Everything you do at your job is for your customers, right? They’re the reason you open the doors every day, and you couldn’t do it without their support. Yet, at some point, you have to turn forward and try to acquire new customers to keep everything moving along, while continuing to satisfy your current clients. While your sales and marketing teams are strategizing on how to pull down new conversions, you should remind them of one of the greatest assets you have: your past and current customers. Elevating and celebrating your happy clients can generate converting content, new leads, convince those in the critical decision phase, and raise your retention rates. Well-placed content can boost your bottom line. Here’s how.
If you’re about to make a purchase, large or small, it’s likely you’ll check at least a few reviews and ratings before you buy. In fact, a full 86% of potential consumers do, according to this report. We all do it, mostly because we’d rather get the perspective of an everyday person rather than the puffed-up sales pitch from the brand’s website. We trust these voices to give us the real deal, good or bad, and this theory applies to corporate decision makers as well. Showcasing comprehensive testimonials provides ample social proof and can even explain all the positive steps and personal attention that they received along the way. Most satisfied customers are happy to provide a testimonial with a little nudge. And, like any social obligation, it’s always a good idea to reciprocate with a personal thank you or a gift (more about that later).
Look, you should already know how your customers feel about your company and the experience they had while working with you. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on some valuable feedback that could help you out in all aspects of your business. There should be some degree of recording customer feedback, either from customer service or your regular client-facing personnel, like your sales team or account managers. To start compiling internal data, you might want to try surveys that focus on the customer experience, either via email or as part of a regular “exit interview”. Make sure to include plenty of open-ended questions with spaces for clients to put their thoughts into their own words, like these:
You may also want to include rating systems that you’ll be able to pull quantifiable data from (i.e. “92% rated their service as very good”). When you are able to comb through these responses, you can identify those customers who might be top candidates for testimonials, and you can even include a question that asks them directly if they’d be willing to volunteer their thoughts for a testimonial.
Make sure that you get the client’s full name, company position, and head shot when publishing text or video testimonials. Proper endorsement absolutely needs qualified identification…you don’t want Joe T. from Ithaca singing your praises, as it’s likely anonymous testimonials just won’t be taken seriously. Professionally shot video clips may have the most impact, as you can see and hear the sincerity and emotion from the happy customer.
There’s lots of room to integrate your customers into your overall sales and marketing plans simply by showering them with praise. Developing and writing a detailed case study about the challenges, plan, and success you eventually had while working with them accomplishes quite a bit. It gives potential customers a good look at the end result, yes, but it also highlights the experience and the journey that you and your team went through to provide those solutions. Keep all the statements in the case study positive (i.e. avoid phrases like “They were in a lot of trouble before we stepped in”), and be effusive in your praise about how great it was to work with them and how happy you are with their success. This is valuable content that you can have on your website, include in your email newsletter, and post on social sites like LinkedIn for maximum exposure. Here's a few case studies to look over for inspiration.
Also, be sure to publicly congratulate your past customers on their recent milestones and successes, such as anniversaries, new expansions, or big hires. Privately, of course, you can send gifts and cards to their office. Point is, having a positive relationship with past clients (and showing that to others) is great publicity and social proof that you’re a great brand to work with.
Your sales team is probably well acquainted with the sales funnel model, and strategizes with those phases in mind. The first three phases – awareness, consideration, and decision – have their own individual pathways with regards to lead generation, email campaigns, and other sales and marketing tactics. The case studies and testimonials that we already talked about certainly have their place in these first three stages, but they can also feature prominently in the last two phases, which are retaining your customers and getting them to become advocates for new potential customers. When you consider these last two phases, the funnel actually becomes a circle with the kinetic energy to keep each phase aiding the others. Retention and advocacy are steps where testimonials and positivity are particularly helpful. This is also a good time to drop a few incentives; a discount to returning customers (retention) or a referral program (advocacy) would help keep that energy up.
Keeping your customers over the moon with your products and services is great, but adding good doses of flattery, well-deserved praise, and recommendations will assure that anyone who considers doing business with you is walking into a beneficial situation. Through working with customers to create content assets such as case studies and testimonials, there are plenty of opportunities to earn new content that generates leads and turn leads into customers. A company who treats its customers well should naturally be recognized as such, so go ahead and tell the world how great your customers are!
Do you have any tips to promote customer advocacy to appeal to new clients? We’d love to hear all about it on Twitter @Feed_Otter!