Delighting clients into promoters is the fourth phase of the Inbound Marketing Methodology -- which is all about how to Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
In this episode of the Inbound Sunshine Podcast, we're going to dive into the Delight phase, the fourth and final phase of the methodology. But just to quickly review, so you and I are on the same page with the four phases of Inbound Marketing Methodology:
- Attract (Strangers to Visitors) -- The Attract phase is all about turning strangers into visitors -- strangers who’ve never before heard of your business.
- Convert (Visitors to Leads) -- Now that these strangers have become visitors on your digital presence, on your website, the Convert phase -- phase number two -- is all about how to take those visitors and convert them into leads; to fill out a form on a landing page.
- Close (Leads to Clients) -- The Close phase is all about how to accelerate those leads and transform those leads into clients.
- Delight (Clients to Promoters) -- The Delight phase, again that we're going to be talking all about in detail is for turning your clients into promoters.
This whole process is often oversimplified. But it only is very simple when you have a straightforward, commoditized product or service selling at a very low price point.
By the time you get done listening to today's episode, you're going to have a handful of strategies that you can use to more effectively turn more of your clients into delighted promoters.
Why Inbound Marketing
And the goal with all of this, with inbound marketing, is two-fold:
- For your company to differentiate enough so that it can command and maintain healthy profit margins -- and that it doesn't have to resort to discounting and price competition to close sales. This is an enormous game-changer for any company that's truly invested in inbound marketing and inbound sales. Differentiation powers healthier businesses and stronger profit margins.
- Be able to close sales faster without compromise -- without having to give away the store.
When we put those two things together, differentiating enough to have a healthy business that maintains healthy margins and closing sales faster without compromise, that's a lot of what the Inbound Marketing Methodology is all about.
We’re in that last phase of the Inbound Marketing Methodology right now. We don't and can’t afford to assume that just because we have a client that this person is a delighted client.
Only delighted clients become positive promoters. What's the opposite of a delighted client?
Pissed-off clients become negative promoters! So we want to make sure that we’re as proactive as possible in making close to 100% of our clients so delighted that they become our brand ambassadors and evangelists.
Let's talk about some specific tools and tactics that you can use to make this happen with greater scale and great regularity.
First and foremost, your company more than likely needs an onboarding program -- how you bring new clients on board, potentially segmented by buyer persona if your business is big enough to have a significant amount of clients coming on board on a regular basis each month.
Think through whether you should have separate onboarding processes for your primary buyer persona and your secondary buyer persona, so you can zero-in on your products’ and services’ features that are most relevant to each kind of person.
So what are some of the different ways that we can scale our onboarding program?
- On-demand -- We certainly could record our onboarding training by video or audio, creating a library of text-based, audio, video, or some combination of multimedia assets. We can then make this available on-demand to new customers. This would be the absolute minimum viable way of creating an onboarding program: making instructional videos available in an online, customer-only help desk or support area on your website.
- Live online -- To make your training more Interactive, and to increase the stickiness, participation, and expected ROI (return on investment) from all of this, consider having this onboarding program be live. For a live online format, you could host and deliver the content for your onboarding program through a service like GoToWebinar, WebEx, Zoom, or ON24. In this format, your customers will want to hear from not only your full-time professional trainers, but also your company’s product managers, support professionals, other customers similar to them talking about their success factors, and perhaps even your CEO, CTO, or founder. Record the training and make it available on-demand for people that were unable to attend live. But for customers that want a richer, live, interactive experience -- to participate in conversations, ask questions in real-time, chime in on polls, and participate in the chat pane. That’s a whole different level of experience than just being able to listen later to a video or audio recording.
- Live offline -- To provide an even more special experience for valued clients than live online onboarding, consider live offline events. Seminars. Training classes. Conferences. Workshops. Some of these events might be held at your office. Other onboarding events, if needed, could be held at other locations closer to customers -- in hotel meetings rooms, schools, continuing education centers, executive suites, coworking spaces, or other kinds of campus settings. But the key thing is -- Instead of being offered online, these onboarding programs are hosted offline. So you’ll need to reserve space, make audio/visual arrangements, provide some kind of workbooks or handouts, plan interactive exercises, order in catering (at least drinks and snacks), and recruit a dynamic speaker or speakers to help your customers get more out of your products and services.
- Email workflow -- Besides onboarding program in on-demand, live online, and live offline formats, most companies focused on delighting clients create some kind of email workflow that's specific to helping new customers. Often, people that are relatively new to inbound marketing make the rookie mistake of only using lead nurturing for accelerating their leads into sales conversations, sales opportunities, and new clients. But your job doesn't end there. For any business that’s based on recurring revenue and repeat sales, and for any business that wants to have positive promoters, brand evangelists and ambassadors that are helping to grow your funnel, it's critical to have a systematic way to do this. One of the best strategies is to have workflow email sequences -- email nurturing sequences -- that are specific to new customers. And if you have enough new customers, you may also want to have a different nurturing sequence for new customers of each of your most important buyer personas -- because different buyer personas care about different features in your products or services.
- Certification program -- To make sure your onboarding training all sinks in -- whether it's on-demand, live online, live offline, or email workflow, consider building a certification program. This could be a free benefit to customers. Or it could be something that you sell. After somebody has gone through your formal curriculum, you could offer a test online. When the customer participant gets a certain amount of questions correct, in allotted time, to earn a passing grade, your company certifies their knowledge. And the person gets a certificate. It could be a PDF certificate. It could be a badge that they can put on their blog or website. It could be something that they can show off on the LinkedIn profile. So a certification exam -- as an enhancement to your onboarding program -- helps customers with their own professional development. But it also, at the same time, helps to spread your positive goodwill. Now they have something concrete from their training that they're proud of, that they can brag about. A certification program also normalizes and legitimizes your product, your training, and your category. It’s another way to formalize your onboarding program.
Besides onboarding programs for delighting clients into promoters, what else can you do?
Another very common approach is using surveys.
Surveys are so quick and easy to set up, and so inexpensive to run. A couple of hundred dollars per year buys you something like a SurveyMonkey.account. Of course, there are options, alternatives, services that are a little more robust, and a little more expensive. Some surveying software is less expensive. But cost and time definitely shouldn’t be barriers to running surveys to your customers for different things that you want to find out.
The gold standard of all of this is asking Net Promoter Score (NPS) types of questions. For example: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend?”
The interesting part of evaluating Net Promoter Scores, when it comes to delighting your clients into promoters: Yes, the absolute numbers county. But sophisticated people that are into this look for trends.
They look at a person that’s consistently been “7.” And if one month or one quarter that person’s NPS answer jumps to a “9” -- you give yourself and your team a high five.
If all of a sudden the person who’s rated your company a “7” for three calendar quarters in a row jumps down to a “3”,” all of a sudden your reaction is, “Oh crap! What did we do?”
So there are a lot of very interesting things that can be gleaned from all of that when you dig a little more into the data.
Cost and time should never be a barrier to running simple surveys.
Those surveys can also be used as very valuable input when going back to refine and optimize your buyer personas over time. And then can be very helpful for activating customers into more active promoters and brand evangelists.
In other words, when somebody gives you a great score that can trigger a workflow -- or simply be a prod for somebody who's monitoring survey results to send an email:
“We saw your feedback. Glad to hear you're doing so well! It would mean a lot to us if you could take a minute or two and post a review on this particular website or that particular website.”
Which website should someone like that post a review to? Other things being equal, let your buyer personas dictate where you want to stack the most positive social proof.
So surveys can be used for a lot of different purposes to help groom more of your clients into promoters.
Content Personalization and Smart Content
Besides onboarding and surveys, another big area that's especially relevant to inbound marketing, the Inbound Marketing Methodology, and delighting clients is personalizing content and using what HubSpot calls “Smart Content.”
The goal is to make sure that you're delivering a very personalized experience.
At the minimum level, you want to make sure that you treat your clients special and don't talk to them like they’re prospects.
There's nothing more annoying to somebody who just made a big investment in your company's products and services to continue to get hounded to buy your products and services. So that's a segmentation fail. Make sure you don't fall into that trap. Make sure that your segments and Smart Lists are set up correctly if you're using HubSpot. Be sure to segment by buyer persona and lifecycle stage.
Where does that personalization roll out? Where should your customers see content personalization on your digital properties?
- Website pages -- Customers can see elements of personalization, with personalization tokens and personalized calls to action, on your website pages.
- Blog posts -- Your calls to action can be customized on your blog posts by Smart List membership, among other factors.
- Emails -- You can use personalization extensively in your email marketing campaigns and your customer-specific email activation campaigns.
- Landing pages and forms -- You can use personalization on your landing pages and forms. If you already know all of their information, don't ask them to fill the same data again. This is the basic idea with HubSpot’s Smart Forms and using the contact properties and progressive profiling that way.
- Calls to action -- Smart List membership and other personalization features can provide more relevant -- perhaps even spooky-relevant if overdone -- calls to action (CTAs) for your customers.
So personalization can be used to provide a much more special experience to your customers -- to make them feel appreciated, by giving them access to exclusive benefits -- but also giving them different content that's unique to where they are in your lifecycle, as a customer as opposed to an opportunity, sales qualified lead, or lead -- as well as by who they are: their buyer persona.
So besides formal onboarding programs, surveys, and content personalization, there's the account management role. This is usually a formal role within your company whose job it is to measure and monitor progress that customers are making, to ensure that they're getting the best value out of the products and services that they purchase from your company.
This person, in a customer marketing or account management role, is also in a unique position to recommend complementary products and services that can create additional revenue in the form of cross-sales and up-sales.
Social Monitoring / Social Listening
Another big area that a lot of people don't pay as much attention as they ought to when it comes to the amount Inbound Marketing Methodology, is social monitoring -- listening to what your customers are talking about on social media.
Social monitoring should be looked at for two reasons:
- Another form of customer service -- Hopefully you're being proactive and not just playing the defense all of the time.
- A valuable source for iterating and innovating on products -- You hear what customers are asking about post-purchase, that they're not getting. So that can be folded into making your product more simple. That can be folded into your onboarding program.
The social monitoring / social listening tools that are built into HubSpot, at least for Twitter, are something that companies that are focused on improving the customer experience should be committed to.
Software Integrations and Automation
One final area, to get more of your clients to become promoters: try to use software integrations and automation to pull this all together in one place as best you can.
Why? Because integrations are what prevents you from doing embarrassing things like sending the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time.
And by pulling all of this information together in one place, you get a much better 360-degree view of what's going on in the minds of your customers.
HubSpot is actively working on tools that are going to pull your social monitoring together in the same dashboard with your Messages -- HubSpot’s answer to Live Chat -- as well as Facebook Messenger and emails sent to groups or aliases. This would all be aggregated into a single feed that can be monitored company-wide.
HubSpot recognizes that fragmentation is something that causes a lot of problems on customer service teams.
So HubSpot wants to make sure that regardless of whether requests are coming in by phone, ticketing system, Facebook Messenger, live chat on the website (Messages), by email, or by social media -- that it's all pulled into one place.
The Future of Inbound Support
From HubSpot’s perspective, it sees this as the next frontier.
HubSpot has been innovating in the inbound marketing software space since 2008 -- formally branding this as inbound marketing right after that time or shortly after that. HubSpot has been working on marketing-related problem since 2007-2008.
On the sales side, originally with its free CRM and the original Signals and Sidekick products that morphed into HubSpot Sales Professional, HubSpot has been working on sales productivity software since around 2013-2014.
From HubSpot's perspective, that next frontier -- bringing us all full circle -- is to apply inbound to customer service and support.
The Bottom Line on How to Delight Clients into Promoters (Inbound Marketing Methodology Phase 4)
So the key thing with all of this:
If you want to delight more of your customers into promoters:
- Don’t treat customers like prospects -- It’s insulting and wastes their time. And it makes your company look bad. So segmentation and personalization are critical.
- Many client retention problems start with a bad marketing/sales experience -- If your marketing and sales teams are making the rest of your company look bad, fix those problems ASAP. Take time to understand your buyer personas and create a more lovable, or at least likable, experience during the marketing and sales process, before somebody becomes a paying client.
- Provide some customer-exclusive benefits that your prospects can't get access to -- Heavy personalization can help a lot with that. The idea here is to drive a tremendous amount of perceived value.
- Over-deliver surprise value where possible -- Try to exceed your client's’ expectations by over-delivering some kind of surprise bonus resources whenever possible. That’s sure to bring a smile to most people's faces and helps to build up some relationship equity, so if every once in a blue moon your company inadvertently drops the ball or disappoints, the relationship “bank account” is already pretty far built up. And your company will have a little bit of room to recover from that.
- Measure everything -- For example, if there are video tutorials that you're making available on-demand or recordings of online onboarding, look at the video analytics to see what percentage of the videos -- how many minutes -- are being watched. If you’re hosting webinars, certainly your webinar software should tell you attendance time, attendance percentage minutes, and various stats. We talked about surveys that are so easy to do and so inexpensive to do -- and Net Promoter Score. There's no excuse not to survey -- which are great fodder for product management and product development and can lead to opportunities to get reviews on third-party websites that give you more social proof. You can formalize how well knowledge is imparted during onboarding with a certification test. And definitely set up a mindset of measuring everything; your utilization.
- Segment, Segment, Segment -- Critical! At the absolute minimum, segment by lifecycle stage -- where they are in the buyer’s journey. These are all valued customers. Do not talk to them like they’re opportunities, sales qualified leads (SQLs), or marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Customers need to be spoken to differently. Customers have different priorities. They’re at a different place in their journey, in their lifecycle with your company. If you have the luxury of being able to further segment, create resources that are personalized by buyer persona -- certainly for your most important and second most important buyer personas. Segmentation can help a great deal with delighting customers into promoters.
- Don’t go cheap on these initiatives -- It's 8 or 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer compared to retaining an existing customer. In the whole scheme of things, these are very inexpensive programs to staff up.
- Decide whether your client experience will be a huge liability or a huge asset -- In a lot of ways, people in these roles -- as new customers and existing customers -- can become a huge liability to your company, if you’re dropping the ball all over the place and disappointing left and right. We've had conversations with companies that are using Inbound Marketing that don't want to shine a spotlight on what they're doing. They’ve got to fix their product like yesterday or these things just amplify. Or conversely, the flip side: this can become a huge asset for your company. So a lot of it comes down to your choice: your culture and your priorities. All of this always starts at the top: who your company really wants to be, what its overall strategy is, and what your company is doing to delight its clients, so more of them become promoters.
It’s people that are
- Love what your company is doing
- Thrilled with their purchase
- Getting great return on investment
- Feel a strong emotional bond and connection to your company
Done right, delighting clients into promoters becomes a great, very valuable extension of your marketing and sales teams -- and creates a tremendous amount of leverage to help your company grow.
In this episode, we've been talking all about how to delight more of your clients into promoters.
I'm so glad to have had you with us for this episode of the Inbound Sunshine podcast.
I'm Joshua Feinberg, and we look forward to seeing you back again next time.
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