or do you want readers to message you on Facebook to schedule a free demo? In the first example, your goal should be to drive interested traffic to your landing page while the second would be to move prospects and customers into the privacy of Messenger.

Eventually, we moved into the future of content marketing. Where are we heading?

The Future of Content Marketing

Chat participants gave insightful answers based on their experiences and expertise, including Lisa Shomo, a marketing professional who specializes in customer marketing, growth and retention.

Review the entire Creating Content that Works chat, and join future #VCBuzz marketing Twitter chats on Tuesdays at Noon EST.

Tweet Us (Or Leave Your Feedback in the Comments)

How do you measure your content marketing efforts? What metrics are important to your brand or business?

What are your favorite examples of content marketing that achieved results?

Where do you see content marketing heading in the future?

CCC’s Chief Content Marketing Officer,
Jaime

3 Ways To Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

It’s that time of year: everyone is publishing their thoughts on the next big things in marketing. We’ve been keeping an eye on a number of projected trends for 2018 and year-end reviews from 2017. Here’s our take on how your business can capitalize.

3 Ways to Capitalize on Marketing Trends in 2018

More Quality, Less Quantity  

(We’re hoping) 2018 is the year that content marketing gets real. Due to budget cuts and information overload, along with some aha moments, brands started to spend more time creating and curating valuable content last year instead of sticking to rigid, conveyor belt-like content calendars. The result? Their higher quality content performed better even though they produced less of it, often much less.

“In 2017, our team cut email volume in North America by 50% while increasing engagement by 28%. That’s wild.” -Jon Dick, Hubspot

We’ve all been there. You need to send an email out tomorrow morning, and you’re running behind due to producing so much content. So you throw something together to stay on schedule. Stop. What value does this marketing email deliver to your recipients? What should they take away from it? If you can’t answer those questions, neither can your audience. (p.s. We’re not telling you to throw away your content calendars; just have some flexibility and keep your ultimate goal in mind.)

Less time spent churning out content creates more time for testing, analyzing data and developing or fine-tuning your strategy, including distribution.

Remember the Basics (Even in Our Brave, New Digital World)

Yes, social media and digital marketing have changed the game, but marketing basics still apply. Always keep your big picture in mind. Why are you in business? What are you ultimately trying to accomplish? Every marketing action should support this goal. Keep it in mind as you review your marketing plan or recent efforts. If you’re frustrated by your results, take a fresh look at what you’re doing. Could you achieve more with less? Is your audience on another platform, or have their contact preferences changed? It may be time to take a closer look at your buyer personas (or create them in the first place).

This sentiment was the basis for an article we published last year, Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios. We understand that social media and the digital realm can seem confusing and overwhelming at times, but it helps to take a step back and consider your actions in the real world (i.e. offline).

Get Personal — With a Human Touch 

Technology has improved marketing’s capabilities by leaps and bounds, but we can’t forget to add a human touch. Automation, chat bots, facial recognition, big data and more have allowed us to personalize a customer’s experience more than ever, but there are drawbacks too.

“All the pieces are now in place: AI, individualized personalization, emotional targeting, predictive marketing, automated creative generation, cross-device identity, location tracking and facial recognition.

This can delight some consumers and freak out others. So, a key skill for the best digital marketers will be understanding when to back off.” -Barry Levine, MarTech

Remember to be human when interacting with your audience online (and remember to interact with your audience in the first place). People like to do business with people, not faceless brands or companies. This is an area where small businesses have an advantage, as they can easily put a face behind the business name.

Use automation where you can to be more efficient, but don’t automate a human touch out of your online marketing efforts. Data can point your marketing in the right direction, but it requires human analysis to get there. Personalizing a buyer’s journey is fantastic, but don’t get creepy. Where is that line? That’s where you — and your human insight — come in.

Summary

While it can be tempting to jump on every trend or new platform, take time to think about your situation. What works for others, including well-known personalities, may not work for you. Focus on producing quality content that provides value to your audience, even if takes you longer. Mix your high-quality content with valuable content you curate from other reputable sources (and give them credit). You may be amazed at what you can accomplish with less.

While you’re focusing on creating high-quality content, remember marketing basics. They still apply in today’s high-tech, digital world. Social media has taken over marketing strategies everywhere, but it’s still a form of communication. Don’t forget to get social with your audience instead of just broadcasting content.

While you’re getting social, you’re being human — and that will continue to be a major part of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Technology is fantastic, but don’t get carried away. Add a human touch wherever you can, especially when interacting with customers, prospective customers and community members.

Good luck with your marketing efforts in 2018! We love to see companies doing marketing well. Have a question or need help with your efforts? Comment below, or contact us so we can help you communicate with your target audience.

p.s. Wondering about influencer marketing? We published a guest post, Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing, last week, and we’ll be following it up with a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018 next week.

A marketing (and espresso) aficionado,
Jaime

Let’s get social!
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Inbound & Down: Certified to Help Clients Achieve Success

What a week! Between working the polls and planning a conference, we managed to renew our Inbound marketing certification for another year. As an Inbound Certified company, we’re positioned to help you navigate the ins and outs of the Buyer’s Journey.

What’s Inbound marketing? We’re glad you asked. Check out the blog post we wrote last year showcasing this new way of thinking in action, how it works and how it can help your brand. The basics are the same, but new ideas and research continue to come along. That’s why we wanted to make sure we’re up-to-date and can offer your business the best ways to succeed in our crowded, fast-paced world.

If you’re struggling to reach your target audience, let’s talk about your buyer personas. Who are they? Do you know their pain points and biggest challenges? What stage are they at in the Buyer’s Journey?

We would love to help you attract visitors, convert them into leads, close sales with customers and delight them into promoters. Learn more about how inbound marketing works, and then contact us so we can help you achieve success.

Cheers!

p.s. Interested in becoming Inbound Certified? Learn more about the course, certification and who it can help.

Still officially certified,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Inbound, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Evaluating Feedback: How to Listen to What’s Not Being Said

In our last post, we talked about how the gift-giving process makes you a better marketer. The final similarity discussed was evaluating your feedback, which is crucial to your success in marketing.

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The problem is that it can be difficult to evaluate your feedback. Prospects and customers are human, so they’re complex. Perhaps they fit your buyer persona except for one crucial aspect, which is causing your marketing to miss the mark.

Another issue is that human beings want to position themselves in the best light possible. Said another way, peer pressure never goes away. Focus groups can lie, surveys can mislead and customers can tell you they want things that they really don’t.

How can you evaluate feedback from prospects and customers?

  • Develop Buyer Personas, Not Stereotypes — Buyer personas are a fantastic (and necessary) way to attract the right leads, but don’t rely on stereotypes. Research, research, research. You may find subtle differences between members of a persona, so you can adjust your message accordingly.

Why Consumer Intent Is More Powerful Than Demographics

  • Know Your Customers —  Once someone becomes your customer, go beyond the persona. Get to know your customer as much as possible. What keeps her up at night? How does she go about her day? Knowing her hobbies, personality and routine can be the difference between servicing a customer and creating a loyal client.

The Art of Follow-Up

  • Listen (and Pay Attention) — When you’re talking to a customer, listen to what he has to say. Don’t check email or mentally prepare your to-do list for the next day. Focus on your customer. If you’re meeting face-to-face, take in non-verbal clues, such as body language and facial expressions. Listening is an art form that can strengthen relationships and develop trust.

Trust is the most powerful currency in business

  •  Study Psychology — Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree. But understanding basic psychological concepts can help you develop relationships, business or otherwise. Learn about the different types of personalities, how the human brain processes various types of information and how emotions play into our decision-making process.

5 Quirks of the Human Brain Every Marketer Should Understand

Evaluating feedback can be difficult but is a necessary part of the marketing process, especially during the Close and Delight phases. (Huh?) So remember to stay away from stereotypes, get to know your customers, listen and pay attention to them and understand the psychology that drives how human beings think and act. You (and your customers) will be glad you did.

What tips would you add on evaluating feedback?

How do you get to know your customers?

Do you use psychology to do your job?

W’d love to hear your feedback!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about evaluating feedback, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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How the Gift-Giving Process Makes You a Better Marketer

I love to give gifts. Part of it is seeing the joy that the recipient expresses, but part of it is the process. Finding the perfect gift for someone isn’t easy and shares a lot in common with the marketing process.

Danbo Santa Claus_Takashi Hososhima_flickr

First, there’s the research into what the recipient likes and how he spends his time. What’s a day in his life like? Is he a workaholic? A teacher by day but writer by night? Doting Dad of two? You need to understand what makes the recipient tick in order to give a meaningful gift.

Sound familiar? Studying a potential gift recipient is a lot like creating a buyer persona or understanding your customer. Step into your prospects’ or customers’ shoes in order to understand what they truly need. What would make their job a little easier? How can you take some stress out of their life?

After doing your research, you need to keep your budget in mind. Sure, it would be great if you could buy everyone a dream vacation or a MacBook Pro, but that’s not always feasible. Don’t be disappointed with your lower budget; just change your level of thinking. Does your friend love to travel? Pick up a scarf with multiple uses or a great travel bag that will be perfect for her next trip.

The same way of thinking holds true in marketing. Budget is always something to keep in mind no matter what yours is. Figure out how to maximize your exposure and effectiveness with what you have to spend. Maybe you can’t afford a digital billboard in Times Square, but you can afford passing out flyers about your new pop-up shop to those in the area.

Another way to expand your budget is to partner with others. So your brother and sister-in-law need a new washer but it’s out of your budget? Get together with family and friends to organize your gift-giving efforts. Everyone can contribute to a ‘new washer fund’ via a crowdfunding source or a group gift card to the appliance store.

The same practice works well in marketing. Partnering with like-minded businesses can expand your reach and your budget. Attend networking functions to find other businesses that you can help and vice versa. The important aspect of any relationship is that both sides are committed and both gain something. If only one business benefits, it’s not a good fit and the relationship won’t last.

Finally, evaluate the feedback. No matter how much you do your due diligence, sometimes you miss the mark. A gift is not well received or the recipient has no use for it. Make note of why the gift failed to live up to expectations so you can improve for the next occasion.

In marketing, sometimes your efforts fail. You can conduct ample research and maximize your budget but your campaign or project may not produce the expected results. Your customers and prospects are people, which means they’re complex. No matter how well researched your buyer personas are, maybe you missed one key aspect.

It’s crucial to examine your feedback so you can improve whatever part of your marketing is lacking to see better results in the future. That’s not always easy but that’s the topic of another article (actually the next one).

Who knew the gift-giving process could make you a better marketer? Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much. Or maybe it’s because I love to make people smile. Or because I love a good challenge. Regardless, put some thought into your gift giving and marketing this Holiday season and you’re bound to see the results.

p.s. Do you know an entrepreneur or small business owner who could use some marketing help? Give them a gift that will keep on giving long after it’s opened. We offer gift certificates toward any of our services. Let’s talk about your recipient’s business, product or idea, so we can customize a gift certificate for you.

Picture: Danbo Santa Claus by Takashi Hososhima via CC BY-SA 2.0

CCC’s Chief Elf,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gift giving, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Boosting Sales 101: 5 Marketing Tips You Should Know

No matter what industry you work in, you need to make sure that you get the most out of it. Sometimes, it can feel as though your business is stagnating. Are you ready to boost your sales? Here are five marketing tips that can help.

"Handy Man" by Frankie Leon via CC BY 2.0

1) Come to grips with conversion rates

At first, the idea of conversion rates may sound a little tricky. It may surprise you to know that you can easily learn how to improve your conversion rate optimization. If you get help from an expert, you’ll see that it’s pretty straightforward. You don’t just want people to visit your site; you want them to (eventually) buy something! If they are just browsing, they are not making you any money.

2) Boost your social media presence

Social media sites can be excellent tools for businesses, yet many neglect them. If you want to make the most of your website, you need to share it on social media. Take a look at some of the best social media sites for online marketing. Once you have familiarized yourself with them, you can start to reap the rewards of using them. If it all seems a little confusing, don’t panic. It’s a lot to take in at once, so you need to take things slow. One step at a time, you will learn how to make them work for you.

3) Try direct marketing methods

Direct marketing is not as simple as it sounds. It means that you reach out to people in a face-to-face way. It might seem a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You could run a marketing event or attend a networking session. When you get into the habit of attending these types of events, you will see that they can make a major difference.

4) Chase repeat sales

When someone buys something from your company, the process should not stop there. You’re not looking for one-off sales; you need repeat sales if your business is to succeed. So, what should you do? Well, it’s all about building a relationship with your client base. They need to see you as more than just a vendor — you need to be part of their lives. Understand their biggest challenges and figure out how you can help them overcome these obstacles.

5) Research your market

How much do you know about your buyers? If you don’t do market research, you’re going to have a problem. There are always different business trends that you need to consider, and you need to understand who your ideal customer is. Spend some time each week doing a little research. When you get into this habit, it will pay off for your business in the long run.

It’s time to start putting these ideas to good use. If you change the way you approach your business, your business will change too.

p.s. Did you know CCC is Inbound Certified? Let’s talk about how we can help you attract the right customers, not more empty leads.

All about Inbound,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about Inbound marketing, conversion rates or otherwise):
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5 SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Web Presence

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that every website and business owner needs to use and understand. Here are 5 techniques to help you get started and boost your web presence.

5 SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Web Presence

  1. Choose Your URL Carefully

It’s important to make sure your website’s URL is search engine-friendly. This is important when you’re setting up a website for the first time. The URL should be pretty easy to understand when people see it. It should include words that are recognizable and say something about what is contained on the web page. It’s easy enough to change your URL even if your website has been in use for a long time, so consider this option if you’re not seeing the right traffic.

  1. Focus on Keywords

It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of using the right keywords. They need to be used in almost every part of your website, including your titles, content and image names. You need to think about how your keywords translate as search terms. This is important because the whole point of SEO is to customize your website so that it’s easy to find on search engines. So when you have a web page, you should think about what people would type into Google if they were looking for it.

Try It: SEO Competitor Analysis Tool

  1. Get Linked Back to on Social Media

It’s vital to get links back to your website on social media. This means linking back to your website and trying to get links from other people and accounts. The first part of this is easy. You just need to provide links to your website alongside a short tweet that outlines what you’re linking back to. But it’s more difficult to get other people linking back to your website from Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. It’s not impossible though. Building a strong following on social media and linking to other people’s websites will help.

  1. Make Use of Internal Links

Internal links are one of the most basic, and one of the most important, parts of getting your approach to SEO right. It’s a simple and easy way to improve the traffic to your various web pages. It’s also helpful for visitors who might like what they’re reading and want to see what else you have to offer. This doesn’t mean you should go over the top with it though because then it will look unnatural. Make sure that the link is natural and relevant to the text if you want the best results.

  1. Get Extra Help

There’s no reason to try and take everything on by yourself. If you’re not an SEO expert, then it’s always a good idea to get help from external companies that specialize in this area. Of course, you can do the basics, like the things mentioned above, by yourself. But for the more complex tasks, it could be a better idea to use the expertise of someone else. This guide will give you more information about tools and companies that can help with your website’s SEO.

SEO is an important part of your marketing strategy. If you have any questions, we’d love to talk.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about SEO, your web presence or otherwise):
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